Star Wars has made an incredible come back in the hands of Disney. The legendary battles from a galaxy far, far away have once again captured the minds of older generations while inspiring the imaginations of youth. Simply put, the blockbuster 2015 release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens reinvigorated the franchise with record breaking ticket sales.
We saw a new breed of Rebels, called the Resistance, and a new Empire sporting an updated Illuminati-esque name, The First Order. Since its release, fans have set the internet ablaze with questions. One topic of great speculation is the new X-wing model T-70. The X-wing has somehow weathered generations of fighting in a technologically advanced space faring universe where tech advances at least as quickly as it does here on Earth.
Even with upgrades, it is hard to believe a singular star fighter design would be advanced and durable enough to keep up with an ever-growing, all-powerful dictatorship like The First Order. The following list might shed some light on its success as we explore 15 Things You Never Knew About X-Wings.
15. The X-wing Was Designed For The Empire
In Star Wars Legends continuity, the Original X-Wing T-65B was designed by Incom scientists during the early days of the Galactic Civil War. Equipped with a hyperdrive and greater armament than the Twin Ion Engine fighter, or TIE fighter for short, the Empire commissioned development of this new star fighter to increase its already considerable advantage over the Rebel Alliance.
Fortunately, Incom scientists who were sympathetic to the Rebel cause leaked the whereabouts of both the ship’s design plans and four X-Wing prototypes on the planet Fresia. Realizing the advantage this star fighter would give the Empire, The Rebel Alliance embarked upon what is arguably one of the most important missions in the Galactic Civil War.
The mission was not without risks and required a two-pronged plan. The first step was to lure the Imperial I-Class Star Destroyer, Tyranny, away from the planet’s orbit and back to its station at the Kuat Drive Yards (KDY). The second step was to retrieve the plans and prototypes from the planet Fresnia. The spoils of the mission also included the defection of many Incom scientists.
14. The X-wing’s Controls Were Modeled After A Common Air-Speeder Allowing Recruits A Shorter Training Cycle
In Star Wars Legends Continuity, the X-wing flight controls were similar to the T-16 Skyhopper, a common air-speeder which was also designed by Incom scientists. The ease of use and familiar design was a key factor for the Rebel Alliance.
Generally short on pilots and ships in comparison to the Empire’s forces, the need for short training cycles and adaptability was crucial. The familiar design and ease of use built into the X-Wing T-65 allowed recruits to pilot the craft within hours of entering the vehicle.
The design also afforded Rebel technicians the luxury of training pilots without the use of more expensive and highly valuable X-Wings. Initial training could literally be performed piloting the T-16 Skyhopper. Once a recruit was ready for weapons training, he or she could be shifted over to one of the few X-Wings within the fleet.
13. An Original X-Wing Model Sold At Auction For $160,000 In July, 2016
Yes, you read the title correctly. An original X-Wing T-65 model used in the shooting of Star Wars IV: A New Hope sold at a ‘Hollywood Memorabilia’ auction for $160,000.00. The auction, managed by the world’s largest Hollywood movie props auctioneer, Profiles In History, put several Sci-Fi props on the block from both Star Trek and Star Wars.
The prop sold was one of the originals, built by prop designers Lorne Peterson, Grant McCune, and Steve Gawley for use in A New Hope.
For those die hard Star Wars fans out there, you will be happy to note the Star Wars X-Wing sold at almost 3 times the price fetched for each of the original Tunics worn by Captain James T. Kirk and Spock. The blue and yellow tunics went for $60,000.00 each. While many people argue which intergalactic franchise is more beloved, we know at least one fan puts his money on Star Wars.
12. The ARC-170 Star fighter In Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith Is An Ancestor To The X-Wing
The ARC-170 (Agressive Re-Connaissance) Fighter was a heavy duty star fighter used by the Galactic Republic during the Clone Wars, and was likely the most advanced fighter of its time. It was, however, phased out and replaced by the faster, more maneuverable TIE fighter seen in Star Wars IV: A New Hope.
The ARC-170 had an on-board hyperdrive, heavy armor for a star fighter and dual laser cannons under its outer wings which could punch through the armor of a Capital Ship. It also sported rear lasers and twin blaster cannons.
Interestingly, the T-65B model was commissioned to be the same kind of all-purpose fighter the Galactic Empire had phased out. The Empire simply did not have any small fighter craft capable of long range missions, much less carrying long range scanners.
Since Incom had designed both the ARC-170 and the T-65B X-Wing, the Rebel Alliance was able to stay ahead of the Empire for years once they had both the plans and the defected Incom designers within the Alliance’s fold.
11. Star Wars Fans Sent a Model X-Wing Into The Stratosphere And Captured Video Footage
Have you ever wondered what a T-65B or T-70 X-Wing would like cruising above the Earth? You don’t have to wonder anymore. Vying for a chance to get two tickets to the red carpet premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, two die-hard fans sent an X-Wing into the stratosphere and captured video footage.
The UK based fans attached the X-Wing model to high-altitude weather balloons and sent it off with cameras to record images from the lower edge of space. You can click the link below to see real X-Wing footage against a backdrop of the Earth and the Sun; Click For Footage.
You’ll also see the overlaying text asking Episode VII director J.J. Abrams for tickets to the premiere. The footage is nothing short of spectacular. It is not technically shot from space as the weather balloon only made it to an elevation of around 22 miles above the planet, but it’s close enough to create the illusion of an X-Wing in Earth’s orbit.
10. X-Wing Fighters May Cause Motion Sickness; At Least For Actors In The Force Awakens
While many of us have imagined ourselves as fighter pilots jumping through hyperspace in an X-Wing, it might not be all blasters, lasers and fun. Actor Oscar Isaacs, The Force Awakens, told Moviefone that shooting in an X-Wing wasn’t always as exciting as it seems. Oscar was quoted as saying:
“It was very cool, but a little nauseating because the thing is on a gimbal and moving all around. I forgot to breathe and I was like, ‘Whoa.’ But it was very cool”.
Oscar also went on to say the cockpit was tight since the ship’s nose was designed to be very small. While he hadn’t considered the idea of getting motion sickness on set, in retrospect he can see why. Of course, we don’t know if the X-Wing pilots of the Star Wars films ever became nauseous in the cockpit – that was never shown on film, anyway.
9. Only One X-Wing Pilot Survived All Of The Original Trilogy
Aside from Luke Skywalker, Wedge Antilles was the only X-Wing pilot to appear in and survive all three of the original Star Wars trilogy movies including:
- IV – A New Hope (1977)
- V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
- VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)
It is probably important to note that he and Luke Skywalker founded the famous ‘Rogue Squadron’ together. Wedge was a key pilot in and survived both Death Star attack runs, at Yavin and at Endor.
In A New Hope he was identified as ‘Red 2’ flying with ‘Red Squadron’ and saved Luke’s life by shooting down a TIE fighter during the Death Star trench run in the Battle of Yavin. However, his X-Wing was damaged and he was forced to disengage prior to the destruction of the Death Star. As such, Wedge and Luke were the only two X-Wing fighter pilots to survive the battle.
8. The Meaning Behind The Insignia Worn By Alliance X-Wing Pilots
The insignia known as the Alliance Starbird, aka The Phoenix, was displayed on Rebel X-Wing pilot helmets and flight gear, including Luke Skywalker’s. But it is only through the Star Wars Legends continuity that we learn its origins and meaning.
The Crest was actually used in honor of Galen Marek, a former apprentice of Darth Vader who rebelled against the dark side and sacrificed himself to save the three founding members of The Alliance. In remembrance of his sacrifice and his rise from the darkness, the Starbird, which was Malek’s family crest, became a symbol of hope. You can follow this story in the Star Wars: The Force Unleashed games.
In addition to being called Starbird, the insignia’s description as a Phoenix represented the Alliance’s goals for burning down the Empire so the Galactic Republic could rise again from the Empire’s ashes. The insignia was ultimately used by many incarnations of the Rebel Allied groups.
7. Hot Wheels Built A Full Scale, Working X-Wing Car For Comic-Con 2016
Teaming up with a company named Action Vehicle Engineering, Hot Wheels designed and built a fully functional, full sized X-Wing Race Car to display at 2016’s San-Diego Comic Con (SDCC). And by fully functional I mean a car with an incredible aerodynamic downforce of 950 pounds at 165 miles per hour. This is an actual race car quality vehicle called the X-Wing Car Ship.
The vehicle, which closely resembles a real X-Wing star fighter, took one year to design and build. However, it isn’t Hot Wheels first attempt at bringing a Star Wars concept car to life. Partnering with Lucasfilm and Disney, their Darth Vader Car made a huge splash at 2014’s San Diego Comic Com.
While sporting a Chevrolet Corvette chassis and a tuned LS3 V8 engine providing 526 horsepower, the Darth Vader car was able to hit speeds of 150 miles per hour. An impressive speed. But it still came up 15 mph slower than 2016’s X-Wing.
6. The X-Wing Book Series Was Inspired By A Star fighter Simulation Game
Star Wars: X-Wing is a 10 book series of novels about X-Wing squadrons. Written by Michael A. Stackpole and Aaron Allston, the series covers over a decade of adventures all taking place after the Battle of Yavin. The books tell a relatively continuous story encompassing multiple squadrons including Rogue Squadron and Wraith Squadron, both of which were formed by Wedge Antilles.
The book series is said to have been inspired by the wildly popular X-Wing space combat simulation video games, Star Wars: X-Wing, created in the early to mid 1990s. Two of the games recreated the attacks on the two Death Stars. One X-Wing simulation game won the Origins Award for “best fantasy or science fiction computer game” in 1994,
The game’s 360 degree usage of X-Wing capabilities went a long way toward driving the franchise’s success within the gaming industry. Player missions included dogfights, reconnaissance, escort duty and even attacks on larger ships. The star fighter’s range of use within the game was one of the predominant factors for inspiring a book series.
5. You Can Actually Buy A Fully Functioning Star Wars X-Wing Drone
In June of 2015 the internet was buzzing with videos and articles about Olivier C’s fully functional X-Wing T-70 quadcopter drone. The master drone maker had previously impressed the tech world with his near Jedi level DIY skills after building a Millennium Falcon drone. As of mid 2015, people were wondering if Disney or some other company would be offering him a deal to mass produce these marvelous recreations.
Then in September of the same year, Air Hogs came out with their own licensed Millennium Falcon and X-Wing T-70 drones. The Air Hog drones, which are still available today, are relatively fully functional aside from wing movement and a lack of firepower. Overall the company delivers a solid, flight capable X-Wing with a remote control range of 250 feet at a decent price. It comes with a crash resistant foam body and enclosed (ducted) fans to help handle those emergency landings.
4. WWII dogfight Footage Was Initially Used For Editing X-Wing Scenes In Star Wars IV
During shooting for Star Wars IV: A New Hope, Lucas and the Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) team ran into many unforeseen difficulties. Not the least of which were blue screen limitations. An interesting point of trivia few people know is that the famous ‘Red Squadron’ was originally written as ‘Blue Squadron’. Blue screen limitations at the time led to both markings on the film model as well as changing the name ‘Blue Squadron’ to a new moniker, ‘Red Squadron.’
There were also issues in pre-production. Though the X-Wing T-65 scale models were designed to be more traditional than TIE fighters, they were designed at varying scales with specific markings to indicate each respective pilot. When the crew fell behind on generating X-Wing footage, George Lucas and his editors used World War II dogfight footage for initial editing cuts to keep the production on schedule.
3. Though A Formidable Star fighter, The Alliance’s Primary Use For The X-Wing Was Reconnaissance
The X-Wing, in all its incarnations was truly an all purpose star fighter. It was often called the star fighter that destroyed a Death Star. And it long remained a favorite to the Rebel Alliance and the Alliance government’s which followed.
In Star Wars Legends continuity, General Carlist Rieekan was quoted as saying:
“The Incom T-65 X-wing is the fighter that killed the Death Star. An almost perfect balance of speed, maneuverability, and defensive shielding make it the fighter of choice for Rogue Squadron”.
While it was a great star fighter, it was an even more impressively versatile space craft. With long range sensors, capable shielding, a hyperdrive and an on board R2 Astromech for navigation and repairs, the ship was perfect for reconnaissance. The X-Wing could literally jump in and out of a star system with very little chance of detection which also made it a capable ‘hit and run’ vehicle.
The T-65’s heavy artillery and shielding also allowed additional time to escape bigger craft when an X-Wing was detected prior to a jump. Considering all of these factors it becomes easy to see why 70% of X-Wing missions were strategic reconnaissance rather than all out battles.
2. Not All X-Wings Were Created Equal; The Surprising Differences Between The T-65B, T-70 And T-85
The T-65B was a powerful craft. After all, it was the star fighter that killed the Death Star. But despite its speed and armaments, the ship had room for improvement. For example, cannons on some earlier models couldn’t be fired with the S-foils in locked position. And while some models were fitted with the ability to initiate enhanced micro-bursts of speed, the function only worked when weapons systems were off-line.
Due to these limitations, the T-70 was designed with much more advanced weaponry and greater versatility. Both increased feature sets were deemed essential to dogfights and strategically coordinated attacks against Capital Ships. The T-70 enjoyed a greater range of fire and housed four KX12 laser cannons capable of multiple firing modes. Poe Dameron was known to fly his own customized T-70, a ship codenamed Black One.
It was replaced by the T-85 approximately 30 years after the battle of Yavin, but not because it was outdated. Political motivations and corruption changed the landscape making way for the new model. Interestingly, the demilitarization of the T-70 could not have come at a more pivotal time. The change facilitated Rebel acquisition of several T-70 X-Wings. We currently know little about the T-85’s full specs other than it was built to house the heavy firepower of a Y-Wing bomber while maintaining the speed and versatility of the T-70.
In Star Wars Legends continuity, Luke Skywalker was quoted as saying the following during the Assault on Kile II: “We’re using Y-wings because of their greater firepower. But they move like a sleepy Hutt, so watch it.”
1. While Toting Greater Firepower, The T-65B Required Expert Piloting To Beat Tie-Fighters In A Dogfight
The T-65B may have been an impressive piece of machinery and all purpose star fighter, but despite its hyperdrive and standard space velocity, it was described as “reasonably maneuverable.” This is likely the reason so many T-65Bs were lost in the battle of Yavin.
In contrast, the TIE/LN fighter of the time was built specifically for the dogfight. It was a short range star fighter with greater maneuverability and short-speed in a turn as seen in Episode IV. It did not have the defensive shielding or firepower seen in the X-Wing. But again, its only purpose was to shoot down enemy craft before the Tie-Fighter’s base, station or primary ship was raided or destroyed.
As such, the TIE fighter was not only expendable, but was also deployed in great numbers against attackers. It was literally a cheap, fast machine with disposable pilots. And while their effectiveness is a highly debated point among fans, it is important to remember that only two X-Wing pilots survived the battle of Yavin – and one of them was a Jedi.