After the Clone Wars, the Galactic Empire spared no expense to build a massive fleet of warships to enforce Imperial rule, intimidate defenseless worlds, and destroy all opposition. However, the Imperial Navy underestimated Rebel Alliance fighter pilots, who flew X-wing, Y-wing, A-wing, U-wing and B-wing starfighters, and whatever else they could obtain to fight their Imperial enemies. Decades later, Resistance pilots would fly next-generation versions of Rebel starfighters against the First Order.
The Rebel Starfighters Owners’ Workshop Manual presents a thorough history of the starfighters that served the Rebel Alliance and the Resistance. The history includes design origins, production, and modifications for each Rebel starfighter, and is fully illustrated with numerous photographs, schematics, exploded diagrams, and computer-generated artwork by Star Wars vehicle experts Chris Reiff and Chris Trevas. Text is by Ryder Windham, author and co-author of more than 70 Star Wars books. This Haynes Manual is the most thorough technical guide to Rebel starfighters available and is fully authorized and approved by Lucasfilm.
“Stealing is for the desperate. Building is for the hopeful. And as desperate as we are, we must also have hope.”
Ryder Windham (Author), Chris Reiff (Illustrator), and Chris Trevas (Illustrator) are back and this time they’ve turned to their attention to those resilient Rebel and Resistance fighters! The team that gave us the Millennium Falcon, TIE Fighter, and Death Star owner’s manuals have maybe saved their best for last (?), giving us the machines of war that led the good guys to so many victories.
Insight Editions, who are handling the North American release, have teamed up again with Haynes Publishing to bring us another incredible technical guide, the “Star Wars: Rebel Starfighters Owner’s Workshop Manual”
From A-Wings to Y-Wings, and everything in between, all your favorites are here and get the Haynes treatment. And as we’ve come to expect from these manuals, the technical prowess and detail is off the charts, and when combined with incredible art, images and screenshots, it’s a gearheads dream come true.
Other than the TIE Fighter, there’s likely not a more recognizable ship than the X-Wing, and there’s plenty of that here since it’s been a favorite of the rebellion from the get-go. But every ship gets its due diligence and you’ll feel like you’ve read one of Alexander Freed’s outlines for his novel, “Alphabet Squadron”. In fact, it’s not a bad book to have within arm’s reach, as it provides some insight into the pilots themselves, knowing the history of these phonetically labeled machines they’ve chosen to fly.
As with past editions, this book employs a narrative in-universe approach when laying it all out for you. That makes it more than just a stuffy technical manual full of statistics, USI numbers, and parts lists, and by doing so avoids being reduced to an effective deployment of an equipment, machine, process, or system.
That’s certainly an attractive quality about these books, that they appeal to many sides of the fandom dice and like many other Star Wars reference books, have a very high “pullable” factor. By that I mean, it looks great on your reference shelf and is easy to navigate through, should you be looking for some specific bit of Star Wars minutiae.
For myself, I completely rely on these manuals for most of my Star Wars ship knowledge, and they sit on my shelf, never too far away should I need to pull them for reference. And the binding, jacket and layout look great alongside the others side by each.
One thing this book doesn’t have is a mad genius like Raith Sienar plotting through the book. Sienar of course was the head of Sienar Fleet Systems; creator of the infamous TIE Fighter line of fighters, the Empire’s favored small attack ship.
The closest thing the Rebels had to a “Sienar” would probably be Quarrie, the Mon Calamari shipbuilding engineer who basically designed and built the first prototype B-Wing. You’ll of course know him from the animated series Star Wars Rebels, and The Freemaker Adventures, where he let Hera Syndulla fly the very first B-Wing, otherwise known as the Prototype B6 “Blade Wing”.
But the Rebels used whatever they could get their hands on, so it was a mixed bag of different commissions and manufacturers. Koensayr Manufacturing (Y-Wing), Kuat Systems (A-Wing), Slayn & Korpil (B-Wing), and Incom Corporation (X-Wing/U-Wing) all played their parts in the history of both the Rebellion and the Resistance. Some of these ships’ origins go back to the days of the Republic/Clone Wars, but with the Empire abandoning all of them in favor of Sienar, the Rebel Alliance became instant buyers.
“When rebel cell agents met discreetly with Incom technicians and suppliers about obtaining Starfighters, the sympathetic Icnom representatives were more than eager to introduce the rebels to the fighter that the Imperials had ultimately dismissed: the X-Wing.”
There’s no question the star of this book can be found on its cover, the X-Wing, a favorite of many of the great pilots including Luke Skywalker, Wedge Antilles, and Poe Dameron. Aside from the TIE/LN, the X-Wing is the most popular and recognizable starfighter in the Star Wars franchise. In fact, it usually only ranks behind the Millennium Falcon when it comes to most popular ships overall.
And because this book takes us all the way to the T-70 and T-85 models, used by the New Republic Defense Fleet and the Resistance later on, we get some nice Kazuda Xiono references thrown in for good measure. Not only that, but because of recent releases, namely "Resistance Reborn" by Rebecca Roanhorse, we should see a T-85 in Episode IX.
The book has images of Ralph McQuarrie’s original X-Wing concept painting and Colin Cantwell’s X-Wing prototype model, so it’s easy to see how little has changed in the look and design since its inception in 1977. The design is perfect so you can understand why very little has changed over the decades.
I’m a little surprised the X-Wing didn’t get its own manual; similar to the TIE, but this look at the entire alphabet squad of ships is a welcome one to be sure. And one of those other ships that is perhaps second to the X-Wing, within the rank and file of the Rebel Alliance, is the Y-Wing.
“The Y-Wing helped the Republic Navy win the Clone Wars. Don’t believe me? Think about it. The Republic commissioned the Y-Wing for clone pilots to take on the Confederacy’s droid starfighters, and last I checked, the droids didn’t win.”
-Captain Jon “Dutch” Vander, Gold Squadron
The Y-Wing, sometimes the laughingstock of the fleet, gets the respect and attention it rightfully deserves in this book, receiving the most content. Having been counted on time and time again to get the Rebels out of trouble and achieve a narrow victory, the Y-Wing is covered extensively as the book opens with this model.
Those who fly them are Y-Wing purists and loyalists, like Gold Squadron leader Captain Jon “Dutch” Vander, quoted above.
I always learn something new when I read these manuals, and for the Y-Wing, it was interesting to learn that the ships nav computer could hold up to ten hyperspace jumps without being reprogrammed. That's new to me but probably not to others. This is something the other small ships couldn’t do, relying on single-jump situations or their droids to get them out of trouble.
Yes, the ships were stripped of much of their armor plating, making them susceptible to blaster fire, but the added energy shield more than compensated.
The Y-Wing has been around for a long-time and has undergone countless little tweaks and upgrades over the years. In fact, this work horse it is still being used today by the Resistance Navy, the BTL-S3 Y-wing and newer BTA-NR2 Y-Wing Starfighter is regarded as “the starfighter that broke the Empire’s back” and has appeared in just about every battle mentioned in Star Wars. And as we've seen from the marketing for The Rise of Skywalker, they are still popular.
“The Delta-7 served the Jedi until the end of the Clone Wars, which also brought an end to the Jedi Order.”
While the X’s and Y’s may have been built for combat, the RZ-1 A-Wing Interceptor was built for speed. A descendant of the Delta-7, a favorite of the Jedi during the Clone Wars, the A-Wing was brought to life to accommodate non-Jedi pilots who needed a small, speedy craft.
Meant for smaller framed pilots such as Wyl Lark from Alphabet Squadron, it’s one of few ships that doesn’t come with an astromech droid. And since it’s essentially a cockpit attached to two incredibly powerful engines, A-Wing pilots are often some of the best around.
Next time your watching any of the major battles in Star Wars, you’ll A-Wings whizzing around, but blink and you’ll miss them!
“To our knowledge, Admiral Ackbar and I believe this craft may be the most well-armed starfighter in the galaxy.”
-General Carlist Rieekan
Like I mentioned earlier, if there’s a mad genius in the field of ship engineering who has no love the Empire, its Quarrie. And it might not be an accident that a Mon Calamari was the one who gave the modern B-Wing it’s needed upgrade since that species has an inherent kinesthetic sense.
Another droid less nav-computer driven ship, the B-Wing is definitely a complex machine with a complex history, and I suppose not coincidentally, the most expensive in the light freighter category. Yes, a brand new A/SF-01 B-wing Starfighter will set you back 220,000 credits, that’s roughly 3.5x the cost of a U-Wing!
“As U-Wing pilots, you’re different. You’re not concerned with how many TIE Fighters you shoot down, and how fast you shoot them down. Your concern, as you ferry infantry to and from battle zones, is keeping your passengers alive.”
-General Antoc Merrick
Speaking of U-Wings, those are of course well represented in the book, being the preferred combat/troop carrier light freighter of the Rebels. Kairos from Alphabet Squadron, Lieutenant Valeria from Blue Squadron, and Captain Cassian Andor were two of the more famous U-Wing pilots.
Like I said, it’s incredibly cheap at 65,000 credits a pop, something that was surprising to learn from this book. Another interesting factoid is that the engine configuration was based on the T-65B X-Wing model.
Canonically, the UT-60D U-wing Starfighter/support craft has been around since the Galactic Civil War, but of course wasn’t introduced to the viewing audience until Rogue One: A Star Wars Story came out.
"I’ve assigned Admiral Statura to be in charge of ship procurement. If you have information that may help the Admiral procure more ships faster, I trust you will give him your full support. Because if the First Order is preparing to attack the New Republic, the Resistance fleet must be ready to stop them."
-General Leia Organa
Like the way the TIE Fighter manual separates the Empire’s fleet from the First Order’s, so does this book separate the Rebel Alliance’s ships from the Resistance. The ships themselves don’t look that much different from their predecessors other than a new paint job, but looking into the specs they give us in the book, there are some key operational differences.
The three ships that are covered in the book as far as the Resistance is concerned are the X-Wing, A-Wing, and Y-Wing. The X-Wing in particular saw some serious upgrades with the T-70 and T-80 models, the T-70 a favorite of Black Squadron leader and Resistance hero, Poe Dameron.
“In addition, ship for ship, our equipment is better than theirs. Our Starfighters are sturdier and equipped with energy shields. Some of our fighters are faster than TIE fighters. Others have heavier artillery and firepower. The Empire, because of the unwieldy size and corrupt bureaucracy, relies on a single model of Starfighter to fulfill nearly all its needs. Their singlemindedness is their weakness.”
Generally speaking, if a pilot is only as good as his/her Starfighter, then a Starfighter is only as good as the ground crew that keeps her together.
Like much of the support the Rebel Alliance relies on to mount successful campaigns, the ground crews are considered some of the unsung heroes of the fleet. Indeed, not much of anything could happen if countless humans, aliens, and droids didn’t do their job, and does it well.
They dedicate just a few pages to the Starfighter maintenance and technical support aspect, showing off some of the famous locales that made for some of the memorable hangars. D’Qar, Yavin, the Raddus, they’re all there, emphasizing the importance of having a relatively safe space to maintain their sometimes smallish fleet.
And when comparing the Rebel Alliance’s flight suit to the Resistance version, the book chooses two of the most famous X-Wing pilots of all time, Luke Skywalker and Poe Dameron to serve as models. The Resistance version has some good upgrades, more durable, easier to operate and repair, and more adaptable to non-human pilots, but look similar enough that there’s no mistaking an X-Wing (or Y-Wing) pilot.
As I said earlier, can’t help but wonder about the decision to not have a book dedicated to just the X-Wing, the Starfighter most synonymous with the Rebel Alliance. But after giving it some thought, the X-Wing doesn’t have a “Rath Sienar”, and the Empire didn’t have a lineup of ships like the alphabets of the Alliance. It’d be tough to tell this story without mentioning the B, Y, U or A-Wings so why bother. I get it.
You’ll find the layout and scheme matches perfectly with the previous manuals, this is of course by design and is meant to give the series an authenticity factor. Indeed, as a set, it’s quite impressive to see on display and this is another wonderful addition.
Strictly, as a reference manual, this book does a nice job of giving you the specs you need on these ships in a very easy-to-read format. And because its in-universe, you’ll have no trouble digesting the endless amount of ships specs because of the familiarity with their place in Star Wars history.
And, because of this combination of draft and drama, I can think of no better use for these books than as companion manuals during your next Star Wars RPG session. Indeed, I can confirm after speaking to the creators, this was something they were cognisant of while making it.
We’ve all pretended to be pilots, sitting in the cockpits of X-Wings and Y-Wings, executing the Death Star trench run or taking out some TIE’s. This book puts you right in the cockpit of these famous Starfighters, giving you all the information you need when putting together a story of your own, you know, the next time you're pretending to be Luke Skywalker.
These guys, Ryder, Chris, and Chris, have the goods and the knowhow, having been deeply entrenched in the Star Wars game for a long, long time. Just google search any one of them and that will give you an idea of the pedigree involved here.
And that experience and passion shows on each and every page in these books, and that, is as good a reason to pick up this latest edition as any.
"Star Wars: Rebel Starfighters Owner's Workshop Manual" is available now wherever books are sold!
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