Lambda-class Shuttles


The shuttles used by the Galactic Empire are a functionally vital part of the STAR WARS universe. The shuttle is a practical and pragmatic object, providing transport and protection across the uninhabitable vastness of space between one habitable realm and another (planets, space stations, larger starships). The shuttle's features are designed on the human scale, with human benefit in mind, but by necessity it also serves as a common yardstick for the largest machinery of the galactic civilisation: miles-long warships and the moon-sized Death Stars.

This is true in at least two senses. Firstly, the shuttle serves as an explicit yardstick for the analysis of the other ships and environments where it docks. Whenever we have photographs or film footage of a shuttle settled in a hangar, we can infer the size of the hangar. If we are lucky enough to see the hangar from outside, then we can also estimate the dimensions of the hangar's surroundings.

In its second sense as a "yardstick," the Lambda-class shuttle represents technological standardisation. It is an example of everyday galactic technology, without going to extremes of superweapons and expensive prestige vessels. The canonical shuttle design also manifests the typical beauty and modular elegance of Imperial engineering. Components found in the mechanisms and controls of the Lambda-class are likely to be found in identical or modified forms in other types of equipment. It should be no surprise that a review of the STAR WARS literature reveals several brand relatives of the Lambda, just as the TIE fighter is only one of a family of craft adapted to different functions.

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Photographs of the Lambda-class shuttle model, in landing mode and in flight mode. [Star Wars Chronicles, Return of the Jedi the Giant Collector's Compendium]


Four different sets of schematics for the Lambda-class shuttle are in print:

  1. the original blueprints for the set exterior used for ROTJ, as presented on p.68 of The Art of STAR WARS: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Ballantine & Del Rey, first edition 1983, second edition 1987;
  2. set of plans published as Book of Imperial Shuttle Plans: Cygnus Spaceworks, by LMD, 1984;
  3. fold-out supplemental plans in Scavenger Hunt, Brad Freeman, West End Games, 1989;
  4. plans in Heir to the Empire Sourcebook, 1992.

There are several issue to address regarding these plans. How many of them agree with each other? How many of them agree with images of the shuttle appearing in the movies? Is there agreement between the features of the special effects model and other canonical representations of the shuttles?

exterior set blueprints

Many dimensions are noted explicitly on the blueprints.

and other dimensions can be scaled from the explicitly stated ones:

exterior set blueprints
[1280 x 675 | 2404 x 1412 ]

Book of Imperial Shuttle Plans

This is by far the most extensive collection of schematics for the Imperial shuttle. The kit consists of three blueprint sheets of approximatley A3 size, folded and packaged in a white envelope. The second sheet makes an unambiguous statement of the shuttle's dimensions:
length                58'
draft, flight mode   102'
      docking mode    73'
beam, flight mode    105'
     docking mode     47'
"Draft" is probably a mispelling of "draught", which conventionally is a dimension of the ship in the vertical direction; and "beam" is the width of the ship (in the direction transverse to its usual direction of motion). When measured from the blueprints directly, some dimensions of particular parts of the ship differ from the Lucasfilm version: the height from ground to the underside of the hull is 8'1"; the width of the ramp is not quite 4'1" (vs 6'6" for the set plans). In the 1984 blueprints, the width of the ship (in docking mode) is 12.56m = 41'2", rather than the stated 47', but the greater figure may excused as including the wing guns. The measured vertical height (in docking mode) is 22.65m = 74'4", verses the stated 73'.

There are some important structural distinctions between these blueprints and the others. For instance, the lower front corner of the dorsal fin is behind the entire cockpit window in this case but is over the upper edge of the cockpit window in the set plans and the WEG drawings [below].

exterior set blueprints exterior set blueprints exterior set blueprints

Scavenger Hunt

The fold-out schematics accompanying the Scavenger Hunt adventure module include views of the front, profile and cut-away plan of a Lambda-class shuttle. There is also a linear scale bar.

In terms of shape, the front view is almost an exact match for the front view in the Lucasfilm set blueprints. The most obvious differences include the bend in the lateral wings (a smaller angle and located closer to the hinge with the hull); and the turnable wing guns (shorter than in the set plans). The scaling differs slightly from the Lucasfilm plans: WEG gives the ship a width of 12.4m across the wing hinges, vs 12.1m in the movie blueprints; 2.21m vs 1.98m for the width of the ramp; 2.68m vs 2.59m for the vertical height between the ground and the ship's underside. Thus the WEG interpretation is typically 3% larger than the shuttle as a set built for ROTJ.

superposition of front views according to WEG and the studio set

The cut-away deck plan is mostly original to Scavenger Hunt, and contains some curious features that are worthy of comment. Firstly, the passenger compartment extends to within 0.45m of the hull of the stern. Thus the diagram suggests that the entire engine mechanism — including the deep, incandescently glowing drive apertures — is much less than a metre thick.

Secondly, the passenger seats are identical to those in the cockpit, face forward, and have a broad (2.7m) gap between the two rows. Only nine seats are drawn, which is surprising for such a large vessel which is ostensibly dedicated to personnel transport. This cannot be the configuration of the Tydirium seen in ROTJ, because the number of rebel commandos was almost certainly greater than nine. That shuttle is more likely to have had rows of troop benches aligned parallel to the sides of the vessel.

A third problem is the amount of space between the passenger section and the cockpit. With this deckplan, most of the passenger section would be concealed from the cockpit even when all doors were open. There are voluminous equipment storage lockers between the passengers and the ramp, in a position approximately equivalent to the seating of the commandos just behind R2-D2 and C-3PO in ROTJ. These lockers are surrounded by appreciable void space, which would have been more practical if it were distributed to engine space at the stern instead.

Scavenger Hunt plans
[ 1043 x 788 ]

Heir to the Empire Sourcebook

The Heir to the Empire Sourcebook was the second roleplaying game product attempting to depict the plan of a Lambda-class shuttle. [HTTESb material was later reincorporated into the Thrawn Trilogy Sourcebook.] This book's drawing appears to be based on the Scavenger Hunt schematic, and suffers some of the same problems: eg. lack of room between the passenger cabin and the thrusters.

There are significant rearrangements. The seating consists of a double line of seats down the centre of the passenger area, plus troop benches on the sides. The troop benches are more consistent with what was seen in ROTJ, but the entire passenger section seems to be set too far back in the fuselage.

These plans lack any explicit scale markings, but in this respect it must be identical to the Scavenger Hunt version.

HTTESb plans
[ 673 x 486 ]

photogrammetry & extrapolation

Some critical dimensions of the shuttle could be determined from photographs of the object, with qualifications. When a picture is taken at sufficiently great range, lines that are parallel in three dimensions appear parallel in the two-dimensional projection, and lengths may be compared directly. Otherwise comparisons of features must take account of perspective effects: parts that are closer to camera appear bigger in the image.

If the set exterior blueprints are taken as an accurate reflection of the ship's true size (and starship sets are conventionally built somewhat undersized, eg. the Millennium Falcon) then all the important dimensions are given explicitly except for the height. The height will depend on how the dorsal fin is completed (beyond what was built for the set). The entire fin could be scaled from the portion appearing in the blueprints and the proportions of the whole fin as seen in photographs of the ship at once. According to the blueprints, the vertical height between the bottom of the fin and its forward corner is 8'1".

According to one photograph which is almost free of perspective effects (upper and lower edges of the fin are almost parallel in projection) the ratio of the total fin height to the bottom/corner height is < 180/27. (This is an upper limit because the fin's base is further from camera than the top.) This implies the total height of the wing as 647" = 16.43m, which in turn implies a total height of 79'10" or 24.3m. This is 9.3% greater than the 73' height stated in the Book of Imperial Shuttle Plans.

Schematics are available in the design patent for the shuttle, as presented at The Star Wars Collectors' Archive. To an eyeball estimation, the drawings appear to depict the special effects model accurately. In these plans the ratio of total fin height to the fin corner height (as defined above) is 234/42. By the method outlined above, this implies that the total height of the shuttle in docking mode is 70'11" or 21.6m.

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An aft view of the shuttle, with perspective effects on the dorsal fin slight enough to allow limited measurements of proportions. [Return of the Jedi the Giant Collector's Compendium]

Kenner toy

According to modeller/collector Martyn Griffiths, the "Imperial Shuttle" toy from Kenner is an excellent match for the original special effects model used by Industrial Light & Magic. They have the same features and proportions, whereas the equivalent commercial model kit differs (being consistent with the stumpier shape depicted in the exterior set blueprints). Furthermore the toy and the SFX model appear to be the same absolute size, by subjective eyeball estimate (for what it's worth). Apparently, the original model was lent to Kenner artists for duplication. Thus the toy may be the most accurate publically-accessible three-dimensional reference to the shape of the Lambda-class shuttle.

The toy is not in scale with the 3.75" action figures; the cockpit barely squeezes two human-sized figures. The toy is more likely to be an exact or nearly exact duplicate of the SFX model's absolute dimensions. This would be roughly consistent with published dimensions for the model's bounding box [eg. see Star Wars Chronicles]. The original shuttle model was in 1/48 scale, by virtue of the fact that the pilots in the cockpit were recycled from 1/48-scale commercial aircraft model kits. Therefore, unless the toymakers had a specific reason to differ from a straightforward duplication job, the realistic canonical Lambda-class shuttle should be 48 times the size of the toy. (The toy is unlikely to have been expanded compared to the reference model; if anything the natural inclination would be to shrink it to conserve plastic.)

Minus the landing gear (which match none of the onscreen representations of the ship) the toy is 45.6cm tall in docking mode, corresponding to 21.9m at 1/48 scale. With the addition of a 2.6m clearance gap for landing gear (from the set blueprints) yields a total height of 24.5m (= 80'4"). Similarly the length is 23.5m (= 77'2"). These values are larger than those of the three sets of published schematics, which might be explained if they are all based on the exterior set, and starship sets are traditionally built sub-scale (eg. the Millennium Falcon).


There is a discontinuity between representations of the Lambda-class shuttle within the movies. The first version of the ship is the model as seen in space flight and some of the landing shots. The second version is that of the exterior set. The latter has a cockpit module that tapers more severely towards the "snout" and has a steeper gradient on its upper surface. The dorsal fin does not extend as far forward as the special effects model, and the fuselage has a boxier, fatter aspect. The two forms are mutually inconsistent, and both of them have been used to depict the same ship, so the difference cannot be explained away as a subclass distinction. Modeller Martyn Griffiths may have been the first to point out the discrepancy publically, and he offers comments explaining The Dimorphism Blooper, and to advocate an order of precedence in the treatment of the shuttle in future works.

The canon contains a third representation of the structure of the shuttle, which is often overlooked: the schematic displays on monitors aboard the Executor and Death Star II. The head has only a slight tilt (like the "slender+ version) but the wings are short in the direction of travel (like the "stumpy" version). The Tydirium was inspected closely during its clearance assessment, while Piett and Vader kept Solo et al. waiting, the Executor made a structural scan and analysis. Particular components of the Tydirium were highlighted with boxes. Each box had an orange letter as a label. To each of these labels there corresponds one or more paragraphs of blue text, with the label-letter as bullet. The blue text appears on screen in the appropriate sequence for the bullets. Thus: we have pieces of text relating to structural and therefore functional aspects of the ship. The dorsal fin and lateral fins might have something to do with shielding or heat dissipation (and thereby indicating something about the ship's generator performance). Other highlighted areas were the weaponry, and the fuselage (cargo & contents?). Whatever the functions are, we can at least be confident that (1) these broad features do have localised functions of some kind, and (2) the text is a true descriptive text and not just meaningless garbage.

Unfortunately (for investigative purposes) Lord Vader's shuttle readouts never progressed to itemised structural breakdown. The first thing to appear was a set of boxes emenating from the cockpit area, accompanying big flashing text. Judging from context, this may describe the transmission of security clearance, the status and provenance of the shuttle. The controller highlighted that information first and foremost because it is the most distinctive characteristic of Vader's shuttle.

* * *
In-universe technical schematics for the shuttle Tydirium, with paragraphs of descriptive text corresponding to functional parts of the ship marked by orange bullet/letters.

* *
Schematics and clearance data for Lord Vader's shuttle. The display seems to be dominated by non-structural information, perhaps a transmission of high-priority clearance rights and the shuttle's provenance.

Corrected elevation view of the shuttle (as in the SFX model and Kenner toy & patent representations) interim sketch by Martyn Griffths [© copyright Martyn Griffiths 2001].


The wings are not aerodynamically optimised. Their cross sections do not promote lift. They must serve some other function, which is the same in both space and in atmosphere. All conceivable functions should be of a nature that requires large surface areas, small volumes and/or large spatial extent.

Lord Vader's shuttle in flight mode.

* *
Lord Vader's shuttle landing, with wings raised.

landing gear

There are two landing pads, one on either side of the fuselage, within the cylindrical hinges of the lateral wings. In flight the landing gear is retracted within the hinge, under the cover of hatches and the lowered wings. During landing the wings are raised and the hatches open, with one hatch hinged at the front and the other hinged at the back.

The degree of extension of the landing gear varies. In some instances, such as the blueprints or the Emperor's arrival at the Death Star II, the hatch reaches less than halfway to the deck. At other times, the landing gear has a shorter extent, and the hatches may just skim the deck. Lord Vader's shuttle landed on the Endor base platform in this configuration.

Model of the Lambda-class shuttle with landing gear hatches about halfway to the deck.

Lord Vader's shuttle, on Endor, showing landing gear hatches near the deck.

The Emperor's shuttle, with landing gear extended far. Note also the height of the craft: an Imperial technician is easily able to walk underneath the shuttle.


This is not a starfighter and not a ground assault vehicle, however the presence of ten different gun barrels is testament to the shuttle's military use. The weapons appear to be larger than those of a TIE fighter, at least in terms of their exposed lengths. If the shuttle is not nimble enough to compete with starfighters, its guns may deter slower-moving aggressors.

The barrels come in several lengths. Shorter guns are mounted in joined pairs at the front ends of the wing hinge shafts, and at the stern above the level of the thruster nozzles. The directions of the front guns appear to be fixed. They may be used against targets that don't have much angular motion relative to the shuttle; ie. objects that are large or incapable of great acceleration. The stern guns protrude from a horizontal slot in a hemispherical mount, so they may be able to traverse with one degree of freedom.

On each lateral wing there is a pair of turret disks on opposite surfaces of the wing, near the wing joint. Each disk has one barrel which is longer than the fixed-forward type. These can rotated through ninety degrees, and their rotation is in a vertical direction when the shuttle is in its flight mode. Thus the guns can aim forward or down and are somewhat mobile; this may be useful for clearing a landing zone in semi-hostile territory.


The head of the shuttle is a tabular structure with plating on the sides and upper surfaces overhanging the underside and the neck connection. Much of the upper/forward surface consists of a darkly glazed window on the cockpit. On the underside of the prow there are grille structures which are attributed communications functions in Essential Guide to Vehicles & Vessels.

The different tilts of the head in the "stumpy" and "slender" representations of the shuttle migth be due to an articulation of parts beneath the upper plate, with underlying mechanisms that are unseen in conventional photographs. [It may be something like the tilting head of the Concord aeroplane on Earth, for whatever purpose it serves.] The head would be more tilted down in landed mode than flight mode. This feature would be consistent with the overall nature of the Lambda, which is distinctive for its peculiar number of large articulated mechanisms, including: the lateral wings and landing gear. Thus one (but not all) of the discrepancies in the shapes of the shuttle could be explained physically.

cockpit & passenger section

In the forward section of the cockpit there are two rows of two crew seats, with an aisle down the middle. The front row is for the two pilots; the other row appears to be for astrogation, defence or other functions. They must be auxilliary functions, because they were empty in Lord Vader's shuttle during his transit from the star destroyer Avenger to the Death Star II. (For instance, astrogation would be unnecessary when no hyperspace jump is undertaken.)

Behind those seats the walls (which are diagonal to the ceiling) converge by about a foot on each side. Aboard the Tydirium the droids R2-D2 and C-3PO were just in front of this partition. The protocol droid seemed to be seated, which is evidence for a third row of cockpit seats.

It isn't clear how the non-crew space beyond the partition is shared between the head, neck and front part of the fuselage. Judging by scale, at least part of it should be in the neck. The most obvious features beyond the partition are a pair of triangular arcs of blue lights either side of a hexagonal door in the middle of a transverse wall. According to P.Briggs, the area from here to the cockpit aboard the Emperor's shuttle had plush purple bench seats against the port and starboard walls, totalling eight approximately. This capacity is not enough for the Emperor, his courtiers and guards who debarked to the Death Star II, so there may be more seating elsewhere in the ship. The blue-lit door may lead to such an aft passenger section that isn't exposed when the ramp is down, or perhaps it houses some cargo or engineering access. The size of the forward passenger area near the ramp is difficult to determine from two-dimensional movie images, but at least some of the commandos aboard the Tydirium bobbed their heads in the background between the blue lights and the cockpit. They must have been sitting on wall seats like those of the Emperor's shuttle.

In the scene aboard Lord Vader's shuttle, there were two raised ridges across the floor beyond the back of the cockpit. Then the back ridge is the bottom of the blue-lit doorway. The front ridge corresponds is at the convergence of walls at the back of the cockpit. Thus the features may be a pair of airlock doors that can seal off the ramp area from the cockpit and/or the aft section. If so then it seems to be standard practice to leave the cockpit door open during flight.

The statistics in HTTESb claim a cargo capacity of 80 metric tons. The cargo holds shown in the Scavenger Hunt plans are 10.9m² on each side of the ship. With a space over 3.9m high at a typical point in that part of the hull (in front view of the same diagrams) the total cargo volume could be as great as eighty cubic metres according to this particular hypothetical set of deckplans. This would agree with the numerical statistic, if the overall cargo density matches or is less than that of water (1 ton / m³). It might be consistent with full loads of denser cargoes if the ceiling height of the holds is smaller than what is available in the hull space, with the remainder of the volume above and below the cargo areas being filled with the shuttle's functional systems.

According to Pete Briggs, who was a visitor to an Imperial shuttle circa 1982:
".... there was a full and wholly detailed interior to the shuttle! At the shuttle's rear — DIRECTLY at the top of the ramp — there's the passenger compartment comprising of two sets of seating. I'm a little hazy on this (hey, it was 1982!) but I think there were eight in all, four to each side facing each other. The plush seating was a very dark purple. (It's a bizarre thought to think of the Emperor sitting there, with his courtiers. It'd almost be like seeing the Queen sitting on a can almost imagine the muzak!) The ceiling had a couple of black panels with controls (if you wanted to hypothesize, you could probably say they'd be a comlink/internal intercom and maybe ventilation controls, much like the overheads in a plane passenger compartment.) [In the movie] you can vaguely see the controls behind both Vader and the Emperor."

Cockpit interior of Lord Vader's shuttle. It looks as if the blue lights mark the sides of a doorway, and a ridge across the floor at the point where the walls converge looks like it could be another sealable doorway. Perhaps the space between these doors is an airlock for the ramp?

Interior of the Tydirium cockpit [ROTJ Script Facsimile].

Blueprints for shuttle cockpit seats [The Art of Star Wars Episode VI: ROTJ].

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Various views of the Tydirium cockpit interior. Skywalker adjusts some overhead controls, presumably associated with his role in the cockpit. Commando heads are visible in the background behind C-3PO. They appear to be seated on benches against the side walls of the shuttle.

In addition to the command crew, the Tydirium had capacity for at least eleven rebel commandos.


A ramp descends beneath the head of the shuttle, allowing passengers to enter or exit. This is an important feature because it relates the known features of the shuttle interior with the exterior. According to the set blueprints, the ramp is 6'6" wide.

One important question is whether the cockpit and passenger section are exposed to the outside when the ramp is lowered, or whether the shuttle has an airlock. This affects the ship's usefulness for landings in hostile atmospheres and the collection of men overboard in space battles (as described in X-Wing novels and computer games).

As mentioned above, there appears to be a pair of doorways behind the cockpit, separated by several metres, in the neck and perhaps a little bit of the front part of the fuselage. The texture of the floor between these doorways has a texture like that of the ramp. According to the eyewitness account of P.Briggs, the ramp forms the entire floor in an area just behind the cockpit. This means that the pilots are unable to easily exit the cockpit when the ramp is open. Perhaps the cockpit entrance would seal with an airtight door in any case.

According to Pete Briggs, who was a visitor to an Imperial shuttle circa 1982:
"The ramp was VERY slippy plastic plating. I remember walking down it — wearing training shoes — I almost skidded. No wonder Vader and the Emperor have an odd gait to their walk when they descend."
"....with the ramp down, it's IMPOSSIBLE for the pilots to easily get out! With the ramp up, you walk directly across it from the passenger section to the cockpit. This was very evident on the set. The ramp was down on, and a large (temporary) piece of wood had been roughly laid across the gap where the ramp recesses, so that you could get across."

Lord Vader striding down the ramp of his shuttle. Behind him we see blue lights like the ones visible from the cockpit.

Cockpit of Lord Vader's shuttle. Is the striated region of the floor in the background part of the entry ramp (in raised position)?

Entry ramp of Lord Vader's shuttle aboard Death Star II. In this image it can potentially be scaled against the deckplates.


During a shuttle approach to the secure regions around Endor, the shield security controller's monitor can show a series of schematics that apparently correspond to physical scans of the shuttle. The highlighted parts are different for Lord Vader's shuttle and the shuttle Tydirium.

For Lord Vader's shuttle, the first image is a not-quite-direct side view accompanied by an 8-letter title. Perhaps this is the name of the shuttle, or the heading for the scan report. Next, the cockpit area is highlighted in a green wireframe, and a sentence of six words appears. Another six-word sentence appears as the green highlight fades and most of the fuselage is highlighted in orange. There are orange extensions into the edges of the lower wings, and one vertical line into the dorsal fin. A third paragraph, with three short sentences or data statements appears when the entire body of the ship is reduced to a simplified wireframe.

Perhaps the green highlights relate to cabin conditions or life support? The extended orange areas with extensions might be cloaking, sensors or electronic countermeasures. Do any of these highlights relate to the shields or other defensive characteristics that ought to be unusually strong on Vader's personal shuttle? The passenger compartment might have variable atmospheric conditions, to allow Vader the option of riding unmasked.

For the shuttle Tydirium carrying rebel commandoes, the first graphics show a front view of the shuttle, with rectangular highlights on the fuselage and lower parts of dorsal fin, an area including the portside wing joint and laser cannon, and a higher area including the starboard wing joint and laser cannon. Then a side view shows three rectangular highlights on the dorsal fin, fuselage, and lower wings.

* * * * * * *
The titles and paragraphs describing Lord Vader's shuttle appear in sequence with highlights on the ship's schematics.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The schematics and readouts describing the shuttle Tydirium, ostensibly carrying parts and technical crew to Endor.


At least some Lambda-class shuttles possess hyperdrives for limited interstellar travel. The statistics printed in Star Wars Technical Journal v.2 state a range of 17 parsecs (approximately 55 light-years in terrestrial terms). If true, this means that the standard shuttle can only traverse a tiny fraction of the galaxy's 120,000 light-year diameter [Shield of Lies, p.39] in a single jump. This makes it much less capable than vessels like Queen Amidala's royal yacht [TPM] and the Millennium Falcon [ANH] which are able to traverse the distance from the Outer Rim Territories to the Core in what appears to be a single jump. Furthermore, since the distance from Sullust to Endor is a few hundred light years (according to the ROTJ novel) the shuttle Tydirium must have either been augmented somehow, or made several stop-overs.

Interestingly, the Tydirium showed no wake rotation in the starfield when it jumped to hyperspace from the rebel fleet. This suggests a large quantitative or qualitative difference between its performance and that of the Millennium Falcon's hyperdrives. The blueprints in the Book of Imperial Shuttle Plans contain a curve for fuel consumption vs some measure of hyperspace propulsion, but the meanings of the axes and units are unknown and unguessable.

The blueprints in the Book of Imperial Shuttle Plans state a turning maneuvrability with accelerations up to 9G. Contrast this with the linear accelerations of hundreds or thousands of G demonstrated by vessels like star destroyers and the Executor. If this straight-line performance is typical of Imperial shuttles also, then the shuttle's linear acceleration is vastly greater than its turning acceleration, and its turning ability is very slight compared with that of a starfighter (for instance).

The linear accelerations indicated in the plans are on the order of 5x105m/s² or ~5000G in the low velocity region. This is consistent with the magnitudes of star destroyer linear accelerations in ROTJ. The later portions of the graph look implausible though, as they show an unrestrained increase in acceleration to the point where the vessel attains the speed of light within a half hour. No material object can reach the speed of light through impulse-based propulsion, because relativistic effects increase the effective mass of the vessel as lightspeed is approached. Sublight propulsion technologies should not be able to provide the infinite energies entailed. Perhaps the axis labels have been mistakenly transposed? Perhaps the curve should be ignored altogether.

* * * * *
The shuttle Tydirium launches from Home One. Interestingly, it does not leave any apparent starfield wake rotation.

* *
From the Book of Imperial Shuttle Plans, a meaningful acceleration chart which is implausible in the relativistic regime, and a hyperspace performance chart with uniterpretable axes.


The engines of the Lambda-class, and most of its relatives, are two broad, luminous apertures at the stern. The apertures occupy a large fraction of the stern, but no distinctive mechanisms are visible (unlike the thrust vectoring plates seen on the Millennium Falcon or Imperial star destroyers).

The incandescent surfaces inside the engine glow blue-white, which is much hotter than the red glow characteristic of TIE fighters. The operating temperature in the visible areas inside the engine must be at least a few tens of thousands of degrees K, whereas the surfaces visible through a TIE's engine nozzles can't be hotter than a few thousand degrees. This may have implications for the redistribution of waste heat and the efficiencies of the different engine designs. The TIE maintains compact engines and redistributes waste heat effectively via its radiators. Much of the engine interior of the Lambda seems exposed, with no significant machinery for heat distribution other than the thrust aperture itself.

View of the Lambda-class shuttle from behind. The thruster apertures cover most of the stern area, and the operating temperature (indicated by the blue-white colour of the glow) is high.

Related Vessels

Mu-class scout ship

Galaxy Guide 8: Scouts p.37 describes the Mu class, which is approximately the same size and has approximately that same head and fuselage as the Lambda. It was devisd as a scout ship or long range shuttle. The differences from the Lambda include: reduction of the dorsal fin and installation of alternative sensors in its place; lateral wings being swept aftwards at a greater angle; elimination of some weapons; expansion of cargo/habitable space in the interior. The Mu-1 concentrates on the addition of passenger seats (24) whereas the Mu-2 provides internal cabins for a smaller number of passengers. The Mu-3 is a dropship, with cargo space reduced in favour of more troop capacity and consumables, improved sensors, stronger shields and laser cannons.

The cargo capacity is stated as 100 metric tons or 40 cubic metres. The Lambda-class shuttle stats [HTTESb] are only slightly less: 80 tons. Perhaps the greatest innovations in the Mu relate to the range of the hyperdrive range. If so then the Mu has sacrificed some hyperspace acceleration, because the "hyperdrive multiplier" class is x2 rather than x1 (for the Lambda).

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Side view and game statistics of the Mu-2. [GG8]

Delta-class escort shuttle

Described as a design for transporting important passengers through danger [The Stele Chronicles], is quoted at a length of 30m, 6 crew, 10 passengers and weaponry consisting of 3 Taim & Bak KX5 laser cannons + 1 Taim & Bak H9 dual turbolaser cannon (cf. 20m; 4 crew; 14 passengers and 4 taim & Bak laser cannons quoted for the Lambda) Since the Lambda actually has no fewer than five dual gun emplacements, the Delta realistically ought to be proportionately better armed as well. The length statistic is precise to tens of metres, so we should expect the true length of the Delta to be within the range 25-35m.

Structurally, the Delta is another tri-winged design. Compared to the Lambda, the wings of a Delta appear to be much shorter relative to the fuselage and the standard cockpit module. They are also swept forward, and do not appear to be jointed [even in the more detailed model in X-Wing: Alliance]. Docking this vessel must be more physically difficult than docking the Lambda.

Three laser cannons are mounted on the wingtips, presumably for improved coverage; the turbolaser is mounted at the stern and fires aftwards. Thus it is similar to the stern dual laser cannon at the aft of the Lambda, though more powerful. The forward sweep of the wings improves the aft turbolaser's field of fire compared to the clearance of the Lambda's aft laser cannon.

* * * * *
Representation of the Delta-class escort shuttle, and a comparable depiction of the Lambda-class shuttle, from TIE Fighter.

Sentinel-class landing craft

The Sentinel-class landing craft was first shown in Essential Guide to Vehicles & Vessels, as a foretaste of ANH:SE. Cockpit essentially identical to the Lambda-class shuttle, but the hull is much longer and wider, in order to accommodate a greater number of troops. Some sources erroneously state that the Sentinel is the same length as the Lambda, but the true scale is evident in the relative extent of the hull compared to the standard-sized cockpit module.

A Sentinel-class landing ship lifts off in the background while Imperial stormtroopers investigate an escape pod landing site in the Tatooine desert.

* *
Sentinel-class landing ship schematics and sketch, according to Essential Guide to Vehicles & Vessels.

cargo ship

There also exists a dedicated Imperial freighter from the same brand as the Lambda shuttle. Externally the cockpit modules are exactly the same, though minor interior details differ (eg. the seat upholstry is red rather than grey). The hull of the ship is almost entirely dedicated to a vast cargo hold that may exceed the size of an AT-AT walker, judging by some views. Nevertheless this ship is still small enough to land conveniently at a standard planetary spaceport. Whether it has hyperdrives remains unknown, but it might be very effective for cargo transfers involving larger interstellar freighters and container ships that are too large to land independently.

Using this distant side view (because it is free of perspective effects on the body of the ship) and taking the cockpit module to be the same as that of the Lambda-class shuttle determines the cargo ship's size. Assuming the Lambda-class shuttle's set blueprints as a minimal reference, the freighter is 63m long and has a draught of 30m (excluding the fins). The height of the cargo space is 23.9m, which is just enough for an upright AT-AT walker. (Such a walker would need to crouch before passing through the known cargo hatches though.)

For further details, see Highlights: The Great Heep.

* * * *
The cargo ship in flight.

* * *
The freighter on the ground, with its primary cargo hatch open.

* *
Cockpit interior, invaded by a subversive astromech droid.


The literature contains several other starships manufactured by Cygnus Spaceworks and/or Seinar Fleet Systems. Some of them are beyond the originally intended scope of this page, as they lack gross components (eg. cockpit section) in common with Lambda and its immediate relatives.

The Cygnus Spaceworks' "Alpha Class Xg-1 Star Wing" assault gunboat [TIE Fighter, other computer games] is one of them. The aesthetic is similar to the Lambda, but the cockpit module is totally different: it connects to the fuselage seamlessly, and it is narrower, fitting a single pilot. The multifaceted canopy window is proportionately more extensive in the longitudinal direction, presumably for the sake of combat visibility. There are five wings: a dorsal fin, an upper pair of short lateral wings, and a lower pair which are almost twice as extended as the others. None of the wings appear to be jointed. The thrusters have wide, exposed, luminous apertures like the Lambda's.

A "missile boat" developed on the orders of Grand Admiral Thrawn [TIE Fighter Collector's CD-ROM] has a similar layout, though the dorsal and upper lateral wings are much reduced in size. The upper lateral wings end in massive missile launchers. The cockpit has proportions more like the Lambda cockpit module, yet it is much smaller and connects to the fuselage directly. The engines are the same kind as the gunboat's. There is just one laser cannon; the missile weapons are the primary armaments.


Special thanks are due to, in alphabetic order:


Online resources:

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