The starfighters nicknamed "TIEs" are the ubiquitous backbone of the starfighter forces of the Galactic Empire. Similar vessels sharing TIE modular design elements play vital support roles for the Imperial Forces and in civilian applications. Some of the most prominent known examples of these non-fighter craft are treated in this document, in order to emphasise the common design elements.
Several models of TIE craft have been exposed and examined in extensive detail in various official publications. This document treats the whole series in a collective fashion, in the hope that the detailed comparisons will illuminate the fundamentals of TIE design. Other sources have distorted the most basic aspects of TIE function, or at least presented a confused and unphysical perspective. The first few sections of this page reexamine the technological basics.
The latter, major part of this document consists of a catalogue of the major designs of TIE craft. Here they are presented on equal terms; this is partly a response to previous references which have ignored models which actually appear to hold important roles in the Imperial forces in the STAR WARS universe.
Historical note: "tie" was originally a reference to bow-ties, a colloquialism invented by the ILM artists working on A New Hope. However the twin-ion-engine acronym works handsomely from an intrinsic view of the STAR WARS universe.
Thanks are due to, in alphabetic order:
This distinctive series of small fighters and utility ships from Sienar Fleet Systems is named for its propulsion system. The label "TIE" literally means "Twin Ion Engine". Each engine generates a stream of charged particles which are hurled at relativistic speeds and channelled through nozzles at the back of the ship. The exit of particles imparts a thrust to the ship in the opposite direction, which is the same kinematic principle as underlies chemical rocketry. The tight acceleration and streaming of the invisible particles is achieved by powerful applied electromagnetic fields. The fields at the nozzle's aperture can be manipulated to divert the stream, allowing the thrust to be angled anywhere in a wide arc of possible directions. The independent vectoring of the streams from the two engines allows for extremely dynamic manoeuvring.
The engine nozzles are seen as glowing red circular areas and are visible only from directly behind the ship. Not all ships in this series literally fit the "TIE" name. Some have different numbers of engines. Lord Vader's custom fighter, for instance, has four ion engines and should rightly be called a "QIE": "Quadruple Ion Engine". Other vessels, like the TIE Defender, with its three-fold symmetry, have different numbers. (Ships with quadruple engine nozzles might actually share one engine per nozzle in the ship's interior, but the lack of space in the hull globe makes this seem unlikely; and the symmetry of the three-fold fighters appears to be too fundamental for a split engine/nozzle explanation.) The engines of the TIE scout, bomber, boarding craft and transport are difficult to locate and count using presently-available images. Counting the engines of different models is an interesting exercise which may tell us about the propulsive capabilities of the various craft.
TIE fighters have enormous accelerative capabilities for their size. They can effortlessly make orbit from the surface of a habitable world, which implies that their onboard energy sources are much greater than 6x107 joules per kilogram of the ship's mass. This is the bare minimum needed to reach escape velocity from the surface of an Earth-like world. The same feat involving a planet of Bespin's size would require more than nine times as much energy. (Of course, even the most humble freighter craft in STAR WARS are capable of that. This is just an indicative energy scale for all STAR WARS sublight travel.) Considering the ease and rate at which TIEs travel to and from planetary atmospheres in various books and comics, and the tremendous acrobatics carried out at the same time, a better minimum estimate on the energy available for propulsion would be hundreds of times greater.
The fleet of star destroyers in Return of the Jedi moved into its attack position with a nett deceleration magnitude of at least 4000g [Earth gravity]. Starfighters are considerably faster. An Imperator-class star destroyer can marginally outrun the Millennium Falcon in linear sublight acceleration, and most TIE models are significantly faster than the Falcon. Therefore most TIEs are capable of straight-line accelerations and decelerations on the order of at least thousands of g, no less than some tens of thousands of m/s².
Devices called inertial dampers are employed to prevent these accelerations from destroying the pilot and instruments. This is a commonplace use of artificial gravity technology, which applies a force to the ship's interior, varying to exactly counterbalance the inertial forces caused by external acceleration and manoeuvres. Inertial dampers have practical limitations. Sometimes a force is too violent or sudden for the compensators to adjust and counterbalance, leaving a potentially deadly residual force. The safety limits of inertial integrity may be one of the chief determining factors of starfighter performance. Because starfighters are subject to worse accelerations than commercial vessels, they should be fitted with a higher grade of inertial dampers. Nonetheless, many pilots turn down their dampers slightly, so that they experience a tiny fraction of the true acceleration. This aids a pilot's intuitive physical sense of his craft's motion [X-Wing Rogue Squadron].
Some, if not all, TIEs possess repulsorlift generators for movement close to a planetary surface. This is particularly useful for unaided emergency landings. Normally, TIE fighters are berthed and manipulated using docking bay tractor beams in the mothership or base. Most combat TIEs lack any kind of landing gear; the preferred docking position is hanging from a specialised rack with gantries to provide access for pilots and service crew. In some comics and novels evidence suggests that the wings can actually bear the weight of an unpowered fighter, but this might simply be a case of leaving the repulsorlifts active while parked. The heavy TIE transport ships rely entirely on a set of landing pads because of its enormous weight, and the wings are deliberately raised so that they can never touch ground.
Most TIE combat ships lack hyperdrives. This mass-reduction adds to sublight flight performance, and it is not a serious tactical or strategic restriction. Since the Imperial forces can send enormous warships or surface garrisons virtually anywhere in the galaxy, there was no shortage of potential motherships or bases for short-range fighter missions.
Long-range TIEs are not new, however. Lord Vader's advanced TIE prototype is hyperspace-capable, and the presence of TIE "assault craft" aboard the earliest Imperator-class star destroyers (which are drawn as unipod bent-wing craft) hints that his "prototype" might actually have been commonplace through most of the history of the Empire. The TIE Scout craft also possess fully functional hyperdrives, for obvious reasons.
Rear view of a TIE fighter from Lord Vader's forces in The Empire Strikes Back. The glow inside the two engine apertures can be seen from this direct view.
View of Lord Vader's TIE launching from the first Death Star, with two wingmen in ordinary TIE fighters. Note that Vader's ship has four engine nozzles, in two pairs above and below the midplane of the vessel.
The comparison diagram drawn by artists working on Return of the Jedi indicates the relative capabilities of various starfighters. The old short-range, white-hulled TIE from A New Hope is on par with rebel fighters at 100MGLT linear acceleration; the TIE interceptor performs significantly better. Amazingly, the tiny rebel A-Wing seems to be even more nimble and speedy.
TIE-series starships have enormously powerful reactors for their size, as demonstrated by the fighters' potent firepower and dynamic handling in dogfights. Since reactor power is disproportionately great for the size of the craft, the removal and dissipation of waste heat becomes a problem of fundamental importance. TIE engine design makes this particularly problematic, because the outlet nozzles are narrow. Thermal energy from inside the engine is only able to exit through an effective aperture of less than a hundredth of a square metre per engine.
The solution is to add two or more heat panels to the sides of the ship, and to pump the reactors' waste heat into radiator wings. An effective radiator requires a large surface area, but making the wings too extensive would interfere with the pilot's view. The wing configuration of each TIE design, with a given total reactor power, is a compromise between these opposing considerations. Darker surfaces make more effective radiators, hence the predominant charcoal-black tone. For a given wing shape, the effective surface area can be increased by introducing a fine grille texture or some other pattern of lumps or ridges. Even if we ignore the contribution of corrugation, radiators held at only a few hundred degrees (much less than the several thousand degrees of the incandescent engine interiors) may increase the effectiveness of heat removal by thousands of times.
The more powerful the craft, the greater the total wing area should be, assuming that radiator technology remains constant and that the same panel texture is always used. This is the case for designs newer than Lord Vader's TIE. Ships such as the TIE Avenger, Defender and Scimitar appear to follow the wing-area/power rule-of-thumb. However there seems to be a distinction between the flat-wing and bent-wing designs. The flat-winged TIE fighters tend to have greater wing areas for their power; much greater than an Interceptor or Vader's long-range craft. Bent-wing configurations may give a fundamentally better radiator quality, perhaps through some kind of improved heat circulation. Alternatively, there may be no technological advantage, and the high-power small-wing designs may be expected to suffer more obscure technical drawbacks. They may be more fragile or difficult to maintain.
Since most TIEs are intended for the rigours of space combat, there are some tactical design constraints. To help reduce the chances of being hit, a fighter should be shaped to minimise the area visible to an enemy. The most dangerous situation in a dogfight is when the TIE is directly in front of its foe: this happens either when the TIE is being chased, or in a head-to-head attack. With the two ships moving and accelerating in parallel or antiparallel directions, the enemy pilot has maximum time to aim and shoot. Encounters are much briefer when the fighters are at oblique or acute angles to each other. Thus the wings of most TIEs are built so that they face sideways, and they appear only as thin lines when seen from the front, back, above or below.
The bent-wing designs redistribute some of the side surface area to diagonal facings further towards the top and bottom. This makes the craft a smaller target from the side but a larger target from above or below. This may be an advantage if side attacks are more common than vertical attacks, but it's unclear whether or not this should be so. Also, it isn't obvious whether this possible tactical advantage would be the primary reason for bent wings, or merely an incidental benefit.
Apart from the wings, the TIE design is very compact and reduces exposure. Most of the machinery is packed within a cockpit ball and the pylons which support the wings. If the large radiators weren't needed, it is likely that the entire ship would be made spherical.
The compact and enclosed engine design minimises vulnerability to enemy fire. Because the thruster nozzles are no more than a hand-span wide and the drive mechanisms are hidden within the main hull, a TIE would rarely suffer the kind of engine hits which rebel fighters often receive on their stripped-down, oversized and exposed hot-rod sublight drives.
Except on larger TIE craft, the power reactor(s) are usually mounted within the cockpit ball. The exact location is uncertain, but the possibilities are limited since the ball is mostly hollow, and has large windows on several faces. There are two ringlike structures running around the cockpit ball: one above and one below the pilot's level. It has been speculated that these are toroidal fusion reactors. Alternatively, the reactor(s) might be directly beneath the pilot seat, between the engines. Considering the small amount of space available, the reactors of Imperial starfighters must be marvelously compact devices, or else must occupy much of the craft's volume.
Some sources suggest or assume that the wings of TIE craft are solar power collectors. Unfortunately, this cannot be one of the wings' significant functions. Sunshine and starshine are not sufficient to power the propulsion, weapons or any other major mechanism of any craft which is as potent and dynamic as a TIE-series starship. If the fighter is operating in space near a habitable planet, the sunlight will provide no more than about a kilowatt per square metre. The common TIE has an array area of just over a hundred square metres. At this rate, it would take at least several weeks to accrue enough energy to enter or escape the gravity-well of a planet. The energy requirements for hyperspace jumps, made by the non-combat TIEs and the most advanced fighter models, are much more extreme.
A solar-powered TIE would be at a great disadvantage if it was deployed in the outer reaches of a system or in deep space. At most, any solar power collected through the radiators is supplementary to the onboard reactors. Perhaps it is enough to augment the power to cockpit instrumentation and other peripheral processes. At most, solar power could be used for ignition when the fusion reactors are cold-started. They might barely provide enough power to charge up a small, low-temperature electrode fusion device, which might in turn help to initiate the main reactors. (Of course, this would not be the primary justification and function of the wings, but it might account for the popular perception.)
Various commentators have suggested other secondary functions for the wings. Most of these alternatives are concerned with propulsion:
As part of the radiator function, the spokes probably serve as conduits for some kind of coolant. Hot coolant will be moved from the reactors and engines, through the wing pylons, along the spokes, through the radiator panels, and back through different spokes to the pylons and the ships' core systems again. We need not know the precise physical and chemical nature of this coolant, only that there is a coolant of some kind. If TIE wings do play a role in manoeuvring the craft, it is probably via some method of temporary braking acting on the circulating coolant (assuming that the coolant is ordinary matter with mass).
One more suggestion is that the wings are shield generators. However most TIEs struck by laser cannon fire do not behave as if they are shielded. Furthermore, there is the significant fact that many classes of ships known to carry shield generators (eg. X-wings, Y-wings and star destroyers) do not also have features resembling TIE wings.
The standard mount point for the primary weapons of a TIE craft is just below the forward cockpit window on the main hull ball. Vessels designed for mainly non-combat roles may have a single central cannon with a barrel gauge of several centimetres, but the most common configuration on combat ships is a pair of laser cannons side by side. Placement of guns near the centre of a fighter provides a stable weapons platform and may provide slight advantages to pilot aim. [Central placement is reported as an advantage in performance comparisons between World War 2 fightercraft.]
The laser cannons are usually represented as short cylindrical protrusions from the hull plating. An alternative form of laser cannon takes the form of an orange conical device of a size similar to the cylinder-type cannons. These seemingly simple structures evidently are not the only mechanism involved, because the blast bolts can be shot out in many different directions. Although this isn't obvious to the eye, something inside the weapons must be capable of swivelling. The pilot may direct his fire anywhere within the field of view without turning his craft, and the tracking does not detectably delay the bolts' firing. This is a significant advantage over the more static armaments of most rebel starfighters, such as the X-Wing and Y-Wing,
Some models of TIE interceptors and other heavier combat craft mount laser cannons and ion cannons on forward tips or the hubs of the wings. The reasons for this are not entirely clear: there may be tactical and practical advantages in having the cannons widely spaced; or it may simply be a matter of main cockpit ball being too tightly packed with other systems. Direct attachment to the radiators might allow a marginal improvement in the cooling of overheated weapons, or it might allow easier access for maintenance crews. Spreading the fire may improve strafing, and may boost the chances of scoring a few hits even when a few of the linked shots miss. Another possible advantage is redundancy of guns on a partially-damaged fighter: a single grazing hit cannot ruin all of the interceptor's weapons at once. In any case, most designs with wing-mounted guns already have the standard chin guns; wing guns usually seem to be supplemental.
The bolts fired from TIE laser cannons are consistently green in colour, at least on the military models. Green blaster bolts appear to be exclusive to spacecraft and artillery in Imperial service. The physical significance of this is unclear.
Close-up views of the cockpit balls of a standard TIE fighter and a TIE X1. The laser cannons are the twin apertures immediately beneath the main viewport. The cannons on the X1 end in orange structures which were used on all the fighters based at the first Death Star. The laser cannons of TIEs in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi are simpler and colourless.
This card from the SWCCG game demonstrates the TIE's ability to swivel the aim of its weaponry, firing in directions different from the fighter's heading.
TIE interceptor of the ten-cannon sub-model used at Endor, with all the cannons highlighted.
Laser canon fire from Lord Vader's heavy fighter.
Target scope graphics for a TIE X1 long-range starfighter. Lord Vader pressing the triggers for his laser cannons.
The cockpit ball is a constant of all TIE designs. It can be used as a yardstick unit to determine the scale of newly discovered TIE vessels. Cockpit interiors and instrumentation are well standardised among the TIE series starfighters and utility vehicles. The TIE fighter, interceptor and X1 all had the same interior panelling in the films.
The main controls of a TIE are believed to include both foot-operated switches and a double-handed control yoke. The latter is a box-like device with several switches. The pilot presses the whole gadget from side to side affects the manoeuvring of the craft. Thumb switches are triggers for the weapons systems, and there is at least one rotating knob control which has some effect on targeting. Two of them might affect the direction of aim, and perhaps the third knob affects the distance of the point where the beams converge.
The tactical display for the targeting system is in the middle of a rectangular box the same size as the head of the control yoke. A circular screen displays crosshairs, a wireframe representation of the target, and intermittently visible text providing tactical information. To the right of the screen there are two rotating control knobs, and another one to the left. There are two small red indicator lights above and below the leftmost knob. This entire panel may actually be the upper surface of the control yoke, between the handgrips, but the evidence of the films is not yet conclusive.
The cockpit walls are covered with tiles shaped like regular right-angled triangles. Some of these panels are bare blank metal. Others are covered with red indicator lights shaped like circles or round-ended straight lines. These presumably are status lights of some kind. TIEs with more or less complex systems may have varying numbers of these modular panels, in different configurations. The meaning of the lights is not clear, but the patterns are probably meaningful to trained Imperial pilots. Panels conveying less vital information would be placed further from the forward viewport. Light tiles seem to be preferentially arranged so that they are clustered together in groups of four, with the right angles together. Blank tiles surround these clusters.
It's possible that there is some kind of sensor display on the upper wall of the cockpit to the pilot's left side. When attacked by the Millennium Falcon over the first Death Star, Lord Vader looked in this direction. One of his wingmen also looked at the cockpit wall high to one side. Since there is no viewport in this direction, the men probably weren't just glancing at the freighter itself.
Alternatively, the pilot helmets may have holographic virtual reality and stereo sound to provide realistic audiovisual sensor information. If this is the case then they may have been looking at a simulation of the actual position of the freighter. The cockpit instruments would be redundant.
There are two distinctive structures overhead on the ceiling to the left and right of the forward viewport. Each of these objects consists of a cluster of four rounded metal rods pointing directly out of the wall. The rods are silvery, about two centimetres thick and at least fifteen centimetres long. Their function is unknown.
The aft of the cockpit has some more distinctive features. in the exact middle of the wall there is a hexagonal window, or a holographic monitor simulating one. (Lord Vader's TIE X1 lacks a real aft window, for instance, but he has a substitute.) The sides of the viewport are surrounded by six silvery metallic panels shaped as obtuse triangles and bearing a number of short, round bolts. These panels fit the edges of the regular triangular panels of the regular areas of the cockpit walls. To the left and right of the viewport area there are large circular indicator lights, which are about three centimetres in diameter. The starboard light is red; the port light is white. The lights sometimes flash on and off, for an unknown purpose. When Lord Vader fought to regain control of his fighter at the end of the Battle of Yavin, these lights in his craft flashed vigorously.
The primary hatch is on the middle of the aft face of the fighter. It is circular, includes the stern window and is hinged at the top. Within the cockpit, at the bottom left and right of the window there are pneumatic piston devices which are part of the mechanism to open and close the hatch. There is a handgrip above the hatch off to the port side; this aids a right-handed pilot exiting the craft. On the TIE's exterior, the hatch hinge mechanism is prominent on the upper aft part of the hull above the window.
There occasionally appear to be one or two optional secondary hatches for entry or exit from a TIE. The circular section on top of the cockpit bulb is sometimes shown to open by either splitting into left/right parts, or by a hinge at the back. In the comics, the top hatch is often used for the launch of an ejection seat; this may be its original intended purpose. Looking at it from the inside of the cockpit, (in the films) there is no obvious sign of a top hatch; what ought to be the joint area is a nondescript surface with a couple of dark pipes.
A third hatch, on the underside of the cockpit, was present on four black-market TIE fighters used by the Rebel Alliance in a covert attack on Admiral Giel's armada. The bottom hatch may be a makeshift modification made to accommodate other changes: the laser cannons had been altered for a high-power blast capable of puncturing capital ship shields; and makeshift hyperdrives were also installed. The original purpose of the lower hatch was probably nothing more than for engineering service access to the fighter's vital systems.
There is a prejudice in the folklore of rebel pilots, a belief that Imperial TIE pilots are treated as expendable and that their craft lack safety features. This is demonstrably false. TIE pilots flying in space missions wear a comfortable, insulated and fully air-tight spacesuit enabling them to survive in vacuum. TIEs are equipped with automatic ejection seats, which have been seen in action in the asteroid field in The Empire Strikes Back and in many old and new comics. [Wedge Antilles does not realise this capability, eg. X-Wing: Wraith Squadron p.162., but this may be just rebel pilot folklore.] The ejection seat seems to optionally launch through either the forward viewport or the top of the cockpit ball. The appropriate section of the cockpit is blown away by explosive bolts firing a split second prior to the seat's launch.
The durability of the front viewports of TIE fighters is a subject full of interesting discrepancies. In The Empire Strikes Back TIEs flew from atmosphere into orbit around Bespin, which means that the thermal properties of the transparisteel must be superior or comparable to the hardiest hulls of the most primitive spacefaring civilisations. This is unsurprising, but the response of a TIE window to blaster fire seems variable. In X-Wing: Wraith Squadron [p.200] unfitted viewport panels were used as cover against probot blaster fire, which is generally considered to be more powerful than that of a hand blaster. In Rebel Agent [p.123], a bolt from a blaster fails to penetrate a TIE windshield, but causes blistering on its surface. In Crimson Empire, a shot from a blaster pistol smashed right through the window and killed the pilot.
Forward views from inside the cockpits of a standard TIE fighter and Lord Vader's X1.
Lord Vader's TIE X1 cockpit interior. On the left, several of the blank and instrument-bearing triangular tiles can be seen. The light grey area that is partly visible behind Vader's helmet is the holographic simulation of an aft viewport, designed to match that of a standard TIE without the extended hull. The red and white indicator lights can be seen on either side of this screen: the white one is on the right edge of the image; the red light appears near the left edge of Vader's helmet brow. Parts of the hatch mechanism can be seen immediately above and beyond each of Vader's shoulders.
Lord Vader pressing the triggers for his laser cannons. Graphics from his target scope.
TIE pilots in standard cockpit interiors. Several of the red instrument tiles are visible. The large boxy gadget in the foreground at the bottom of the image is part of the control yoke and it is moved when the pilot steers his craft. Two clusters of mysterious rod-like structures are at either side at the top of the picture. Pipes and other mechanisms can be seen near the upper windows.
Design drawings for the TIE fighters in A New Hope. On the rightmost drawing, note the explicit indication of the moving aft hatch, which is hinged at the top.
TIE pilots eject from doomed fighters. [X-Wing: The Rebel Opposition; Marvel STAR WARS #34]
Two pilots of Lord Vader's personal squadron, seen from behind, follow their leader into battle. The rectangular canister on each pilot's back may be his air supply.
According to the relevant blueprints in The Technical Book of Science Fiction Films, the starfighter complement of the first Death Star was:
The Star Destroyer Imperator Class blueprints list a hangar complement for this common model of medium-sized Imperial warship. This is indicative of the original fighter complement of the Imperator, early in Palpatine's reign. This stated complement is:
The "assault craft" are probably either bombers or heavy fighters similar to Lord Vader's. The blueprint crossection portrays them as a single-pod bent-wing design. (NB. Bent-wing TIEs are not especially new; they have existed throughout most of the history of the Empire. In addition to this TIE assault craft, the TIE boarding craft and at least two designs of TIE landing craft have existed for many years.)
Imperial strategy and tactics evolved over the years, and by the later stages of the Palpatine Era other TIE designs had been developed for more specialised combat roles. By the time of the Battle of Endor, the interceptors were used more widely and in greater numbers. It was intended that they would eventually replace ordinary TIE fighters in fleet usage. Around the time of the Battle of Endor, the typical composition of an Imperator's TIE wing would be something like:
The figures for the complements of Imperator-class destroyers are probably representative of the composition of the starfighter forces carried by other ships of the Imperial starfleet. Warships with smaller or larger internal hangar space would have fractions or multiples of these numbers. Executor-class command ships by regulation have a bare minimum of twice the Imperator's TIE complement, but this may include elite squadrons of TIE Avenger and Defender craft. The sheer size of an Executor implies that its maximum fighter capacity may be in the tens of thousands or more. There exist carrier craft which are between a destroyer and command ship in size; they probably house hundreds or thousands of fighters.
The minimal Imperial garrison has storage space for forty small unipod TIE craft. The typical complement is thirty TIE fighters and five TIE bombers; the bipod bombers occupy space equivalent to two fighters. Ideally an Imperial starfighter wing has seventy-two craft, but the wing of a basic Army garrison is reduced because the Imperial Navy tends to be jealous of the starfighter forces assigned to it. At least that is a commonly reported perception of the situation.
High performance fighters were provided to elite squadrons engaged in missions of vital importance. Designs such as the TIE Avenger and Defender seem to have been exclusive to forces under central Imperial command, under Grand Admirals or Lord Vader. They were probably unavailable to the parochial local forces of sector Moffs.
What follows is a list of several of the known models of TIE combat craft and utility vessels. This is not a complete catalogue; many other designs probably appear on the pages of the first-generation comics, or else have not yet been seen in official publications. For instance, there is fighter design which Admiral Ackbar recognises as commonplace, (its technical designation is "V38", akin to the "X1" of Lord Vader's fighter) which remains unpublished and is only known by its similarity to the TIE Phantom prototype. It is quite likely that other TIE models exist, which have by chance not been mentioned yet.
Some of the presently published references are confused about the proper terminology for the TIE Avenger and the TIE X1. These vessels are often called "TIE Advanced" as if they were mere variants of each other. However even the most cursory glance at their features (wing configuration, hull shape, number of engines) shows them to be fundamentally different designs. Although they may play similar roles, the Avenger and X1 are as distinct as the TIE Bomber is from the TIE/gt fighter variant. They are long-range advance fighters, and the term "TIE Advanced" is an obvious nickname.
The proportions of various TIE vehicles stated below are derived from several sources. The features seen on film take precedence, but clear photogrammetry is not always possible. Indeed a majority of the TIE models have not yet appeared onscreen. In most cases, the orthonormal drawings in Essential Guide to Vehicles & Vessels are used. Therefore these results are only as good as the artistic work of that publication. In the case of the standard TIE fighter, we are fortunate to have two separate sets of blueprints drawn during the production of A New Hope.
The basic units used to calculate the lengths and areas is the diameter of the cockpit ball. This is a constant yardstick of all regular TIE designs. The fact that the ball remains the same size on all models is much more certain than any of the absolute dimensions separately published for any particular ship.
The stated dimensions of the special effects model of the standard TIE Fighter are 36cm x 38cm x 48cm. The model was built to the 1/16 scale convention, so its absolute width, length and height are (with appropriate precision) equal to: 5.76±0.08m, 6.08±0.08m and 7.68±0.08m. This result is slightly smaller than measurements stated in roleplaying game products: 6.3m length for the fighter. Since no justification or reasoning for the 6.3m figure has ever been published, this document provisionally assumes that the standard TIE is 6.08m long. On this scale, the cockpit diameter is 2.04m. [Using the RPG-based figures would require multiplying all lengths by 1.036 and areas by 1.074.]
Other statistics stated below include the standard armament or payload of a craft, the number of engines (if known). An indication of each model's typical maximum acceleration is given; these statistics are quoted from three types of sources:
By performing regression analysis on the data for several known rebel and Imperial fighters and bombers, it is possible to derive approximate mathematical expressions relating these three different acceleration ratings. The ILM rating in MGLT is proportional to the LucasArts rating raised to the power of 2.4. Thus the TIE Avenger and Defender are 240MGLT and 282MGLT on the ILM scale. The WEG rating is weakly related to the other standards. If the LucasArts MGLT rating is L then the WEG rating is in the range W±1, where W=0.14L-5.5. Thus the WEG propulsion ratings of the Avenger and Defender cannot be less than 14 and 16 respectively.
Six months after the Battle of Naboo, during the tale of lone Jedi Darca Nyl, a fleet of warships is shown above an important world of the Galactic Republic [STAR WARS Tales #21]. Several appear appear to be star frigates (resembling the size and style of the Republic's Accalamator-class military transports), and at least one partially visible ship has the dorsal cortex surface characteristic of vast star dreadnoughts. These could be defences of an affluent core sector like that of Kuat [AOTC:ICS].
However for the purposes of this commentary, the most interesting feature of the armada is the style of TIE fighters that swarm about the scene. These are superficially similar to the basic TIE fighters of the later Galactic Empire, with a spherical cockpit between two radiator wings supported on transverse pylons. The wings are octagonal rather than hexagonal, and the segments appear to be equal in size and shape.
These fighters might be the Old Republic's T.I.E. fighters [mentioned but not illustrated in the STAR WARS Sourcebook].
TIE fighters mingle with warships over an important world, six months after the Battle of Naboo [STAR WARS Tales #21].
These classic TIE fighters predate the completion of the first Death Star, but it isn't yet clear whether the same model was used during the time of the Old Republic. The linear acceleration of these ships was on par with rebel X-Wing starfighters: both are rated at 100MGLT in the performance diagram drawn by ILM artists. Except for Lord Vader's craft, all of the Imperial fighters deployed at the Battle of Yavin was of this kind. The newer TIE/ln fighter achieves a higher performance.
Although he commissioned the advanced technology of the Death Star, Grand Moff Tarkin's realm (in the Outer Rim Territories) was a galactic backwater, and so his starfighters might not have been the latest models. Within a few years, these basic white hulled TIEs were replaced by darker versions (at least in Lord Vader's fleet and the forces that gathered at Endor). The latter are unambiguously identified as the TIE/ln design. The former design, Tarkin's white-hulled TIE fighters, are also short-range craft and not hyperspace-capable.
Blueprints for the original TIE fighter in A New Hope. Note the indication of the aft cockpit hatch in the second blueprint illustration. In the third diagram, a crossection, the pilot is wearing the maskless uniform which is standard to pilots based on worlds with breathable atmospheres.
Views of the standard short-range TIE, from above and from front.
According to the manga version of A New Hope, the TIE sentry ship that first met the Millennium Falcon in the Alderaan system bore some distinctive oversized sensory hardware. The sensors are larger than those of the TIE/rc and TIE/fc recon fighters seen in STAR WARS Adventure Journal #10.
TIE fighter serving as a sentry ship for the original Death Star.
TIE Fighter schematics from Essential Guide to Vehicles & Vessels.
Schematics for an older TIE fighter from STAR WARS Adventure Journal #10.
The new standard TIE/ln fighter is visually distinguished from its basic TIE predecessor by the darker hue of its primary hull alloys. Faster and more durable, it still lacks hyperspace capabilities, but may be capable of more extended sublight flight, such as the pursuit of the Millennium Falcon from Hoth. The manufacture of a single TIE/ln is supposed to cost 60000 credits.
There exist several specialised variants of this TIE. Most of them have been described adequately elsewhere; their differences are not great enough to warrant separate treatment here. The TIE/rc is a short-range reconnaissance craft. TIE/gt is a light ground-support bomber. TIE/fc fighters provide target designation and telemetry data to aid the fire-control of long-range strikes by warships or baseline combat fighters.
Another modified version of what otherwise looks like a TIE/ln lacks the dark radiator panels on the inner wing surfaces, which gives it effectively half the radiator area. These fighters were most numerous in the remnant Imperial forces stationed on Cilpar in the months following Palpatine's defeat at Endor. (The only other kind of TIE seen on the planet was a heavily armed bent-wing assault fighter flown by the senior pilot of the unit.)
Perhaps the radiator area was reduced because these are ground support fighters and airflow over the outer surfaces is sufficient to cool the fighter. Removing redundant radiators could simply maintenance. Alternatively, these fighters may represent an intermediate of the ordinary flat-wing fighters and whatever technology enables the bent-winged fighters to operate with reduced radiator area. However it probably doesn't represent a fundamental stage in technological advance, because several kinds of bent-wing TIEs existed for years before A New Hope. Perhaps instead they are an extremely old TIE, predating the practice of mounting double-sided panels?
Grey-hulled TIE/ln fighters pursue a rebel freighter into a dangerous and peculiarly dense asteroid field.
TIE Fighter schematics from Essential Guide to Vehicles & Vessels.
Schematics of TIE/ln the recon TIE/rc, the fire coordinator TIE/fc, and TIE/gt light bomber from STAR WARS Adventure Journal #10.
In the first illustration these appear to be TIE/gt bomber variants of the common TIE fighter, bombarding the surface of a large asteroid in an attempt to flush out rebel quarry. The second image is another scene from several years earlier, during the assault on the rebels' Yavin IV base; these are either fighters escorting unseen bombers, or they may be TIE/gt light bombers themselves.
Several of the interesting reduced-radiator TIE fighters flying over Cilpar. (In the third image three of them are in the background.) The inner surfaces of the wings lack dark radiator panels. This is not just a glitch in the artwork; every panel in the comic series leaves the inner wing surfaces untextured in exactly the same way.
TIE Fighter [extended]
TIE fighters with extended aft sections were part of Admiral Griff's forces based at Jovan station and participating in the early strikes against the rebels' base at Yavin IV. This tail section resembles the structure of the Kenner TIE Fighter toy. Its function is unknown, but it is reminiscent of Lord Vader's fighter, and therefore it may contain shields or a hyperdrive unit.
It seems to be a commonplace vessel, at least in the campaign against the Yavin rebels. The fighter was not unique to Admiral Griff's command either, because at least one more example appears in Moff Tavira's forces about a year after the Battle of Endor, in X-Wing Rogue Squadron: The Warrior Princess.
Examples of the long-tailed TIE fighters from the comics.
The extended TIE hull as sculpted for the classic Kenner TIE Fighter and TIE Interceptor toys, as shown in STAR WARS: The Action Figure Archive.
This is a short-range reconnaissance TIE based on the common TIE fighter. However the physical difference between the TIE Vanguard and TIE Fighter are greater than for the TIE/rc reconnaissance craft. Several large antennae for sensors and scanners protrude from the cockpit ball. The upper section of each wing is shortened and swept outwards to reduce interference with some of the dorsal scanner devices. In extrinsic terms, this vessel was invented for the SWCCG card game; in intrinsic terms, it was deployed by Imperial forces at least as early as the Battle of Yavin.
SWCCG game card for the TIE Vanguard. Note the curious designation "TIE/rc" which does not match the "TIE Vanguard" label. In fact the TIE/rc is a completely different design, bearing a closer resemblance to a TIE fighter. The TIE/rc is a fighter variant for reconnaissance missions; the TIE Vanguard appears to be more of a dedicated reconnaissance craft. The "TIE/rc" designation on the card could be just a game mechanism to ensure that effects applied to the true /rc fighter are also applied to the Vanguard.
A hyperdrive-capable scout and reconnaissance craft, sometimes designated the Sienar Ships "Lone Scout-A". The unipod hull appears to be much longer and thicker than that of the smaller TIE fighters, but the front end is the same standard ball cockpit. There usually is a single laser cannon on the chin of the cockpit ball, although limited-production double-cannon variants have been seen.
In order to support the large radiator wings, the wing pylons are the thicker, sturdier kind, similar to those of Lord Vader's long-range fighter. The wings are bent, but unlike the wings of a bomber or boarding craft, there is only one bending edge.
The wing area is mostly above the midplane of the ship; presumably this is to keep the wings clear of the ground during independent planetary landings. As a scout craft, this ship should be able to land in places other than the conventional ceiling rack of a garrison base or warship. The TIE Scout probably has retractable landing pads like the larger TIE transports.
The original TIE Scout drawing from the second edition of the STAR WARS The Roleplaying Game rulebook. This is where the TIE Scout was defined.
TIE/sr SWCCG game card. It appeared in the first release of the game, which hints that this is the kind of Imperial scout ship used to investigate Dantooine in A New Hope.
The STAR WARS Encyclopedia mentions the existence of a "TIE Boat" in the general section on "TIE fighters." This name alone doesn't say anything clear about the nature of the TIE Boat. It may be a "boat" in the sense of being a transport capable of carrying several people on modest journeys (in the same maritime/space analogy as "star pilots", "star destroyers" and "star freighters"). In this case the TIE Boat might be something like Giel's transport or the landing craft described below. Alternatively it might be a description of a TIE vessel designed for aquatic landings or aquatic travel.
The roleplaying adventure Battle for the Golden Sun describes a model of TIE Fighter Boat. This may be the TIE Boat mentioned in the SW Encyclopedia. According to the notes, "these particular TIEs have been designed exclusively to operate underwater." Does this mean that they can only operate underwater, or does it mean that they result from an exclusive design process? No physical description is given, so it is not yet known how greatly these ships differ from TIE starfighters. Radiator wings would hamper the craft with enormous drag underwater, and the cooling contact with water might reduce the need for radiators. Though TIEs are known to operate in atmosphere, it would require a remarkable ion engine to expel its particle stream through a medium as dense as seawater. There may be a different kind of supplemental propulsion system.
This twin-hulled short-range TIE is the Empire's most common dedicated bomber. Slow and unmanoeuverable compared to TIE fighter craft. The starboard pod contains the one-man cockpit; the portside pod is dedicated to the payload and associated launch systems. Depending on the mission objectives, TIE bombers are loaded with various yields of missile weapons, passive inertial bombs or mines The EGVV schematics indicate that the engines are in the thick brace between the hull pods, though the positions of the nozzles aren't shown.
Stock photograph of the standard TIE bomber.
TIE Bomber schematics from Essential Guide to Vehicles & Vessels.
TIE Bombers scour the surface of a large asteroid, searching for a rebel freighter escaped from Hoth.
TIE Bomber (far left) hangs from a launch rack in a docking bay of the second Death Star.
This interesting variant model of bomber engaging in punitive strikes against Kabal has an octagonal cockpit window at both the forward and aft ends of the crew pod, plus more panoramic windows surrounding each viewport. The ordnance pod has a curious spheroidal structure at the front end. Whether it is a mission-specific fit or a model feature is not yet known.
TIE Boarding Craft
TIE Boarding Craft were conceived for A New Hope but could not be included in the film. These bent-wing vessels are one of the oldest common TIE models, dating back to the earliest days of the Palpatine's rule. It seems that the star destroyer Imperator was designed to carry six of these ships [according to the Star Destroyer Imperator Class blueprints]. TIE Boarding Craft were also a major part of the hangar complement of the Death Star battle station (806 were carried).
The wings and hull design are similar to those of a TIE Bomber or TIE Shuttle, but the vertical segment is somewhat larger, and appears to have radiator panels on its inner surface as well. Considering the similarity of hulls, the engines are probably arrayed in the same way as those of a TIE Bomber. The starboard pod contains the cockpit, but has space for more occupants. The portside pod carries at least a squad of stormtroopers for boarding operations. The forward end of the port pod bears what looks like a docking clamp, and presumably has a general-purpose airlock and automatic cutting torches to breach the enemy ship or space station. It is possible that this mechanism may be extensible beyond the vessel's wings to facilitate mating with a wider variety of docking ports.
Original concept sketch for TIE Boarding Craft from A New Hope, as reprinted in The STAR WARS Sourcebook. The editor of the book cropped off the text which indicated the ship's function.
This TIE, appearing in issue #53 The Last Gift from Alderaan, seems to be a TIE boarding craft, based on the structure of the wing pylons, the wing shape and the absence of a bombing chute appendage. The only apparent anomaly is the possible absence of grappling claws on what should be the starboard pod hull-cutter. [NB. The stormtroopers are in scale; they were recruited from giant stock.]
This design was brought out of obscurity in The Empire Strikes Back, when Captain Needa used one of these TIEs as a courier and shuttle craft to report to Lord Vader. Whether the shuttle and the boarding craft are the same is unclear; they have similar shape and size. The boarding craft certainly must have superior armour and speed, since it is principally used during hostilities. The interior of the TIE Shuttle is less cramped, giving the courier passengers more space than the more numerous stormtroopers who are carried in each TIE Boarding Craft. Considering the similarity of hulls, the engines are probably arrayed in the same way as those of a TIE Bomber.
Captain Needa departs the Avenger (top) in order to make a personal apology to Lord Vader aboard the Executor (bottom). Needa is in the TIE shuttle immediately below Avenger's main docking bay.
TIE Shuttle schematics according to STAR WARS Adventure Journal #10.
This bent-wing TIE transport craft is based around a single heavy hull pod. Like the flat-wing triple-hulled TIE transport described elsewhere, the lower wing surfaces are short enough so that they do not touch the ground; support is provided by two pairs of landing gear. Present imagery does not make the engines obvious, but circumstantial evidence indicates that it has a hyperdrive.
On the dorsal surface there are two large antenna arrays for communications or scanning. The craft appears to be capable of transceiving interstellar hyperwave channels with a sufficiently powerful warship like the Executor, although the TIE is probably not able to open a channel alone (much the same as for the hyperwave equipment on other small starships, probots and tracking devices).
This vessel has a single pilot (who wears an open "cockroach" helmet rather than combat flightsuit) and room for at least one passenger. Considering its use by former-Admiral Giel in his investigation of the abandoned rebel base at Golrath, it was probably able to carry at least a squad of stormtroopers as well.
Giel makes his escape from Golrath.
TIE Transport & TIE Lander
At least two distinct models of large, triple-hulled vessels are designed to carry large numbers of troops or other personnel. They are used as dropships or as regular troop shuttles. As a planetary landing craft, these TIEs carry no less than eleven troops, and they seem to have space for many more: perhaps a whole platoon. Seen in the Marvel comic series.
Two different models are known, distinguished by their wing details and the functions and features of the three hull modules. (It would be fairer to treat each design in a separate section; a future revision of this document will do so.) There is a flat-wing design with smaller radiator area, and a bent-wing model with somewhat larger area. The bent-wing model was in use at least ten years prior to the Battle of Hoth; the flat-wing model was employed on Imperial-occupied Bespin before Palpatine's fall.
On the bent-wing landing craft model, the cockpit is in the starboard upper hull module. The forward end of the lower module has a hatch for debarking troops. The front of the upper portside module has a mechanism resembling that of the equivalent section of a TIE Boarding Craft or TIE Bomber.
In the flat-wing transport ship the cockpit is in the lower module. On the front of each of the upper modules there is what appears to be a large boarding hatch for troops and their equipment. The stern is massive and structurally complex, and it extends well behind the wings. A pair of circular structures on either side of the tail resemble standard airlock docking rings. However they may be too close to the engines to perform that kind of function.
Unlike most military TIE designs, these ships have sets of landing gear. The wings may be unable to bear the ship's weight, so they are positioned high enough so that they never touch the ground. The flat-wing model has its flat wings positioned somewhat higher.
TIE transport ship carries Captain Treece and squads of regular and demolitions stormtroopers to Bespin's Cloud City, with the mission of defusing the terrorist bombs that threaten the survival of the floating metropolis. [Marvel SW #56,57]
TIE landing craft, carrying stormtroopers to a battle zone. This scene took place at least ten years prior to The Empire Strikes Back. [Marvel SW #60]
This short-range fighter was first manufactured soon after the Battle of Yavin, and became abundant by the time of the Emperor's fall. One of the faster Imperial starfighters; its acceleration rating is 125MLGT according to ILM concept diagrams prepared during the production of Return of the Jedi.
The interceptor has numerous hard points for laser cannons. The most basic model has four cannons, which can be quad-linked, on the front tips of the wings. The sub-class of interceptors deployed at Endor bore a pair of identical cannons in the usual place below the forward window, and two more pairs on the hub of each wing near the targeting sensors. This gives a blistering firepower with a total of ten laser cannons. Of course, it is possible that some of the extra weapons are ion cannons or other types of armament, but their visible structural details are identical to the conventional laser cannons.
It is unknown whether there are any practical disadvantages counterbalancing the benefits of the weapons upgrade. Perhaps the heavily armed interceptors have marginally greater energy consumption, and therefore need to return to base for refueling slightly sooner than the basic model. Perhaps they simply are more expensive to construct and more difficult to maintain.
Other variants included a hyperspace-capable version (possibly a separate class rather than a retrofit) employed by Admiral Trigit in the forces of Warlord Zsinj [X-Wing Wraith Squadron]. When Grand Admiral Thrawn returned from Unknown Regions to confront the New Republic, he ordered the development and installation of potent deflector shields on his forces' TIE Interceptors.
A regular TIE interceptor like the ones deployed at the Battle of Endor, with ten laser cannons [highlighted on the first image]. The common notion that TIE interceptors have only four cannons is due to the omission of small parts for the guns on the cockpit chin and poor detail on the wing hubs on the model kit made in 1983. Since the computer games have subsequently used the 4-cannon model, the most generous possible explanation is that the games reflect a low-firepower, cheaper, older interceptor variant. The ten guns on the interceptors used at Endor are all shaped exactly the same as each other; there can be no mistaking their identification.
TIE Interceptor schematics from Essential Guide to Vehicles & Vessels. This book conspicuously fails to identify the six additional laser cannons, although the artist was clearly aware of their existence. The best indirect recognition of the weapons is the labelling of the "targeting sensors" in between the cannons of the wing hubs.
This screenshot from the Rogue Squadron is from a mission that supposedly took place six months after A New Hope. This sets a tight constraint on the time it took for the Empire to develop the TIE Interceptor.
The TIE Hunter is a single-man fighter seen in service at least a year before the Battle of Endor [Rebel Strike]. The cockpit ball is similar to that of a common TIE fighter, but the wing pylons are much thicker. This may imply a greater flux of coolant between the wings and the reactor. Like other advanced TIE models, the TIE Hunter has deflector shields and a hyperdrive. These devices are probably in the extended tail, which resembles that of the advanced TIE X1.
The Hunter's armament consists of two laser cannons on the cockpit ball, a proton torpedo launcher, and an ion cannon on each of the wing hubs. The laser cannons are indistinguishable from those of a TIE fighter or interceptor.
In an exceptional arrangement, the two ion drive nozzles are at the rear ends of the wing hubs, rather than in the cockpit ball. The thrusters may occupy much of the wing hubs, in which case they're more voluminous than the thrusters of a common TIE. Proximity to the wing radiators probably improves heat disposal. It's uncertain whether the ion cannons gain any advantage by being mounted within the same hub structures as the engines.
The four winglets have a combined area less than that of an interceptor. All else being equal, this ought to increase the Hunter's heat disposal problems, but the thicker pylons and less compact thrusters may offset the disadvantage. Thus the power of the Hunter is difficult to assess, except that it should be less than larger-winged, thick-pylon craft such as the X1.
Uniquely among TIE designs, the Hunter's wings fold like the “S-foils” of an X-wing fighter. However the wingtips do not appear to bear weapons, so the open-winged mode isn't designed to improve weapons spread. It may be intended to improve heat disposal, like the smaller winglets of Η-2 (Eta-2) interceptors of the Clone Wars. More mysteriously, the wings of the TIE Hunter do not close completely.
Two encounters between rebels and TIE Hunters have been recorded [Rebel Strike].
Close views of the front sides and cockpit of a TIE Hunter, suspended in a hangar bay.
Three TIE Hunters with wings in “closed” configuration.
Side view of a TIE Hunter flown by Wedge Antilles in an attack against a star dreadnought under construction at Fondor. There are obviously no weapons on the wingtips. The portside wing hub, with an ion cannon at the front and and ion drive at the tail end, is visible here.
Another distinct fighter, with greatly enhanced and overpowered weaponry, was used at least as early as a few months after the Battle of Endor. This ship had four cannons of enormous size on the wingtips, and one cannon of more ordinary magnitude on each wing hub. There are no weapons on the chin of the cockpit ball.
The observed example was flown by one Major Grode, of His Majesty's Crimson Squadron, stationed at an Army garrison on Cilpar. The garrison was in disarray and had suffered from the continual attrition wrought by a local resistance movement. Grode had obvious problems with equipment and personnel. This may be the reason why he was the only member of his unit to possess the elite fighter: it may be the only operable one left; or he may have simply scrounged it. Since the Imperial forces remaining on Cilpar were particularly decadent, it can be assumed that this design predates the Emperor's fall and was not particularly rare.
Heavy fighter used by lead pilots garrisoned on the planet Cilpar in the months immediately following the Battle of Endor.
Lord Vader's personal fighter belonged to this class of long-range (hyperdrive-capable) fighters. It is sometimes regarded as a custom or deluxe design, but this may be just a figment of hindsight, since this class became a source of inspiration for the later, famous Interceptor and Avenger models. This heavy fighter may actually have been a commonplace long-range fighter design used throughout much of the history of the Empire: according to blueprints, the star destroyer Imperator (the first of its class) originally carried a number of unipod bent-wing "TIE assault craft".
The "customisation" of Vader's personal TIE might actually extend no further than its provision of shields (This is a distinctive feature; most TIE fighters are unshielded and rely on superior piloting skill and tactical advantage.) Alternatively, the modification might involve the partial removal of shields or targeting systems, since Vader's excellent piloting skills are augmented by his mastery of the Force. Perhaps the speed or the power of the weapons have been enhanced. Perhaps the customisation involves life-support in the cockpit; Vader's fighter might optionally provide him with an environment similar to that created in his hyperbaric meditation chambers.
In any case, this fighter is significantly faster and more manoeuvrable than its mass would suggest. Four thruster nozzles are placed in two pairs above and below the extended tail of the fighter. This section, containing a shield and hyperdrive units, blocks the usual cockpit rear viewport. Therefore a realistic holographic viewscreen is mounted behind pilot seat to mimic the rear window found in ordinary TIE starfighters. Judging by cockpit interior details, the main hatch is still at the rear of the ship, but the mechanism by which it opens must be more complex than for TIEs with a simple unadorned hull pod.
The wing pylons are thicker than usual, and there are large holes in their front faces. Through these gaps, a set of curved pipes can be seen. The pipes run in the same general direction, from the main hull towards the wings. These probably carry outbound coolant. The partial exposure of these pylon pipes to space may be a modification to further improve the removal of excess heat. The long-range TIE Scout craft described above also has thick pylons with similar holes.
Lord Vader's TIE in formation with two standard short-range TIE fighters. Note the relatively small radiator area.
Views of the stern of Lord Vader's TIE fighter, showing the four engine nozzles, in two pairs above and below the midplane of the vessel.
Closeup views of the cockpit section and wing pylons of the TIE X1 heavy long-range starfighter. [From Star Wars to Indiana Jones]
Lord Vader pursues a doomed rebel pilot, during the Battle of Yavin. The Dark Lord of the Sith scored the majority of the kills in that epic engagement.
Interior views of the cockpit of Lord Vader's TIE X1 fighter.
Lord Vader's fighter, with the port wing damaged on the upper rear corner, spins into the void at the conclusion of the Battle of Yavin.
Schematics for Lord Vader's advanced TIE prototype, from Essential Guide to Vehicles & Vessels.
TIE [X1 relative]
The computer game X-Wing includes a fighter that appears to be related to Lord Vader's X1. The wings are the same as on the X1, but the hull and pylons are the those of a plain short-range TIE fighter, without the trailing fin. It is shielded and has two laser cannons but no hyperdrive. In game terms, it appears in several missions, including one against the Death Star. About forty of these fighters were seen in the missions. In intra-textual terms, it may be a shorter-range descendent of Lord Vader's model, perhaps being called the X2. It is seen in association with the Death Star, and may have been a rare, exclusive production.
The game performance statistics are the same as the TIE Avenger, except for the missile weapons and hyperdrive. Strangely, it is replaced by Avengers in the Collector's CD-ROM edition of X-Wing. This is a discontinuity because the Avenger was only developed much later in the STAR WARS chronology, in the TIE Fighter game, which occurs after TESB.
Port-forward and dorsal views of the thin-pylon, bent-wing TIEs of Omega Squadron in the X-Wing game. The dorsal view clearly shows that the tail fin of the TIE X1 is absent.
An advanced, hyperspace-capable starfighter design attributed to Lord Darth Vader. It is sometimes nicknamed "TIE Advanced", but this is improper terminology because it applies equally to other, completely distinct models like Lord Vader's TIE X1. Developed prior to the Battle of Hoth and used extensively in unpublicised campaigns against mutinous and corrupt elements within the Imperial Navy. Deployed only with elite and ultra-loyal fighter units, due to its enormous expense. Production declined after Palpatine's fall, for economic reasons.
The TIE Avenger, as shown on the SWCCG game card depicting its standard blaster weaponry.
TIE Avenger advanced starfighter, as it is rendered in The Stele Chronicles. The cockpit ball is somewhat lacking in panel detail in this representation, but the general features are clear.
SWCCG game card for the TIE Avenger. Some of the game text is misleading: the TIE Interceptor design actually precedes the development of the TIE Avenger, but then the Avenger failed to become more common due to problems of cost.
TIE Avenger as depicted in the in-game databank of X-Wing vs TIE Fighter; and in cutscenes from Balance of Power. These models are considerably more polygonal than the style of TIEs seen in the movies; this is probably a limitation of the medium and the SWCCG renderings would be more realistic.
A developmental model of the TIE Avengers is fitted with an experimental beam weapon in TIE Fighter.
TIE Avengers fire upon a rebel shipyard in Balance of Power, demonstrating the positions of their missile tubes.
The most advanced combat TIE seen so far. Developed shortly after the Battle of Hoth, following the success of the TIE Avenger. Its applications were similar to those of the Avenger: campaigns of vital importance to the Emperor, especially the efforts against pre-Endor warlordism within the Imperial Forces. Equipped with hyperdrive, deflector shields, and advanced weaponry of various kinds. It is the fastest and most manoeuvrable manned spacecraft known, but production was limited by its enormous cost: over 300000 credits each. The Defender was only available to the most elite starfighter units with proven performance on the Avenger.
TIE Defender mark 1, as depicted on its SWCCG game card.
Various views of the TIE Defender model found in TIE Fighter Collector's Edition. Although these renderings are necessarily polygonal, they show some very important features and proportions of the fighter: most notably the arrangement of the three ion engines.
TIE Defender as rendered in the strategy computer game Rebellion. The pod section behind the cockpit seems somewhat shorter and rounder than usual; and the pylons may be more streamlined.
Delivery of TIE Defenders to a star destroyer, as shown in the TIE Fighter computer game.
TIE Defender schematics and sketch from Essential Guide to Vehicles & Vessels. Note that the cockpit window here is drawn in the same style as other TIE craft. This is more realistic; the alternative drawings, often seen within the computer games, are probably only made polygonal in order to make CG rendering easier.
Low-detail animated model of the TIE Defender as seen in the tech room feature of the TIE Fighter computer game. The wing pylons seem broader here than in some other sources. Here they seem reminscent of the aft end of the TIE X1.
When Grand Admiral Thrawn returned from his missions on the galactic fringes to wage a campaign against the New Republic, the TIE Scimitar was developed and commissioned on his orders. This heavy bomber design also seems to have reached the forces of the Palpatine Clones on Byss. [The fugitive Royal Guardsman Kir Kanos possessed a TIE Scimitar in Crimson Empire.]
The hull is an elongated unipod design, with the cockpit extending forward beyond the wings to provide superior crew visibility. The two crewmen enjoy extensive viewport strips along the cockpit ceiling, and below to port and starboard. In an emergency, the entire cockpit pod can detach to jettison the wings, main hull and payload.
A TIE Scimitar is propelled by a single ion engine, augmented by a pair of powerful manoeuvring repulsor drives mounted on the wings. Repulsors are the most efficient form of propulsion within the gravity well of a significant planetary body; and bombers naturally spend many missions attacking ground targets.
The wings are an unusual shape: scalloped so that the panels turn back slightly around the pylon. This increases the craft's forward or rear profile, and hence its vulnerability to enemy fire. The explanation for this design compromise is not obvious. It may be less a concern for this bomber than other TIE designs, since the Scimitar is equipped with strong shield generators. It may be an aerodynamic concession of some kind, owing to the fact that these bombers often operate in atmosphere; or it may have something to do with leverage and the action of the repulsors to turn the craft.
A captured TIE Scimitar in the hangar of the forward docking bay a star destroyer [from Crimson Empire].
Sketch and schematics of the TIE Scimitar from Essential Guide to Vehicles & Vessels.
This is a droid/computer controlled starfighter mass-produced from the factories of the World Devastators of the Battle of Calamari and the Shadow Hand campaign. The vehicle is often called a "TIE Droid", although it would be more specific and appropriate to call it a TIE drone instead, since a "drone" is literally a starfighter with artificial intelligence whereas "droid" usually refers to an independent ambulatory android that could be separated from a vehicle. SFS had experimented with drone TIEs for many years, but they were impractical as long as the Empire dominated the sapient and material resources of the galaxy. The drone fighter's programmed piloting and combat tactics tend to be idiosyncratic or inferior to a living pilot. Therefore the ability to mass-produce it is the only major advantage. The TIE drones are deployed only in overwhelming numbers, and in situations when the efficiency of manufacturing outperforms the effectiveness of Imperial pilot recruitment and training.
Drone TIE schematics and sketch from Essential Guide to Vehicles & Vessels.
This is a little-known experimental two-man fighter produced in limited quantities at a secret facility sometime before the Battle of Endor. According to Admiral Ackbar, it is a modified version of an extant fighter model called V38, with the most important addition being a special set of sensor/scanner countermeasures.
In the computer game the prototype craft appeared to be named "Phantom", but the term "TIE Sentinel" has also appeared (most prominently in a Hasbro online survey about future toy concepts). Most likely a TIE Sentinel is the V38, lacking a cloaking device, and the cloakable experimental fighter is the TIE Phantom.
The triple wings total a radiator area equivalent to over double that of a TIE interceptor. There are three engine outlets in an equilateral triangular configuration on the stern, which is a flat rather than spherical surface.
The cockpit configuration is unusual; it looks more like part of a Corellian freighter than a spherical Sienar design. This may have been used only on prototypes; production models, had they ever been built, probably would followed SFS conventions. Crew enter through an elevator hatch under the primary hull.
The vessel is armed with two chin-mounted laser cannons in addition to the three which appear to be mounted on the wingtips. It also carries some remarkable power-consuming extras, which might reduce its propulsive performance to something less than an older fighter or bomber. These luxury devices including a shield generator, a hyperdrive, and some sort of cloaking device which is capable of operating even during a hyperjump.
The latter feature is most surprising for a ship of this size. The Imperial Navy only used cloaking devices for very special tactical purposes, and full cloaking shields were technically impractical on anything but large warships or cargo vessels. A cloaking device mounted on a starfighter must have some drastic hidden or overt drawbacks. Perhaps there are dangerous side-effects for the pilot? Perhaps the fighter contains a compact but unstable energy source that produces a gargantuan explosion when the ship is crippled? In any case, the cloaking devices on the prototypes were flawed, the cloak effect tended to flicker on and off, and was prone to outright failure.
The TIE Phantom prototype in flight.
Wireframe representation of the experimental cloaked fighter from Rebel Assault II.
Two rebel infiltrators board a TIE Phantom through a belly hatch. The prototype fighters hang in a rack similar to those used for regular TIE designs. The gantry alongside the main hull and cockpit section is interesting: it may be for the sake of groundcrew and technical service droids, or it might mean that there is another entrance from the side of the fighter. The fighter is manipulated for launch by a hangar crane.
TIE Phantom fighter as it appears with the cloaking shield partially activated.
Forward and aft views of the interior of the experimental TIE Phantom cockpit. The instruments and panelling are not TIE standard; they're probably just a temporary experimental rig for this test version. A production model of the fighter would probably revert to the usual SFS design.
TIE [V38] (Sentinel?)
A fighter design which apparently was well-known in the STAR WARS universe but thusfar has only been glimpsed in the literature in the form of a modified cloaked variant. At this time we have no way of knowing which of the Phantom's features are shared by the parent model. The basic hull, engine and wing configurations are probably the same; if there were fundamental changes then Ackbar would not be justified in calling the cloaked ship a mere modification. The cockpit is certainly a standard TIE ball, attached to the main hull, rather than the makeshift conical alternative used on the transitional Phantom.
The military and colloquial names for this fighter have not yet been revealed. The technical designation used by Admiral Ackbar is V38. Perhaps it would be listed as TIE/V on tactical displays (with this ship being the 38th sub-model), and the common name (analogous to "Interceptor" or "Defender") beginning with a "V". Alternatively, it may be the "TIE Sentinel" mentioned in the Hasbro online survey; this designation fits the V38 better than its cloakable descendent. Of course these speculations may actually be meaningless, since the Galactic Empire does not use the Latin alphabet and all fighter designations are translations from Imperial Basic.
The three wingtip cannons on the TIE Phantom may be a hint at the role of the mainstream TIE Sentinel production model. If these weapons are ion cannons they would compliment the laser cannons on the cockpit chin, and also would help to round out regular TIE starfighter forces, which generally lack ion cannons. The absence of ion cannons on common TIEs may have a tactical reason, or else it due to technical constraints (eg. ion cannons may require power systems that are not easily contained on compact starfighters). The TIE Sentinel is not a rare vessel, but not a dominant and common design either. Its tactical role must be special in some way, and the ion cannon hypothesis seems a good possiblity (though not a unique solution).
Exclusive to the forces of Warlord Zsinj, and not truly a SFS design. The most distinctive feature of this fighter is the absence of wing pylons and the direct attachment of radiator panels to the cockpit ball. The total area of panels is also very low; this is probably a low-power fighter. There may be other disadvantages and shortcomings, such as reduced flight range. Perhaps the design reflects Zsinj's ruthlessness, making serious concessions to pilot safety. For example, the compactness may come at the price of exposing pilots to dangerous radioactive emissions.
The illustrations in Cracken's Threat Dossier are problematic. They only show signs of two of the four laser cannons described in the text. The weapons would more plausibly be mounted on wingtips similar to those of the TIE Phantom or TIE Interceptor.
The TIE/rpt as depicted in Cracken's Threat Dossiers. Numerous raptor TIEs in combat with the fighters of Han Solo's taskforce.
In the wreckage-strewn battlefield of Coruscant in Dark Empire there sits the remains of a TIE-related ground vehicle, called a "TIE crawler" or tank. The vehicle lacks engines for flight and it lacks radiator panels. The wings are replaced by wide surface-traction treads. Only the hull module appears to be related to the TIE spacecraft. Therefore it is outside the scope of this page.
Pirate forces in I, Jedi use TIE-based fighters with a threefold wing symmetry. They are nicknamed "tri-fighters". or "clutches" for the way in which the wings resemble a hand clutching the cockpit ball. The "tri-fighters" possess minimal shields.
The novel indicates that they're customised fighters, though it is not clear what the extent of the customisation is. They could be full-blown uglies, but their resemblence to the TIE Phantom and Sentinel may mean that the hull and wings are original, with the modifications being of a minor nature. A fan-created model of a TIE Phantom is labelled a "tri-fighter" in an article in STAR WARS Galaxy Collector, but whether this reflects the official intention or fan speculation is not yet clear.
Many TIE-based pirate fighters that were definite uglies were seen in the X-Wing: Masquerade and X-Wing: Family Ties comic series. Noteworthy examples include X-TIEs which appear to have TIE Avenger wings. If so, this is the first time any part of a TIE Avenger has been shown in the comics. A more common type of ugly consisting of TIE hull and Y-wing engines is significant because it uses the hull of the TIE with extended tail.
In the first image, there appear to be three ugliues with X-wing hulls and TIE Avenger wings. The second image shows a closeup of the type of ugly comprising a TIE hull and Y-wing engines. THe pirate insignia on the rear hatch is not original. THe third image shows a more elaborate ugly fighter carrying TIE Interceptor wings.
The second trailer for The Phantom Menace shows a vessel that is reminiscent of the SFS TIE series starships. As it flies past camera towards the planet Tatooine, we see a slender blade-like fuselage, with a spherical bulb at the aft end. The bulb has a much greater diameter than the equivalent section of a TIE vessel, as shown when Darth Maul descended the boarding ramp onto the Tatooine sands. Assuming that the portal is two metres high, the bulb diameter is no less than 4.9m. Therefore this is not a merely fighter-sized ship. This is consistent with the length of 26.5m given in Episode I: Incredible Cross Sections and copied in other sources such as the Episode I Insider's Guide, corresponding to a diameter of just over 5m.
On either side of the sphere there are two bent wings with a TIE-like form mounted on pylons. The wing panels are hinged so that they fold down towards their pylons in landing mode. The most remarkable thing about the wings is that there aren't visibly dark radiator areas, at least on the inner surfaces. However there are raised areas on both the inner and outer wing surfaces that resemble the size and depth of TIE radiators. It is possible that the radiators are covered by a heat-permeable film matching the tone of the rest of the hull. The diagrams in Episode I: Incredible Cross Sections indicate that this is indeed the case. The omission of equivalent radiator covers on later Imperial TIEs may be a sign of a more functional and minimalist design fashion.
The two ion engine nozzles are in positions corresponding to those of a TIE, but they are broad and cigar-shaped instead of compact and circular. The engine glow is a peculiar yellow-blue, which suggests the presence of small and closely spaced sub-elements alternating in temperature between five thousand degrees celcius and several thousand degrees higher. (Purely green thermal emission is impossible.) The Phantom Menace movie does indeed show a grille inside the engines. The simulated aural sensor signature [refer to Astrophysical Concerns: Sound in Space] is very similar to that of a TIE fighter, which supports the theory that the reactor or parts of the engines are similar in design.
The published statistics for the Infiltrator's hyperdrive are quite surprising: a class of 3.0. For a ship this slow to travel between the Outer Rim and the Core within just a few days or less, as demonstrated in The Phantom Menace, the baseline speed of hyperspace travel in the absence of obstacles must be considerably faster than the lower limits determined in the Hyperspace commentary. Perhaps an average ship's endurance or the pilot's astrogation skill are the critical attributes that isolate of Rim worlds like Tatooine, rather than ship's hyperdrive acceleration capabilities. Of course Darth Maul was a pilot with very unusual capabilities.
The mysterious TIE-like vessel of Darth Maul, as seen in The Phantom Menace trailer.
Two convenient orthogonal views of the Sith Infiltrator as shown in the magazines Juice #77 and Playboy (June 1999).
Information about the Infiltrator from the Insider's Guide, based on the Incredible Cross Sections data.
[X-Wing: Alliance vessels]
The new computer game X-Wing: Alliance is reported to contain several previously unseen TIE models. developed under the supervision of Admiral Zaarin as prototypes in a program involving fighter drones.
A collection of rarer TIE models developed by Admiral Zaarin; their official designations are unknown to the Rebel Alliance.
This page was constructed and is maintained by
This page is neither affiliated with nor endorsed by Lucasfilm Ltd.
Images included in or linked from this page are copyright Lucasfilm Ltd. and are used here under Fair Usage terms of copyright law.
This site is kindly hosted by TheForce.net.