The Battle of Hoth was a major event during the Galactic Civil War. The battle was an offensive by the Galactic Empire aimed at destroying the Rebel Alliance's Echo Base hidden on the remote arctic world Hoth. The base's location was compromised when a viper probe droid deployed by Darth Vader landed on Hoth. When the fleet commanded by Admiral Ozzel entered the Hoth system, the Admiral inadvertantely alerted the Alliance of the Imperial's presence, giving the Rebels time to prepare for the necessary evacuation and raise the planetary shield.
The Imperial attack force consisted of primarily AT-AT walkers, commanded by Major General Maximillian Veers. His army was tasked with destroying Echo Base's main power generator to allow orbital bombardment of the planet. Spearheading the defense of the generator was the elite Rogue Squadron, manning Snowspeeders, commanded by Luke Skywalker, renowned for being the pilot who destroyed the first Death Star. The snowspeeders did not have the necessary firepower to bring down the walkers, so Skywalker suggested an alternative tactic to trip up the walkers with the tow cables issued to every snowspeeder.
Despite the efforts by Rogue Squadron, the power generator was eventually destroyed by Veers. The remaining base personnel proceeded to evacuate, as the 501st Legion, led by Darth Vader, entered the base. It would prove a major victory for the Galactic Empire, and would heavily stymie the Rebels. The Alliance's loss was so great at the time, at least one member of the 501st Legion considered the Battle of Hoth to be the end of the rebel movement.
Following the Rebel Alliance's major victory at Yavin, Imperial forces struck back, and forced the Rebellion to abandon their base on Yavin 4. A holocron created by Bail Organa, one of the founders of the Rebel Alliance, contained a list of possible hideouts in the event that the Yavin 4 base was lost. This list led the Rebellion to the "graveyard world" Boz Pity, but the Empire quickly discovered this base and forced the Rebellion to abandon Boz Pity as well.
Despite the loss of both the Yavin 4 and Boz Pity bases, around 2 ABY, Hoth was chosen by Luke Skywalker as the Rebellion's new homeplanet after being stranded on the planet for a period of time. During an assault on Zaloriis City to punish the Zaloran separatists, Lord Darth Vader and General Maximilian Veers discovered archives of the library which showed the new location to be somewhere near Elrood.
Vader's personal Death Squadron fleet reached the Hoth system, following a chance discovery made by a Viper probe droid, which was later destroyed by Han Solo. Their discovery turned out to be the main base of the Rebel Alliance, located on the sixth planet of the system. To oversee the vital assault on the heart of the Rebellion, Grand General Malcor Brashin and his talented second-in-command General Brenn Tantor were summoned to the Hoth system.
Lord Vader and many of his top officers had planned a sneak attack, jumping out of hyperspace at some distance from the planet and taking advantage of the fact that the meteor activity made it difficult for the Rebels to spot approaching ships. They would then initiate limited long-range orbital bombardment to destroy any spacecraft and defenses, followed by a sweeping ground assault to capture any survivors.
The plan would have likely allowed the Imperials to easily take the planet with few casualties, however, Admiral Kendal Ozzel made his own assault plan, and exited hyperspace close to the star system planning for a saturated bombardment. This tactical blunder allowed the Rebel's early-warning sensors to detect the fleet. The theater shield protecting Echo Base was activated, which precluded any undesirable bombardment. An angry Darth Vader executed the Admiral for his incompetence and promoted Firmus Piett, then chief fleet captain of the Star Dreadnaught Executor, to Admiral.
Having assessed the situation, Vader ordered General Veers to land beyond the range of the energy shield and begin a surface assault aimed at knocking out the Rebels' power generator and thus bringing down the shield, while Death Squadron took up a blockade formation in an effort to prevent any fleeing Rebel starships from escaping. Veers would command the situation on the ground while Tantor oversaw the entire engagement and issued Veers's orders from orbit via the BHCI.
Various landing craft deposited the Imperial landing force at the Morsh Moraine. The Imperial landing force, dubbed Blizzard Force, consisted of several battalions of cold-weather equipped 501st Stormtroopers (known as Snowtroopers), some squads equipped with heavy repeating blasters. This infantry force was carried aboard AT-AT and A5 Juggernaut transports, which in turn were supported by AT-PT, AT-ST and AT-AR walkers, and with Viper probe droids providing extra sensory-support. This mechanized force was deployed by several Y-85 Titan Dropships, and larger landing assault craft.
The Alliance employed T-47 snowspeeders, light aircraft modified for arctic combat conditions led by the elite Rogue Squadron. Ground troops were armed with A280 blaster rifles and several types of artillery emplacements, including DF.9/B anti-infantry laser batteries and the Clone Wars-era P-Tower anti-vehicle laser cannons.
A large ion cannon, the V-150 Planet Defender, provided fire support for the leaving transports. Like all their defenses, the Rebels' ion cannon was remotely hooked up to the stolen reactor equipment of a Praetor-class Star Battlecruiser, feeding more power to Echo Base's defenses than the previous stolen Star Destroyer reactor had done to their Massassi Base. This enabled the Rebel forces to withstand bombardement from even a top-of-the-line Star Dreadnaught like the Executor. To protect the interior of the base, Rebel troops employed small repulsorsleds, each armed with a blaster cannon, to form the last line of defense against the Empire's troops.
The Imperial assault was primarily aimed at destroying the Rebel's main power generators. This would shut down the theater shield protecting the base from orbital bombardment. General Veers led the assault personally, commanding his AT-AT walker, and crushed the Rebel defenses.
The Imperials suffered casualties before the battle even begun. Blizzard Four had attempted to make its way through the Kerane Valley in an attempt to impress Vader. Veers lost three walkers to crevasses of ice flow. This prompted the force to retreat to the safer western route.
The Imperial troops first attacked Echo Station 3-T-8 and then Echo Station 5-7, that contained some of the evacuation transpots. Both bases along with the six ships were soon destroyed by the overwhelming Imperial forces.
AT-ST walkers moved toward the Outpost Beta ion cannon to prevent any Star Destroyer casualties in the space battle. Snowspeeders flew in and destroyed the attackers before they reached the cannon. Blizzard Force came under harassing fire from the Alliance emplacements, but the walkers' armor plating was too strong for Rebel lasers. Only Rogue Squadron succeeded in toppling one assault transport, using an unorthodox tactic imagined by Luke Skywalker and Alliance tactician Beryl Chiffonage, which relied on magnetic harpoons and tow cables to entangle the walker's feet.
Unfortunately, the tactic's success was minimal, and the AT-ATs downed many snowspeeders with deadly volleys from their blaster cannons. The rebels dove into the trenches, seeking cover. Luke was then shot down by walker fire, and barely managed to get out of his wrecked craft before it was crushed by a walker. In an act that seemed to give Palpatine's concern about Luke's burgeoning power of a potential Jedi credability, the young pilot decided to attempt to bring down an AT-AT on his own. Using only a grappling hook, his father's lightsaber, and some thermal detonators, Luke managed to do precisely that, before heading off to rejoin the rebels.
Most of the rebels in the trenches were wounded, dying or dead, or scared, demoralized by the unstoppable Imperial attack. The rebel gun emplacements fired on the walkers, to no avail. Many rebels met their deaths to the walkers' body-ripping rays. AT-STs and snowtroopers mopped up what they could.
As the armored assault force reached the trenches, the Alliance soldiers, with most of their laser cannon emplacements destroyed, came under heavy fire, and the order to retreat was issued. With the other AT-ATs providing cover fire, Veers in Blizzard 1 broke through the defensive lines and proceeded to annihilate the shield power generators. After the decisive victory move, the blockade in orbit began a piecemeal bombardment of the battlefield, taking out defensive emplacements and fleeing ships. Imperial forces then used airmobile tactics to deploy snowtroopers onto the surface.
Lord Vader personally led troopers of the 501st Legion into Echo Base, cutting down any who stood in his way, and, in one case, choking a soldier to death. Alliance troops attempted to delay Imperial progress, but were swiftly overwhelmed by the mechanized assault. As the snowtroopers breached the icy bunker walls of Echo Base and entered close range combat with the defenders, Rebel personnel were forced to flee. However, members of Renegade Squadron, who were defending the ion cannon team, put up a determined defense. They inflicted moderate casualties on the 501st Legion and engaged Darth Vader, managing to force him back, at least temporarily. After the route to the rebel transports was blocked by a collapsing ceiling brought about by Imperial bombardment, Han Solo managed to escape in the Millennium Falcon with Princess Leia Organa, after a close encounter with an advance group of snowtroopers.
The 501st moved through the base and into the back hangar and landing area. There, the last of the Rebel troops were loading onto a last transport. The elite shocktroops led by Vader pushed them back, but took several casualties at the hands of DF.9 Anti-Infantry Batteries and E-web heavy repeating blaster encampments. As the Rebel and Imperial forces were engaged in a firefight, an orbital strike beacon that had been placed in the hangar was positioned under the transport ship by the Imperials. The 501st managed to protect the beacon from the Rebels long enough for an orbiting Star Destroyer to lock in the co-ordinates of the beacon. The 501st and Vader then vacated the area as the Star Destroyer descended into the atmosphere and bombarded the ship from above. Most of the Rebel infantry were killed, though stragglers remained.
One other Rebel, Dash Rendar, was trapped inside Echo Base in the hangar bays. His YT-2400 Light freighter, the Outrider, was on the other side of the base, where the power was out. He used the station's supply of captive Wampas as an advantage, setting them free to help his slaughter of the Imperial infantry. After restoring the power allowing the rest of the Rebels to escape, his troubles got worse; a lone AT-ST walker managed to slip behind the base's defenses and penetrated the base. Rendar nevertheless managed to destroy it and he escaped in the Outrider.
Rogue Squadron and Luke Skywalker pushed into the atmosphere and defended the fleeing transports. As TIE/sa bombers moved in, the X-wings swooped and pushed back the attackers. The remaining transports fled, but the battle was not yet over.
Approximately thirty Rebel GR-75 Medium Transports managed to take off along with a number of other lighter craft. Despite the cover provided by the KDY v-150 Planet Defender, the Imperial naval squadron blockading the planet managed to destroy seventeen Rebel Medium Transports. The ion cannon crew, made up of Alliance troops from Alderaan, were among the last to leave, blowing up the cannon to mask the sensor reading of their escape. In addition, Renegade Squadron was the last squadron off Hoth. Despite the escape of most senior personnel, the loss in material and men proved a disaster for the Rebel Alliance, and was a terrible blow to its war effort.
Renegade Squadron was called into orbit to help escort the last of the transports out of the system, and were forced to engage with Darth Vader, piloting his TIE Advanced X1 starfighter, and forced him to retreat. The resistance of Renegade Squadron forced the Empire to test its new line of TIE fighters, the highly advanced TIE Defender. After fighting off some of these TIE defenders, commandos part of Renegade Squadron managed to infiltrate the hangar bay of the TIE Defender's Star Destroyer and hijack one of them, returning it to their Mon Calamari cruiser to await further analysis by Alliance technicians.
The battle was not without loss for the Empire: at least one Star Destroyer was temporarily placed out of commission by the orbital-range ion cannon and several AT-ATs were destroyed by Rebel defenders, with more lost when the treacherous ice floes gave way. Despite forcing the Rebels to flee, the Imperial forces were unable to destroy all of the transports, while Lord Vader failed in what he considered a primary objective, namely capturing Luke Skywalker.
The Battle of Hoth was a major disaster for the Rebel Alliance. The Rebels lost hundreds of soldiers and pilots in its efforts to defend Echo Base and the loss of the base itself put the Rebels on the run once again, struggling to reorganize its battered forces. Of the thirty transports that fled the planet, seventeen were destroyed, resulting in massive material and personnel losses. The sheer loss of men and materials severely weakened the Alliance's combat capabilities in the war, giving the Empire an edge over the Rebels for some time as they pursued their fleet.
Despite the failure of the battle, the Rebels were not defeated. Most of their leadership was able to escape the planet, which ultimately secured the Alliance's survival for some time more. Also, Darth Vader failed in his ultimate goal to capture Luke Skywalker, forcing him to pursue his allies on the Millennium Falcon in order to lure Luke out into the open.
The cross-section of Echo Base seen in Inside the Worlds of Star Wars Trilogy shows 15 T-47 airspeeders, 9 in Hangar 7 and the rest in the transports hangar. Whether or not all of these participated in the battle is not known.
The Battle of Hoth was a massive battle between the Empire and the Rebellion. The Empire had launched a massive assault on the Rebel base after it was discovered by the distribution of imperial probe droids. The Empire had sent a massive swarm of AT-AT's, AT-ST's, and hundreds of snowtroopers. The main target of the battle was to destroy the shield generator. The Rebels had set up a defense of several gun turrets and sent out a wave of ground soldiers and snowspeeders. The Rebellion had unfortunately failed to defend the generator and was blown out of Hoth. This had put the Rebellion in a state closer to defeat then ever before.