The Battle of Yavin, also known as the Battle of the Death Star, was a major battle of the Galactic Civil War that led to the destruction of the first Death Star and Luke Skywalker's first step to becoming a fully-fledged Jedi. It was one of the Rebellion's first major victories.
With the imminent completion of the Death Star, the Alliance anticipated a major Imperial offensive against them, and the Mon Calamari Star Cruiser Independence carried members of the Alliance High Command to Yavin 4 to coordinate the Alliance's defense. Upon arrival the Independence sent Red, Gold and Blue Squadron to Yavin Base. There they were augmented by veteran pilots as the Alliance gathered its resources in preparation for the coming battle.
The plans for the battle were completed after the crew and passengers of the Millennium Falcon successfully rescued Princess Leia Organa from the Death Star, along with detailed technical plans of the massive space station. Obi-Wan Kenobi had confronted his former Padawan and Leia's father, Darth Vader, and sacrificed himself so the party could escape with the plans and deliver them to Alliance command.
However, as Leia suspected, they were actually allowed to escape by the Empire, so as to lead Imperial forces to the main Rebel base on the fourth moon of Yavin.
Studying the plans provided by R2-D2, the Rebels learned that the station had a small exhaust port which led to the main reactor, allowing a proton torpedo to reach the main reactor and destroy the station. However, the port was only 2 meters wide and situated in a narrow trench protected by turbolaser batteries. The trench would have to be navigated to allow the Rebel targeting system to lock on to the port, in a climactic portion of the battle called the trench run. There was little confidence that the weakness could be exploited in such conditions.
The Death Star arrived in system escorted by a small support fleet consisting of the Nebulon-B frigate Divad and two CR90 corvettes BB 45 and SB 35. While the Death Star prepared to fire its main weapon, a communications satellite was deployed to coordinate defenses. The Rebels, still planning their attack, knew that any delay to the Death Star's approach could spell the difference between victory and defeat. Therefore they planned a small attack to destroy the communications satellite and disrupt operations. A trio of X-wings, including Keyan Farlander, and a pair of R-22 Spearheads were dispatched to destroy the comsat. While Farlander's wingmen held off Imperial fighters, Farlander ignored the threat and headed straight for the satellite, destroying it with a proton torpedo. The mission was a success, preventing the Empire calling for reinforcements and disrupting their defenses, although two of the Rebel X-wings were shot down and the pilots had to be rescued later.
Farlander was quickly dispatched again in one of two X-wings charged with clearing some of the defenses around the trench. They succeeded in destroying several laser batteries as well as some small surface hangars, limiting the Death Star's ability to launch fighters for the cost of another X-wing.
Following the preliminary attacks, a fleet of 22 X-wing, 8 Y-wing, and 2 R22 Spearhead starfighters scrambled to assault the station. The Death Star attempted to use its batteries to defend itself, but the defenses were designed primarily to fight off capital ships, not the small and agile Rebel ships. The fighters destroyed several turrets and a rookie hotshot known as Rookie One destroyed a giant ion cannon mounted on the Station, in order to set the stage for the main phase of the assault.
The station commander, Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, dismissed the attack as futile and refused to deploy the station's vast TIE squadrons. But Darth Vader, realizing the material threat, ordered his personal fighter squadron to scramble on his own authority. The TIE Fighter squadrons attacked the Rebel forces soon after they realized that their laser batteries were failing. An order was passed on, to stop all turbolasers from firing, letting the TIEs do the job, and to avoid the risk of Imperial fighters being shot down by friendly fire.
The Rebels attempted three bombing attacks during the trench run. The first was carried out by three Y-Wings of Gold Squadron, the second by three X-wings of Red Squadron. All proved unsuccessful as Darth Vader and his wingmen picked off the fighters one by one. A third run led by Luke Skywalker also consisted of three X-wings. One of his squad was damaged and forced to pull out; a second was shot down.
To the Rebel Command, all seemed hopeless; the Death Star had reached firing position, almost all the fighters were lost, and the remaining pilot able to make the run, Skywalker, had "senselessly" deactivated his targeting computer. Skywalker, however, was advised by the spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi to use the Force to make the seemingly impossible shot.
Vader, sensing that the last pilot was strong in the Force, prepared to kill him (not knowing then that the pilot was his son). However, at the last moment, Han Solo and Chewbacca of the Millennium Falcon surprised Darth Vader and, with a laser blast, destroyed one of his wingmen. In the confusion, the other wingman panicked and collided with Vader's fighter, sending him careening out of control and into space. Luke made the shot, and with the Force aiding him, his torpedoes entered the port perfectly. The Death Star exploded just seconds before its main gun would have destroyed Yavin 4. Grand Moff Tarkin and the battle station's entire crew, except for Vader, were killed. The Rebel Alliance had won a spectacular victory.
As a result of this battle, the Rebel Alliance gained credibility as a legitimate military opponent to the Empire. Between the effects of the battle and the dissolution of the Imperial Senate, thousands of star systems openly joined the Alliance in the months following the Death Star's destruction. As a result, the Empire began occupying worlds it had allowed to remain untouched earlier, both actions resulting in an escalation of the war.
These raids were carried out by small TIE squadrons launched from a small base near the Yavin system. They often maintained reconnaissance patrols rather than retaliatory attacks. The Rebel Alliance still had to evacuate Yavin 4 to escape retaliation from the Imperial Starfleet and eventually settled on Hoth. The last raid carried out by the Empire was a crushing assault consisting of a planetary blockade and large number of troops, TIE Fighters and AT-STs. General Jan Dodonna, mastermind of Yavin's defense, was not able to escape and was captured by Imperial forces and later imprisoned.
The newly launched Executor was dispatched to destroy the Rebel fleet. But Admiral Griff's squadron of Star Destroyers came out of lightspeed and collided with the Executor. By the time the crew regained control, the last Rebel ship jumped into hyperspace.
25 years later, it was decided by the New Republic Historical Council to set a new calendar. Some already used a calendar that set year 0 as the fall of Palpatine. However, due to the significance of the destruction of the Death Star, the loss of millions of Imperial personnel and its significance in the eventual overthrow of the Empire, the Council set year 0 as the year when the Battle of Yavin happened; therefore they established the BBY/ABY calendar.
32 Rebel starfighters launched from Yavin IV. The whole fleet was composed of Red, Gold, Blue, and Green Squadrons. The known pilots assigned to them are:
Only a single elite squadron of TIE fighters was deployed against the rebel forces. The members of the squadron were formed by, and under the direct command of, Darth Vader.
The battle is based heavily on the battle scenes in the British war film The Dam Busters.
In the novelization of the film, Luke Skywalker's X-wing squadron is called "Blue Squadron", while the Y-wing squadron is called "Red Squadron". In the film, these colors are changed to Red and Gold, respectively. This change was necessitated because the blue paint on the X-wings had to be removed for blue screen purposes.
The Farlander Papers reveals that Keyan Farlander is the pilot of the Y-wing fighter seen leaving the Death Star alongside Luke, Wedge and the Millennium Falcon.
The Battle (and alternative versions of it) has appeared so many times in EU sources that have contributed many retcons and new elements, it seems that the events shown in the film are actually a very limited portion of the 'actual' battle. The movie describes the battle only from the point of view of some members of Red Squadron and Gold Squadron, though that only covers some of the thirty ships mentioned and seen in the film.
These sources also suggest that the Rebels had to pass through Imperial forces before reaching the Death Star. Rebel Assault showed the Death Star was orbited by a Star Destroyer from which a TIE Fighter wave was launched and a surface cannon had to be neutralized before the trench run. X-wing showed other Imperial vessels as well like the Divad.
The novelization of A New Hope also mentions two additional squadrons -- Yellow and Green -- providing cover to those we see in the film. Though these other squadrons are not seen in the film, the number of fighters shown does suggest more than two squadrons.
A Blue Squadron at Yavin 4 is mentioned in X-wing: The Official Strategy Guide. Blue Squadron actually appears in the game Rebel Assault, though the specific details from that game (the player's character from Blue destroying the Death Star) are not canonical. The characters from that game do appear in Rebel Assault II, the storyline of which has been referred to in sources that are considered to be canon.
The fourth squadron had not been referenced in any other source besides the novelization for many years, and fans speculated that the fourth squadron mentioned above could be named Green Squadron, since every other color used in the novelization has been used in other incarnations (assuming "Yellow" is just a substitute for Gold). Green Squadron at Yavin was finally referenced in The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia in 2008.
Though the film only shows us three surviving fighters, X-wing and Rebel Assault both show others flying away from the exploding Death Star. On StarWars.com's Q&A pages, Steve Sansweet says, it's "pretty definite" that more ships survived and just aren't visible on screen.
A-wings are shown taking part in the Battle of Yavin in X-wing and Rebel Assault, though other sources indicate the fighters were introduced some time after the battle. The A-wings in these games have been retconned into R-22 Spearheads, a forerunner of the later vessel, only nicknamed "A-wing". Writers created the Spearhead to specifically resolve this discrepancy, and the A-wing's appearance in Droids. Inside the Worlds of Star Wars shows an R-22 in the Rebel base shortly before the battle.
The Battle of Yavin may refer to:
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