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This article is about the battle during the Galactic Civil War. You may be looking for the battle during the Clone Wars.

Skirmish over Tatooine


Battle of Ruul

First Battle of Tatooine

Galactic Civil War (Operation Skyhook)




Three Imperial victories, escape of R2-D2 with the Death Star plans.


Galactic Empire

  • Several stormtroopers injured and killed
  • Light scout and sandtrooper casualties
  • Mod Terrik
  • At least one AT-ST fell (its two pilots killed)
  • At least one Immobilizer 418 cruiser and its complement
  • Minor damages to fleet and their complements
  • Star Destroyer damaged
  • Many Rebel troopers
  • Captain Raymus Antilles
  • Huge SpecForce casualties
  • Major starship damage and destruction, including their complements
  • An uncertain number of Tatooine resident fatalities
  • Tantive IV
"I doubt if the Empire would even fight to keep this system."
Laze Loneozner

The First Battle of Tatooine in the Galactic Civil War was a series of battles and skirmishes in the Tatoo system, primarily on the planet Tatooine, within a few days before the climactic Battle of Yavin.

Many of the local Rebel enemies of the Galactic Empire were captured or killed, with the ground operations being carried out in parts by the renowned 501st Legion of stormtroopers.


Pre-Battle conflicts

"With the information gathered on Polis Massa, Vader concluded that the stolen plans had been given to Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan. We weren't surprised. For all their talk of being a peaceful planet, Alderaan had been thumbing its nose at the Empire for years."
―Unidentified 501st stormtrooper

An unwitting instigator to the battle was the disguised corvette Tantive IV, being used as an important vessel in the Rebel Alliance fleet, most notably in the operation to steal the Death Star plans.

The theft of these plans successfully occurred during a distracting Rebel prisoner revolt on the Death Star, being supplemented by partial documents stolen during the Battle of Danuta and the Battle of Toprawa.

Immediately, an Imperial assault on a makeshift Rebel base on Polis Massa was initiated, being tasked with retaking the stolen plans. This, however, failed in recovering the lost schematics.

The next attempt in the recovery effort involved the Emperor's feared enforcer, Darth Vader, taking his legion of Imperial stormtroopers to where the Tantive IV was harbored—within the Tatoo system. The information that the Tantive IV held the plans had been obtained by captured Rebels, as well as a Bothan who revealed it to Emperor Palpatine on Bothawui.

The battle


Recovering the plans

"Where are those transmissions you intercepted? What have you done with those plans?!"
"We intercepted no transmissions…! This is a consular ship…! We're on a…diplomatic mission…"
Darth Vader and Captain Antilles

Upon reaching the Tatoo system, the Imperial fleet was ambushed by a pirate fleet near the planet Tatooine. Upon taking out most of the pirate attackers, the Navy then hid in the surrounding nebulas, avoiding detection by Blue Squadron, led by Raymus Antilles, who were scouting the area.

When Tantive IV moved toward the uplink station, Immobilizer frigates were activated, preventing it from escaping. A clash between the Imperial fleet and the Alliance fleet broke out, with both sides taking several casualties in the crossfire. The Star Destroyer Devastator pursued Tantive IV out of the battlefield and chased it around the planet Tatooine, Vader's homeworld.

Soon Devastator captured what they thought was Tantive IV but in fact it was just a decoy called Tantive V. After searching the ship and finding no one except Gungans, Tantive V was set adrift in the space and the Devastator continued to pursue Tantive IV.

The Star Destroyer Devastator chasing down the Tantive IV over Tatooine.

A laser bolt hit near the bridge of the Tantive IV, disabling the main reactor and preventing the vessel from entering Tatooine's atmosphere. The Devastator moved in and caught the corvette in a tractor beam. Vader then dispatched a TIE boarding craft filled up with troops, to board and secure the ship.

Inside the Tantive IV

"Retrieve the plans and bring the ambassador to Lord Vader--alive."
―Instructions given to all 501st stormtroopers, prior to the battle on the Tantive IV.

As troopers of the 501st stormed the hallways of Tantive IV, a skirmish erupted between them and Rebel troopers defending the ship. Due to the use of thermal detonators, both sides incurred heavy casualties, but the 501st broke through, capturing the main Rebel barracks and clearing the way for Lord Vader's arrival.

Vader personally destroyed all security terminals on the bridge, disabled a turbine console and stole a set of access codes, in an attempt to gain entry to the ship's escape pod bays. He and a set of Imperial bodyguards, then set out through the corridors, killing some Rebel troopers and capturing many more. The team then stormed the cockpit of the corvette. Eventually, Vader captured the Rebel command, including Princess Leia (unaware that she was his daughter), as well as the ship's captain, Raymus Antilles, whom Vader killed personally.

The Rebel protocol droid C-3PO, along with an astromech droid vital to the Rebellion, subsequently escaped the ship: R2-D2 having secretly obtained the Death Star schematics Vader had been so eager to recover.

Rookie One versus a Star Destroyer.

Soon after these events, an alarm sounded in the Rebel Anchorhead Base on Tatooine. Rookie One, Ru Murleen and another pilot, flew their X-wings in space above the planet and turned their weapons towards a Star Destroyer. They managed to strike a critical blow, but did not destroy the starship.

Desert extermination

The second Imperial strike was originally to be conducted by the local garrison and intended as a means of eliminating native desert inhabitants, primarily unruly Tusken Raiders, so desert outposts could be secured and set up to overlook activity in the nearby spaceport of Mos Eisley.

However, Mos Eisley was renowned as a magnet for outcasts, crooks, and intergalactic escapees, and was believed to be the refuge of a fugitive R2 unit dispatched by the Rebellion. With the stolen schematics in its databanks, R2-D2 had become a high-priority Imperial target and because of Tantive IV's suspicious location over the dangerous, barren planet, the Empire suspected a Rebel base may be hidden in Mos Eisley. This brought the 501st into the fray, as an elite detachment from the Devastator was sent to deal with the matter.

As Imperial sandtroopers attempted to construct command stations in the Dune Sea, they were assailed by the fierce, nomadic Tusken Raiders, emerging from their camps stationed around a fierce Sarlacc.

Sandtroopers secure the Dune Sea.

Soon after, Rebel soldiers, presumably from Mos Eisley, appeared. A three-way battle broke out, with the Tuskens besieged on two sides. Rebels who were effortlessly able to smuggle heavy weaponry into lawless Tatooine, now exposed their explosive equipment. The small Rebel army was completely eradicated— and now positive that Rebels had established a cell in Mos Eisley, the Imperial commander on the ground, Nahdonnis Praji, had the city hastily surrounded by his men.

Siege of Mos Eisley

The Imperial sandtroopers, led by Praji, joined with the local Mos Eisley stormtrooper garrison and scattered throughout the city, to retrieve information about the stolen Death Star plans.

A few local Rebels, using guerrilla tactics, kept the sandtroopers on their toes by coming out through alleys, striking suddenly, and then shrinking away. Armed stormtroopers, some on dewbacks, casually strolled through neighborhoods and homes, interrogating anyone they felt inclined to.

Sandtroopers plowing through Mos Eisley.

In the Mos Eisley cantina, Garouf Lafoe rushed to notify the Imperial troops upon witnessing a scuffle between a raving madman and a man wielding a lightsaber. Upon the troops' arrival, the man had already vacated the premises. Meanwhile, Imperial spy Garindan informed the stormtrooper force of the droids' location, and that the smuggler, Han Solo, after a brief conversation with Jabba the Hutt, was helping the droids escape the planet. About this time, Captain Kosh also arrived on the planet in a shuttle to help search for the missing droids.

The squad moved into Docking Bay 94, where they engaged Solo in a firefight, only to have him escape. During the firefight, Captain Mod Terrik was gunned down by Imperial traitor Davin Felth.

After the Millennium Falcon's escape from Docking Bay 94, a "pacification" campaign was waged in the streets. Several Mos Eisley citizens, along with Rebels, managed to secure run-down apartment districts and a damaged sail barge among other locales. The Stormtroopers managed to squelch the resistance in short order.

During the pacification, Garindan led a stormtrooper contingent toward Anchorhead, but was intercepted by the Rebel Ketwol. Ketwol managed to kill some infantry and Garindan fled. Having lost their informant, the Imperials retreated back to Mos Eisley.

Ultimately, the Rebels ended their hit-and-run attacks—most blasted dead before causing any real harm to Imperial soldiers—leaving the Empire victorious during this final operation. However, they never recovered the lost Death Star plans, as several Star Destroyers blockading the planet failed to capture Millennium Falcon as it fled. This would ultimately result in the Rebel's amazing victory in the Battle of Yavin not long after.

While the Imperial garrison remained on high alert for some time to come, the 501st detachment left Tatooine and returned to the Death Star.


The punishment of Mos Eisley would continue for many months, and homesteads were continuously harassed by Viper probe droids.

Late in the Galactic Civil War the Empire decided to make a harsh maneuver—having a TIE Bomber run over Mos Eisley, killing dozens of civilians and destroying many buildings. The pacification finally came to an end in 0 ABY—during the Tatooine Uprising—when Rogue Squadron intercepted and destroyed the TIE Bombers.

During the four years of Tatooine's brutal control by the Empire, the planet saw only little relief, during the aftermath of a Rebel attack on an Imperial station there.

The citizens would finally be freed during the Third Battle of Tatooine.

To hide their attack on Tantive IV, Imperial officials declared that the pirate resistance over Tatooine had boarded the corvette, and a meteor shower had destroyed it. It was claimed the Imperial task force had simply gone to investigate.

Behind the scenes

The computer game Star Wars: Rebel Assault includes a bonus level where X-wings from Anchorhead Base have to clear out Mos Eisley from AT-ST walkers soon after the Tantive IV incident above Tatooine.

Although considered non-canon, that attack might be a part of the above-mentioned skirmish, as Star Wars: Complete Locations confirms that AT-STs were stationed in Mos Eisley. It's also possible that Anchorhead Base (its existence also doubted) was the base of the ground forces that participated in the skirmish.


  • Star Wars: Empire at War
  • Star Wars: Rebel Assault
  • Star Wars: Force Commander
  • Star Wars: Battlefront
  • Star Wars: Battlefront II
  • Star Wars Empire: Darklighter
  • Star Wars Journal: The Fight for Justice
  • Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope novel (First appearance)
  • Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
  • Star Wars: The Rise and Fall of Darth Vader
  • Star Wars: Heroes in Hiding
  • LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game (Non-canonical appearance)
  • LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy (Non-canonical appearance)
  • LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Non-canonical appearance)
  • The Courtship of Princess Leia (Indirect mention only)
  • Darksaber (Mentioned only)


Operation: Skyhook / Death Star I campaign
Orron III · AX-235 · Death Star · Polis Massa
Kalla VII · Despayre I · Despayre II · Danuta
Toprawa · Tatooine · Alderaan · Yavin IV · Yavin

This article uses material from the "First Battle of Tatooine (Galactic Civil War)" article on the Starwars wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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