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Starwars

Up to date as of February 04, 2010

From Wookieepedia, the Star Wars wiki.

This article is about the Rebel Alliance interceptor. You may be looking for the Old Republic-era Aurek fighter, sometimes referred to as an "A-wing", or the predecessor to the RZ-1 A-wing, the R-22 Spearhead, also nicknamed "A-wing" by Rebellion pilots.
RZ-1 A-wing interceptor
Production information
Manufacturer
Model

RZ-1 A-wing interceptor

Class

Starfighter

Cost

175,000 credits

Technical specifications
Length

9.6 meters[1][2]

Width

6.48 meters

Height/depth
  • 1.91 meters (fuselage only)
  • 3.11 meters (including stabilizers)
Maximum acceleration

5,100 G

MGLT

120 MGLT[1]

Maximum speed (atmosphere)

1,300 km/h (higher speeds possible with deflector shields on)[1]

Engine unit(s)

Novaldex J-77 "Event Horizon" (2)[3]

Hyperdrive rating

Class 1.0[3]

Hyperdrive system

Incom GBk-785 hyperdrive unit[3]

Power plant

MPS Bpr-99 fusion reactor[4]

Shielding

Sirplex Z-9 deflector shield projector (50 SBD)[1]

Hull

Titanium alloy frame and durasteel outer hull (15 RU)[4]

Sensor systems

Fabritech ANs-7e sensor unit with PA-94 long range phased tachyon detection array and PG-7u short range primary threat analysis grid[4]

Targeting systems
Navigation system

Microaxial LpL-449 navigation computer (2 jump range)[3]

Avionics

Torplex Rq9.Z flight control avionics[4]

Countermeasures
Armament
Crew

Pilot (1)[5]

Passengers

None

Cargo capacity

40 kilograms[1]

Consumables

1 week

Other systems

Fijisi wood panels[6]

Usage
Role(s)

Interceptor

Era(s)
Affiliation
"The A-wing is the fastest fighter we have, capable of matching a TIE Interceptor in speed."
General Carlist Rieekan

The RZ-1 A-wing interceptor was a starfighter designed by the Rebel Alliance during the Galactic Civil War. One of the fastest mass-produced interceptors in the known galaxy, the A-wing was even faster than the TIE Interceptor.

Contents

Characteristics

Simply put, the A-wing was a cockpit attached to twin engines. Like its Clone Wars predecessor, the Eta-2, the A-wing required pilots' exceptional skill to take full advantage of the vessel's speed, agility, and special features—and the Alliance lacked the Galactic Republic's Jedi pilots.

An A-wing, view on its engines.

The A-wing's Event Horizon engines remained some of the most powerful sublight thrusters two decades past the A-wing's creation and were linked to highly sensitive controls. The vessels presented a number of challenges to pilots. Pilots had to adjust two dorsal and two ventral stabilizer wings with great care, as even a minor turn could send the speedy A-wing into a massive spinout.

The slight A-wing's wing-mounted laser cannons could rotate up and down sixty degrees for greater fire control. Some of those designs even had their guns modified to swivel in a complete 360-degree arc, thus providing a nasty surprise to any chasing fighter. While a tactical boon, the A-wing had no astromech droid to manage its weapons systems, requiring further attention from the pilot.

The combination of sensitive controls, unmatched sublight thrust, maneuverable weapon systems, advanced sensory and stealth packages, fragility, and heavily exposed cockpit strained even the best pilot. A-wings earned the nickname "slims" for their small frame made of carbo-plas, but also for the "slim" chance of a pilot surviving a direct hit on the ship after the shields were down, and the cramped cockpit that prevented larger pilots from flying the A-wing.

History

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Development

A-wing cross-section.

The beginning of the A-wing resides in General Jan Dodonna's post-battle analysis of the Battle of Yavin. The value of Alliance starfighters were undeniable in the battle—but Dodonna was concerned that a simple trio of TIE starfighters had almost foiled the trench run. Knowing that the Imperial Navy was conducting similar analyses and would come to the same conclusions, Dodonna set about planning the creation of a dedicated Alliance interceptor. His prediction was perceptive, as Sienar Fleet Systems engineers accelerated work on and updated the TIE Interceptor, an Imperial fighter to match the A-wing in speed.

To design the starfighter, Dodonna turned to Walex Blissex, famed ex-Kuat Systems Engineering engineer. Blissex had valuable experience from his work on the Clone Wars-era Delta-7 and Alpha-3 interceptors, and the two set about drawing up designs. Basing their initial designs around R-22 Spearheads (probably already nicknamed by pilots as "A-wings", consistently to the -wing names of other Rebel craft), two of which had participated in the battle, the two men drafted a proposal and presented it to Chief of State Mon Mothma.

A-wing schematics.

Dodonna and Blissex's timing was not well-chosen; while the victory at Yavin had jolted thousands of worlds into rebellion, it had brought down Emperor Palpatine's wrath and scattered the Alliance. As such, funding was tight, and the A-wing program presented a major investment for the credit-strapped Alliance. Nevertheless, Dodonna's fame from his role in the Yavin victory made a denial difficult, and Mothma approved a reduced amount of funding.

Early production

To fit within their reduced budget, Dodonna and Blissex made substantial modifications to the original design. Blissex redrafted his component list to use components readily available within the Ordnance and Supply Command and pushed each piece of the A-wing past original factory performance. The earliest A-wings were manufactured across Alliance facilities like Cardooine and Chardaan Shipyards. Each starfighter was hand-assembled, resulting in a slow production rate and a number of interesting modifications. Some fighters incorporated actual wood furnishings for the cockpit interior, such as the one that Rogue Squadron pilot Tycho Celchu flew during the Battle of Endor.[6]

An A-wing interceptor.

The combination of hand assembly, use of second-hand components, the number of complex systems packed into the starfighter's small frame, and a general lack of quality control made A-wings notorious for their high maintenance to flight ratio—the second worst in the Alliance fleet in 3 ABY.

As a result, the Alliance was able to field few full squadrons of A-wings; by 4 ABY, the fleet was able to summon only one full unit for the Battle of Endor. Only a handful of crack units, like Nomad Squadron or Pash Cracken's wing, were maintained across Alliance forces.

Operational deployment

"Any pilot who volunteers to fly an A-wing better be brave or crazy. Probably helps to be a little of both."
―General Han Solo
An A-wing.

The first Alliance raids using A-wings surprised Imperial forces, which had been unable to penetrate the veil of secrecy over the interceptor's development. A lone A-wing piloted by Arvel Crynyd played a major role when it helped to destroy the Star Dreadnought Executor during the Battle of Endor, by ramming its bridge, causing the entire ship to fall and crash into the second Death Star.

Though it had been designed to defend immobile stations or slow-moving Alliance starships from starfighter raids, the A-wing was pressed into service as a quick-strike fighter as part of the post-Yavin Alliance strategy of guerrilla warfare. Using its impressive straight-line acceleration and advanced jamming package, A-wings were able to hit targets before they could respond, and then flee before any defense could be organized.

This change found its apex in a devastating tactic known as the A-wing Slash which was developed by General Garm Bel Iblis. A group of X-wings would approach an Imperial convoy, hiding a number of A-wings in their drive exhaust. The X-wings would then pull away, diverting attention away from the speedy A-wings, which could launch HM-6 concussion missiles against the convoy and pull away.

An A-wing in action.

The A-wing also found use in reconnaissance missions, and would become a favorite among Fleet Intelligence and Alliance Intelligence operatives for its speed. A team of A-wings could exit hyperspace near an Imperial objective, begin jamming enemy sensors, draw scans and holographic imagery, and retreat before being detected. If it was detected, the pilots could easily outrun any pursuers, ensuring the safety of the pilots and the intelligence.

While the A-wing became popular for "hit-and-fade" raids and reconnaissance duty, it was required to operate from a nearby base of operations or carrier ship because of its navigational computer's limitations, which could only store coordinates for two hyperspace jumps before requiring calibration.

The TIE/In starfighter, better known as the TIE Interceptor, was perhaps the Empire's closest equivalent to the A-wing. The Interceptor had two more laser cannons and better agility which gave it an edge in a dogfight, but its lack of shields and warhead launchers limited its durability and tactical usage. The Interceptor was (like all mass-produced TIEs) generally available in larger numbers, but A-wing pilots tended to be more skilled as they had a higher survival rate than their Interceptor counterparts. In a pure chase, the A-wing could outrun the Interceptor, however this was only if the A-wing was undamaged. Later Imperial starfighters such as the TIE Avenger, TIE Defender, and Missile Boat were easily more than a match for the A-wing, however they were never mass-produced due to turmoil in the Imperial Navy.

Replacement

A-wings in a skirmish during the Thrawn campaign.

Shortly after the Battle of Endor, the second generation A-wing, the Mark II, entered production. It is unclear what precise updates were applied, but it was presumably produced under more standardized conditions than its hand-made predecessors, allowing for greater numbers. While A-wings were originally built on an individual basis by the Alliance itself, the Mark II was mass produced by the Incom Corporation. The one confirmed alteration was that the laser cannons of the A-wing Mark II were configured for full 360-degree rotation.

The value of a high speed interceptor was clear, but the A-wing had major defensive and navigational limitations. Thus, new starfighters like the E-wing or T-65AC4 X-wing were created with comparable speed, but heavier shields and armor, astromech compatibility, and more powerful weapons. Despite the introduction of newer starfighters and efforts to standardize fleet operations, the A-wing's exceptional design allowed it to endure through the Yuuzhan Vong War. It is possible that the A-wing's continued service was facilitated by improving the engines for even greater performance.

A number of A-wings also found their way into civilian hands, often being used as scout vessels or escape vehicles. Squadrons were also captured by pirates, who used them in the same raiding capacity as the Alliance.

Behind the scenes

Production paintings for Return of the Jedi show the A-wing painted in blue markings, but these were changed to red to allow the models to be filmed for bluescreen. According to the X-wing games, red signifies Red Squadron. A-wings from other squadrons bear their respective color. One Star Wars Action Fleet A-wing model has green markings instead of red, supporting this claim.

A-wing concept art by Ralph McQuarrie.

The craft was originally known only as "A fighter" during the production of Return of the Jedi.

A-wings appear in the games Star Wars: Empire at War, Star Wars: X-wing, Star Wars: Rebel Assault and the Droids animated series; however, these are set years before the A-wing is stated to have been developed, making it an anomaly. Thus, it is likely that these ships are actually R-22 Spearheads, and therefore all pre-Yavin A-wing instances have been thusly retconned.

Like some other ships (Executor, for example), the size of the A-wing is in dispute. Fans argue that the 9.6 meters and the derived width and height are too big. A comparison between the headroom of the pilot and the relative size of the cockpit to the entire fighter shows that the actual length is around 4.8 meters. However, like the issue on Home One, the official length, for now, remains 9.6 meters.

The weapons payload of the A-wing varies from source to source, with some not having the concussion missile launchers, and some saying that the laser cannons are actually blaster cannons. In Star Wars: Battlefront II, A-wings are armed with repeating laser cannons and homing cluster missiles.

Appearances

A-wing animated schematics.

Sources

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Star Wars: Behind the Magic
  2. 2.0 2.1 Battlefront II: Prima Official Game Guide
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 The Official Star Wars Fact File
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 The Stele Chronicles
  5. Star Wars: Complete Cross-Sections
  6. 6.0 6.1 X-wing: The Bacta War

External links


This article uses material from the "RZ-1 A-wing interceptor" article on the Starwars wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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