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Z-95 Headhunter

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"Three hours ago, Admiral Ackbar and I watched a test flight of a new starfighter. It's a single-pilot craft, hyperdrive equipped. To say the craft is well armed would be a massive understatement. To our knowledge, Ackbar and I believe this craft may be the most well armed starfighter in the galaxy."
Carlist Rieekan to Alliance High Command[4]

The A/SF-01 B-wing starfighter, also designated as the A/SF-01 B-wing assault starfighter, more commonly referred to as the B-wing, was a heavily armed Rebel Alliance single-pilot starfighter and bomber designed by the starship engineer Quarrie and manufactured by Slayn & Korpil. The B-wing saw action during the Galactic Civil War and was subsequently substituted by the B-wing Mark II.

Characteristics[]

"This is one of my most advanced designs! Fast, agile, and narrow attack profile. And it packs a punch."
―Quarrie[1]
ASF-01 B-wing starfighter blueprints-sw card trader

A/SF-01 B-wing schematics

The A/SF-01 B-wing starfighter, manufactured by Slayn & Korpil,[2] was a relatively poor dogfighter, but it was primarily designed as a "blockade buster" to attack and destroy large capital ships.[1][5] As such, it was equipped with weaponry and systems normally reserved for much larger craft.[5] Indeed, the B-wing boasted more firepower than most patrol ships and corvettes. At the same time, it was slower and less maneuverable than a Y-wing, gave off a significant infrared signature, and required more maintenance than any other Rebel starfighter.[4]

B-wingPilotHelmet-SWTVE

B-wing flight helmet

The primary airfoil took up the length of the hull, with the cylindrical command pod at one end and a weapons pod at the other, and an engine cluster in between. Two S-foils just below the engine on either side of the main airfoil provided similar functionality to those on the X-wing starfighter but featured more advanced actuator technology and locking mechanisms. Anti-gravity generators and repulsorlift projectors were mounted in the S-foils.[4]

The command pod featured a cockpit for the pilot, life support systems, flight computer, comlink transceiver and various sensor systems such as a long-range forward scanner, short-range tactical sensor and weather radar. While the B-wing featured an ejector seat, the pod could also disconnect from the rest of the starfighter with a separate sublight engine at the rear of the pod.[4][11] The avionics packages were on par with those used by small capital ships.[11] Advanced targeting systems allowed pilots to synchronize attacks across multiple B-wing fighters.[5]

ASF B-wing stabilized s-foils open

B-wings attacking an Imperial supply convoy.

The B-wing was unusual compared to other starfighters in that its command pod featured a unique gyroscopic control system that kept it stationary as the rest of the starfighter rotated around it. By keeping the cockpit module level with a horizon no matter how the body of the craft was positioned, the B-wing pilot was better able to concentrate on flying and targeting enemy ships, allowing them to evade enemy fire while staying on target. This gyroscopic stabilization also minimized the g-stresses the pilot felt performing evasive maneuvers. If however the gyroscopic system failed, it would lock the wing in place and put the pilot under more physical strain when attempting to make tight turns.[4]

The engine cluster in the middle of the B-wing consisted of a single Kyromaster ion engine with four thrust nozzles, along with the ship's fusion reactor and Class-2 hyperdrive. At the front of the cluster was the B-wing's cooling system, with four cooling vent "intakes" on either side of the splitter plate along with the main heat radiators. Retro-thrust nozzles were also located next to the cooling system.[4] The primary wing below the engine held the B-wing's ANv-9q sensor array housed in a protective window, along with other systems including navigation sensor array, wing status sensors, velocity sensors and sensor jammer system.[4][6]

The A/SF-01's impressive array of weaponry made it the most heavily-armed starfighter in the galaxy when it was introduced. As standard its weapons pod held a SW-7a ion cannon, an R-9X heavy laser cannon and an emission-type MG9 proton torpedo launcher. Two more SW-7a cannons were mounted at the ends of the S-foils, with a secondary MG9 in an armored emplacement between the command pod and engine cluster. The command pod featured a weapon mount that could accommodate multiple options; typically it featured a pair of twin auto-blasters with room for a second pair.[4] Alternative weaponry included quad lasers[11] or laser-guided bombs.[13][4][19]

ASF B-wing stabilized s-foils closed

B-wings with s-foils in closed position

The B-wing starfighter was capable of diverting power from all other systems into its energy weapons, unleashing enough firepower to vaporize a small mountain in one blast. However, attempting to maintain this level of firepower would lead to gradual system failure.[20]

In addition to the four low-powered targeting lasers, one each mounted at the four ends of the starfighter, the B-wing had another unusual targeting feature. By continuously firing the R-9X heavy laser cannon at very low power at an enemy, the targeting computer could receive enough data to ensure a 97% probability of hitting it with the ion cannons and/or torpedoes. Unfortunately this method also revealed the B-wing's approach vector to the enemy, so it was used sparingly and actually removed by many pilots.[4]

The prototype starfighter, B6, built by the Mon Calamari Quarrie featured a composite-beam laser weapon that could inflict heavy damage upon cruiser-class targets, but its range was short, and use interfered with the hyperdrive. The B6 also had a second gunner's cockpit at the opposite end of the main airfoil. Neither of these features were included with later production models, where the primary weaponry focus shifted to missiles.[1][15]

History[]

The first B-wing prototype, the Prototype B6 Blade Wing, was developed by Quarrie, a Mon Calamari engineer on the planet Shantipole, as part of Project Shantipole.[1] Several of the B-wing's distinctive features, such as the gyro-stabilized cockpit and S-foils, originated from Clone Wars era starships such as the T-6 shuttle, the H-60 Tempest bomber, and the V-19 Torrent starfighter.[4] After being won over by the spirit and piloting skill of Hera Syndulla, Quarrie awarded the prototype—and his services in improving it—to the rebellion. Sabine Wren volunteered to redesign the starfighter's weapons package, including its targeting system.[1]

Blade Squadron

Blade Squadron

Following a successful test strike against the Galactic Empire, Bail Organa, a senator sympathetic to the rebellion, found a manufacturer that agreed to further develop the B-wing in secret.[1] The production-line A/SF-01 B-wing starfighter was produced by Slayn & Korpil[2] working with Quarrie, respectfully naming their collaborative worksite Allied/Shantipole Facility.[21]

Although Quarrie described the B6 prototype as "fast" and "agile," the production versions were anything but. Despite eliminating the heavy gunner position, associated life support systems, and composite-beam laser, the production version of the B-wing was much slower and more ponderous than the other fighters in the Alliance Fleet and the Imperial Navy. It also turned out to be tricky to fly, as the gyro-stabilized cockpit design was awkward to work with for all but the most skilled pilots. The B-wing was imagined as a potential replacement for the Y-wing fighter in its role as an assault fighter.[22] The B-wing was primarily intended to carry a heavy weapons package with the purpose of destroying capital ships, though they proved difficult to maintain and fared poorly in dogfights.[5] Despite its weaknesses, it could gain ship-to-ship combat victories in desperate situations, and one Blade Squadron pilot earned three kills in quick succession before being shot down himself in the Battle of Endor.[11]

BWingsKillISD2-ST

A trio of B-wings at the Battle of Endor

Hound Squadron was a B-wing formation active during the conflict against the Empire, with one of its members the aggressive Theelin rebel pilot Chass na Chadic.[20] B-wings participated in the Battle of Endor as part of the Rebel Alliance fleet.[7] Several B-wings followed General Lando Calrissian to attack the second Death Star, but broke off when they realized that the shield was still up.[7] Blade Squadron also participated in the battle, destroying the Star Destroyer Devastator.[11] At least ten B-wings took part in the attack on the Hellion's Dare, where Hound Squadron was destroyed. After losing her squadron, Chadic would join the ranks of Alphabet Squadron, where she continued to fly a B-wing.[20] Meanwhile, Blade Squadron participated in large-scale battles at Malastare,[9] Kuat,[13] and, ultimately, Jakku.[23]

After the end of the Galactic Civil War, B-wings became available for civilian starship racing, and at least one took part in The Gauntlet.[24] They still remained in use with smaller, underequipped military forces, and the Amaxine warriors operated at least one B-wing[18] in 28 ABY.[25] A similar vessel—known simply as the B-Wing Fighter[26] or "Resistance B-wing"[27]—would eventually see use by the Resistance,[28] a paramilitary force created by General Leia Organa in the wake of the Amaxine crisis to protect the Republic from[18] the First Order,[29] an Imperial successor state[30] that had controlled the Amaxines.[18] Three decades after the Battle of Endor in 34 ABY,[25] open war would erupt between the Resistance and First Order,[30] with the small number of[31] Resistance B-Wings seeing use[28] by the second and final year of the war, 35 ABY.[25]

Behind the scenes[]

Development[]

Resistance B-wing fighter

A Resistance B-wing

The B-wing fighter was originally designed by Joe Johnston and Bill George for Return of the Jedi. The craft derives its name from the fact that the crew labeled the two new Rebel Alliance starfighter models in Return of the Jedi as "A fighter" and "B fighter." Bill George had so much input into the starship's development, that his colleagues nicknamed it the "Bill-Wing Fighter."[32] Years later in Star Wars Legends, the name "Blade wing" was devised as an in-universe nickname, which was canonized by the Star Wars Rebels production team.[33]

The craft's unusually thin shape was problematic for blue-screen photography, because the model tended to blend into the star field. As a consequence, some planned sequences with the B-wing were cut from the original release of Return of the Jedi, and the B-wing is not shown in action during the Battle of Endor in the film. In fact, after the ships fly away from the still-active Death Star II shield at the start of the battle, the B-wing is hardly seen at all. The rotating cockpit design of the B-wing was based on early concept art for the Millennium Falcon.[34] Mike Quinn puppeteered a B-wing pilot in a deleted scene. There was no dialogue in the script, so Quinn used his improvisational skills by making up some lines about not getting his favorite radio station in space.[35]

Further appearances[]

In Star Wars Legends continuity, the B-wing was said to have been designed and produced by the Rebel Alliance after the Battle of Yavin,[36] partly as an in-universe explanation as to why the B-wing and A-wing fighters created for Return of the Jedi did not participate in the attack on the first Death Star. However, in the new Star Wars canon, both B-wings and A-wings are featured in material taking place well before the Battle of Yavin and have been given earlier origins. The production team for the Star Wars Rebels television series, which has featured both ships, explained that the intention is to depict different rebel cells using different fighters in different parts of the galaxy. The A-wings and B-wing appear as the primary star fighters of the Phoenix Squadron in Rebels, while the rebel cell led by Jan Dodonna and portrayed in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope used primarily X-wings and Y-wings. The Battle of Endor, intended to show the first time the entire Rebel Alliance comes together, therefore includes both sets of ships.[37]

Star Wars author Alexander Freed thinks of the B-wing as a " ridiculous and aggressive" craft. For that reason, when thinking of what kind of character would pilot a B-wing for his Star Wars: Alphabet Squadron trilogy, he decided Chass na Chadic—an easily offended, aggressive, and oftentimes brutal rebel pilot who was almost born a rebel—was the perfect fit to be its pilot.[38]

Appearances[]

Non-canon appearances[]

Sources[]

Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels — "Wings of the Master"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Ultimate Star Wars
  3. StarWars B-wing fighter in the Encyclopedia (content now obsolete; backup link)
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20 4.21 4.22 4.23 4.24 4.25 4.26 4.27 4.28 Rebel Starfighters Owners' Workshop Manual
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 StarWars-DatabankII B-wing Fighter in the Databank (backup link)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 ToppsDigitalLogo Star Wars: Card Trader (Card: B-wing Fighter - Blueprints)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi
  8. YouTube Secrets Of The Rebels - B Wing on the Disney XD Africa YouTube channel (backup link)
  9. 9.0 9.1 SWInsider "Blade Squadron: Zero Hour" — Star Wars Insider 160
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Star Wars Complete Vehicles, New Edition
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 SWInsider "Blade Squadron" — Star Wars Insider 149150
  12. 12.0 12.1 Star Wars: On the Front Lines
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 SWInsider "Blade Squadron: Kuat" — Star Wars Insider 168
  14. Star Wars: Squadrons
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Star Wars: The Rebel Files
  16. Heir to the Jedi
  17. Shattered Empire 4
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 Bloodline
  19. Star Wars: Commander
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Alphabet Squadron
  21. Page Spreads from Star Wars: Rebel Starfighters – Owners' Workshop Manual at JediNews.co.uk (backup link)
  22. SWInsider "Blade Squadron: Jakku" — Star Wars Insider 172
  23. SWInsider "Scorched" — Star Wars Insider 165
  24. 25.0 25.1 25.2 Star Wars: Timelines
  25. ToppsDigitalLogo Star Wars: Card Trader (Card: B-Wing Fighter — Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Series 1 Base)
  26. StarWarsKids Every Ship in the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy | Star Wars By the Numbers on the official Star Wars Kids YouTube channel (content now obsolete; backup link)
  27. 28.0 28.1 Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker
  28. StarWars-DatabankII The Resistance in the Databank (backup link)
  29. 30.0 30.1 Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens
  30. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary
  31. Sculpting a Galaxy: Inside the Star Wars Model Shop
  32. SWYTlogo Rebels Recon #2.11: Inside "A Princess on Lothal" | Star Wars Rebels on the official Star Wars YouTube channel (backup link)  (Posted on StarWars.com)
  33. Databank title B-wing starfighter in the Databank (content now obsolete; backup link)
  34. StarWars Much to Learn You Still Have: 7 Things You Might Not Know About Sullustans on StarWars.com (backup link)
  35. Star Wars: Complete Vehicles
  36. StarWars Rebels Recon: Inside "Wings of the Master" on StarWars.com (backup link)
  37. Interview – "Star Wars: Shadow Fall – An Alphabet Squadron Novel" Author Alexander Freed by Celestino, Mike on www.laughingplace.com (June 26, 2020) (archived from the original on February 19, 2021)

External links[]

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