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The Cygnus Spaceworks Alpha-class Xg-1 Star Wing, also known as the Xg-1 Starwing[9] or Assault Gunboat, was one of the Galactic Empire's first general-deployment starfighters to be equipped with deflector shields and a hyperdrive.


An Xg-1 Star Wing firing proton torpedoes

The 10-meter-long Xg-1 was based on a tri-wing design similar to the Lambda-class shuttle, another craft that Cygnus Spaceworks designed. Like the Lambda shuttle, the Star Wing had a fixed dorsal wing flanked by a pair of lateral folding wings. When landing, the lower wings folded upwards. However, the Xg-1 had a sleeker cockpit and warhead/engine pods along the side of the hull. It had two additional folding wings that protruded diagonally from the side pods, at an angle reflexive to the lateral wings. These secondary wings afforded the Xg-1 significantly increased maneuverability over its shuttle counterpart. When in flight position, the wing configuration resembled a flattened five-point star, thus the name "Star Wing."[7]

Its armament consisted of two chin-mounted laser cannons, two ion cannons above the cockpit, and a pair of general-purpose warhead launchers. The Star Wing could also carry the tractor beam weapon developed for the TIE Avenger and newer Imperial starfighters; the only known use of this was during Maarek Stele's campaign in the Eva-T system to snare enemy craft.[7]

The standard payload was sixteen concussion missiles,[2] eight per launcher, though depending upon the mission the Star Wing could alternatively carry twelve proton torpedoes, eight heavy rockets, or four heavy space bombs.[7] Some Xg-1s also carried Ion torpedoes.[10]

The Xg-1 was a relatively large starfighter, which enabled it to accommodate a hyperdrive and deflector shields. However, it was not particularly fast and had average maneuverability, making it mediocre in space superiority.[7] The starfighter also borrowed the standard reactor design from the TIE series, which, like those fighters, was mounted directly on the tail of the craft.[4]


The Star Wing was equipped with a hyperdrive, which meant that it did not need the support of a Star Destroyer or other starfighter carrier. It proved very useful in conducting hyperspace raids against convoys and space stations, and also served in a reconnaissance capacity.[7]

A squadron of Xg-1s attacks a Dauntless-class heavy cruiser.

The fact that it was armed with ion cannons made the Star Wing an ideal choice for capture operations or planetary customs duties. Its high magazine capacity made it a deadly bomber, as a squadron of Star Wings could penetrate most medium-sized capital ships' shields with a single warhead salvo from each fighter.[7]

The Xg-1 was famed for its resilience. Its powerful shields allowed it to engage foes point blank, enabling it more opportunity to inflict damage, whereas an unshielded craft would be forced to break off the attack. The Star Wing's reinforced hull could survive a direct hit from an advanced concussion missile, and several times these craft were able to return home safely despite being badly damaged. Pilots such as Maarek Stele, having previously flown TIEs whose best defense was speed and maneuverability, often took advantage of the Star Wing's defenses to press bold assaults.[7] If the Star Wing was deployed into a combat zone directly by a Star Destroyer or carrier, its deflector shields enabled it to spearhead the attack and draw fire away from unshielded TIEs. One such rare deployment was when Maarek Stele led other Imperial Navy starfighters at the final battle of the Conflict at Mylok IV.[7]

The Star Wing was designed and deployed to perform specific missions that standard TIE fighters were unable to complete. It was not planned for widespread production like TIEs, so it did not alter the Imperial doctrine of quantity over quality. (The TIE Avenger and TIE Defender, however, were designed as high-quality alternatives to using swarms of cheap craft.)[7]


Xg-1 Star Wings launching from a ground-based hangar

The Star Wing did not prove overwhelmingly successful in its first independent deployments. As the Star Wing was the only hyperdrive-capable starfighter in the Imperial arsenal, there was initially no other space superiority craft available to escort it. The Xg-1 compared favorably against similarly heavy Alliance craft such as the Y-wing and the B-wing. However, against the more common X-wing and especially the nimble A-wing which it was often forced to engage, the Xg-1 had a hard time. The Xg-1 did have the advantage of stronger shields and armor to prolong its survival, but its comparative lack of speed prevented it from coming out on top. Consequently, Star Wings were often forced into lengthy dogfights with more maneuverable Alliance fighters, which detracted from their main mission goals. When the tractor beam weapon was developed, while it would have helped the Xg-1's chances against other starfighters, most flight officers opted to install what limited beam weapons they had on the TIE Avenger and other newer, faster craft, where it would be even more effective.[7] At some point, several Star Wings underwent servicing at the Naval Station Validusia.[11]

As a stopgap, Imperial flight officers decided that hyperspace raids should be conducted in two groups, with a squadron of missile-equipped Star Wings being pressed into the space superiority/escort role, and another group tasked with delivery of the warheads to their target, usually proton torpedoes, heavy rockets, or heavy space bombs. An example of this was the assault on the Rebel Mon Calamari Light Cruiser Lulsla, in which the Imperials succeeded.[7]

Once available, Star Wings were escorted by TIE Avengers—another class of Imperial fighter equipped with shields and hyperdrive. Because of the hyperspace capability of both classes, they could arrive in a system at the same time, catching Rebel patrols by surprise. As the Avengers proved excellent at space superiority, this enabled Star Wings to concentrate on their intended roles, whether that be capturing craft or assaulting capital ships. Successful Star Wing-Avenger partnerships included the capture of Admiral Harkov and the seizure of Galactic Electronics' mag pulse weapons.[7]

Xg-1 Star Wings docked in racks aboard an Imperial vessel

The Xg-1 was eventually overshadowed by the fast and versatile TIE Defender, which was virtually equal to or superior in every aspect save for armor and cost. However, due to the traitor Admiral Demetrius Zaarin, who threatened loyalist Avenger and Defender facilities, the loyalists were forced to resort to older craft. The Star Wing made a comeback in the Eva-T system to combat the rogue TIE Defender threat. The first was during the "trade" with the Rneekii pirates for the TIE Defender scientist; the mutual exchange was actually an Imperial trap, but sending a newer starfighter would be provocative, and also because the Rneekii would underestimate the Gunboat. The Xg-1, however, was piloted by ace Maarek Stele, and it carried a full load of advanced concussion missiles and the new tractor beam weapon. In the following mission, Stele would take the Xg-1 into battle against the Zaarin's TIE Defender and TIE Advanced fighters, where Stele used the tractor beam in conjunction with advanced proton torpedoes to great effect against much faster and more agile craft. Stele's ability and the inclusion of the latest technology in the Star Wing proved that it could prevail against overwhelming odds.[7]

The follow-up to the Alpha-class Xg-1 Star Wing was the Missile Boat. Despite several innovations, notably a much larger warhead capacity and a sublight acceleration system, it lacked ion cannons, so it was not a direct replacement. Three Xg-1s participated in the disabling and capture of the Strike Cruiser Nuance, escorted by two Missile Boats. Other noted Star Wing-Missile Boat partnerships included the successive captures of the MC80 Mon Calamari Rebel cruiser Link and the rogue Victory Star Destroyer Zeplin.[7]

Behind the scenes[]

The Star Wing first made an appearance in Star Wars: X-Wing, where it was known as the Assault Gunboat or simply Gunboat. It appeared midway through the main game's second tour of duty—in order to give the Imperial Navy a fighter with deflector shields. However, two ships had previously appeared in the cutscene after the first tour of duty, assisting AT-ATs attacking a Rebel base on Orion IV.

In Star Wars: TIE Fighter, like the preceding Star Wars: X-Wing, the craft is commonly named Assault Gunboat or Gunboat (and abbreviated to GUN), although the official Xg-1 Star Wing name does show up in the Combat Chamber introduction. Gunboats and Missile Boats were assigned squadron names Tau, Mau, Mu, Nu, and Rho, in contrast to TIEs, which received the squadron names Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Theta.

The Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels states that Imperial Star Destroyers carry five Alpha-class Xg-1 Star Wings, in addition to their standard complement of TIEs, shuttles, and landing barges.

Possibly because of its equivalence to typical Rebel Alliance fighters, the Star Wing has received little to no mention outside of the X-wing computer game series. While exceptional Imperial fighters such as the TIE/D Defender have shown up increasingly in later Expanded Universe novels, the Star Wings are rarely depicted in such works.

The Alpha-class Xg-1 Star Wing is playable in Fantasy Flight Games' Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game. In the game, it has capabilities similar to the Missile Boat, particularly in its ability to use a SLAM.[12]



Notes and references[]