The BTL-A4 Y-wing assault starfighter/bomber, also referred to simply as the BTL-A4 Y-wing starfighter or Y-wing light bomber, was a model of starfighter-bomber, part of the venerable BTL-series manufactured by Koensayr Manufacturing. Originally in service with the Republic Navy, it was more famously used as the workhorse of the Rebel Alliance Starfighter Corps during the Galactic Civil War. An effective marriage between speed and firepower, Y-wings served their respective causes extremely well.
- "Our allies took a lot of risks to obtain these fighters, and our mechanics and technicians have made each one faster and more lethal than the Koensayr manufacturers ever intended."
- ―Jon Vander
Unlike the BTL-B Y-wing starfighter/bomber, which had a rotating turret controlled by a gunner, who sat facing forwards or backwards, the BTL-A4 was flown by a single pilot, while the turret was controlled by a droid-like targeting computer. Located behind the cockpit was an astromech droid slot. The long attack starfighter measured in at 23.4 meters. The wedge-shaped cockpit was placed on the front of the craft, with the central spar extending behind it. Two Koensayr R200 ion jet engines were attached to either side of the spar. The engines had exhaust nacelles and support pylons, and had sensor array domes that contained Fabritech ANx-y sensor arrays on the front of the nacelles. The R300-H hyperdrive motivator was at the rear of the spar. Squadron markings were placed on the cockpit and the forward tips of the engine nacelles.
For power, the ship had a Novaldex power generator behind the astromech droid slot, and Thiodyne 03-R cryogenic power cells inside the engine pylons. A Chempat deflector shield generator was located behind the power generator. The Y-wing's main sensor array contained a ANs-5d "lock track" full-spectrum transceiver, a long range PTDA #PA-9r unit, and a short range PTAG #PG-7u unit. In the event that the craft would have to make a make an emergency landing, the pilot could dump its fuel from the engines.
The starfighter was armed with two forward-mounted Taim & Bak IX4 laser cannons, along with two Arakyd Flex Tube proton torpedo launchers, and a twin ArMek SW-4 ion cannon on a rotating turret. The Y-wing's targeting system was made from combining a Fabritech ANc 2.7 tracking computer and an SI 5g7 "Quickscan" vector imaging system. The starfighter was capable of unleashing a tremendous amount of firepower, especially when attacking in groups: a squadron of Y-wings could carry enough ordnance to glass an entire city, bathing the battlefield in blinding white detonations which scrambled sensors.
By the Galactic Civil War, many Y-wings were stripped of their hull plating and engine nacelles, shortening their length to 16.24 meters, for ease of maintenance, as their older parts often broke down, and models that eliminated the gunner's turret had been introduced.
A single-seat variant of the BTL-B Y-wing starfighter/bomber, BTL-A4s were designed by Koensayr to serve in the Republic Navy during the Clone Wars. However, the rise of the Galactic Empire saw the new Imperial Navy shift towards a capital ship-based space superiority doctrine, causing Koensayr to lose their government contract. Much of the Y-wing stock was initially sold to local planetary defense markets, though Imperial intervention caused many unsold, repossessed and surplus Y-wings to be allocated for reclamation. During this period, the mass scrapping of the BTL-B made the BTL-A4 the most readily available model of Y-wing.
The nascent rebellion against the Empire sent out search parties to acquire as many Y-wings as possible for their fleet. BTL-A4s were either bought or, in many cases, stolen, from military surplus dealers and scrapyards, including raids such as one mounted by members of the Phoenix Cell in 2 BBY. Soon after, these raids would ensure that Y-wings became very common within the rebel cells, with the Imperial Navy including rebel Y-wings in simulated engagements at the Skystrike Academy. Gold Squadron's Y-wings were notably responsible for escorting the fugitive Senator Mon Mothma to Dantooine, where the rebel fleet massed and the Alliance to Restore the Republic was formed.
After its formation, the Rebel Alliance used extensively modified Y-wings throughout the Galactic Civil War against the Empire. Originally designed for close-quarter combat and bombing runs, the Y-wing served as the Alliance's original attack starfighter prior to the introduction of the T-65B X-wing starfighter. Despite its inability to maneuver as well as later Rebel starfighters, as well as the introduction of Slayn & Korpil's A/SF-01 B-wing starfighter as a potential replacement for the aging bomber, its rugged reliability ensured its presence in all major battles against the Empire.
The craft notably participated in the Battle of Scarif, where its use by Gold Squadron was instrumental in the destruction of the Shield Gate and the acquisition of the Death Star plans. Led by Gold Leader Jon Vander, the Y-wings inflicted damage on the Shield Gate and single-handedly disabled the Imperial Star Destroyer Persecutor, which had already lost a shield generator dome, with Vander using ion torpedoes, turning the tide of the battle. They also served during the Battle of Yavin, where the Alliance deployed the bombers in an attempt to destroy the approaching Death Star, which in turn was threatening to destroy the Alliance's hidden fortress on Yavin 4. Flying with two wingmen, Vander attempted to skim the meridian trench and fire proton torpedoes into the thermal exhaust port to destroy the battlestation. During the battle, all but one of the eight Y-wings were destroyed, including three by Darth Vader in a TIE Advanced x1 starfighter. However, Luke Skywalker, a farmboy from Tatooine and the son of Darth Vader, was able to fire the shot that destroyed the Death Star.
Following the Rebel defeat at the Battle of Hoth, Y-wings were among the ships of the Alliance Fleet that met at the rendezvous point. Y-wings also joined the Rebel Fleet to attack the DS-2 Death Star II Mobile Battle Station at Endor. During the battle, Y-wings were deployed as Gray Squadron. Under General Lando Calrissian's orders, they joined in attacking Imperial Star Destroyers at point-blank range, and then followed him into the Death Star after its defenses were knocked out by Han Solo's ground team. Inside the Death Star, one Y-wing, flown by Norra Wexley, broke off and led TIE fighters away from Calrissian's strike group, which succeeded in destroying the battlestation. Y-wings were also used by the New Republic in the Battle of Jakku, along with X-wings, A-wings, and B-wings.
Behind the scenes
The Y-wing is based on concept art made by Ralph McQuarrie. The starfighters seen in the first Star Wars film, A New Hope, were models produced by Industrial Light & Magic and filmed against blue screens. When Joe Johnston refined the Colin Cantwell and Ralph McQuarrie Y-wing designs for construction into a visual effects model for A New Hope, he posited that the starship was once a sleek vessel that was chopped and stripped like a hot rod by Rebel Alliance technicians.
Designer Russell Chong spearheaded the development of the earlier Y-wing models first seen in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series, based on that original concept. "The Y-wing was a really fun project, bringing it back fully faired," he said. According to Chong, "We back-engineered the Y-wing and turned it back into a bomber. I took images of the actual Y-wing model from the files at Lucasfilm and I designed our new version over it. We revitalized the bubble turret that Colin Cantwell and Ralph McQuarrie had developed. All the body panels are very much the same as the original Y-wing. I did my best to give it the same styling and the same look as the original Y-wing."
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