- "I see them. Y-wings, heavy shields and turret guns."
- ―Wedge Antilles
The BTL Y-wing starfighter, also known to as the Y-wing starfighter/bomber or more simply as the BTL-series, Y-wing fighter, or Y-wing and nicknamed the wallowing pigs, was a series of multi-role starfighter-bombers manufactured by Koensayr Manufacturing. Commissioned by the Galactic Republic during the Clone Wars, many surviving Y-wings would go on to serve with the Alliance to Restore the Republic during the Galactic Civil War. Notable models included the original two-seat BTL-B Y-wing starfighter/bomber; its successor, the BTL-S3 Y-wing Starfighter, and the single-seat BTL-A4 Y-wing assault starfighter/bomber.
During the early part of the Clone Wars, the Galactic Republic commissioned Koensayr to develop a combination starfighter and long-range bomber. Their result, the original BTL-B model, proved so successful that additional variants were created, among them the BTL-S3 and BTL-A4 variants. However, except for differences in their cockpit and gunner layouts, these all shared the same characteristics.
The BTL-B Y-wing consisted of a cockpit section which connected via reinforced central spar and cross-wing to two large Koensayr ion engines. The pressurized cockpit seated a pilot (and in some models a gunner) protected by a transparisteel canopy. Some cockpit sections were modified so that they were fully contained, repulsor-powered escape vehicles, though most Y-wings incorporated traditional ejector seats.
Each engine was fitted with four strong pylons that extended behind to support a long engine nacelle, at the end of which were disk-ventrals that redirected thrust for maneuverability. A pair of thrust control jets were set in the aft central spar to give the Y-wing greater agility. Repulsorlifts were fitted in the neck and wings to provide atmospheric flight. A fuel recycling system gave the Y-wing extreme efficiency during long-range missions. In the event that the craft would have to make a make an emergency landing, the pilot could dump its fuel from the engines.
For weaponry, the Y-wing was fitted with two forward firing laser cannons, either the KX5 or IX4 models. These weapons, designed to penetrate battle cruiser hulls, could have devastating effect on lesser targets, collapsing a five-story stone building in just a few shots. Backing up these were twin SW-4 or SW-5 ion cannons, mounted on a rotating turret controlled either by a dedicated gunner or by the pilot depending on the variant. Lastly were a pair of MG7 proton torpedo launchers, each with a six-round magazine. Besides proton torpedoes, these launchers could launch other weapons including concussion missiles, proton bombs, and cluster missiles. 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. The Y-wing could also carry external ordnance mounted directly on its hull, such as an electro-proton bomb.
The Y-wing was heavily armored with a titanium-reinforced alusteel hull and a Chempat deflector shield generator. The generator, powered by the ion engines, was linked to shield projectors located across the Y-wing's hull. This allowed the pilot to angle the shields of maximum protection or cover damaged sections of the ship. The Y-wing could also use its cannons to shoot down enemy missiles, so long as the targeting computer remained functional.
For flight control, the Y-wing featured a Sublights Products Corporation NH-7 flight control avionics package and photonics communication system, as well as ANc 2.7 tracking computer linked to an SI 5g7 "Quickscan" vector imaging system, an ANs-5d "lock track" full-spectrum transceiver, PA-9r long-range phased tachyon detection array and PG-7u short-range primary threat analysis grid. A composite sensor dome was fitted to the forward end of each engine, while a rear-facing sensor was positioned on the cross-wing. The Y-wing's sensors were sensitive enough to locate an escape pod-sized target via it's metallurgical properties within a five-kilometer radius when operating at low altitudes. A R2 series astromech droid, fitted in a dedicated socket behind the cockpit, carried hyperspace data for the R300-H hyperdrive motivator and could manage all other systems by itself. Y-wings heavily depended on the astromech being operational, due to the fact that hyperspace was impossible without one.
The original Y-wing featured a plethora of additional equipment geared towards its mission of long-range strikes. This included backup batteries, a secondary life support system, fresh water tanks, and an emergency flotation system. Because the Y-wing tended to run hot, a complex cooling system extended throughout the entire starfighter.
The Rebel Alliance sought to buy or steal as many Y-wings as they could to form their nascent rebellion. However, they quickly realized that the cooling system required extensive maintenance after every flight, necessitating the removal of the armor plates just to get at it. In order to ease this burden it was decided to remove the armor plating, which was used to refit other ships (such as the T-47 airspeeder). Additional shield power was added to compensate for the loss.
Other changes included the removal or reconfiguration of various components to lighten weight. This included removing the fuel reclamation system for all but some BTL-S3 models (which were utilized as couriers) and replacing the torpedo launchers' six-round magazine with a four-round model. The engine-supported pylons were also shortened to improve maneuverability during close combat. While the resulting fighter looked spindly, overall integrity on the Y-wing was not compromised, and it resulted in a faster and more lethal starfighter than the original. The speed and maneuverability of certain models, in particular the two-seat BTL-S3, was still considered subpar, but they were regarded as reliable and well-armed nonetheless.
For decades after the Clone Wars, various Y-wing models saw combat in military conflicts, through the Galactic Civil War and up to the First Order-Resistance conflict. The Alliance modified their Y-wings by removing the hull and nacelle plating in order to increase ease of maintenance on the aging craft, which would enter the popular memory. Except for the cockpit variations, all ships in the BTL series were similar in design.
The BTL-B Y-wing starfighter/bomber was the original model commissioned by the Republic Navy in the early stages of the Clone Wars, designed as a combination starfighter and long-range bomber that could replace the V-19 Torrent and Jedi interceptors. The model's distinguishing feature was its bubble-turret, which swiveled 360 degrees, providing a clear view of surrounding space for gunners. A mainstay of the Republic Navy, it was present at many of the major battles of the war, though most BTL-Bs were scrapped by the Empire after the conflict.
Designed after the success of the BTL-B, the BTL-A4 Y-wing assault starfighter/bomber variant served as a single-seat tactical strike spacecraft which lacked the gunner's position of other variants. This variant was extensively utilized by the Alliance to Restore the Republic and New Republic during the Galactic Civil War, seeing action at major battles such as Scarif, Yavin, Endor, and Jakku.
The BTL-S3 Y-wing Starfighter retained the tailgunner position from the BTL-B, though it eliminated the elevated bubble turret by seating the pilot and gunner back-to-back in the cockpit. Like the BTL-A4, it would go on to serve with the Rebel Alliance, and by the time of the Cold War three decades later, it was still valued for its toughness despite being considered an antique.
The BTA-NR2 Y-wing starfighter restarted the Y-wing line after the Galactic Civil War re-popularized the design as "the starfighter that broke the Empire's back." It was largely based on the BTL-A4 single-seat variant, and emulated the customizability and lack of armor plating that customers associated with the "rebel Y-wing." Despite this, it featured optional plating and improved sensors, deflector shields, controls, and engines. This variant saw service as a planetary defense craft with the New Republic Defense Fleet, as well as with the Resistance in their fight against the First Order.
The Clone Wars
- "The Republic commissioned the Y-wing for clone pilots to take on the Confederacy's droid starfighters, and last I checked, the droids didn't win."
- ―Jon Vander
In the Clone War, Y-wings proved their worth to the Republic, taking part in several key battles against the Separatists. Despite their size, the two-seat starfighters were quite maneuverable, with clone trooper pilots routinely performing quick rolls while staying in formation. Their turrets and fixed guns allowed them to engage and destroy multiple targets simultaneously, making them effective in combat missions against enemy starfighters. This versatility made them suitable for a number of mission profiles, whether it involved attacking enemy capital ships or bombing ground targets. They were, however, considered "buggy" in atmospheric operations.
Shadow Squadron, a unit of clone trooper pilots, flew Y-wing bombers in the Battle of the Kaliida Nebula under the command of Jedi General Anakin Skywalker. Jedi Commander Ahsoka Tano flew as the gunner in Skywalker's Y-wing, and Jedi General Plo Koon served as a fighter escort. The Y-wings successfully destroyed Malevolence's ion cannon in the engagement. Out of an initial force of 12 Y-wing bombers, six were lost in the assault.
- "That Y-wing crashed here back in the Clone War, and my father left it as a memorial. It also happens to be the ship I pulled Chopper out of, so he still has issues with it."
- ―Hera Syndulla
Y-wings participated in the Battle of Ryloth, in which they broke the planetary blockade imposed by the Confederacy of Independent Systems. They also participated in atmospheric operations, and at least one crashed outside the Syndulla residence. Hera Syndulla rescued "Chopper" from the wrecked Y-wing, and Cham Syndulla decided to preserve the crash site as a memorial. Several of Skywalker's Y-wings destroyed Separatist Hyena-class Droid Bombers that were tasked with destroying Lessu after the Separatist withdrawal from the capital.
- "Approaching drop zone. Everyone stay tight."
"Remember, you've only got one shot at this."
- ―Goji and Anakin Skywalker, as the former releases the electro-proton bomb
In 21 BBY, Y-wings participated in the Battle of Malastare, notably dropping an electro-proton bomb on the Separatist Droid Army, inadvertently awakening the last surviving Zillo Beast. The battle ended with a joint Republic/Dug victory, with the Separatists being driven off the planet and the Dugs signing a treaty, granting the Republic access to its considerable fuel reserves.
In 21 BBY, Republic Y-wings bombed Separatist anti-aircraft cannons in the Second Battle of Geonosis, allowing Jedi Generals Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, and Ki-Adi-Mundi to land at Point Rain. Y-wings also defended Admiral Wullf Yularen's command ship from attack by Geonosian Nantex-class territorial defense starfighters and assisted the defense of Kenobi's position.
Republic Y-wings joined Aggressive ReConnaissance-170 starfighters and V-19 Torrent starfighters in the Battle of Kamino, making bombing runs on Separatist transports in space. These transports, unknown to the clone pilots, carried Trident-class assault ships, which landed in the ocean below and deployed aqua droids to Tipoca City. Separatist forces were eventually forced to withdraw after the clone troopers—including the 501st Legion—on Kamino mounted a counteroffensive against the battle droids.
Republic Y-wings saw action at the Battle of Sullust, engaging Separatist starfighters and conducting bombing runs on their capital ships. Darth Sidious ordered Count Dooku to kill Asajj Ventress in the battle, leading to a Separatist withdrawal and a Republic victory.
In 20 BBY, Republic Y-wings mounted a failed defense of Jedi General Adi Gallia's flagship at the Battle of Patitite Pattuna. Astromech droid R2-D2 and protocol droid C-3PO escaped the doomed Star Destroyer aboard a Y-wing, and crashed on Patitite Pattuna's surface. After repairing their ship, the duo made a quick side-trip to Balnab in search of power, but were forced to abandon the ship. Not long after the Battle of Patitite Pattuna, the Republic mounted a rescue of Adi Gallia and recovered the droids, who had been picked up by Weequay pirates and taken prisoner by the Separatists.
Y-wings participated in the Battle of Umbara, destroying Separatist frigates guarding the planet and dropping ordnance on Umbaran Militia personnel who had ambushed the 501st Legion. They also took part in atmospheric combat operations, engaging Vulture-class starfighters and droid tri-fighters in air-to-air combat. The Battle of Umbara ended with a Republic victory and the execution of the traitorous Jedi General Pong Krell.
Republic Y-wings mounted a failed defense of Kenobi's flagship, the Negotiator, after it fell under attack by Separatist warships. The Separatist victory prevented the Republic's involvement in the rescue of Ahsoka Tano, who had been abducted by Weequay pirates in the Florrum system. Her rescue fell to a group of six younglings instead.
In 19 BBY, Gold Squadron used Y-wing bombers to attack Separatist anti-aircraft cannons stationed at the Anaxes assembly complex during the Battle of Anaxes. The campaign ended with a Republic victory, the death of Admiral Trench, and the defeat of all Separatist forces that were deployed on Anaxes.
Age of the Empire
Soon after the formation of the Galactic Empire in 19 BBY, an early rebellion against Imperial rule began to take shape. Secretly supported by influential Senators like Bail Organa and Mon Mothma, the various rebel cells operated whatever kinds of vehicles they could acquire. Y-wings, having been relegated to planetary defense duties, were popular craft for the rebels because of its built-in hyperdrive and durability. Sold to military surplus sellers or scrapyards, the Rebels sought to buy or steal as many as they could, with the Y-wing being the most common Rebel starfighter during the Galactic Civil War. They proved themselves to have superior firepower and durability compared to the Empire's TIE fighters and were used for a variety of missions, including escort, courier service, reconnaissance and surgical strikes. The BTL-A4 was the most common model, with most BTL-Bs having their bubble turrets removed in place of the remotely-controlled turret found on other variants.
In 4 BBY, at least five Y-wings engaged Imperial TIE fighters while Jyn Erso mounted an escape attempt from Imperial Military forces on Skuhl. Crossfire from the dogfight destroyed the SC3000 freighter Ponta One, killing both civilians on board.
- "Y-wings? Kinda old. Can they fly?"
"Those bombers may be old, but they were solid in combat operations."
"If we could steal a squadron's worth…"
"They would be key to building a strike fleet."
- ―Hera Syndulla, Captain Rex, and Jun Sato
In 2 BBY,[source?] Phoenix Cell launched a mission to recover decommissioned Republic Y-wings from Reklam Station, an aerial scrapyard floating in the atmosphere of the planet Yarma. The mission ended in a rebel victory, with five Y-wings successfully stolen and Reklam station destroyed. Two of the initial force of seven were lost to Imperial fire, both piloted by Chopper under remote control. Although Commander Jun Sato originally intended for the Y-wings to enter service with Phoenix Squadron, the ships were instead to transferred to Jan Dodonna's unit on Yavin 4.
Backbone of the Rebellion
Imperial cadets were trained to destroy Y-wing starfighters at Skystrike Academy on Montross. Sabine Wren and Wedge Antilles participated in one such training prior to their first attempt to escape from Skystrike Academy alongside Derek Klivian and Rake Gahree.
The Y-wings of Gold Squadron escorted the Chandrila Mistress, with former Imperial Senator Mon Mothma aboard, to a secret rendezvous at the with the Spectres aboard the Ghost. From there, the Ghost would transport Mothma to Dantooine for a meeting of high-level leaders of the rebellion.
The Chandrila Mistress had been tracked by Imperial forces, and shortly after arrival it was attacked by an Arquitens-class command cruiser, a Gozanti-class cruiser, and several TIE/ln space superiority starfighters. Although Gold Squadron was able to destroy the TIEs and cruisers, Mothma and her crew were forced to evacuate the Chandrila Mistress and transfer to the Ghost. The Rebels escaped into hyperspace and traveled to the Archeon Nebula, which the Spectres had hoped would help conceal their movements from the Empire. Grand Admiral Thrawn predicted that they would do this, and dispatched a force of Imperial-class Star Destroyers and TIEs to destroy them, including a TIE/d "Defender" Multi-Role Starfighter prototype piloted by Vult Skerris. The resulting Operation Handoff resulted in a decisive rebel victory, but cost Gold Squadron three of its Y-wings.
At the Battle of Atollon, the Y-wings of Green Squadron attacked an Imperial-class Star Destroyer while Phoenix Squadron's RZ-1 A-wing interceptors engaged Imperial TIEs. Despite fierce Alliance resistance, the Rebels were forced to return to Chopper Base on the surface, and it was only the intervention of Clan Wren and the Bendu that allowed the Alliance forces to escape from Atollon to Yavin. All but two Y-wings were destroyed in the assault.
In 1 BBY,[source?] a group of Y-wings and X-wings were jointly led under the command of the newly-promoted General Hera Syndulla to help liberate the planet Lothal from the Galactic Empire. The Y-wings and X-wings would fight against Grand Admiral Thrawn and the Seventh Fleet, and would attack the fuel depot and Imperial Armory Complex in Capital City after breaking through the blockade and beating Skerris once and for all. However, after breaching the outer perimeter defenses in orbit of Lothal, the Y-wings and X-wings of the entire rebel attack force were shot down by Thrawn's second wave of TIE fighters. None of the Y-wing pilots or their astromechs survived the crash landings in Capital City.
- "Red Leader, this is Gold Leader: we're starting our attack run on the shield gate. Keep it tight and watch out for those towers."
- ―Jon Vander
Not long afterwards the Y-wings of Gold Squadron and Blue Squadron were deployed to participate in the Battle of Scarif, the opening engagement of the Galactic Civil War. Blue Squadron, which had been split into two groups by the closure of the field aperature, assisted the other squadrons in defending the Alliance Fleet and attacking the Shield Gate. Gold Squadron led the attack run on the Shield Gate, and disabled a Star Destroyer with ion torpedos. The battle ended with the Alliance's successful acquisition of the Death Star plans at the cost of a significant portion of its forces.
Shortly after the action at Scarif, a force of 30 starfighters (including 8 Y-wings of Gold Squadron) were deployed in a desperate attempt to destroy the Death Star at the Battle of Yavin. Captain Jon Vander led Dex Tiree and Davish Krail down the battle station's meridian trench on the first attack run, but all three were shot down by Darth Vader. The X-wing starfighters of Red Squadron made two additional attack runs, the second of which was successful. Luke Skywalker, a Force-sensitive Rebel pilot, used the Force to launch a pair of proton torpedoes into the station's thermal exhaust port, starting a chain reaction in the reactor core that destroyed the entire station. Only a single Y-wing, piloted by Evaan Verlaine, survived the Battle of Yavin.
Mission to recover Imperial communication logs
Shortly after the Battle of Yavin, Luke Skywalker would fly the BTL-S3 Y-wing Starfighter, Y 4, during his mission to recover Imperial communication logs. During in the mission the rebel pilot used the starfighter against the Razor-class frigate named Kreuge's Revenge in the Tertiary Usaita system.
In 0 ABY, Darth Vader and Inspector Thanoth embarked on a Mission to the Anthan system to identify the perpetrators of the Son-tuul Pride robbery and recover its cargo of credits. As part of an attempt to bargain with the Imperials, an information broker known as the Ante disclosed the location of the Plasma Devils base of operations on Anthan 1. With this knowledge and the death of the Ante, Vader and Thanoth abandoned the chase and struck the Plasma Devils' base. During the Plasma Devils' attempts to evacuate, Vader singlehandedly brought down one of their Y-wings by throwing his lightsaber at the portside engine.
- "Commander Leia to Amber Wing and anyone else who's mobile. Vader will be arriving at this position shortly. Wait for my signal…then hit it with everything you've got."
- ―Leia Organa
Gray Squadron's Y-wings saw action at the Battle of Vrogas Vas, attempting to kill Darth Vader. Using the Force to hurl debris from his crashed TIE at the bombers, the Sith Lord destroyed several and proved to be more than a match for the squadron. Later in the battle, Leia Organa ordered the Y-wings of Amber Wing to bomb her position with the aim of killing Vader, but the wing was decimated by Commander Karbin's forces.
Mako-Ta Space Docks
At some point between 0 ABY and 3 ABY, a squadron of X-wings and Y-wings on patrol of the Arkanis sector located an Imperial listening station and requested that Saponza's Gang give them targets. The raid completely destroyed the base.
In 4 ABY, Y-wings participated in the Battle of Endor with numerous units including Gold Squadron, Gray Squadron, and Red Squadron. At least one, operated by Norra Wexley under the Gold Nine callsign, entered the superstructure of the DS-2 Death Star II Mobile Battle Station and led Imperial TIEs away from the Millennium Falcon. The surprise Rebel victory at Endor resulted in the death of Galactic Emperor Sheev Palpatine; the redemption of Anakin Skywalker; and the destruction of the Sith, second Death Star, and Super Star Destroyer Executor.
Seventeen standard days after the Battle of Endor, the Y-wings of Feral Group participated in the Battle of Cawa City on the planet Sterdic IV, dropping bombs on Imperial All Terrain Armored Transport walkers. The battle ended with a decisive victory for the Alliance.
At least three Y-wings participated in the Battle of Theed at Naboo during Operation: Cinder under the command of General Lando Calrissian. The fighters engaged Imperial TIEs that had swarmed Leia Organa, Shara Bey, and Queen Sosha Soruna who had made an attempt to knock out Imperial weather-control satellites. With the help of Shriv Suurgav's Danger Squadron-- now joined by former Imperial Special Forces Commandos Iden Versio and Del Meeko-- the Y-wings successfully bombed the Star Destroyer Torment's shield array. The battle concluded with a rebel victory and the failure of Operation: Cinder in the area.
Several standard months after the Battle of Endor, the New Republic deployed Y-wings to help the rebellion on Akiva overthrow its local Imperial government. The operation resulted in the capture of at least two high-ranking Imperial officials, the rescue of Captain Wedge Antilles, and the liberation of Akiva from Imperial rule.
In 5 ABY, New Republic Y-wings participated in an attack on the Hyborean Moon with the objective of destroying an Imperial Security Bureau prison located there. The strike leveled the prison, but also destroyed adjacent buildings and killed an unknown number of civilians.
New Republic Y-wings saw action with Shepherd Squadron at the Battle of Fondor Shipyards, one of the final large-scale battles before the Empire's last stand at Jakku. The battle ended with a New Republic victory.
New Republic Era
Y-wings had largely fallen out of military service by 28 ABY due to the age of their design. Despite this, the Amaxine warriors operated at least one Y-wing around this time, which attempted to thwart Organa's Mission to Sibensko. The Resistance also operated at least a single two-seat BTL-S3 in 34 ABY and deployed it on a Mission to Spalex, but it was noted that the fighter was very old and was dangerous because of this.
Behind the scenes
The Y-wing starfighter first appeared in the now Legends promotional novel Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker, the very first Star Wars product ever released. It was a novelization of the later canon film known at the time of its release as Star Wars.
In the novelization, the Y-wings that flew in the Battle of Yavin operated as part of Red Squadron, with the X-wings being part of Blue Squadron. Because of the limits of blue screen technology at the time, the Y-wing squadron was changed to Gold Squadron and the X-wings to Red Squadron.
In the original release of Star Wars, the Y-wing starfighters were plastic models shot against blue screens with computer-controlled cameras. In later versions of the film released to theaters and home media, some shots have been removed and replaced with computer-animated ones.
A transparent turret was originally included in the design, but was removed when it was realized that blue screen technology was not yet advanced enough to composite correctly with the turret. The turrets, along with a lot of body paneling and the gunner's position, were added back in to the Y-wing's design on Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
The look of the Clone Wars-era Y-wing bombers stems directly from the design of the original Y-wing and speculation from A New Hope Visual Effects Art Director Joe Johnston that the Y-wing used by the Rebel Alliance was a "chopped" version of an older craft. The appearance of the Y-wings seen in the episode "Shadow of Malevolence" is intended to bridge the design aesthetic of the prequel and original trilogies.
On April 25, 2014, Lucasfilm Ltd. announced that the former Expanded Universe would be discontinued and rebranded as "Legends," and that it would be replaced with a new single-level canonicity system in which new releases were declared either canon or non-canon from the outset. Since the rebranding, Y-wings have appeared in numerous narrative, promotional, and reference Star Wars products.
- Fortnite X Star Wars
- Star Wars: Visions – "Lop & Ochō" (Ambiguous canonicity) (Appears in hologram)
- LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga