- "A skiff so easy to pilot, even a labor droid can handle it!"
- ―Ubrikkian advertisement
The Ubrikkian Industries Bantha-II cargo skiff had one open deck with a simple control station located near the rear of the vehicle. The vehicle was controlled by a control pedestal that allowed it to be piloted even by unprofessional laborers or amateurs.
The skiff's repulsorlift engines, which were under its deck, also allowed it to hover 50 meters off the ground while its rear thrust nozzles propelled the craft forward at a top speed of 250 kilometers per hour. A pair of steering vanes on the rear also provided very limited maneuverability which made it dangerous for both the crew and vehicle if it was traveling at a fast speed. They cost 8,000 new, and 3,000 used. Skiffs were also poorly suited for combat and a standard blaster could disable its steering vanes or repulsor engine.
Like many other skiffs, the Bantha-II was designed to transport cargo and was common in most spaceports and warehouses on many planets across the galaxy. However, most of these skiffs could also carry passengers. Most variants of the vehicle were equipped with retractable magnetic lifters and loading ramps for transporting cargo onto the skiff's deck. Once onboard the craft, the cargo would be held in place by magnetic fasters and also cargo straps. The average Bantha-II was able to carry around 100 tons or cargo though as many as 16 seats could be installed on its deck, thus allowing the vehicle to also operate as passenger transports or even pleasure craft.
The Bantha-IIs could also be easily modified to suit local conditions on a planet. Among the most common of these many modifications to the original design was the installment of an enclosed deck and pilot station which protected both the passengers and crew from the elements, whether heat, cold, rain or pollution, and are resiliant to lava damage. Aquatic skiffs were equipped with retractable rain screens and more advanced repulsorlift engines for hovering over rivers, lakes and seas while desert skiffs had sand filters and modified cooling systems installed. Military versions used where military-grade vehicles were in short supply had the hull reinforced to add to the protection of the troops riding it and blaster cannons bolted to the front and side railings. They can also be customized with a vehicle customization kit.
Due to its cheap price tag, Ubrikkian was able to sell many of its Bantha-IIs to even the poorest or most under-developed of worlds where they were used both as cargo and as passenger transports. Some even came into the hands of crimelords like the Hutt gangster Jabba Desilijic Tiure who maintained a small fleet of Bantha-IIs at his Dune Sea palace.
Upon acquiring them, he fitted them with light armor, portable laser cannons and extendable gangplanks which were used for his enemies to "walk the plank" and fall right into the mouth of the sarlacc at the Great Pit of Carkoon. Jabba would use these vehicles to escort his personal Luxury sail barge Khetanna on pleasure trips across the deserts of Tatooine including executions of his enemies at Carkoon, to raid nearby settlements and fight the henchmen of rival crimelords.
At some point after the Battle of Yavin, several desert skiffs were utilized by various spacers.
In 4 ABY, Jabba used two Bantha-IIs to escort Khetanna to the Pit of Carkoon. Onboard one of these skiffs were Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Chewbacca who were to be fed to the Sarlacc. During the Battle of the Great Pit of Carkoon that ensued over the pit after Luke Skywalker retrieved his lightsaber from R2-D2, one of the skiffs was destroyed along with the sail barge while another was taken over by Luke and his companions who quickly departed from Tatooine.
One of his former rivals, Gardulla the Elder, also used one as her personal transport. Many governments including the Galactic Empire and the Alliance to Restore the Republic also acquired a number of these skiffs and would use them as troop transports.
Behind the scenes
The Bantha-II skiffs first appeared in Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi.
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