The clone Z-95 Headhunter, also known as the clone Z-95 starfighter and more commonly known as the Headhunter starfighter, was a model of starfighter used by the Galactic Republic's clone trooper pilots during the Clone Wars. Although not introduced until some time into the war, the Z-95 became one of the most popular forms of Republic air support. The versatile fighter saw action from the Battle of Umbara until the end of the war.
A joint venture between Incom and Sublights Products Corporation, the clone Z-95 Headhunter was the Galactic Republic naval forces' primary multi-role starfighter. The Z-95 Headhunter was a 75,000-credit starfighter designed specifically for the Navy to take advantage of the physical and mental capabilities of clone trooper pilots. It was fast and agile, and while its proton torpedo launchers armed with eight torpedoes each gave the fighter a punch well out of proportion to its size of 16.74 meters long and 18.13 meters wide. The fighter was also armed with Taim & Bak manufactured KX5 laser cannons, as well as close-ranged sensors and a day's worth of consumables.
The Republic Navy employed the Z-95 starfighter in several capacities, including escort and starfighter combat against enemy forces from the Navy of the Confederacy of Independent Systems. At the lengthy Battle of Umbara, Z-95s fought as the Republic fleet broke through the Separatist blockade, and later provided escort to gunships that were deploying troops on the surface. As the battle wore on, Z-95s combated Umbaran starfighters when the Republic engaged a Separatist fleet in space.
They would later participate in the Battle of Kadavo, where they provided escort to Jedi Master Plo Koon in his starfighter and 104th Battalion's Wolfpack gunships in a attempt to rescue Jedi General Obi-Wan Kenobi, Clone Captain CT-7567 "Rex," and a group of Togruta slaves, who were being held captive by Zygerrian keeper Agruss in the Kadavo slave processing facility. During the battle, they engaged HH-87 Starhopper's piloted by Zygerrian pilots, with clone pilot Warthog's ship being damaged by one of them. Koon used his starfighter to destroy both Starhoppers, saving Warthog and their fellow wingmen, but were unable to destroy the defense towers of the slave processing facility. However, with the help of Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, who was able to hijack one of the defense towers and destroy three of them, Admiral Barton Coburn's ship, the Hand of Justice, was able to get close to the facility and rescue the slaves before the gunships destroyed the facility.
During the attack on Obi-Wan's fleet, Z-95 Headhunters participated in defending the fleet from General Grievous. One Z-95 was piloted by clone pilot "Killer," who provided cover fire for his wingman "Engle," who was making bombing runs on Separatist warships in his Y-wing starfighter. Unfortunately, Killer was killed in the ensuing battle while Engle crash-landed on Kenobi's ship, the Negotiator. Engle would escape the burning cockpit of his starfighter, with Kenobi helping him get to safety.
Z-95 Headhunters also participated in the defense of Cato Neimoidia where they were led by Anakin Skywalker and his Padawan Ahsoka Tano in an attempt to liberate the planet from Separatist control. In the ensuing battle, Skywalker punched a hole against the vulture droids to clear a path for the Z-95s and several of them engaged in dogfights against droid tri-fighters, with one of them being shot down. Unfortunately, Skyalkwer and Tano were called off from the attack so they could investigate an attack on the Jedi Temple, while the Republic continued the assault on the planet.
On Coruscant, a number of clone Z-95s were held as a reserve force in a Republic Navy base, along with other starfighters and various personnel. Z-95s were also used as aerial security in Kamino's cloning facilities, particularly at the clone military education complex. When Skywalker led a campaign to free Ringo Vinda from Separatist forces, squadrons of Z-95 starfighters engaged the enemy fighters around the massive space station orbiting the planet. During Skywalker's invasion of Scipio, the headquarters of the InterGalactic Banking Clan, clone pilot "Hawk" and other pilots flew Z-95 starfighters as escort for the 501st Legion's LAAT/i gunships. Z-95s engaged vulture droids to clear a path for the gunships to land, allowing the Confederate navy to withdraw and abandon the ground forces left in the planet. In the ensuing chaos, Hawk and his comrades shot down the remaining vulture droids outside Scipio's Main Vault, allowing the Republic to win the battle. However, one of the vulture droids shot down by Hawk crashed into the vault, inadvertently causing the death of Rush Clovis, who was holding Senator Padmé Amidala hostage.
Not long after, Z-95s participated in the Outer Rim Sieges, where many of them engaged droid fighters at Anaxes, home of the Republic Navy's shipyards, though many of them would result in heavy casualties. They even participated in a battle between a Republic and Separatist fleet led by Grievous and assisted Plo Koon in liberating Cato Neimoidia for a second time. Z-95s and Republic gunships also participated in the Battle of Yerbana, where they engaged droid tri-fighters while Kenobi, Commander CC-2224 "Cody", and the 212th Attack Battalion engaged the forces on the ground. Although some Z-95s were not as successful in shooting down the tri-fighters, the battle was still won by the Republic.
Z-95s were parked in a Venator-class Star Destroyer commanded by Skywalker near the end of the war. When Republic forces were called to Coruscant to respond to an planet invasion, Skywalker was reunited with his former Padawan after Tano had left the Jedi Order, in the hangar. When Tano was called off to Mandalore along with the rest of the newly formed 332nd Company of the 501st Legion led by the newly promoted Commander Rex, Captain CT-0292 "Vaughn," Mandalorian resistance forces led by Bo-Katan Kryze, Skywalker, and Kenobi left for Coruscant.
Not long after, Z-95 Headhunters were also parked aboard the Tribunal, a Venator that had recently detained the former Sith Lord Maul following the Siege of Mandalore. When Order 66 was issued, the 332nd Division turned on Tano. After she had freed Rex from his inhibitor chip, the two passed by the Headhunters in the starship's repair bay while searching for a working ship to steal, eventually taking a BTL-B Y-wing starfighter/bomber. The Headhunters were all destroyed when the Tribunal crashed into a moon.
Behind the scenes
- "A multi-purpose starfighter, the Z-95 has spawned countless variants, with the Republic making its own mark on the Headhunter's large production run with a clone trooper-specific model."
- ―StarWars.com Encyclopedia entry for the clone Z-95 starfighter
The clone Z-95 Headhunter was developed for the Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series and was first appeared in the episode "Darkness on Umbara" which aired in October 2011. The episode guide for "Darkness on Umbara" on StarWars.com initially designated the craft as the "Z-85 Headhunter," implying that it was the predecessor of the Z-95 Headhunter, but this was later changed to "Headhunter starfighter." The starfighter's entry in the StarWars.com Encyclopedia and later the Databank referred to it as a "Clone Z-95 starfighter" and clarified that it was one of many variants in Headhunter line.
The starfighter was designed by the television series' crew with the intention of avoiding similarity to the T-65 X-wing starfighter from the original trilogy of Star Wars films. Instead, it more resembled artist Colin Cantwell's original model for the X-wing starfighter.
Notes and references
- Rise of the Separatists
- Poe Dameron: Flight Log
- Rebel Starfighters Owners' Workshop Manual
- "Republic, Rebel, and Resistance Starfighters" – Star Wars Encyclopedia
- Poe Dameron Annual 2
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Darkness on Umbara"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Plan of Dissent"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Escape from Kadavo"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Bound for Rescue"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Sabotage"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "The Unknown"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Crisis at the Heart"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "The Bad Batch"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Old Friends Not Forgotten"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "The Wrong Jedi"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Victory and Death"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Shattered"