- "Aboard the Executor, being useful is the only way to survive."
- ―Maximillian Veers
The Executor was an Executor-class Star Dreadnought and personal flagship of the Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Vader. Under Vader's command, the Executor led the Death Squadron following the Battle of Yavin and oversaw the Imperial assault on the Rebel Alliance's Echo Base during the Battle of Hoth. While serving as the Imperial command ship during the Battle of Endor under Admiral Firmus Piett, the Executor was destroyed after a wayward Rebel A-wing starfighter piloted by Arvel Crynyd crashed into its bridge, causing the Super Star Destroyer to lose power and collide with the DS-2 Death Star II Mobile Battle Station.
One of the largest and most powerful Imperial vessels ever created, the Executor was 19,000 meters long, eclipsing its escorting Imperial-class Star Destroyers, and boasted more than 5,000 turbolasers and ion cannons. The center of her arrowhead-shaped hull was covered by a city-like superstructure, while the underside hosted most of the engineering systems. The aft end of the Executor was marked by a trapezoid command tower crowned by two geodesic communication and deflection domes; at the bottom end of the hull were thirteen thrusters responsible for moving the vessel.
As in the Imperial I- and Imperial II-classes, the bridge of the Executor featured two elongated pits set below floor level, and a walkway where the superior officers stood. One notable difference was that, around 3 ABY, the pit consoles were aligned parallel to the walkway, instead of perpendicular. However, by 4 ABY, the arrangement of the consoles had been altered to match that of smaller Destroyers.[source?]
- "The fleet will be yours. The Executor will be yours."
- ―Darth Sidious, to Darth Vader
Built by Kuat Drive Yards, the Executor was intended to take the place of the Annihilator as Grand General Cassio Tagge's flagship and the greatest starship in the entire Imperial fleet. By the aftermath of the War on Shu-Torun, the Super Star Destroyer was entering the final stages of its construction at the orbital shipyards of Kuat.
When the rogue Imperial, Doctor Cylo, attempted to take over the starship, he was stopped by Darth Vader. As a reward, Emperor Palpatine gave Vader the Executor and its fleet. Tagge tried to reason with Vader, who now possessed more authority than him, but Vader did not listen. Vader quickly Force choked Tagge to death, and then asked Admiral Kendal Ozzel when the ship would be ready. Ozzel replied it would be about a month before the ship would be launched due to damages from Cylo's takeover, but Vader gave him two weeks. When Ozzel began to protest this, Vader threatened him by saying he sounded like Tagge. Ozzel looked at the now-dead Imperial officer, and then told Vader the ship would be ready. Vader looked out at space, and used the Force to briefly connect with his son, Luke Skywalker.
The Executor became the command ship of the Death Squadron, the fleet of capital ships assigned to Vader, and also continued to be commanded by Ozzel, whom Vader began to become increasingly annoyed at. The ship replaced the Devastator as Vader's flagship, and many of the stormtroopers who served aboard the ship were selected due to their excellent performance in the Imperial Academy. Due to the pivotal Battle of Yavin, that saw the Alliance to Restore the Republic destroy the Empire's Death Star superweapon, Vader and the flotilla were tasked with finding the Rebels' base.
Mako-Ta Space Docks
- "I haven't seen anything that big since the Death Star. Vader. It has to be."
- ―Luke Skywalker
After Queen Trios contacted Vader, revealing the location of the Alliance Fleet at the Mako-Ta Space Docks, the Executor, along with the rest of Death Squadron, arrived at the rebel space station, initiating an attack on the fleet. From the Executor, Vader commanded the attack, ordering the destruction of the nearest cruiser. When the Millennium Falcon, piloted by Han Solo, arrived at Mako-Ta and attempted to use a rebel proximity signal to open the locked fighter bay doors, Vader left his flagship to pursue them in his TIE Advanced. Ozzel continue to command the attack from the Executor, ordering several more cruisers to be destroyed. Vader's attempt to stop Solo from opening the bay doors of Dodonna's flagship, the Republic, failed, and a squadron of X-wings lead by Luke Skywalker entered the battle, forming Rogue Squadron.
The rebels on Mako-Ta continued to search Trios' files for a way to reactivate their fleet, and Leia Organa learned that the override code was located aboard the Executor. In order to board the flagship, Organa used the transponder codes of Trios' ship to pose as the queen, taking a team of General Davits Draven's forces with her. They were cleared to land, and managed to sneak out of the ship, killing the Imperial officer who had come to greet them. As Draven ordered his forces out of Trios' ship, he noticed Vader's TIE Advanced heading towards them, alerting Organa. The rebels managed to escape, but Vader landed in the docking bay and drew his lightsaber, aware of their presence.
The rebels succeeded in retrieving the override codes and made it to a hangar where a single TIE fighter was docked. After some discussion they agreed to have Leia take it back to Dodonna's flagship while Draven would lead the rearguard to delay Vader. This succeeded and Leia escaped however Draven and the rearguard were all killed by Vader. The Republic regained power and successfully fled the battle.
As Vader and Ozzel watched the remaining rebel ships get destroyed, Dodonna's ship returned. It opened fire on the Executor, which led to the Imperials focusing on that ship. This was a distraction which allowed Han and Leia to take transports to the remaining cruisers to give them the codes to escape. The remained rebel vessels fled except the Republic as it had been too badly damaged and was finished off by the Imperials.
Battle of Hoth
- "Move the ship out of the asteroid field, so we can send a clear transmission."
- ―Darth Vader
In 3 ABY, an Imperial probe droid located the Rebel hideout, Echo Base, on the frozen planet of Hoth. Although Ozzel disagreed with Vader, who sensed they found the Rebels, the Dark Lord ordered him to move the fleet to the Hoth system. However, Ozzel brought his ships out of hyperspace too close to the system, which allowed the Rebels to raise their defensive base shields, forcing the Empire to initiate a ground assault. Ozzel was subsequently killed by Vader for his failure, and promoted Captain Firmus Piett to serve as his successor.
As the Empire evicted the Rebels from Hoth's surface, the Executor, accompanied by several Star Destroyers, pursued the fleeing Millennium Falcon, into the Hoth asteroid belt adjacent to the Anoat system. Vader eventually ordered the Executor to abandon the pursuit and get clear of the asteroid field, in order for him to communicate with Emperor Palpatine without disruptions. He later moved the ship to the gas giant Bespin, where he intended to trap the fugitives headed there aboard the Falcon in order to lure out his son, Luke Skywalker.
Battle of Endor
- "We've got to give those fighters more time. Concentrate all fire on that Super Star Destroyer!"
- ―Admiral Gial Ackbar, issuing the destruction of Executor
In 4 ABY, the Executor, still commanded by Piett, served as the flagship for an Imperial fleet of Star Destroyers that assembled at the remote forest moon of Endor, where the Empire's new superweapon, the second Death Star was under construction. When a Rebel fleet arrived into the system in an attempt to destroy the incomplete battle station, initiating the Battle of Endor, the Executor and the fleet moved into position to prevent the Rebels from retreating. Piett, however, did not attack the Rebels, as Emperor Palpatine wanted to demonstrate the destructive power of the Death Star's superlaser against the cornered Rebel capital ships.
Fleeing the Death Star's firepower, the Rebels engaged Piett's Star Destroyers at close range while their ground assault team destroyed the shield generator protecting the superweapon, allowing the Rebel fighters to fly into its superstructure. The Alliance Fleet commander, Admiral Gial Ackbar, wishing to buy more time for the fighters to accomplish their mission, ordered a concentrated barrage against the Executor. As the Alliance warships focused their fire on the Super Star Destroyer, two RZ-1 A-wing interceptors strafed the Executor's bridge deflector shields, bringing them down. In response, Piett ordered the forward batteries to intensify their firepower to prevent anything from penetrating the window of opportunity.
Aware that the Executor would become the fulcrum of not only the battle but also the balance of power in the entire Outer Rim, Vice Admiral Rae Sloane moved her ship, the Vigilance to flank position on the Executor to try and defend it. However, Rebel Green Leader Arvel Crynyd, with his A-wing starfighter badly damaged by fire from the Executor, managed to retain just enough control of his stricken ship to send it towards the Imperial vessel's unshielded bridge. Seeing the threat, Piett once again shouted to intensify the forward batteries, but, as Commander Gherant realized, it was too late; the Rebel fighter crashed into the Executor command tower. As explosions engulfed the bridge, the massive ship listed to port and plunged towards the Death Star's surface, exploding upon impact.
- "Piett, you fool."
- ―Admiral Garrick Versio, after witnessing the Executor's destruction
Following the Executor's destruction, the Rebels went on to win the Battle of Endor by destroying the second Death Star, while Darth Vader, the former commander of the Executor, was redeemed as Anakin Skywalker by killing Emperor Palpatine, his Sith Master.
Behind the scenes
In Return of the Jedi: Beware the Power of the Dark Side!, Tom Angleberger's retelling of Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi, the Super Star Destroyer present at the battle of Endor was mistakenly referred to as "the Eclipse, the Emperor's own Super Star Destroyer." In Angleberger's manuscript, that mistake had been caught and fixed by Pablo Hidalgo of the Lucasfilm Story Group, who even specifically added that "There's only one Super Star Destroyer [at Endor], and it's the Executor." Despite Hidalgo's correction, the mistake still appeared in the released version of the story.
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