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Mass-driver cannon from a Providence-class destroyer.

Flak guns were a tertiary defense employed by several war vehicles.


The idea of point defense goes back to before most species even had the ability to orbit their planets, much less the formation of a galaxy spanning civilization. The idea was always to destroy or deflect incoming fire before it could damage you or your position. While energy weapons required shields to do this, the idea was still soundly applied against proton torpedoes, concussion missiles, starfighters, and mass driven rounds.

Flak guns aboard the Invisible Hand.

With advanced automation, computers, and faster-than-light sensors, detecting and destroying projectiles en route would be easy. Unfortunately, as technology advanced, so did the ability to beat that technology, and the heavy ECM environment of combat rendered all that moot. Incoming shots could maneuver and hide themselves to evade targeted Close In Weapon System (CIWS) fire.

The result was a return to an even older concept, that of the flak gun. Shells would be fired in the general area of the target, which would then explode, filling the area with shrapnel. Though effective planetside, it was in space combat that it really shined—with no atmosphere to slow the shrapnel, and the far higher velocities used, the shrapnel became incredibly deadly.


Vehicles known to have used flak guns include the Death Star battlestation,[1] the AT-AA walker,[2] the Munificent-class star frigates,[3] and the Providence-class carrier/destroyer.[4] They were used to devastating effect in ship to ship combat, as demonstrated by the Invisible Hand during the Battle over Coruscant.


One variant is a modified flak gun based on the ones found on Providence-class carrier/destroyers and Munificent-class star frigates. The all purpose mass driver cannon can carry quite a few kinds of ammunition.

Behind the scenes[]

The presence of flakbursts has been present and debated since 1977, when the A New Hope novel described "explosive solids" being used against the fighters. For a time, it was believed that turbolasers themselves had the ability to flak burst, based on descriptions of flak being used against the Millennium Falcon and rebel snowspeeders in The Empire Strikes Back, but the advent of DVDs allowed tech-minded fans to point out that a number of flak bursts were actually shield interactions. The debate was finally settled with the release of the final film, which showed once and for all that there was a separate weapons system of mass drivers used to provide the anti-fighter flak described in the novel.

In the game Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader, flak bursts appear in several planet-side missions. Although the bursts are merely a background graphical effect and do not interact with the player-controlled craft, it can be assumed that they originate from flak guns and part of an anti-air defense network.


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Notes and references[]

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