- "Skipray Blastboat here."
- ―Unidentified Zann Consortium Pilots
While small enough to be carried aboard capital ships as a starfighter, its immense power output (produced by a Sarylcorp ViX multi-flux reactor), weaponry, and shielding caused some registries to designate it as a capital ship itself.
The most popular variant in the GAT series, the GAT-12h, had a standard crew consisting of a pilot, copilot/sensor operator, and two gunnery officers; however, the ship could be piloted by just one person. It was standard equipped with a Class Two hyperdrive and a limited navigation computer capable of storing four jump coordinates, and was stocked with sufficient consumables for a month of independent operation. On short wings on the side of the cockpit it housed two Siep-Irol "Omni-Vu" sensor pylons.
Two forward-swept stabilizer fins branched out from a rotating assembly at the aft of the ship and housed two of the Mendarn Arms Dar-2 ion cannons. The stabilizers were kept vertically in flight, with the ion cannons deployed above and below the rest of the ship; the fins rotated horizontally for landing, putting them on either side of the ship in a more traditional winged configuration.
A third Dar-2 ion cannon was housed in the nose of the ship, with a concussion missile launcher and proton torpedo tube flanking it starboard and port, respectively. On the dorsal fuselage, a fire-linked pair of Senko Systems 5000x2 "Tru-Lok" laser cannons were mounted in a turret.
While designed as a space-faring vessel, the ship actually performed better in atmospheric flight, with a (reported) top speed of 1,200 km/h; and its aerodynamic frame provided a better atmospheric maneuvering performance than all but high-performance airspeeders. Its maneuvering performance was not as remarkable out of the atmosphere, and the ship often relied on swift first-strikes or coordination with other ships in space combat.
In addition to the GAT-12h, several other models were produced, including the GAT-12i, the GAT-12g (which replaced the concussion missile tube with a tractor beam), the GAT-12j (which carried a larger payload while distributing gunnery duties more evenly), the GAT-12m (which had better realspace and hyperspace performance, and thus was used as an interceptor and courier), and the GAT-12p (which had an upgraded sensor suite).
Republic Sienar Systems designed the ship prior to the Clone Wars, with origins on the old Turbostorm-class gunship. Many of its systems were tested on Shobquix Yards' Toscan starfighters, modified by Sienar for the task as testbed gunships.
It was later sold primarily to the Empire; the first GAT-12h Skipray Blastboats were released prior to the Battle of Yavin, being the smallest hyperspace-capable combat starship in use by the Imperial Navy (except for a few prototypes). The GAT-12h and its immediate successor (the GAT-12i) were more powerful than previous models that were slower and less combat-oriented.
However, the Navy's tactical philosophy wasn't open to the idea of a hyperspace-capable capital-starfighter hybrid, and all but snubbed the ship. This led SFS to sell the ship on the open market. They proved to be a reliable design, going on to see extensive use in Outer Rim planetary patrol forces and smuggling fleets for many years.
Those Imperial fleets that received Skiprays praised the ship highly, but the Skipray Blastboat ultimately gained its fame and reputation as a staple of corporate, mercenary, pirate, and smuggler fleets, as well as private use by individuals such as the former Emperor's Royal Guard Kir Kanos (who used a modified GAT-12).
Though it was designed and marketed for the Empire, many of these ships fell into the hands of the Zann Consortium who added sensor jamming equipment to make their ships harder targets in space combat. During its service with the Consortium, its slow speed, coupled with heavy armor, made it an ideal fighter-bomber and it fulfilled a role similar to Imperial TIE Defender and Rebel B-wing starfighters.
The GAT-12j upgrade was in production some months before the Battle of Endor and was released some weeks after the Imperial defeat. By 9 ABY the GAT-12j Skipray was the most common model in use.
Behind the scenes
Notes and references
- The Official Star Wars Fact File
- Imperial Sourcebook, Second Edition
- Pirates & Privateers, p.86
- The New Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels
- Heir to the Empire Sourcebook, p. 139-142
- Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance
- Starships of the Galaxy, Saga Edition
- The Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels
- Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Core Rulebook
- Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption
- The New Jedi Order: Force Heretic I: Remnant
- Legacy of the Force: Invincible
- The Force Unleashed Campaign Guide
- The Far Orbit Project
- Starships of the Galaxy