The Imperial Starfighter Corps, also known as the pilot corps, was the Starfighter Corps branch of the Imperial Navy during the reign of the Galactic Empire. It consisted of TIE fighter pilots and Imperial officers. Although the Corps was a component of the Navy, some pilots were assigned to ground operations with the Imperial Army's Air Corps.
The Imperial Starfighter Corps was the Starfighter Corps of the Galactic Empire's Imperial Navy military branch, with the Army Air Corps serving as the Starfighter Corps of the Imperial Army. It was almost entirely composed of Imperial officers and Imperial Starfighter Pilots. Its organizational military structure including fighter wings, flight groups, squadrons, and flights. A full attack fighter wing was led by a wing commander and consisted of six squadrons, which included seventy-two starships that made up the full starfighter complement of an Imperial-class Star Destroyer. A flight group consisted of at least sixteen members. A squadron was led by a squadron commander and consisted of twelve starships. A squadron was then composed of several flights, which were led by lieutenants.
Fighter wings could serve in the role of the starfighter support unit of a Star Destroyer, and thus were subordinate to the starship's commander, or they could serve as an autonomous military unit that was headquartered aboard a Star Destroyer, with the ship and its crew supporting the fighter wing's operations. Additionally, a single squadron within a fleet could serve as the premier military unit, with operations centered around them. One such squadron was Titan Squadron.
Many military ranks were used within the Imperial Starfighter Corps, with a wing typically falling under the command of a colonel. High-ranking commanding officers within the wing included majors, and even a second lieutenant commander was used in at least one instance as the squadron leader. The rank of captain was subordinate to that, and was followed by first lieutenant, senior lieutenant, lieutenant,, and flight officer. An awarded title was Baron of the Empire, which was rarely given out. Pilots who held this honor wore red streaks on their black pilot uniforms. Notable figures who were given the title were Valen Rudor and Titan Three of Titan Squadron.
The Imperial Starfighter Corps was established after the Proclamation of the New Order when the Galactic Republic transitioned into the Galactic Empire. The Republic Starfighter Corps, although organized under the Republic Navy, was seen as an independent military branch. When the Corps became the Imperial Starfighter Corps, it was fully organized under the auspices of the Imperial Navy.
The 181st Imperial Fighter Wing was a fighter wing within the Imperial Starfighter Corps, and ships from the unit were characterized by red strips on the wings. The 204th Imperial Fighter Wing, nicknamed "Shadow Wing," was an elite fighter wing that operated in various locations, and was predominantly headquartered in the Imperial I-class Star Destroyer Pursuer. It was led by Colonel Shakara Nuress and subsequently Colonel Soran Keize and consisted of six squadrons, including Squadron Two, Squadron Three, Squadron Four, Squadron Five, and Squadron Six. It consisted of several flights, including a flight that was led by Lieutenant Palal Seedia. Another fighter wing served as the starfighter complement of the Imperial II-class Star Destroyer Bellicose, and included Beta Squadron. Alpha Flight Group and Omega Flight Group served within the Corps, and participated in various actions during the Galactic Civil War. Another flight group was Clone Flight Squad Seven, which originally served in the Clone Wars under the Galactic Republic.
Many squadrons were part of the Corps, including Banshee Squadron from the Imperial-class Star Destroyer Solar Storm, Darth Vader's Black Squadron from the Death Star, Delta Squadron based on Lothal, a squadron that entirely defected, Sapphire Squadron, Vixus Squadron, and Yellow Squadron.
The Third Fleet's flagship, Star Destroyer Firedrake, deployed Squadron One and Squadron Two. The Seventh Fleet's flagship, the modified Imperial I-class Star Destroyer Chimaera, utilized Defender Squadron One, Squadron Two, Squadron Three, Squadron Four, and Squadron Five. Prior to becoming the flagship of the Seventh Fleet, the Chimaera deployed Special Unit One. The Imperial naval group Death Squadron contained a squadron led by Commander Gradd. A TIE squadron was part of the Hunter Fleet led by Commander Ellian Zahra.
Imperial cadet squadrons were also utilized in combat and as part of the Corps, including Carida Squadron from the Carida Academy and Onyx Squadron. Delta Flight was a flight headquartered on the planet Ryloth.
Vehicles and machinery
Starfighters were the core of the Imperial Starfighter Corps, with such models being the Aggressive ReConnaissance-170 starfighter, the TIE fighter prototype which served as the precursor of the TIE line TIE/ln space superiority starfighter. Other models were the TIE scout, TIE/sr, TIE/rc, TIE/fc, TIE/ag "Aggressor" Starfighter, TIE/ph "Phantom" Multi-Role Stealth Starfighter, and the TIE/sk "Striker" x1 experimental air superiority fighter.
The mainline interceptors included the Eta-2 Actis-class light interceptors, Alpha-3 Nimbus-class V-wing starfighter, followed by the TIE/IN interceptor, with more advanced classes being the TIE/d "Defender" Multi-Role Starfighter, TIE/D Defender Elite, TIE Advanced v1, and the TIE Advanced x1. The TIE Avenger was inspired by developments that came after the Advanced x1's prototype.
Heavy starfighters and bombers
Heavy starfighters and bombers included the TIE/gt which was the precursor of the TIE/sa Surface Assault Bomber. The TIE/ca capital assault "Punisher" Starfighter was deployed, as was the TIE/rb "Brute" reinforcement battery heavy starfighter.
The Imperial Starfighter Corps operated an arsenal of larger craft, including the VT-49 Decimator, TIE Boarding Craft, TIE lander, TIE/rp Reaper attack lander, and the TIE/sh shuttle.
Behind the scenes
The Imperial Starfighter Corps first appeared in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope and was identified in Star Wars Propaganda: A History of Persuasive Art in the Galaxy.
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