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"It was a Lambda-class shuttle. You can tell by the sound of the engines—"
―Thane Kyrell[24]

The Lambda-class T-4a shuttle, also known as the Imperial Lambda, Imperial Transport or the Imperial Shuttle, was a multi-purpose transport with a trihedral foil design used by the Galactic Empire during the Galactic Civil War, and was considered an elegant departure from the standards of brutish Imperial engineering. The shuttles were often used by high-ranking Imperial officers and such dignitaries as Darth Vader and Emperor Sheev Palpatine, but were more commonly found ferrying stormtroopers or cargo.


"So, the problem with these Lambda-class shuttles, they fly fine with one, but it's much easier with a copilot… especially through hyperspace."
Luke Skywalker, to Shara Bey[12]

A Lambda-class shuttle in landing mode, with boarding ramp lowered.

A hyperdrive-equipped multi-purpose transport, the Lambda-class T-4a shuttle was developed by Sienar Fleet Systems for use in the Imperial Navy.[1] Measuring 20 meters in length, the Lambda-class could attain a max speed of 850 kph, and was one of the more common Imperial ships found throughout the galaxy—along with its nearly-identical counterpart, the Sentinel-class landing craft. It had three wings: one tall, dorsal stabilizer that remained stationary, and two lower articulated flanking wings. While in flight, the wings folded outwards for greater stabilization, while during landing procedures the wings folded inward, reducing the vessel's silhouette. This triangular shape was considered elegant and a departure from the Empire's usually crude designs.[5]

Although Lambda-class craft could be flown by a single pilot, the presence of a copilot/navigator made it much easier, especially when traveling through hyperspace.[12] Additionally, in order to prove that the shuttle crew was working for the Empire, Lambda-class T-4a shuttles utilized special transponders to transmit secret codes to Star Destroyers.[7] Through a switch in the cockpit, the cockpit could detach as an emergency escape pod.[11]


The cockpit of a Lambda shuttle detaches as a last minute escape pod.

Despite the elegance of the Lambda-class's outer design, the inside of many shuttles often reeked of stale sweat owing to the numerous perspiring stormtroopers they hauled across the galaxy. Moreover, bored troopers were known to scratch their operating numbers on every available surface.[25] A well-armed vessel, the Lambda-class T-4a shuttle was equipped with two forward-facing double laser cannons, two forward-facing wing-mounted double cannons, and a retractable rear-mounted double laser cannon.[7]


Imperial Era[]

"Let's see what this piece of junk can do."
―Han Solo[13]

The Imperial Lambda-class shuttle was the conceptual and engineering offspring of the Nu-class transport, a versatile craft that saw use during the Clone Wars.[26] Even the top members of the Empire's hierarchy, including Emperor Palpatine himself and his Sith apprentice Darth Vader, traveled in their own private Lambda-class T-4a shuttles;[5][13] with the Emperor's shuttle distinguished by a gray stripe on its nose.[27] Governor Wilhuff Tarkin and his death trooper guard arrived at Landing Pad 13 of the Imperial security complex on the planet Scarif aboard a Lambda.[28]


A Lambda-class shuttle takes off from Endor

To escape the DS-2 Death Star II Mobile Battle Station and reveal its existence, undercover Crimson Dawn agents Jon Melton and Bevelyn killed Imperial Security Bureau Major Sharin and stole her Lambda-class shuttle[29] Scopium. Although they were soon chased by TIE/IN interceptors, they escaped to a location the Empire would not expect, the Imperial capital of Coruscant, and abandoned the ship.[11] During the Battle of Jakku, Lambda-class shuttles acted as evacuation shuttles from downed Imperial vessels, as well as troop transports to deliver Imperial ground forces to firefights across the surface.[22] During the battle, New Republic pilot Norra Wexley and former Imperial Grand Admiral Rae Sloane used a Lambda-class shuttle while tracking down Gallius Rax.[19]

New Republic Era[]

During the New Republic Era, the shuttle would see use by the New Republic[20] and Gideon's Imperial remnant, which used Shuttle 2743. Doctor Penn Pershing was traveling on it when it was raided by Din Djarin and his allies to capture the doctor. They then used it to crash aboard Gideon's light cruiser. After Moff Gideon was captured[21] for the New Republic Tribunal,[30] he was transported aboard a Lambda by the New Republic officers, but he escaped.[20]

Decades later, the Empire's successor state, the First Order borrowed design philosophies exuded from the Lambda-class T-4a shuttle into their newer Xi-class light shuttle[31] and Upsilon-class command shuttle.[32]

Behind the scenes[]

The shuttles first appeared in the 1983 film Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi.[13] In the 1997 Special Edition rerelease, a Lambda-class shuttle was added to the Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back.[33]

The shuttle's classification comes from the Greek letter Lambda (uppercase Λ, lowercase λ), whose lowercase form resembles the ship in flight mode. The Lambda-class shuttle's name began a trend of naming shuttles after Greek letters, even if the particular letter's shape does not necessarily resemble the ship in question. This continued to Revenge of the Sith with the inclusion of the Theta-class T-2c shuttle, and later Star Wars Legends works. The trend was brought into Canon with the introduction of the Beta, Gamma, Delta, Zeta, Eta, Mu, Nu, Xi, Omicron, Rho, and Upsilon-class shuttles, some of which were inspired by Legends counterparts.


Non-canon appearances[]


Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Ultimate Star Wars
  2. Star Wars: The Rebel Files
  3. Star Wars: Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide
  4. Star Wars: Commander
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 StarWars-DatabankII Imperial Shuttle in the Databank (backup link)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Starships and Speeders
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 Star Wars: Ships of the Galaxy
  8. Star Wars Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to a Galaxy Far, Far Away
  9. Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Build the Millennium Falcon Star Wars: Build the Millennium Falcon 22 (Starship Fact File: Lambda-class Shuttle)
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Star Wars (2020) 27
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 Shattered Empire 4
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 13.6 13.7 13.8 13.9 Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi
  14. Star Wars (2015) 8
  15. Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels — "In the Name of the Rebellion"
  16. Dark Droids 3
  17. Star Wars: Uprising
  18. IDWStarWarsAdventuresLogoSmaller "Hare-Brained Heist" — Star Wars Adventures Annual 2019
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Aftermath: Empire's End
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 The-Mandalorian-logo The Mandalorian — "Chapter 21: The Pirate"
  21. 21.0 21.1 The-Mandalorian-logo The Mandalorian — "Chapter 16: The Rescue"
  22. 22.0 22.1 Star Wars Battlefront II
  23. SWResistanceLogo Star Wars Resistance — "The Triple Dark"
  24. Lost Stars
  25. Return of the Jedi: Beware the Power of the Dark Side!
  26. StarWars Republic attack shuttle in the Encyclopedia (content now obsolete; backup link)
  27. StarWars Imperial shuttle in the Encyclopedia (content now obsolete; backup link)
  28. Darth Vader Annual 2
  29. Star Wars (2020) 26
  30. The Book of Boba Fett logo The Book of Boba Fett — "Chapter 5: Return of the Mandalorian"
  31. Poe Dameron 19
  32. Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Incredible Cross-Sections
  33. Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back