- "Great shot, kid, that was one in a million!"
- ―Han Solo
The proton torpedo was a type of ordnance used throughout the galaxy. Its most notable use was during the Battle of Yavin, when Luke Skywalker destroyed the first Death Star by launching a pair of proton torpedoes into a thermal exhaust port. Some advanced versions possessed target-locking abilities, some of these more advanced than others.
Proton torpedoes came in a wide array of sizes and yields, from massively powerful capital ship weapons designed for orbital bombardment, to small but nimble fighter-grade weapons like those Luke Skywalker employed against the first Death Star. A number of torpedo designs were shielded to protect them from being shot down by either skilled pilots or the target's defensive flak guns.
Small starfighters like the Rebel Alliance X-wing and Y-wing fighters often had their laser weaponry complemented by ordnance launchers capable of firing proton torpedoes. The energized torpedoes carried a devastatingly powerful blast from a proton-scattering warhead, and could be fired at much greater ranges than the standard laser cannon. The torpedoes were exceptionally maneuverable, able to make a 90-degree turn within a turning circle of a meter, enabling them to be used against starfighters, such as when Corran Horn in his X-wing used them against Erisi Dlarit's TIE Interceptor.
- "I hate torpedoes. Let's destroy them!"
- ―An Aggressor-class Star Destroyer captain
Proton torpedoes were used during the Battle of Naboo by N-1 starfighter pilots. After Anakin Skywalker crash-landed in the Droid Control Ship, he initiated a restart of his fighter and defended himself by firing laser cannons at Trade Federation battle droids, and accidentally destroyed the control ship by unintentionally firing two proton torpedoes into its starboard pilot reactor.
During the Rebel attack run on the first Death Star, Alliance fighters had to use high-speed proton torpedoes on the thermal exhaust port that protected the Death Star's sole vulnerable point. Since the port was ray shielded, standard laser weaponry would have been ineffective.
In 19 ABY, Imperial Remnant Admiral Gilad Pellaeon's flagship Chimaera was attacked by pirates hired by Moff Vilim Disra, flying false colors identifying them as having been sent by New Republic General Garm Bel Iblis. Pellaeon responded by using a flight of his SoroSuub Preybird fighters to mask the launch of a salvo of proton torpedoes from Chimaera, which destroyed the attacking fleet in seconds. This also proved to Pellaeon that Bel Iblis had not sent the attack, since this maneuver was a variation on one that Bel Iblis himself had invented in 9 ABY, the A-Wing Slash.
Behind the scenes
In the X-Wing series of computer games, proton torpedoes were intended to be used against most targets except snubfighters, as they were slower than concussion missiles, but more damaging. However, this contradicts information in many Legends sources, which show that both proton torpedoes and concussion missiles are general types of weapons with various yields. Because of that, this fact should be regarded as a mere game mechanic.
In Star Wars: TIE Fighter, at the hangar screen where the player has the option of changing armaments, the proton torpedo is depicted as a stubby blue missile, which contradicts canon showing that the torpedo is cone-shaped, although this may be explained as being from a different manufacturer from those utilized by the Rebel Alliance.
According to the Star Wars Sourcebook: A New Hope for the roleplaying game, proton torpedoes could do more damage (but not significantly more) than concussion missiles and cost less per warhead. However, complete particle shielding could deflect proton torpedoes successfully.
Although Jedi Trial states that proton torpedoes were a new weapon introduced during the Clone Wars, the N-1 starfighter is known to have been equipped with the weapons during the Battle of Naboo. Additionally, in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, Atton Rand makes a passing reference to proton torpedoes, indicating that the weapon may actually have originated far prior to the conflict. And if the prologue for the game is played, a proton torpedo can be found stuck in the hull of the Ebon Hawk and the explosive charge is found intact, and can be used as an explosive. It is also a rare case of a proton torpedo not exploding on contact.
In Star Wars: Battlefront II, TIE fighters possessed proton torpedoes for the sake of balancing the two sides.
The exact nature of proton torpedo warheads are not fully understood, since few sources talk about the actual nature of the warhead. However, in the Star Wars: Legacy of the Force series, two separate authors have stated that they use a baradium main charge, detonated by a proton detonator. Some sources state that the blast is focused into a tight cone to maximize effectiveness and minimize collateral damage and energy leakage away from the target. However, most sources—particularly those detailing the effects of a hit on a starfighter—have these weapons producing a more uniform detonation. This is particularly demonstrated when Wedge Antilles used one such weapon to destroy a concrete tube: the torpedo passed through the tube and detonated ten meters away, yet still produced a fireball sufficient to engulf the tube. This may indicate that proton torpedoes can vary the shape of their blasts, or that Rogue Squadron was using a general-purpose torpedo and shaped-blast torpedoes are a specialized model.
A shaped-blast nuclear warhead that matches some descriptions of the proton torpedo in Legends is a real-life proposed weapon. The technology is detailed in the U.S. military Project Casaba Howitzer, which is still at least partially classified.
- LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy
- LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga
- Star Wars Infinities: A New Hope
Notes and references
- Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope
- The Star Wars Sourcebook
- X-Wing: The Bacta War
- X-Wing: Rogue Squadron
- X-Wing: Starfighters of Adumar
- Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption
- Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace
- Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi
- Specter of the Past
- Legacy of the Force: Fury
- Legacy of the Force: Betrayal
- Legacy of the Force: Tempest