The prototype R-22 Spearhead was broadly similar in design and function to the earlier Republic Delta-7 Aethersprite-class starfighter and Eta-2 Actis-class interceptor. A two-seat version was also produced, following the lineage of the Delta-12 Skysprite-class two-seater; some of this variant were used by the forces of Tammuz-an.
The Spearhead was in use by private owners and several defense forces around the galaxy, like the Tammuz-an defense forces, where they escorted ships in the shipping fleet, and on Abridon at the Abridon Shipyard in Sayan.
The R-22 Spearhead became an experimental testbed for the Rebel Alliance, nicknamed the "A-wing," shortly before the Battle of Yavin. During one early operational test, the Rebels sent a lone R-22 to attack an unguarded Imperial repair dock. The fighter performed admirably, destroying the facility before the Nebulon-B frigate Virulence could respond. The mission was later recreated as a simulation used in training new pilots.
The Alliance Fleet started deploying a number of R-22s at that time. Captain Juno Eclipse and PROXY used a two-seater R-22 to travel to Dac to help Admiral Gial Ackbar and Senator Bail Organa liberate the Mon Calamari and recruit them to the Alliance cause. The fleet used them in the Assault on Kamino against the Imperial TIE/sa bombers. Keyan Farlander flew Spearheads in several missions during Operation Skyhook, and at least two R-22s participated in the Battle of Yavin, one piloted by Jake Farrell.
The Spearhead was nicknamed "A-wing" among Rebel pilots. The name "A-wing" persisted when the model was modified by General Jan Dodonna and Walex Blissex after the Battle of Yavin into the Rebel Alliance's fast RZ-1 A-wing interceptor.
Dodonna's decision to create the RZ-1 was largely driven by the Alliance's lack of a starfighter that could match the TIE/LN starfighter's raw speed. Additionally, the RZ-1 was noted for its improved maneuverability over the Spearhead, so the engine design was the most likely difference between the craft.
The weapons complement might have undergone a similar change, as early Spearheads used green laser ammunition rather than the red/orange seen with most Alliance fighters.
Behind the scenes
Though most sources established that the A-wing was introduced by the Rebel Alliance after the Battle of Yavin, some Expanded Universe sources deviate from this and show A-wings in use before Yavin, notably Star Wars: Droids, Star Wars: X-Wing, Star Wars: Rebel Assault, Star Wars: Force Commander, and Star Wars: Empire at War. This inconsistency was eventually reconciled in The New Essential Guide to Characters, which explained that the pre-Yavin appearances of A-wings were R-22 Spearheads instead. The name is similar to that of the R-41 Starchaser and R-60 "T-wing" Interceptor, and the Spearhead may, like the Starchaser and T-wing, be a design of Hoersch-Kessel Drive, Inc.
- Star Wars: Droids—"The White Witch" (First appearance)
- Star Wars: Droids—"The New King"
- Star Wars: Droids—"The Pirates of Tarnoonga"
- Star Wars: Droids—"The Revenge of Kybo Ren"
- Star Wars: Droids—"Coby and the Starhunters"
- "Prey"—Star Wars Tales 11
- Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
- The Force Unleashed II novel
- Star Wars: Empire at War (Identified as A-wing)
- Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption (Identified as A-wing)
- Star Wars: X-Wing (Identified as A-wing)
- Star Wars: Rebel Assault (Identified as A-wing)
- Star Wars: Force Commander (Identified as A-wing)
- Star Wars Galaxies: Jump to Lightspeed
- C-3PO: Tales of the Golden Droid
- The New Essential Guide to Characters
- Inside the Worlds of Star Wars Trilogy
- A Call to Reason (Part of The Farlander Papers, actually describing an A-wing)
- The Rebel Alliance Sourcebook
- Star Wars: Complete Cross-Sections
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
- The Essential Guide to Warfare
- Star Wars: Age of Rebellion Core Rulebook
- Star Wars: A-Wing Deluxe Book and 3D Wood Model (Picture only)
Notes and references
- ↑ The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
- ↑ Inside the Worlds of Star Wars Trilogy
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Star Wars: X-Wing
- ↑ The Force Unleashed II novel
- ↑ Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
- ↑ Star Wars: Rebel Assault
- ↑ Welcome some BCaT VIPs on the Star Wars.com Message Boards (Posted 13 October 2004 10:46 AM by Leland Chee)