The Starchaser was built as a solid starfighter capable of competing with the Z-95 Headhunter. It had a good balance of speed, weapons and durability, but lacked heavy armor or internal hull bracing, which often made it vulnerable to well-placed enemy hits. It had a slight advantage over the Headhunter with its ion cannons, and in the hands of expert pilots could pose a considerable threat even to newer starfighters, as was the case in the clash between the Rneekii pirates and the Galactic Empire at Kiilimaar.
The ship's drawbacks, which included light armor, low maneuverability, and low-powered shields prevented its success on the market.
A two-seat version, named the R-42 Starchaser, existed; however, this version, despite being superior in some aspects, proved less popular with the primary market of the R-41 and only a few hundred were ever built.
Production delays meant the craft came out later than the Headhunters.
By the end of the Clone Wars, this starfighter was already outmatched by newer starships and by the time of the conflict between the Empire and the Rebellion, it was generally considered outdated. This did not prevent the resource-strapped Rebellion from using the R-41 in early battles against the Empire's newer TIE Fighters, as evidenced in the Assault on Kamino. The R-41 seemed to disappear from the Rebel fleet once the X-wing became available. Cash-strapped Rebel cells were forced to use it, though.
Later in the Galactic Civil War it was still found in the hands of third party organizations, such as Black Sun and pirates like the Rneekii, who preferred it because of its reliability, since regular maintenance was not often available for these groups.
The R-41 was the favorite ship of Abron Mar, lieutenant to the crime lord Takara. Mara Jade stole an R-41 while escaping from smuggler Kaerobani's base on Rathalay with a recovered Jedi holocron in 10 ABY.
- "Spices & Spies"—Star Wars: The Clone Wars Comic UK 6.15
- Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
- Star Wars: TIE Fighter (First appearance)
- Star Wars: X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter
- Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance
- Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith
- Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance: Prima's Official Strategy Guide
- The Force Unleashed Campaign Guide
- Scum and Villainy
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
- Rebellion Era Campaign Guide
- Stay on Target