Click here for Wookieepedia's article on the Canon version of this subject.  This article covers the Legends version of this subject. 
For other uses, see Phantom (disambiguation).

"These particular craft have a capability previously unheard of for ships their size, the ability to evade sensors and scanners, rendering them effectively invisible. Obviously, with a fleet of such vessels, Darth Vader could devastate our forces with near impunity."
―Admiral Gial Ackbar — (audio) Listen (file info)[2]

The TIE/ph phantom, also referred to as a Phantom V38, was a prototype TIE Series starfighter developed by the Galactic Empire during the Galactic Civil War. A modified V38 assault fighter, the TIE phantom was the result of a development project led by Grand Admiral Martio Batch and was equipped with both deflector shields and a hyperdrive, along with a technology not seen for decades—a stygium cloaking device.

The development process began in response to the Rebel victory at the Battle of Yavin. After some initial troubles, Batch was able to secure a supply of the stygium crystals required by the cloaking device, and the fighters entered production on Imdaar Alpha. When the testing process was completed following the Battle of Hoth, Darth Vader intended to use the new starfighter in a devastating assault on the Rebel Alliance Fleet. However, over a series of encounters, the Rebels learned of the new threat. Recognizing the danger, the Alliance dispatched pilots Rookie One and Ru Murleen to capture one of the fighters for study.

The Rebels successfully infiltrated the Super Star Destroyer Terror as it prepared to launch the fighters against the Alliance and escaped with one of them, which they used to destroy both the Terror and the facility where the fighters were produced. However, the Rebels' acquisition of the fighter was short-lived—when the stolen TIE phantom's self-destruct mechanism activated before the Rebels could examine the fighter, the technology was lost. After this, the fighters were kept in limited supply and given only to the most capable of Imperial fighter pilots.



"Scanners are picking up something strange; I can't get a firm fix on anything."
―Ru Murleen — (audio) Listen (file info)[2]

The TIE/ph phantom[1] was a modified version of the failed V38 assault fighter,[7] leading some to refer to the starfighters by this designation, as well as the more common "Phantom TIE." It was a member of the TIE Series, which dominated the Empire's starfighter fleet during the Galactic Civil War. However, it was distinctive among the series in that its solar array wings were attached directly to the fuselage, perpendicular to the hull, rather than to pylons extending from it. Like in the TIE/D Defender, the wings were equally spaced around the hull, with one located directly above the cockpit, and two below and to either side.[2]

Whereas most TIE series starfighters in use at the time had a spherical cockpit section, the TIE phantom's cockpit was elongated,[2] and reminiscent of some Corellian Engineering Corporation freighters, including the YT-1300 light freighter, and the later Sienar Scimitar assault bomber.[8] The section behind the cockpit was roughly triangular, with the wings mounted to the tips.[2] This hull section was heavily armored and contained the ship's twin ion engines, power generators and stealth systems.[1] Starships carrying TIE phantoms had to be fitted with specialized maintenance, launch and recovery systems.[7] With no landing gear, the fighters had to be supported when aboard ship to keep the lower wings off the surface. A launch mechanism would grip the fighter by the upper wing and maneuver it into position when departing.[2]

A TIE phantom with its entry hatch open.

Entry into the cockpit was possible through an elevator hatch on the bottom of the fuselage.[2] The fighter was designed for a crew of two: one piloting the vessel, while the other acted as a gunner and copilot.[1] The crew's positions in the cockpit were staggered, with the gunner sitting forward and to the right, while the pilot took the rear left console. Both positions had a computer display, along with the controls required to operate the ship. Unlike most fighters in the TIE series, the TIE phantom featured life support systems, allowing the crew to operate it without the bulky helmet and breathing equipment required by most TIE pilots. The crew did, however, wear a headset with a microphone and headphones to assist communication in-flight.[2] In addition to the crew, the fighter had storage space for ninety kilograms of cargo.[4]

Armament and propulsion[]

The TIE phantom was armed with two laser cannons mounted to the body under the cockpit, which could be set to fire-linked.[2] Three more laser cannons were mounted on the tips of its three wings, and all five could be fired simultaneously to maximize the effectiveness of a shot.[6] The vessel was designed to be tougher than the ubiquitous TIE/LN starfighter, and also possessed deflector shields for defense—a feature not present in standard TIE models.[1]

The fighter had a maximum atmospheric speed of 1,490 kilometers per hour.[4] It was also equipped with a class 1 hyperdrive[1] and navigation computer,[4] another unusual feature for a TIE fighter which enabled the TIE phantom to travel between star systems.[1]

Cloaking device[]

A TIE phantom fires its laser cannons.

However, the TIE phantom's most unusual feature was its Sienar Fleet Systems Mk. III Stygium Cloaking Device. The cloaking device utilized stygium crystals in a high-energy reactor[1] to give the fighters an ability unheard of in ships their size in recent decades—the ability to appear effectively invisible to the naked eye, while at the same time evading sensors and scanners aboard other vessels. When a TIE phantom was cloaked, other vessels could, at best, detect only an unusual sensor anomaly and were unable to get a firm reading,[2] while the faint shimmering distortion that was the only visible indication of the fighter's presence was easily missed against the dark backdrop of space.[1] Even other TIE phantoms were unable to penetrate the cloaking shield.[2] However, the cloaking device's high power requirements affected other systems; while the cloaking device was active, the fighter's speed was significantly reduced and the hyperdrive,[7] sensors, communications systems and weapons were deactivated.[1] To take full advantage of the cloaking device, the vessels had a built-in mechanism that allowed the pilot to fire the fighter's lasers at any time, with the cloaking device being automatically shut off and turned back on after every volley. This allowed them to remain unseen until the moment of firing, thus getting the jump on their enemy, and to be virtually invisible the vast majority of the time, even during a dogfight.[2]

The technology in the TIE phantom was considered a potential threat to the Empire, should it have ever fallen into enemy hands. To prevent this scenario, the designers fitted each fighter with a self-destruct mechanism that could be activated remotely, so that should one ever be captured, nobody would be able to replicate its technology.[2] Due to the complexity of its systems and the high production cost of 365,000 credits, TIE phantoms were only ever produced in limited numbers.[1]


A TIE phantom activates its cloaking shield.

The TIE phantom's cloaking device allowed the fighters to move through space undetected. This invisibility, combined with the hyperspace capability, allowed them to travel to hostile systems to scout enemy positions ahead of an Imperial invasion. During a battle, they could move unseen around the area and look for vulnerable positions to attack,[5] and the device also provided a major advantage during dogfights.[9] The fighters' independence was boosted by a life support system that allowed the crew to operate independently for days before needing to return to a capital ship[4] and their ability to carry consumables to feed the crew for up to two weeks.[1] The Empire intended to take full advantage of the fighter's capabilities, planning to use a fleet of the vessels to decimate the Rebel Alliance Fleet. For its part, the Rebel Alliance quickly realized that the TIE phantom posed a major threat, with the ability to cripple their fleet with near impunity.[2]

Ultimately, however, the "Phantom Fleet" never survived to lead the planned attack on Alliance forces, and the starfighter's usefulness in large-scale battles remained untested. In the limited action they did see, the ships, which were typically used in small flight groups rather than full squadrons, proved effective in strikes on Rebel patrols, typically moving behind the enemy undetected and quickly eliminating them.[2] Due to their high cost, the fighters were only assigned to the Imperial Navy's most capable and trusted pilots.[1]



"As you can see, Lord Vader, the units perform admirably. In fact, I think the whole project has proved quite impressive. Why, in a few years…"
"What I see, Admiral Sarn, is yet another one of your endless tests. I will not be impressed until I have, under my command, the full power to crush the Rebel Alliance."
―Admiral Sarn and Darth Vader — (audio) Listen (file info)[2]

During the reign of the Old Republic, ships featuring cloaking devices had been fairly common throughout the galaxy.[10] However, a ban on cloaking technology imposed by the Republic in the decades before the rise of the Galactic Empire,[1] combined with the depletion of the stygium crystals mines on the planet Aeten II in the Dreighton Nebula, saw cloaking devices became increasingly rare,[10] with the Sith Infiltrator, developed shortly before the Battle of Naboo[11] in 32 BBY,[9] being among the last known examples of stygium-cloaked vessels.[11]

TIE phantoms

Following the loss of the Death Star at the hands of the Rebel Alliance at the Battle of Yavin in 0 BBY[9] the Imperial hierarchy sought a weapon that would catch the Rebels off-guard and ensure the Empire's ultimate victory.[2] To this end, the Empire began searching through old ship designs in search of anything that might prove useful, and it was this that led Sienar Fleet Systems engineers to uncover plans for a stygium cloaking device that could be fitted to a starfighter or shuttle. Sienar started work on creating a working cloaking device[1] and Emperor Palpatine charged Grand Admiral Martio Batch—whose low profile, resulting from his reluctance to engage in Imperial Court politics, made him an ideal candidate to lead a secret project—with overseeing the development.[10]

Working out of a research station on Imdaar Alpha, Batch spent years seeking an alternative to the depleted stygium crystals, developing a system based around hibridium. However, the hibridium-based cloaking device suffered from "double blindness," leaving the cloaked vessel blind to its surroundings.[10] Around 3 ABY, Batch abandoned the hibridium-based cloaking technology and instead devised a way to acquire a new supply of stygium crystals. To this end, he ordered the Tarkin superweapon, a stripped-down version of the Death Star, to Aeten II. Batch used the Tarkin to shatter the planet, releasing millions of stygium crystals from the planet core to be used in his new project.[9]

With the supply of stygium crystals secured, Batch was soon able to recreate the old cloaking technology.[10] At the facility on Imdaar Alpha, the Empire began fitting modified V38 assault fighters with the technology, with the aim of producing a fleet of the cloaked starfighters. In addition to the stygium, the fighters required a supply of oridium fuel, and the Empire established a mining facility in the Belt of Arah to extract and process the ore.[2] To protect the development project, Batch requisitioned the Executor-class Star Dreadnought Terror, under the command of Admiral Sarn.[10] Both the Terror and the Imdaar Alpha facility were also fitted with the cloaking technology.[2]


Initial prototypes of the new starfighter were tested near Dreighton, with Sigma Squadron among the first units of the fighters to become operational. Ever since the Battle of Dreighton during the Clone Wars, unexplained events and sightings of ghost ships had been reported in the area of the Dreighton Triangle, and the Empire took advantage of the situation as a cover for their trials.[2] An additional squadron of the fighters were assigned to the 481st Experimental Starfighter Testing Squadron, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Gareth Agamar.[7] The Rebel Alliance became aware that the Empire was working on a major project and dispatched Ru Murleen to the planet Imdaar to monitor the area. Murleen reported unusually high levels of Imperial activity, though she was unaware of the nature of the threat.[2]

481st phantoms cloak after destroying a target in the Polis Massa system.

Based out of the EF76 Nebulon-B escort frigate Mephitis, the 481st began conducting trials of the new fighters in the region of Polis Massa, from flying through asteroid fields to hit-and-run attacks against shipping in the area. Their first target was a two-ship patrol of BTL Y-wing starfighters from the 88th Attack Squadron, based out of the Rebel Alliance's Polis Massa Research Base. This was followed by a series of attacks on Rebel patrols, freighters and nearby archaeological digs and research facilities. After flight recorder footage from one of the lost patrols showed a brief glimpse of a TIE phantom, the Rebels stepped up patrols by both the 88th Attack Squadron and 94th Fighter/Attack Squadron in an effort to track down the mysterious attackers. The increase in Rebel patrols made it more difficult for the 481st to act and the squadron began to take losses. The Mephitis eventually withdrew from the area, putting an end to the testing, but it was clear to the Empire that the Rebels had a larger presence in the region than initially thought.[7]

Delays to the TIE phantom project caused by mishaps on early trials eventually resulted in the Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Vader arriving at Imdaar Alpha to oversee the final stages of the project. From aboard the Terror, Vader observed a trial in which Sigma Squadron attacked three Rebel X-wings on patrol in the Dreighton Triangle. All three X-wings were destroyed, and Sarn considered it a successful demonstration, though he anticipated further time to test the technology. Vader, however, was impatient with the seemingly endless tests. Under the Dark Lord's supervision, the final field tests were soon completed and Vader ordered the full scale production of the new fighters. Before long, a fleet of thousands of the TIE phantoms stood ready at Imdaar Alpha.[2]

Rebel intervention[]

"That's where they're making the phantom TIEs! There must be thousands of them in there. If we don't do something about them, it doesn't matter if we get this thing home or not!"
"Uh… what do you have in mind?"
"Maybe it's better if you don't know. Just hang on and don't let go of those blaster controls."
―Ru Murleen and Rookie One — (audio) Listen (file info)[2]

A rack of TIE phantoms inside the Terror.

Rebel agents aboard the YT-1300 light freighter Corellia Star provided the Alliance's best lead when they uncovered information about the mining facility in the Belt of Arah supplying fuel for some new Imperial weapon. As the crew attempted to deliver the information to the Alliance Fleet, however, the freighter was captured by Imperial forces and taken to Dreighton. Two Rebel B-wings on patrol near Dreighton intercepted the Corellia Star's distress signal and moved to investigate. As with the patrol three days earlier, however, they soon came under attack from the TIE phantoms, the cloaked fighters taking them by surprise, killing the pilot Kirby and forcing the other, Rookie One, to crash-land on the planet.[2]

Rookie One was able to escape from Dreighton aboard the Corellia Star and return to the Alliance Fleet with the information the ship carried. This led Admiral Gial Ackbar to dispatch Rascal Squadron on a mission to disable the oridium processing operation in the Belt of Arah. The Rebels successfully destroyed the mining facility, but as they prepared to jump to hyperspace, three TIE phantoms decloaked behind them and successfully eliminated two of the X-wings before they could react. Again, Rookie One managed to survive, jumping to hyperspace moments before the Imperial fighters could destroy his ship.[2]

Rookie One and Ru Murleen in the cockpit of a TIE phantom.

The X-wing's flight recorder showed the capabilities of the TIE phantom. This, together with intelligence showing the Terror en route to Imdaar, prompted Admiral Ackbar to dispatch Rookie One to rendezvous with Ru Murleen on Imdaar. Their mission was to infiltrate the planetary supply base, get aboard the Terror, and steal one of the TIE phantoms to be studied by Alliance engineers in the hope of developing a countermeasure. The two Rebel agents successfully boarded the Terror, disguised as stormtroopers, as the Super Star Destroyer prepared to depart and deploy the fighters against the Alliance. Although the Imperials became alerted to the intruders, the Rebels stole one of the fighters, forcing the Imperials to seal the Terror's hangars to prevent their escape. The Rebels, however, flew the stolen fighter through the network of hangars and into the Super Star Destroyer's superstructure. As they searched for a way out, they came across the vessel's main reactor, and, realizing that they had the opportunity to destroy the Terror and the fleet of TIE phantoms that it contained, destroyed the reactor's beam focusers, causing it to go critical and explode. As the Terror began to break up, the Rebels escaped to safety. Darth Vader also escaped the doomed vessel, but not before executing Sarn for his failure.[2]

Though the Terror's fate was sealed, the Imperials launched TIE phantoms to prevent the Rebels from escaping to hyperspace. The Imperial fighters forced the stolen ship to turn back toward Imdaar. Despite Rookie One's best efforts, which resulted in the destruction of several of the Imperial fighters, the stolen TIE phantom's deflector shields soon began to fail, though Murleen was able to activate the cloaking device before the Imperials could destroy it. When the Terror finally blew, the previously cloaked TIE phantom factory on Imdaar Alpha became visible. Murleen quickly realized how many more of the fighters were inside the facility and took the stolen fighter inside. The Rebels destroyed the factory's reactor core, the factory itself, along with the remaining TIE phantoms.[2]

The stolen TIE phantom was taken back to a Rebel base where the Alliance engineers would examine the technology. Since the Empire had lost its own TIE phantom fleet, the Rebels hoped they could adapt the technology to their own fighters, giving them an advantage in future battles. However, shortly after the vessel docked on the planet, the self-destruct mechanism activated, destroying both the vessel and the technology within it.[2]


"The Rebels have eliminated your invincible fleet."
"Yes my master, the Rebels have proven surprisingly clever. But we are not defeated."
―Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader — (audio) Listen (file info)[2]

Following the failure of the TIE phantom project, Batch fled into hiding in the Outer Rim Territories with his remaining ships to avoid the Emperor's wrath. He was later assassinated by his crew, who were still loyal to Admiral Sarn.[10] Only a handful of TIE phantoms remained in service, assigned to the Empire's most capable pilots,[1] among them Shadow Squadron.[12] The Rebel Alliance were unable to locate where the fighters were stationed, but ultimately determined that they no longer posed an immediate threat.[1] Though the TIE phantom's technology was lost forever with the destruction of the Imdaar Alpha facility,[2] the hibridium technology that preceded it continued to be developed as part of the Vorknkx Project, resulting in a cloaking device being fitted to the CR90 corvette Vorknkx. Grand Admiral Thrawn would later use the hibridium cloak to great effect in his campaign against the New Republic.[10][9]

Behind the scenes[]

"There was one sketch in one of the Star Wars art books that I used as sort of a basis for it. It was actually an early design for the Imperial shuttle. It had this ball front end with this long body, almost like a dragonfly, and then these wings that came up and hung way out over the front. And I thought it worked for this."
―Rich Green, on the origin of the TIE phantom design[13]

A TIE phantom

The TIE phantom was created by Vince Lee for the 1995 LucasArts video game Star Wars: Rebel Assault II: The Hidden Empire. The fighter was designed by Rich Green, and based on an early sketch of the Lambda-class T-4a shuttle. Green adapted the design to make it fit the look of other TIE series fighters, altering the window pattern on the cockpit and adding the standard solar panel appearance to the wings. As he refined the idea, Green incorporated suggestions from Lee, including adding scoops to resemble air vents. Green considered the TIE phantom the hardest element of the game to design, making it feel both new, yet instantly recognizable as a TIE series fighter, and also both slick and scary in appearance.[13]

Although many fans, including Curtis Saxton on the Star Wars Technical Commentaries, already called the ship the TIE Phantom,[14][15][16][17] it was not identified as such in a canon source until the release of Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption in late 2006,[6] having been previously called only the "Phantom TIE."[2][9][11][18] The fighter was included as a unit type in Forces of Corruption itself, though the game adds no canonical information about its usage.[6] The 2014 Fantasy Flight Games roleplaying sourcebook Stay on Target later introduced the designation "TIE/ph phantom".[1]

Though all five of the TIE phantom's laser cannons were clearly visible in Rebel Assault II, only the two under the cockpit were actually shown firing in the game.[2] The purpose of the wing-mounted cannons was not confirmed until the release of Forces of Corruption, which showed the fighters making use of all five cannons.[6] The 2009 Wizards of the Coast roleplaying sourcebook Rebellion Era Campaign Guide established that the TIE phantom was equipped with a class 6 hyperdrive; Stay on Target later amended this to a faster class 1 drive. Likewise, Stay on Target increased maximum consumables to two weeks from the three days previously given in Rebellion Era Campaign Guide.[1][4]


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Notes and references[]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 1.24 Stay on Target
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 2.25 2.26 2.27 2.28 2.29 2.30 2.31 2.32 2.33 2.34 2.35 2.36 2.37 2.38 Star Wars: Rebel Assault II: The Hidden Empire
  3. Stay on Target identifies the ship as the "TIE/ph phantom" while TIE is established as an acronym for "Twin Ion Engine" in several sources, including The Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 Rebellion Era Campaign Guide
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption Expansion: Prima Official Game Guide
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 FantasyFlightGamesLogo.png "Phantoms in the Dark"—Strongholds of Resistance
  8. The Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 The New Essential Chronology
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 SWInsider.png "Who's Who: Imperial Grand Admirals" – Star Wars Insider 66
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 The New Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels
  12. FFGXWMG.png Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures GameTIE Phantom Expansion Pack (Card: Shadow Squadron Pilot—TIE Phantom)
  13. 13.0 13.1 Star Wars: Rebel Assault II Official Player's Guide
  14. Curtis Saxton: STAR WARS: TIE Fighters. Star Wars Technical Commentaries. Archived from the original on December 3, 2002.
  15. JCF-favicon.png What is your favourite Imperial starfighter? on the Jedi Council Forums (Videogames board; posted by CrixMakin on Mar 13, 2002 at 6:01 AM; accessed January 26, 2013) (backup link)
  16. Kaelis: The Underused Snubfighters Thread. Woo, Scary. (April 20, 2002 08:45). StarWars.com Message Boards. Archived from the original on March 11, 2009.
  17. TIE Phantom on Wookieepedia (posted May 24, 2005 22:22)
  18. The Essential Chronology

External links[]