- "When the TIE bombers first started shelling Yavin 4, I thought the planet would crack right open. Those egg layers leveled the jungle."
- ―Tigran Jamiro
The TIE/sa bomber, simply known as the TIE bomber or T/B, was a larger, less maneuverable TIE starfighter used for destroying large starships and pinpoint-precision bombing. The "sa" in the TIE bomber's designation stood for "surface assault."
Due to their distinctive dual-hull shape, TIE bombers came to be referred to occasionally as "dupes" or (albeit indirectly) "sitting ducks" by enemy pilots. The latter nickname was due to its bulky structure making it much slower and far less maneuverable than other TIE craft.
- 1 Characteristics
- 2 History
- 3 Variants
- 4 Behind the scenes
- 5 Appearances
- 6 Sources
- 7 Notes and references
- 8 External links
The TIE/sa bomber had two hulls next to each other; the starboard hull carried the pilot, and the port carried a pair of general-purpose warhead launchers, enabling them to carry a variety of weapons tailored for the mission. The bomber was much more heavily built up than the "fighter" series of TIEs; it carried more sophisticated sensors to penetrate capital ship jamming and SFS P-s4 twin ion engines powered by a SFS I-a2b solar ionization reactor to allow a full payload to be carried at a reasonable speed. The ordnance hull could also be swapped for a passenger cabin instead of heavy weapons.
An Imperial Star Destroyer generally carried a squadron of 12 bombers. The TIE bomber was capable of carrying at least one of the following payloads, for a total of 15 metric tons: sixteen concussion missiles, twelve proton torpedoes, eight proton rockets, six space mines, four proton bombs, sixty-four thermal detonators, thousands of propaganda pamphlets, or supply canisters. Guided concussion missiles/proton torpedoes were generally carried nearing the inside of the second hull, orbital mines were placed in a rack above the missile rack, while proton bombs and orbital mines were generally near the exterior of the hull, near the bomb-drop chute. In addition, the second hull also possessed an ordnance maneuvering arm that retrieves and loads armaments. Its fixed armament was two wing-mounted laser cannons.
The bomber was agile enough to deliver devastating strikes with surgical precision, as shown by a mission when a group of these craft destroyed a Rebel-occupied tower in the middle of a crowded city while leaving the surroundings untouched.
Nonetheless, the bomber was slower and less maneuverable than the TIE/LN starfighter. Like most mass-produced TIEs, it lacked shields, though it did partly compensate by having a stronger hull. This was largely why one of its nicknames by Rebel pilots was "sitting duck," as they were considered easy prey. Standard Imperial doctrine required that bombers be escorted to target by other starfighters.
While not expected to engage enemy fighters in dogfights due to their slower speed and agility, TIE bombers could target them from a standoff distance with their large magazines of concussion missiles. During the conflict at Mylok IV, a squadron of Demetrius Zaarin's bombers held off large numbers of Nharwaak and Rebel Y-wings, allowing the Imperials to aid the Habeen in evacuating their base. Due to a shortage of TIE Interceptors during the pacification of the Pakuuni system, Maarek Stele thrust his bomber into the space superiority role against Rebel and pirates, once defending Thrawn's craft from an attack while he visited the newly completed outpost NL-1. Imperial commanders used bombers to counter Rebel B-wing starfighters, with the TIEs launching their missiles directly into their flightpaths.
The TIE bomber's lack of shields was exploited by enemy forces during the Sepan Civil War. There, the Ripoblus conducted an attack on the Dimok Science Station Youst spearheaded by six Assault Transports. The station's defending fighters, consisting of Z-95 Headhunters and Delta-class JV-7 escort shuttles, quickly fell victim to the turrets of the ATR-6 that they were trying to attack. When Admiral Harkov's forces entered the area to repel the Ripoblus, they deployed TIE bombers to take out the ATR-6s from a safe distance with proton torpedoes. Imperial pilots discovered that a full-strength ATR-6 could survive even three torpedo hits, with several bombers lost trying to finish off the injured ATR-6 with laser cannon fire. Maarek Stele opted wisely to replace his payload with proton rockets, which required more careful aiming, but one of these devastating warheads was enough to quickly destroy an ATR-6. Near the end of the campaign, while covering the transfer of TIE Avengers, Stele distracted the gunners of the Dimok cruiser Ben Het so bombers could safely conduct their torpedo runs against it, resulting in its destruction.
The TIE bomber, unlike other TIE models, was also equipped with life-support systems and a cockpit ejection seat, although pilots still wore flight suits in case of an emergency.
The TIE bomber succeeded the TIE/gt starfighter as the Empire's primary ground-assault craft in the TIE series. The TIE/gt was the first of the series to have its main pod elongated from a sphere to a cylindrical shape to accommodate a bomb bay. Backwater planets and lower-priority capital ships had to initially make do with the TIE/gt, though the eventual widespread adaptation of the bomber phased out the gt in areas such as the Dantooine system, where "Deathfire" McDibs was known to pilot one. The TIE/sa bomber adopted a longer, though similarly elongated, pod to that of the TIE/gt for its dual-pod design and used larger curved wings, with an increased surface area of solar ionization paneling, providing higher power output to accommodate the increase in mass.
The TIE bomber came into service during the early years of the Empire and was used to quell the Separatist holdouts still active at the time, namely Gizor Dellso's fleet of former CIS naval starships and private droid army.
Two months after the Battle of Yavin, TIE bombers were deployed during a Rebel scouting mission to the Dominus sector to bomb the Rebel scouts, but the Rebels escaped the bombers. A short while later, at least one bomber was equipped with a pod under its fuselage. The bomber had a hyperdrive, and under the orders of Colonel Bircher, the pilot followed Stealth Squadron away from an ambush. It detonated, severely damaging Leia Organa's X-wing.
Around six months after the Battle of Yavin, the Empire dispatched TIE bombers to Luke Skywalker's homeworld, Tatooine. The six-ship detachment attacked Mos Eisley Spaceport, but were eliminated by the Rebels' Rogue Squadron. A group on the planet Barkhesh attempted to interdict a Barkhesh Resistance convoy, but were stopped by Rogue Squadron. A flight was also sent to bomb the crashed Rebel starship Nonnah but failed in their mission. A squadron was also sent to Corellia to interdict the defection of Crix Madine. Although the craft destroyed the Coronet Capitol Tower, they were unable to prevent the escape of Madine. TIE bombers were also stationed at the Weapons Research Facility on Fest, and attempted to destroy a Rebel commando team which had absconded with All Terrain Personal Transports, but were again stopped by Rogue Squadron. A squadron was subsequently assigned to blockade Chandrila, where they failed to stop an armored hovertrain escorted by Rogue Squadron. Later, a squadron led by Moff Kohl Seerdon attacked Thyferra's bacta supplies, but were again intercepted by Rogue Squadron.
During the Battle of Hoth, several TIE bomber squadrons attacked escaping Rebel transports trying to run the blockade, causing significant losses among them. Only the intervention of Rogue Squadron in holding off enough of the bombers allowed the greater part of the Rebels to escape. Shortly afterwards, a pair of these craft were used to bomb the asteroid in which the Millennium Falcon was hiding.
During the Raid at Bakura, Wedge Antilles hijacked a TIE bomber from the prison facility to help save Derek Klivian, who crash-landed on the surface of the planet. Bombers also participated in various conflicts on Bespin, including a minor raid conducted by the Rebel Alliance, and the Battle of Bespin.
TIE bombers continued to see extensive use throughout the Galactic Civil War, where they often performed bombing runs on enemy forces, and even saw action in the early part of the Yuuzhan Vong War. Thousands of TIE bombers saw action with the Galactic Alliance Defense Fleet during the whole Sith-imperial war.
At least one TIE bomber survived up to 139 ABY, where it acted as the personal ship of a mysterious masked bounty hunter. It was summoned via remote control through her cybernetic hand, an element that resulted in her death when Ania Solo had used the removed cybernetic hand to summon the ship to crush its owner.
The TIE bomber quickly supplanted the TIE/gt starfighter as the Imperial Navy's front-line assault bomber. Despite its disadvantages, notably its lack of speed, shields, and hyperdrive, it endeared itself to bureaucracy as it could be mass-produced like other inexpensive TIEs.
Other warhead-carrying fighters such as the Assault Gunboat, TIE Avenger (despite its lower magazine capacity), TIE Defender, and Missile Boat, despite having shields and a hyperdrive, were far costlier and only found deployment in specific missions. The TIE bomber thus remained the mainstay of the Imperial Navy's heavy fighters. One of its most notable accomplishments was the destruction of Ali Tarrak's TIE Defender manufacturing facility.
Around the time the Rebel Alliance surfaced, approximately 3 BBY, the Sith Lord Darth Vader commissioned the development of the TIE Advanced x1 starfighter, which incorporated the use of the wing design used on the TIE bomber, with a single spherical cockpit module, that had the advantage of an integrated hyperdrive and basic associated shielding, without the significant loss in performance that a TIE/LN starfighter would sacrifice with the added hardware. The project didn't see full production models assembled, however, as the TIE Interceptor assumed production as the Empire's superior model TIE starfighter due to its agility and speed, with usable firepower.
Further development of the TIE bomber paved the way for the more advanced Scimitar assault bomber, which was designed with the input of bomber pilots from the elite "Scimitar" wing.
A variant of the bomber replaced the warhead bay with a small cargo bay that could hold two passengers. This craft could ferry personnel from one ship to another or from a ship to a planetary base. Captain Lorth Needa used a shuttle of this type to personally apologize to Darth Vader for losing track of Millennium Falcon. However, higher-ranking officers usually used the Lambda shuttle.
Another variant of the bomber featured an enlarged secondary pod with clamps and a hull cutter. This could carry a stormtrooper raiding/boarding party for insertion into a captured or disabled enemy ship. It was used by Darth Vader and a team of stormtroopers to enter Princess Leia Organa's CR90 corvette, Tantive IV, as well as by General Bentilais san Sk'ar and his stormtroopers for a kidnapping mission on Shiva IV.
Using larger, vertically elongated wings than that of the bomber, this landing craft carried an additional, much larger, personnel pod on its underside that carried ground troops for surface deployment. Shira Brie fictitiously recalls these craft landing on her homeworld as a child, as part of a convincing cover story to infiltrate the Rebel Alliance.
A TIE Heavy Bomber carried two ordnance pods, the second on top of the first.
The modular nature of TIE series technology allowed for expansion of the TIE bomber concept. This variant included four ordnance bays, though they appear to have been fairly rare. They had been developed around the time of the Battle of Yavin, and had the role of heavy space/planetary bomber.
It was 8 meters long, and thus longer than the standard TIE/LN starfighter. Its weapons included two laser cannons, concussion missile launchers, and chutes for thermal detonators and proton grenades. However, instead of two ion engines, it only had one, thus the lack of the prefix TIE. It was designed to bomb planets into submission.
Behind the scenes
While the designs for the bomber and boarding craft were made for A New Hope, the craft did not appear until the comic Star Wars (1977) 12, and did not make its first movie appearance until The Empire Strikes Back and had a brief appearance in Return of the Jedi. The boarding craft is shown in the depiction of the Star Destroyer Devastator for Star Wars: Incredible Cross-Sections.
In Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II and its sequel, Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, a TIE/sa is shown to possess the ability to hover. This stationary flight is unmentioned in other works save for Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds: Clone Campaigns. This latter occurrence, however, is thought to owe to game mechanics. In Star Wars: Battlefront and Star Wars: Battlefront II, the TIE bomber can hold two people. In Battlefront it holds both the pilot and a bomb-aimer (or "bombardier") while in Battlefront II the pilot controls bombing while the passenger fires and manually aims guided missiles. In Star Wars: TIE Fighter, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader, and Star Wars: Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike, the TIE bomber was faster than the Y-wing. In the X-wing series of video games, the TIE/sa has a speed of 80 MGLT.
While the TIE bomber's reactor is listed as a Sienar Fleet Systems I-a2b solar ionization reactor in Star Wars: Complete Cross-Sections, this reactor is stated in both the same book and other sources to be the same reactor that powers large capital ships like the Imperial-class Star Destroyers, in which it takes up almost half of the vessel. It is described as a "miniature sun," producing stellar-scale energy, and most likely annihilating tens of thousands of tons of fuel per second. There is no known official explanation for this, and while it is possible that SFS produced multiple sizes of the reactor model, this is a considerable stretch of logic. The far more likely explanation is that the model listed in the book was an error.
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Notes and references
- Star Wars: Empire at War: Prima Official Game Guide
- The New Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels
- Star Wars: Behind the Magic
- Imperial Sourcebook
- Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance
- Star Wars: Complete Cross-Sections
- Star Wars: Rogue Squadron: The Official Nintendo Player's Guide
- Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back
- The Last Command
- Darksaber (novel)
- Star Wars: TIE Fighter
- Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader: The Official Nintendo Player's Guide
- The Essential Guide to Warfare
- Star Wars: Battlefront II
- Star Wars (2013) 1
- Star Wars (2013) 5
- Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds
- Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
- Star Wars: Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike
- Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader
- Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back
- Star Wars: Battlefront
- Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy
- Stay on Target