- "Let's see what this piece of junk can do."
- ―Han Solo on the Tydirium
The Tydirium was a Sienar Fleet Systems Imperial Lambda-class shuttle, which operated as a courier and a transport in the Prefsbelt system. It was later present at Outpost 327 over Zhar, where it was captured by General Crix Madine of the Alliance to Restore the Republic. Madine hoped to use the shuttle and the clearance codes it carried to have a strike team infiltrate the Forest Moon of Endor, around which orbited a new Imperial battlestation, the second Death Star. The strike team would then, if all went as planned, deactivate the deflector shield protecting the still-under-construction Death Star.
Despite this effort, the ship itself later fell into Imperial hands, and was held at the Prefsbelt Naval Academy on Prefsbelt IV. With Madine once again coordinating the operation, the shuttle was once again stolen, this time by pilot Wedge Antilles. The Tydirium was then used by General Han Solo and his strike team to infiltrate the moon of Endor, as planned. His mission to deactivate the deflector shield was coordinated by General Brenn Tantor, who stayed aboard the Tydirium while the rest of the team ventured out onto the moon. Following the Battle of Endor, in which the Death Star II was destroyed, Solo used the Tydirium to capture the Imperial Star Destroyer Accuser.
- "No, I don't think the Empire had Wookiees in mind when they designed her, Chewie."
- ―Han Solo
The Tydirium was a standard Lambda-class T-4a shuttle. It boasted deflector shields with a 200 SBD rating, and a hull rating of 66. 24 meters in length, it required a crew of four to operate, and could hold twenty passengers. If needed, a crew of six could man the craft: a pilot, a copilot, a navigator, a gunner, a communications officer, and an engineer. Like all Lambda-class shuttles, the Tydirium featured a tri-wing design, with a central, stationary, dorsal wing, and two folding wings on the sides. While flying, the ship's side wings would rotate into an inverted Y, and would fold upwards when landing.
Lambda-class shuttles such as the Tydirium were among the most durable and well-defended in the Empire. The ship's defensive systems included two double laser cannons and two double blaster cannons, in addition to a rear-mounted double blaster cannon to fend off pursuing craft. The shuttle also boasted some of the most formidable deflector shields in the Imperial fleet. The shields were powered by multiple generators. To pilots who had never flown the ship before, the Tydirium was fast, maneuverable, and relatively easy to fly.
When it was first manufactured, the Imperial Lambda-class T-4a shuttle Tydirium was used for courier and transport duties in the Prefsbelt system. In approximately 4 ABY, the Tydirium was stationed at Outpost 327, located in the Zhar system. The shuttle was carrying a set of clearance codes that would allow users to pass the deflector shield enveloping the under-construction Death Star II battlestation orbiting the forest moon of Endor, and land on the moon itself. This information came into the hands of Bothan spies, who knew that the Alliance to Restore the Republic would appreciate such a luxury, as they sought to somehow destroy the Death Star II itself. The spies passed this information onto the Alliance, and the task of capturing the shuttle was assigned to Admiral Yamarus and his Liberty Task Force.
General Crix Madine formulated a plan as to how to retrieve the shuttle. He suggested that he lead a team of crack commandos, and a skilled pilot, to infiltrate Outpost 327 and commandeer the shuttle. As the outpost was inefficiently administrated, Madine suspected that the shuttle's clearance codes would not have been updated to the current standard, and would still be usable at Endor. Once stolen, the shuttle was to be brought back to Yamarus' flagship, the Liberty. To ferry the commandos to the outpost covertly, Yamarus selected Ace Azzameen, whose civilian family transports were available for Alliance use. One of the Azzameen ships, the YT-1300 light freighter Sabra, would appear to be a neutral merchant ship to the Imperial customs patrols that guarded Outpost 327. The mission was undertaken, and the commandos successfully commandeered the Tydirium. As the shuttle escaped the facility, however, TIE/sa bombers were scrambled to destroy it. Azzameen called for reinforcements—Rogue Squadron arrived in time to cover the Tydirium's escape. The shuttle, Rogue Squadron, and the Sabra all made it back to the Liberty safely.
The only element from the mission to Zhar that was used by the Alliance, however, was the clearance codes the shuttle had been carrying. The Tydirium fell back into Imperial hands, and some time afterwards, the Alliance mounted another attempt to steal the Tydirium, from the Prefsbelt Naval Academy on Prefsbelt IV. Crix Madine was in charge of the mission. The shuttle itself was being kept on the academy's northernmost platform. Wedge Antilles was sent to Prefsbelt IV to personally steal the shuttle—stealthily making his way to the academy, he successfully stole the craft. As he departed, Antilles was escorted by a pair of Alliance starfighters.
Role in the Battle of Endor
- "Shuttle Tydirium, what is your cargo and destination?"
- ―Admiral Firmus Piett
The stolen shuttle was moved to the hangar bay of Admiral Ackbar's flagship, the Home One in preparation for the infiltration of Endor. As part of the preparations, the ship was given a refit, transforming it, cosmetically, from a personnel transport into a cargo shuttle. Additionally, a team of Madine's best security slicers went about disguising the ship's registrations and history. General Han Solo was to lead a group of commandos onto the forest moon, and destroy the deflector shield generator which was protecting the orbiting Death Star II. Ideally, this would allow Ackbar and the Alliance Fleet to strike at the battlestation, and destroy it. The general's shuttle command crew included the Wookiee Chewbacca, as well as the Humans Leia Organa and Luke Skywalker. Placed in the cargo hold of the ship was a Battlefield Holographic Control Interface, from which General Brenn Tantor would co-ordinate the operation. Before departing, Skywalker noticed that the stolen clearance code they were going to use was interfering with the ship's transponder. He and Chewbacca, however, were able to resolve the problem. Solo himself piloted the shuttle, with Chewbacca serving as co-pilot. Departing the Home One, Solo made a hyperspace jump, first stopping at an uninhabited layover system, and eventually reaching the Endor system.
As the Tydirium approached the forest moon, it was hailed by the Imperial Star Dreadnought Executor, which was guarding the incomplete Death Star II. The Executor's traffic officer, Controller Jhoff, demanded that the Tydirium identify itself—Solo did so, and requested that the deflector shield be deactivated, which would allow them to land on the forest moon. In turn, the Executor requested that Solo transmit the clearance code. Solo complied, but Organa was not entirely sure that the stolen codes would work. The general seemed to remain confident; however, he too was beginning to doubt the team's safety. In addition, Skywalker, an aspiring Jedi, sensed through the Force that the Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Vader, was on the Executor, but Solo dismissed the idea.
The Tydirium was next contacted by Admiral Firmus Piett, who requested the shuttle's cargo and destination. Solo claimed that he was carrying "parts and technical crew for the forest moon." Meanwhile, on the bridge of the Executor, on which Vader was indeed present, the Dark Lord had been taking a personal interest in the Tydirium. He quizzed Piett as to the shuttle's code clearance, and although it had used an older code, it still checked out. Vader decided he would let the shuttle pass, as he had sensed Skywalker, his son, on board. Solo, however, had grown impatient, and suspected that the Imperials were not going to let them through. Just as he prepared to flee the system, the Executor contacted them once more, and granted them clearance. The shield was deactivated, and the Tydirium was free to land on the forest moon.
Solo landed the shuttle in a clearing several miles from the Imperial shield generator. The team covered the craft with branches, leaves and mulch, lest it be discovered by an Imperial patrol. The team then debarked, but were unable to destroy the shield generator before the arrival of the Alliance Fleet. Nonetheless, the shield generator was eventually destroyed during the ensuing battle, and the Death Star II was successfully destroyed. Tantor continued to operate from the hidden shuttle, when the Alliance landed reinforcements on the forest moon to help rout the remaining Imperial forces.
Although the battle was over, some remnants of the Imperial fleet at Endor remained. Major Bren Derlin was left in charge of any planet-bound Alliance forces, leaving Solo and Chewbacca free to pursue other objectives. The pair performed some maintenance on the Tydirium, before taking the shuttle into orbit, hoping to assist in eliminating the remainder of the Imperial force. On board were Solo's strike team, touting stolen stormtrooper armor they had acquired during the previous battle. Of his own volition, Solo decided that he would attempt to steal one of the surviving Imperial I-class Star Destroyers, Accuser. Using the clearance codes he had used to bypass the Executor, Solo and his crew were able to successfully infiltrate the Accuser, make their way to the bridge, and order the crew to evacuate. The ship then became a part of the Alliance fleet. The shuttle continued to serve the Alliance and went through several refittings, which included the addition of two turbolasers. In 7 ABY, the smuggler Starter claimed that he personally stole the Tydirium from Darth Vader himself, although few, if any, believed him.
Behind the scenes
The shuttle Tydirium first appeared in Richard Marquand's 1983 film, Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi, written by Lawrence Kasdan and George Lucas. The story as to how the shuttle was stolen by the Rebel Alliance prior to the events of Return of the Jedi has been told in several sources, all of which conflict with one another. In the short story "Starter's Tale," published in 1994's Star Wars Adventure Journal 4, the character of Starter claims to have stolen the shuttle by himself, but his tale is dismissed as highly fictional by other characters within the story itself. In the 2000 computer game Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance, the player character, Ace Azzameen, must ferry a group of commandos to a space station above Zhar in order for them to capture the shuttle. The commandos then bring the shuttle back to the Alliance safely. The role-playing scenario "Stealing the Shuttle" coincides with the events of X-wing Alliance. This was later contradicted in Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader, released one year later. In Rogue Leader, the player character, Wedge Antilles, must infiltrate an Imperial academy, and steal the shuttle himself. He does so successfully, and brings the ship back to the Alliance.
When the maintainer of the Holocron continuity database, Leland Chee, was asked about this discrepancy, he stated that both thefts of the shuttle had occurred, and that the events of X-wing Alliance had occurred first. This meant that the Imperial forces would have to have retrieved the shuttle somehow, in order for the events of Rogue Leader to occur. However, in the 2007 sourcebook Star Wars: Complete Cross-Sections, it is stated that Azzameen's team stole the clearance codes for the shuttle that were used in Return of the Jedi, and that Antilles himself stole the physical shuttle. This conflicts with X-wing Alliance, in which the stolen shuttle is clearly identified as the Tydirium itself, with "codes" as its cargo. For the purposes of this article, all events from all sources are considered to be canonical, with Chee's statements of the dual shuttle thefts included as well. In Rogue Leader, the infiltration of the academy by Antilles can be performed in either a BTL Y-wing starfighter or a T-47 airspeeder.
In the article Kyle Katarn's Tale, Abel G. Peña established that tydirium was the name of an ore in the Star Wars universe. The intention behind this was to suggest that the shuttle was named after the ore, an idea inspired by the computer game X-wing Alliance, which had a shuttle bay with "tons of shuttles with names like Crystilium and Bandarium."
In the non-canon comic Tag & Bink Are Dead, the Tydirium was Wilhuff Tarkin's personal shuttle on the first Death Star. Tag Greenley and Bink Otauna steal it to escape the battlestation and eventually bring it into the Alliance's custody.
Notes and references
- Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance
- The New Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels
- Star Wars: Complete Cross-Sections
- Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader
- Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 65 (TYD1-2, Imperial Shuttle Tydirium)
- Star Wars: The Official Starships & Vehicles Collection 22
- Star Wars: Force Commander
- Return of the Jedi radio drama
- C-3PO: Tales of the Golden Droid
- Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
- "Starter's Tale"—Star Wars Adventure Journal 4