During the height of the Galactic Civil War, the balance of power was greatly shifted, as the last remnants of the Old Republic were vanquished, and the new Galactic Empire was formed. With it came drastic changes on a galactic scale, including in the area of defense. Most worlds within the Core regions were loyal to the Emperor, and as such maintained a significant Imperial military presence, as did most colony planets, and some worlds within the Mid-Rim. These planets were given the gracious presence of Imperial Army facilities dirtside, while flotillas and entire Sector Fleets protected their worlds from the blackness of space.
Others however, were not so fond or welcoming of their new masters, especially with restrictions on existing planetary security forces, including their starfighters. Most planets would be required to unilaterally disarm and stand down, or face planetary bombardment from above. Worlds in the Outer Rim were not as readily patrolled however most could barely provide food and shelter for their citizens, and some had no centralized form of government at all.
Such was the state of the galaxy, and though the Empire presented an ever present threat, they were not invincible, as the galaxy would soon learn. Scattered across countless star systems, small bands of freedom fighters joined forces to overthrow the Empire, and restore peace to the Galaxy. A key factor in tipping the balance of power would be the use of the Starfighter. Small, agile, and fast, these one man craft were heavily armed, and grouped together in squadrons, were capable of conducting hit and run missions, jumping in-system and attacking Imperial capital ships, either to cripple or destroy them, as well as conducting strafing runs on ground based targets in support of dirt side missions by rebel soldiers.
Introduction to the Starfighter Part 3
One fighter would become key to success for the combined forces of the Rebels, and would stand apart from all others: The Incom T-65B X-Wing Starfighter. Originally designed by Voors Voorhorian for the Empire, the entire engineering team at Incom defected to the Rebel Alliance, to prevent Incom from being nationalized by the Empire. They hid four prototype ships on the planet Fresia, which would later be liberated by Rebel forces. Based on the older Z-95 Headhunter series, the Incom T-65 was designed from the outset as a space superiority starfighter. Twelve and a half meters in length ( Thirteen for the T-65CA2), The T-65 featured a Titanium alloy hull, with two pair of wing shaped Strike Foils at the rear of it’s airframe, that folded in line against each other. These strike, or “S” foils, were mounted to a wing root, which would scissor open in combat into an “x” configuration, giving the ship it’s name. This open configuration increased the firing arc of it’s four Taim and Bak KX9 Laser cannons, while allowing the space frame to dissipate excess thermal energy.
For propulsion the T-65 used the Incom 4L4 Fusial thrust sublight engines, rated at three hundred KTU, or 3700Gs in space. Highly maneuverable, the X-Wing also was equipped with an Incom GBK 585 Hyperdrive motivator for short range hyperspace jumps. A Novaldex D4-Z cryogenic power cell and ionation reactor mounted in the rear of the airframe provided the primary power supply for the fighter. For defense against enemy fire, the T-65 was equipped with a deflector shield generator, which provided both particle shielding during flight, and deflector shields during combat. To supplement the avionics system, each X-Wing featured an onboard socket for an Astromech droid, which would aid the pilot in navigation, hyperspace calculations, and performing repairs within reach of it’s accessory arms during flight.
Many Rebel cells who operated independently of the centralized command structure utilized the T-65, including the Cavern Angels and Lightspeed Panthers. These units all had limited numbers of fighters, which were nearly irreplaceable. In the early days of the war, Rebel forces stole it’s primary ships from an Imperial occupied production facility owned by Incom. As time progressed, members of Incom secretly constructed some of the ships used by the Alliance, while others were built in hiddena drydocks in the Outer Rim. As their numbers grew, so did their victories against the Empire, giving the Rebellion an edge over the enemies, and hope that their efforts would lead to victory.
For the Empire, the Rebellion seemed at first to be nothing more than a nuisance; a scattered group of protestors who would be swatted away like a fly. As time progressed however, Imperial High Command soon saw the Rebel forces for what they were: A very serious threat to the stability of the Empire, and it’s control of the Galaxy. After Incom ceased operations, the Empire sought out a new contractor who could replace it’s fleet of aging ARC-170 fighters, and V-Wing interceptors. The answer came from Seinar fleet systems, and their new TIE/LN series Starfighter. A completely new design, the TIE/LN fighter was equipped with a pair of small, twin ion engines, from whence it’s name was derived. It relied on a pair of hexagonal solar wing assemblies for power, each seven meters in length, and eight meters in height. Instantly recognizable by the sound of it’s engines, TIE Fighters were first a psychological tool of the Empire, then a weapon. Extremely maneuverable, TIE Fighters were designed as short range fighters, used to eliminate pirate vessels, conduct reconnaissance in system, as well as attacking Rebel forces.
Very difficult to track and engage in space combat, TIE pilots employed a tactic known as “swarming”, where large numbers of fighters would overwhelm their opponents by engaging them from multiple vectors, making defense or escape impossible. For this reason alone their pilots racked up scores of kills against the Rebellion. Armed with a pair of forward mounted laser cannons and a Proton Torpedo launcher, TIE/LN fighters were deadly in a dogfight. What they gained in maneuverability however, they lacked in defense, as line models were not equipped with defensive shields or a hyperdrive, making them easy prey for an X-Wing on their six. Lessons learned early in the war would lead to variations in the design, including the Advanced X1 TIE, which was the prototype for the TIE Interceptor, a larger, more heavily armed fighter, equipped with shields. It was produced to directly counter the threat posed by the Incom T-65 X-Wings. In concept, the TIE Interceptor would identify, track, engage, and destroy enemy fighters, protecting the Star Destroyer from harm. This would not always prove the case, as many times the Rebellion learned from previous engagements, and adapted their tactics to the situation at hand.
In the end, the insurgency tactics employed by the pilots of the Rebellion would provide them the edge they needed in combat, and would pave the way for ultimate victory over the Empire. Since that time, the worlds of the Republic have continued to be protected by a newer generation of Starfighters, including the T-70 and T-85 X-Wings, which continue to be a symbol of hope for the future, and a reminder of the sacrifices of the past.