“It’s the ship that made the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs. I’ve outrun Imperial starships. Not the local bulk cruisers, mind you. I’m talking about the big Corellian ships, now. She’s fast enough for you, old man.” —Han Solo
We love Star Wars for many reasons. Maybe it’s the epic contest between light and darkness, or the drama of father pitted against son that captures us. Or perhaps it’s the masterful and spellbinding plotting of George Lucas that glues our eyes to the screen. Yet another more obvious contender may explain our fascination with the dazzling space-opera: the luminous, whirring lightsaber, the haunting scream of incoming TIE fighters, the ominous repose of the Death Star itself! Yes, we are here to break it down with 41 mega-cool facts about the flashiest ships and weapons in Star Wars. Buckle up.
These teddy bears have a mean picnic! Ewoks might not look tough, but they were able to bring down Imperial forces—including AT-ST walkers—through the use of stones, spears, makeshift catapults, and their rather sophisticated battle wagons that were able to serve as battering rams.
40. Crystal Ball
Make no mistake, the Death Star has a heart of darkness. The Death Star employs Kyber crystals to focus the tremendous destructive power of its plant-destroying laser. The crystals in this assemblage produce a glowing green beam that makes the Death Star so deathly. As Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb put it: “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”
39. A Star by Any Other Name
The Death Star had many names during its long history. In its earliest development it was referred to as the “Ultimate Weapon” or by the more clandestine name “Project Stardust.” For public purposes, meanwhile, the Death Star was to be called “DS-1” or the “Imperial Planetary Ore Extractor” since not everyone was likely to get on board with creating the most deadly weapon of all time. Due to the tremendous expense involved in the project, the Death Star even had some critics who snidely dubbed it “Tarkin’s Folly.”
38. Double-Edged Sword
Before their use in the Death Star laser, Kyber crystals were more traditionally used in the creation of lightsabers. In fact, part of the reason why the Death Star’s construction took so long was because the Jedi had previously held tight control over the acquisition and knowledge of Kyber crystals.
37. True Colors
Kyber crystals harvested in Ilum’s Crystal Caves are colorless until they come in contact with a Jedi in tune with the Force. Traditionally, younglings would travel to the caves to find the particular crystal that would become the heart of their lightsabers. While the color produced was often green or blue, there are notable exceptions of crystals that produced a purple, yellow, or even white hue.
36. Bleeding Diamonds
Since the Kyber crystals seem to be attuned to the light side of the Force, the only way they can be employed in Sith lightsabers is if a sort of violence is done to them through the use of the dark side of the Force. These Kyber crystals are said to “bleed,” and frequently produce the shockingly red hue associated with many Siths’ lightsabers.
35. Screamin’ Demon
The flagship fighter of the Empire is known as the TIE fighter. And the TIE fighter itself is known for nothing so well as the haunting scream it emits. Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt wished to recreate a disturbing sensation recounted by those who had witnessed aerial dogfights in World War II. To produce this disturbing sound, he blended together an elephant cry with the dull hum of an automotive driving in wet conditions.
34. Twin Engines
TIE fighters are propelled by twin ion engines (hence the “TIE” in TIE fighter). The sound is supposedly emitted by a harmonic resonance produced by the engines operating in tandem. Eerrrrrummmm!
33. It’s Getting Hot in Here
This is definitely one of the cooler weapons on the list, and also a weapon employed by Princess Leia (disguised as a bounty hunter). This tiny globe was capable of unleashing a tremendously powerful explosion, and once activated could be shut off only by the person who activated it.
32. Not a Great Gig
As cool as X-Wings are, maybe you shouldn’t jump at the chance to become a fighter pilot. In fact, only a single X-wing pilot besides Luke Skywalker was able to survive the original Star Wars trilogy: Wedge Antilles. Somehow this poor sap made it through all those dodgy missions where his comrades didn’t. Godspeed Red 2.
31. Super Star Destroyer!
It’s hard to miss how dangerous being a X-Wing fighter is with all the TIE fighters zooming around, and worse yet, Super Star Destroyers to contend with! The Super Star Destroyer moniker actually refers to several different classes of enormous Imperial warships. While often overshadowed by the Death Star, these tremendous Dreadnoughts were truly tremendous in size. The enormous remains of the legendary Ravager vessel can be seen (with some sense of scale) in the beginning of The Force Awakens, having crashed on the planet during the Battle of Jakku.
30. Lightsaber Resistant?!
The electrostaff is a weapon primarily wielded by IG-100 MagnaGuards, but perhaps more notably General Grievous himself. The staff produces electromagentic pulses on each end and is made of a special alloy called phrik that makes it virtually invulnerable to lightsabers.
29. The Best Offense Is… Avoiding All Confrontation
This may be cheating a little bit, but there’s nothing like a good Jedi mind trick to avoid confrontation in the first place. Probably the most famous use of this technique was performed by Obi-Wan to bypass a checkpoint: “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.” Move along.
28. B1 and B2
No, we’re not talking about Bananas in Pajamas. The B2 Super Battle Droid was the natural successor to the earlier B1 bots. They were developed after the Trade Federation’s attack on Naboo and were a much more sophisticated and deadly force with superior armor. They also did not rely, as the B1 droids had, on a Droid Control Ship. Thus, the droids were more autonomous and unable to be deactivated remotely.
27. Droids With… Shields?
Droideka, or “destroyer droids,” are perhaps the only thing cooler than Darth Maul’s lightsaber in The Phantom Menace (besides Jar Jar Binks, of course). These droids were employed by the Trade Federation to invade Naboo. Their abilities include being able to transform into a rolling ball for fast deployment, establishing a personal shield matrix to protect themselves, and issuing a powerful barrage from two twin blaster cannons.
26. Turning and Turning in the Widening Gyre
Ah yes, the Millennium Falcon. That beautiful rust-bucket. The Millennium Falcon is like an old-sports car that still “has it where it counts”; it might not look like much on the outside, but it’s reliable, and in this case, one of the fastest ships in the galaxy, having famously “made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs” (which happens to be a measure of distance, not time–but hey, who’s counting?).
25. “What a Piece of Junk!”
One particularly striking feature of the Millennium Falcon is its enormous radar dish. If this doesn’t exactly look streamlined to you, it’s worth remembering that everything on the vessel is as utilitarian as can be. The radar dish allows the Falcon to avoid getting into sticky situations in the first place. It pays to always be one step ahead of whatever Imperial Cruiser you might bump into.
24. Like a G6
Much like the TIE fighters, the Star Wars sound engineers were looking for a distinctive sound to associate with the Millennium Falcon. They settled on a much simpler sound source: a jet airliner. What made the sound more futuristic, however, was that they recorded two separate engines and played them at staggered intervals from one another. The result? That familiar hum of good-guy space travel.
23. George Lucas Loves Burgers
Initially the Millennium Falcon had an entirely different design until George Lucas saw a vision of a flatter, more sleek, Falcon in his half-eaten burger. This just goes to prove once again the old saying, “you are wont to create fantastical spaceships out of what you eat.”
22. Fun and Games
The Falcon may be a utilitarian vessel designed for speed and gritty combat, but what about that sweet holographic gaming table? Apparently this futuristic Nintendo setup was all Chewie’s idea. We don’t know how often Han would best him on their long voyages together, but it’s probably a safe bet that he adopted C3P0’s strategy: “Let the Wookiee win.”
21. Chewie’s Crossbow
Chewie himself might as well be listed as a weapon for his brute strength alone. But that just makes his crossbow all the scarier. The laser crossbow is actually called a “bowcaster,” and uses magnetic acceleration to deliver extremely powerful shots of plasma energy. The bowcaster is modeled after traditional Wookiee crossbows before the age of magnetic acceleration.
20. Wild Wild West
Han Solo’s weapon of choice, by contrast, is a modified heavy blaster pistol, technically known as a DL-44. One of the modifications Solo made was to remove the motion-sensor blaster scope. This modification allowed for a quicker draw, but meant that Solo was solely dependent on his own aim. Sounds about right for this devil-may-care Casanova.
19. Shots Fired
Speaking of the wild wild west, why is it that Stormtroopers can’t seem to hit anything? This fact seems especially surprising since Storm Troopers undergo extensive training in vehicle operations as well as blaster weapons.
Stormtroopers are so well-trained, in fact, that Obi-Wan deduces that they must be behind the killing of Luke’s aunt and uncle, claiming that “only Imperial Stormtroopers are so precise.”
You might not think it at first glance, but R2-D2 is one of the best secret weapons in Luke Skywalker’s arsenal. R2 is an astromech, which means that it is a droid charged primarily with various starship repairs. But R2’s particular ability to repair Luke’s fighter on the fly proves instrumental to the success of many missions.
16. A Little Shock Therapy
R2 isn’t exactly the most intimidating figure in the galaxy (far, far away), but when push comes to shove, this droid can defend itself. R2 is equipped with an electrical pike that can serve as a weapon capable of overloading the circuitry of other small droids or giving a nasty jolt to non-droids.
15. Wrist Rocket
Every kid’s favorite toy from the “Wrist-Rocket Company of Columbus” looks a whole lot more literal and lethal in the hands of Boba Fett. The bounty hunter could deploy a wide array of different missiles from a wrist-mount for medium-range combat situations.
Flametroopers, or “roasters,” use D-93 Incinerators to blast enemies with an intense spread of fire. They were used particularly to uproot entrenched forces, but the power of the flame produced by their weapons made them a slow-moving force.
13. Chain of Command
One of the more infamous and ironic deaths in the series features Jabba the Hutt being strangled by Princess Leia. In a golden bikini she was able to vanquish her oppressor with the very symbol of her own bondage.
The Booma is a Gungan bio-mechanical weapon designed to bombard the enemy. Boomas are essentially energy balls formed through harvesting blue plasma from dark depths of Naboo’s ocean core. The Gungans then pressurize the plasma within a tight outer shell so that the munition explodes upon impact. Boomas were catapulted into enemy droid troops in The Phantom Menace, and its electromagnetic properties proved very effective against a large droid army.
11. Greasy Lightning
Force Lightning is associated with the Sith, and Sith Lords in particular. It has been the cause of death for many great Jedi. The attack focuses the Force so as to channel electricity from one’s hands, which can be deployed singularly or in targeted forks by more advanced users. Apart from being exceedingly deadly, Force lightning produces unendurable agony in its recipient, making it a powerful tool of torture as well.
10. Not Just the Bad Guys
While we tend to think of Force lightning as aligned with the dark side of the Force, there are some Jedi who have been able to use it without corrupting themselves, Luke Skywalker himself among them.
9. Soft Power
An important precursor to the Invasion of Naboo was the infamous trade embargo described by the nefarious Viceroy of the Trade Federation as “perfectly legal.” By forcing Naboo into a situation of desperation, the Trade Federation sought to avoid hefty tax payments and plotted against Naboo’s further ruin.
8. Assassin Bug
The deadly poisonous Kouhun is one of the preferred weapons of bounty hunters and assassins the universe over. Their tiny frame helps them to elude detection, while their venom is efficiently fatal. Senator Padme Amidala would have been killed by a pair of the anthropoids were it not for R2-D2 and Anakin’s watchful guard.
7. Private Guard
Maybe you’ve wondered about those special looking storm troopers surrounding the Emperor. The Imperial Royal Guard is comprised of only the best recruits, and they are constantly tested to ensure their unwavering loyalty. For example, when they’re in training, young students are often forced to kill each other to prove their mettle. The Royal Guard answers only to the Emperor, and are thus separate from the Imperial Military proper.
6. Empire X-Wings?!
By contrast, the flagship spacecraft the Rebel Alliance is the X-Wing Fighter. But did you know that X-Wings were initially commissioned by the Empire to enhance their already iron-clad arsenal? Some of the Incom engineers responsible for the X-Wing’s development were able to tip the Alliance off, which resulted in a mission to capture the blueprints and early prototypes of the X-Wing—and the rest, as they say, is history.
5. The Death Star’s Soft Side
The Death Star is the ultimate weapon in the Star Wars universe. It’s constructed to function as small planet unto itself. We often forget that apart from being a military vessel first and foremost, the Death Star is also outfitted with other civilian amenities designed to provide leisure to non-military personnel and those off-duty. More than a million people work on the Death Star at any given time, hence the tiny planet is outfitted with restaurants and parks in addition to its massive lasers. While clearly a weapon designed to strike fear into the hearts of those opposed to the Empire, the Death Star has a softer (or at least cushier) side.
4. Gungan Spears
Some people have noted the strange mix of weapons the Gungans possess, as they have technologically advanced shield technology and explosives, yet still employ animal mounts and spears for melee combat.
3. Clone Army
If you can’t raise an army, why not clone one? The genetic blueprint for these highly skilled troopers came from the bounty hunter Jango Fett. Clone troopers were superior in combat to the battle droids employed by separatist forces. They served the Jedi and the Republic faithfully in the early years of the clone wars.
2. Order 66
The clone army, however, was a trap set by the Sith for the Jedi and the Republic. The secret “order 66” was implanted in the troops who functioned essentially as sleeper agents. When the order was activated, the clone troopers massacred the Jedi.
1. Darth Maul
Darth Maul famously wielded a double-bladed lightsaber. Less known is that he forged the saber himself, using the force to craft the four core crystals in a compression furnace. Crafting the weapon required continuous focus for four straight days.
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