Sunday, April 14, 2013

Y it's the Best

If you’ve seen the original Star Wars movie than you’re familiar with the Y-wing starfighter, arguably the best starfighter ever created in the Star Wars universe. The Y-wing has a long and distinguished history and a list of features that explain this long service record. These fighters were first used by the Republic in a much needed bomber role and as the Empire rose and decided not to purchase the design these fighters became available to pirates, mercenaries, and ultimately the Rebel Alliance as the workhorse of their fighter fleet.

Models and Variants
The long service record of the Y-wing is the work of not one, but several different models of the ship used at different times and for assorted purposes.
BTL-B Y-wing – This is the original Y-wing model fielded as a bomber by the Republic and most notably used by Anakin Skywalker and a squadron of clone pilots to disable the Malevolence. These models served in other battles during the clone wars as well and were still in service at the end of the clone wars.
BTL-S3 Y-wing – A design released immediately following the end of the clone wars and the Empire’s rise to power, this model like its predecessor had an ion cannon turret operated by a weapons officer (though this model did away with the bubble dome concept), a large proton torpedo payload, and heavy lasers, armor, and shields. Despite the heft of the fighter, it was still relatively agile for the era and was able to keep up with most other fighters. Many technicians did away with the pointless hull coverings on this model to lighten the fighter just slightly and make maintenance easier.
a.       BTL-S3 Y-wing Courier – This variant of the S3 was so unique that it didn’t have its own designation. These ships removed the ion cannons for additional passenger and cargo capacity allowing up to 5 passengers plus the pilot and his astromech to be transported, albeit uncomfortably over long distances. These ships also featured a cockpit canopy split down the middle to speed embarkation and debarkation as well as allow passengers to jump out and glide or jet pack down to their destination without the ship ever needing to stop.
Two BTL-A4 Y-wings at the Battle of Yavin
BTL-A4 Y-wing – A new version of the older S3 that removed the gunner altogether, reducing the crew requirements to merely 1 pilot and 1 astromech droid. This allowed many groups with limited manpower (like the rebels) to field more of these craft.
a.       BTL-A4 Y-wing (LP) – This variant dubbed the “LongProbe” was a modified version of the single man fighter. It removed the ion cannons and used the space for advanced sensors, greater fuel capacity, and a navigational computer as well as a backup Hyperdrive. The modifications were intended to make sure that these scout ships made it home to report their findings and were so successful that the New Republic kept them in service up through the end of their campaign against the Imperial Remnant.

Y it’s the best
A BTL-A4 Y-wing in the Hangar of Home One
So I’m sure even after reading through the list of models you find yourself unimpressed with the humble Y-wing in comparison to other fighters. While it’s true that the X-wing and A-wing are faster and that the B-wing is newer, the Y-wing has better shields and firepower than the X-wing and A-wing and is actually faster than the B-wing making it an ideal multi-role fighter. Its faster speed in conjunction with its ion cannons also makes it a great choice for disabling missions as opposed to the more cumbersome B-wing. It’s easy to pilot especially compared to its replacement, the B-wing and is more versatile in its uses allowing it to be adapted to many different mission parameters. The ubiquitous nature of the ships also makes them cheaper to keep in repair as parts are easy to come by and technical specifications and those familiar with them are easy to find making repairs somewhat easier to have done if you’re not exactly a grease monkey yourself. Finally unlike the A-wing or the B-wing you have an astromech with you assisting with multiple ship functions and in some models you have a gunner operating the ion turret to keep fighters off your back compensating somewhat for the slower speed in comparison to a snub fighter or an interceptor. While the addition of personnel does make the ships harder to crew and more costly to loose, they perform better in combat because the numerous tasks associated with operating a starship are spread between multiple people, allowing each to focus on their specialty.

Because of this ships multi-role flexibility and its focus on a larger specialist crew over a multi-talented single pilot, the Y-wing is the best of the Rebellions fighters and will, assuming I can find a place to park it, always have a place in the N3rd C0rn3r.