Ever since my first viewing of A New Hope, I have been utterly fascinated by starfighters. Whether it was the weathered metal of the T-65B X-Wings flying into the Death Star trench or the illustrious shine of the N-1 Naboo Fighter streaking towards the Separatists, I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the majestic trails they carved through space.
The speed was electric, the weapons were hot, and the grace with which they flew amazed me just as much when I was six as it does today. Ships and speeders are as integral a part of Star Wars as a lightsaber or a droid, and their constant reinventions and innovations throughout the films have kept them at the forefront of the fandom.
But aside from admiring their rugged appearance and intoxicating design, there are a few crucial components that have remained hidden from fans over the years. While the most dedicated stewards of Star Wars lore may know the exact specifications of a T-65b’s subspace engines, the average consumer never really had a one stop shop where they could pour over the specs of their favorite fighters.
The folks over at Insight Editions and Haynes Publishing have done it again. Fresh off the heels of the Official Workshop Manuals for both the Millennium Falcon and TIE Fighters, Chris Reiff, Chris Trevas, and Ryder Windham have banded together once more to bring us the Star Wars Rebel Starfighters Owners’ Workshop Manual.
If you are unfamiliar with this series of manuals, imagine yourself as a prospective car buyer. You’re browsing through a few makes and models, and while some look nice and pretty on the outside, you really want to know what’s under the hood. What went into making this bad boy? Who’s the manufacturer? How fast can it go? What type of torpedoes have been integrated into its weapon systems?
You know. The usual stuff.
That’s where this manual comes in. The starfighters of both the Rebellion and the Resistance are examined through both technical and historical lenses to give you all the information you could possibly desire about your favorite ships.
The featured fighters include:
- BTL-B Y-Wing
- BTL-A4 Y-Wing
- RZ-1 A-Wing
- A/SF-01 B-Wing
- T-65B X-Wing
- UT-60D U-Wing
- T-70 X-Wing
- RZ-2 A-Wing
- BTA-NR2 Y-Wing
Each one of these ships is given its own individual section where its history, evolution, and technical specs are identified. Within this review, I’ll briefly outline how each ship’s segment is laid out as well as some of my favorite facts that I picked up as I was reading. For fans of these aerial beauties, there are surely hours of content to be picked through, but even if you’re more of a casual consumer of interstellar crafts, there are more than enough tidbits for ultimate satisfaction.
The beginning of each section is marked with some sort of story device. These can include transcripts of speeches, messages between allies, and more. When you open the first page detailing the Rebel Starfighters, you’ll be met by a transmission between Princess Leia and Mon Mothma. Leia informs the Chandrilan of the Rebellion’s need for adequate starship production.
It will not be enough to simply steal from the Empire, she says. The Alliance must be built.
And just like that, we’re off to the races. The schematics and details about each ship are crucial to the creation of the Alliance, because a sustainable fighting force can only be maintained if the ships are able to be replaced upon their inevitable destruction. A later memo in the manual strips away any hope that the Rebel pilots may have of avoiding combat. General Merrick informs his U-Wing pilots that every one of them will see action, many of them shall not return, but at the end of the day...they’re all fighting for something.
Not bad for a tech manual, huh?
After these brief introductions, you’ll dive into the history of each individual starfighter at its earliest stage. Which manufacturing company originally constructed the first Y-Wings? Which ships were combined to create the first X-Wing? Which fighter was made as a response to the Delta-7 Jedi Starfigher? All of those questions and more will be answered in these opening paragraphs.
These sections were the most enjoyable for me as I flipped through the manual, because so much of Star Wars does, in fact, rely on history and legacy. I adore the sleek design of the T-70 X-Wing, but where would it be without the innovations of the ARC-170 during the Clone Wars? If Bail Organa hadn’t manipulated the shipping records of the Senate, would the Alliance have ever included U-Wings? Ryder Wyndham’s inclusion of all of these various bits of history and lore alongside the technical elements not only enrich the fighters themselves but also the saga as a whole.
Once you traverse your way through the history of the construction and acquisition of each fighter, you can begin to wade through the technical elements that are brought brilliantly to life by illustrators Trevas and Reiff. On one page, you’re gifted with the description of an X-Wing’s sublight engine while the opposite deconstructs the machinery with a wonderfully detailed diagram. And aside from layouts of specific engines, weaponry, and even cockpits, each section features a double page spread of the entire fighter with multiple angles and meticulous labeling.
Are you playing a Star Wars RPG that features extensive ship combat? Do you want to know exactly what your particular fighter can do and which systems you can manipulate? These diagrams are an absolute gold mine.
In addition to labeling every single part of every single starfighter, the ship blueprints also combine extensive written information about the ship in one easy to reference section. How much does an RZ-2 A-Wing cost new versus used? How fast can an A/SF-01 B-Wing travel in atmosphere?
It’s all in there.
And I suppose that’s the best way I can describe this manual. It’s really all in there. The design is immaculate, the information is fascinating, and I can see myself pulling out this manual during my infinite rewatches of the films just so I can pause every time I see a ship and figure out exactly what the pilot is doing. This guide is wonderfully immersive, surprisingly accessible, and a perfect addition to the bookshelf of any fan who gets goosebumps when they jump to hyperspace.
The Rebel Starfighters Owners' Workshop Manual is available now! For more information about this book and to pick it for yourself, check out the full write up at Insight Editions HERE.