Help me understand Red 5

Sorry, probably a stupid question since I’m not well versed in that universe but…

What are/is the Red 5?
Was Luke a Red 5?
Was Yoda?

In the first attack on the Death Star, the fighters were divided into squadrons designated by colors (Red, Yellow, etc.). Luke was the 5th member of the Red squadron, thus his call sign was Red 5.

In the fandom, Red 5 also refers to that specific X-Wing, identifiable by the five red stripes on the top wings.

In the novelization by Alan Dean Foster, and also the Marvel Comics adaptation, Luke was Blue Five for some reason.

In the movie Rogue One, we see the original Red Five get killed during the final battle. Because “How did Luke get his call sign?” was definitely one of the burning questions that fandom desperately wanted–nay, needed–an answer to.

Foster was working from an early draft of the script. During filming, ILM discovered the bluescreen film matting technique turned the painted blue stripes to black, so they were changed to red. I don’t know whether or not that problem was discovered in time before any dialogue scenes were filmed. You can still see that side effect of their FX in the way R2D2 looks during the final battle scene. All his blue parts are black.

Gold, not Yellow. In The Empire Strikes Back, the snowspeeder patrol used Rogue, which subsequently has become the elite squadron in the Star Wars universe, and retro-fitted via the movie Rogue One.

There are a bunch more used in other media, games and novels and such, but none of those have made it on-screen yet. The upcoming Rogue Squadron movie from Patty Jenkins, if it happens, may introduce some.

Don’t you watch Family Guy, Lucas_Jackson?

As the Rebel fighter ships were flying to attack the Death Star in the original film, the members of Red Squadron all check in over the radio. Luke’s childhood friend, Biggs, with whom he gets reunited just prior to the battle, has the callsign Red 3; Wedge Antilles (who has small roles in all three of the original films) is Red 2; Luke is the last of the squadron to check in, and he is, of course, Red 5.

Rogue One actually does have a Blue Squadron; I suspect that it’s a nod to the original designation for Red Squadron in the original script and novelization.

I’m now slightly curious about the context in which the OP heard “Red 5”, such that he knew that it was something related to Star Wars, but didn’t know what.


Annoying thing: The squadrons do not “report” in order. Logically, you go “red 1 standing by”, “red 2 standing by” etc. If you don’t do it in order, someone has to keep track. Probably either the wing commander, or the lowliest squib. “Wait! Did red 17 report in?? Hello!” “He’s getting a bucket of prop wash, he’ll be right back.” “oh kay”

Fascinating thing I probably will lose my cred mentioning: Despite seeing the movie at least 12 parsecs of times, I NEVER noticed the X-wings have different numbers of stripes! I even built the original MPC kit (weathered it, too! With battle damage. “I’ve lost R2!”) and never made the connection to the stripes and the call sign. I think it was like two years ago I figured it out. That’s a D’oh! moment.

And you might get multiple people trying to report in at once so nobody can hear either, or awkward silence as everyone is trying to avoid all talking at once. Though both are less of an issue when you only have a half-dozen people in each squadron, as appears to have been the case here.

Ha, the typical Zoom or Web-Ex meeting!

I think there were twelve in each squadron. One to six full length stripes for Red 1-6, divided stripes for 7-12. This picture would be Red 10 and Red 12.

I think Red 5 should have had a tally mark. You know, four vertical stripes and a crossbar.

I could go with that!

Since I found it, here’s Red Leader. One tick mark

Don’t feel badly; despite being a major Star Wars nerd since '77, I don’t think I realized this, either, until sometime in the early 1990s. (The fact that we didn’t have the Internet, or access to a lot of high-quality stills from the movies, likely didn’t help.)

In the mid '90s, when Hasbro resumed the Star Wars action figure line, I bought the X-Wing Fighter toy. The various stripes and details were all stickers that the owner had to apply themselves; when I went to put the stripes on the wings, I doctored them – they had five stripes for Luke’s ship (Red 5), but I cut three of the stripes off, to make my ship Red 2 (Wedge’s ship).

5 is my favorite number. Red, favorite color. I saw a ‘Red 5’ tshirt and thought, great! But I thought maybe it might be a thing I don’t know about. So I did a quick check and found the Star Wars connection. I’m not a huge fan (my daughter is), but I do like the concept. Just thought if I got the shirt I should know a little bit of the background.

There was a Yellow Squadron in the original shooting script; but true to their call signs, they were too afraid to take on the Death Star and were cut in the final edit.

This one, to be exact…