Star Wars question. SPOOFE and others, wanna take a shot?

I just watched the end of Star Wars again, very entertaining. What I don’t understand is how the Rebels attacked the Death Star. When they are flying down the trench, trying to put a bomb in the Death Star’s mail slot, what kinda military genius designed this attack? 1 X-wing flies down the trench to attack, and 2 others fly right behind him, “covering” him. WTF??? Neither “covering” ship has any type of aft weapons, and they seem to exist only to be cannon fodder for the Tie fighters behind, which is exactly what happened. To properly cover an attack in those circumstances, you stay above the trench, pacing the attacker, so YOU can swoop down on any enemy fighters that dive to get behind the attacking X-wing. In point of fact, this is exactly what Han Solo did, as he effectively cleared the Tie fighters off Luke’s tail so he could blow up the Death Star. This is an example of the well thought out tactics that y’all are always boasting about? Explain this to me, please.

I think you are right where they are just cannon fodder. The battle at the Death Star was the most important battle of the Rebellion. Since there were no aft weapons they had to be shields.

As for your idea about attack from above, there were gun emplacements up there as well. That was discussed in one of the novels.

Hell, why go down the trench at all? Why not go around the Death Star outside of range of the guns until you’re right over the shaft, then head straight down to it?

I was playing X-Wing and tried and tried and tried to do it that way but kept getting tagged before I made it, partly because I never had any wing support. So I did it just like that. Flew over, turned straight down, fired my torpedo and got the hell out of there. Interesting to note that their raid on the Death Star was going to fail and the rebels were all about to be killed too, but Han changed his mind.

crud, I meant tried to do the original way

I always wondered how it was Wedge stayed employed with them. You just know in the battles that never made it onto the screen, he repeatedly did things like, “I was very nearly hit! I spilled my soda, I’ve got to abort!”

I also think about the whole battle plan in Return of the Jedi. Now, granted, the Rebs have to fly crack suicide teams into tunnels in the Death Star; I can accept that the Rebels just have a thing about flying in cramped quarters. It’s what they know, it’s what they do best. That’s fine. But in order to do so, they’ve got to shut off the shield generator, down on Ewokrock. So of course they send the main cast there, who proceed to waste enormous amounts of time befriending midgets in suits, etc. Rest is history.

But what I wondered about all of that is, why didn’t they get a single suicide droid to pilot the stolen shuttle, pack the shuttle with all the explosive oomph they could, then have it kamikaze dive straight into the generator source? And don’t tell me they valued lives (well, Wedge valued his, but he was always the odd man out); see tactics already discussed.

Have you ever seen Thumb Wars?

Mission Planner: “What we have in the ThumbStar is the greatest weapon of mass destruction the Universe has ever seen. Luckily, they included a button, right here, that will blow the entire thing up!”

Pilot: “How will we find this button sir?”

Mission Planner: “That’s the best part! They built this corrider that leads right to it! You just zip in, follow a straight line, and fire! Hahahahaa!”

Princess Bunhead: “Why would they do that?”

Mission Planner: “You got me, but isn’t great?!?”

We never boasted that the Rebels had well-thought-out tactics… just the Imperials. The Rebel bastards (or “Scum”, if you prefer) were just lucky as hell.

In either case…

Remember that the Death Star defenses were designed to repel large-scale assaults, not starfighters. The reason all those turbolasers didn’t chew the fighters to bits (if I recall correctly, only one or two fighters got snagged by the surface guns) was because the turrets were designed to hit ships ten times bigger.

However, even big guns get lucky, 'specially when the target gets closer. In order to get a good target lock on the exhaust port, they had to get within a certain range… I’m assuming that this range was such that, if approached directly from above, the surface guns would have had an easy target (keeping in mind that the ship doing the targeting would have to fly in a straight line for several seconds in order to maintain a lock… making it a sitting duck).

So, to recap:

  1. Large numbers of surface guns outside the trench (as opposed to a smaller number of guns inside the trench).

  2. Approaching the target from above - flying in a straight line to do so - requires the starship to move in a straight line, making it vulnerable from all vectors, as opposed to being vulnerable only from the front or from the back (depending on if there’re TIE fighters in the trench or not).

  3. Flying through the trench was a really cool gimmick for the space battle.

Keep in mind that further details of the infamous Trench Run have been covered in Cal Meacham’s excellent article in Teemings.

Drastic, the “suicide droid in the shuttle” approach wouldn’t work for one simple reason: it could never get in through the shield in the first place. Lambda-class shuttles are crew-piloted ships, and a droid trying to pass the security cordon would never be allowed in. you need at least one human on board, and he’ll either have to bail out when the ship makes its suicide attack, or he’ll have to die in the attempt.

Another related issue: the shield was supposed to be deactivated right before the Rebel fleet arrived (it wasn’t, but oh well). From a planning standpoint, the suicide droid would make more sense. If a shuttle with an outdated security code suddenly vanished from my scopes, you’d better damn well believe I’d call for reinforcements – but Rebel High Command seemed to think this was a good way to get a team in there. This is what happens when your fleet’s admiral is an Italian delicacy.

Back to the “covering one another in the trench” concept: they should have used 2-seat Y-Wings, or modified the single-seaters to fire their ion cannon rearwards. Other than that, they’re stuck with using the other pilots as meat shields.

And let’s not pick on Wedge. He lost an engine and couldn’t keep up with the group. Still, he could have snapped off a few shots at Vader’s group when they flew past him to get to Biggs and Luke.

There is no evidence that the Imperials would have been able to detect a droid-piloted starship as such. On the other hand, there is no evidence that they COULDN’T, either… but in either case, this is a moot point.

They probably simply didn’t launch a droid-attack simply because a suicide bombing of the target facility would have been shot down instantly.

DS Control: “Shuttle Tyderium, what are you doing?”

Shuttle: “Invalid input… non-system disk or disk error…”

DS Control: “Orbital defense, shoot Shuttle Tyderium out of the sky.”

Orbital Defense: “Affirmative.”


Unfortunately, they were stuck with the single-seater variety, and not enough time to convert 'em. Or something like that.

Mind if I drag in a different question?

Rewind to Luke ‘n’ Leia’s Wild Ride, a.k.a. the swinging across. After blasting the doors, the only enemy fire comes from stormtroopers on the other side. Luke shoots one and he falls into the abyss; Leia picks off another and he falls where he stands. The last shot of the opposite side shows one last trooper still gamely trying to score a hit. Leia fires another round or two, Luke fires his grappling gun, they kiss to get in some of that good ol’ incest lovin’, then swing.

And when they arrive, they’re greeted by…nobody. No live trooper. No dead trooper. Where’d they go? Did the survivor hurry his friend to the infirmary in the vain hope of reviving him? Was it just his coffee break? Did the dead guy disintegrate, like a phaser hit in classic Trek? Wha’ happened?

No No No No NO!

Luke and Leia were shooting UP at those troopers, not across!

So the platform the swung (swang?) towards was NOT the one they were defending against.


Ok, Chance, if you’re right, why didn’t the troopers extend their bridge to provide cover and maybe get closer to get a better shot?

Ah, you’ve hit upon the very crux of the matter. I believe the overriding tactical theory invloved in the battle plan was as follows: “Wouldn’t it be cool to see a bunch of space-ships blowing up?”
2 … 3 … 4 …

Set in a place far far away, in a time long long ago. And it’s being picked apart for battle plans?? Is the Pentagon studying this film to plan for it’s invasion of China? No!
It was a fine battle plan, considering just about any alternative would have been as boring as hell!

Just had to get that off my chest – carry on, please.

:slight_smile: Jack Batty, I’m going to print that one out for my husband. I don’t know why he can’t let me enjoy my movie–fictional movie–and leave me alone.

Because they were trained at the same academy that taught the troopers on the other side of the door that Luke blasted shut that they weren’t allowed to lie on the floor and shoot Luke and Leia’s ankles to flinders.

Jeez. Pay attention why doncha?

It was all a sham. The troopers were supposed to offer just enough resistance to try to make it look convincing, but Luke & Co. were supposed to get away, so the Empire could track them to the rebel base. Remember?

No, can’t buy that.

While it’s true that the imperials WANTED Luke, Leia and company to get away I don’t think the troops in the field (or the TIE pilots) knew that was the plan. Tarkin and Vader ain’t really the type to ‘share’ with subordinates, if you get my drift.

I think they just accomplished their goals by sending too few troops to be mission-certain. Fits their psych profile, anyway.

Gotta agree with Jack Batty here – but it’s not JUST a movie, it’s self-consciously a KID’S movie. Why else is everyone a “General” or an “Admiral”? Both the Imperial Legions and the Rebel Alliance are more top-heavy than today’s US Army.

The battle plans make no sense whatsoever, but they look neat. And thanks to SPOOFE for his kind words about my essay in Teemings #3, which gives one reason for the Rebels’ whacky tactics in the first Star Ways flick.

Probably because they felt that such an action wouldn’t be tactically useful. I imagine it’d take more than a minute for the bridge to fully extend (unless it was a very, very fast bridge… that chasm was WIDE, man), and even if they got directly over them, you probably wouldn’t get a much better shot.