I’m Doug Chiang, I’m the Vice President
and Executive Creative Director for Lucasfilm.
I’m Amy Beth Christenson,
and I’m an art director at Lucasfilm.
And today we’re gonna talk about every kind of starfighter
in the live action Star Wars films.
And we do mean every starfighter.
[Star Wars Main Theme]
A bit hammy, I’m sorry. [laughing]
[laughing] No that’s good, I like it.
Always wanted to fly one of these things.
[Doug] There are many different classes of star ships
from capital ships like star destroyers,
to space stations, like the Death Star.
That’s no moon, it’s a space station.
But typically, we define a starfighter
as a small spacecraft designed specifically for combat.
Space ship designs in Star Wars is really really tricky
and that’s because we have to give
these space ships personality.
They have to have a distinct look.
They have to have a distinct iconic shape.
And that’s where I think George was brilliant
in terms of creating iconic shapes for Star Wars.
TIE Fighters, they’re one of the most iconic designs
in the Star Wars universe.
What I like about it is the simplicity of it.
It’s just a ball with wings.
The original design for the TIE Fighter
was presented by George to Ralph McQuarrie in 1974.
I think all of the ships in Star Wars
you can kinda do that shorthand,
almost a stick figure version of it.
And the TIE Fighter’s great
’cause it’s the H with the ball on it.
So as long as it’s coming towards you,
you recognize it as a TIE Fighter.
I remember when I first saw it when I was 15.
Part of the visual was so strong
but I loved the sound of it.
It was just an amazing, unexpected sound.
Comin’ in .35. I see them.
[Amy Beth] The first time we see Darth Vader’s
TIE Advanced is in the trench run
at the end of A New Hope. [screeching]
One of the fun facts about it in terms of design
is that George wanted it to look very distinguished,
very different in terms of giving it
a very distinct silhouette.
The wings are folded in to kind of evoke power and menace.
I have you now. [blasting]
The T-65 X-Wing is a really fascinating design.
I love the fact that it evokes World War II
aircraft design in terms of the form language.
And I also like the idea that it has a long snout.
George was a huge race car fan.
And he loved the idea that the dragsters
have a very long nose.
And so in some of the early prototypes from Colin Cantwell,
you can see the same painted nose.
Great thing about the X-Wing
is seeing Star Wars for the first time.
It was kinda the first time you saw a ship transform.
When you get the S-Foils being locked in attack position,
that’s when it makes its X the silhouette shape.
And it was really fun to see.
[Doug] One of the reasons why the X-Wing is so iconic
is that Joe Johnston when he drew it and designed it,
he made it very graphic.
It was very easy to understand.
It was very easy to draw very quickly.
And there’s a timeless quality to it that’s very hard to do.
The Y-Wing. The first time
we see a Y-Wing is when they arrive on Yavin Base.
One of the fun things about the Y-Wing
was that George wanted it to look like a race car
without all of its paneling.
So you can see that the cockpit has the sleekness
of a race car, but then the engines and the body
have all the panels removed.
The design actually evolved quite a bit
because of the blue screen technology,
the very thin struts were very hard to photograph.
And so Colin Cantwell actually beefed them up
and gave it a more stronger World War II robustness.
We were able to design the fully covered Y-Wing
where we get to see it in its complete form
before you see it in A New Hope.
The design for the TIE Bomber is really unique
because this is the first time we saw two pods
next to each other,
with kind of the TIE Advanced wing set up.
It still felt more menacing.
And then you got a hint at what it does
when they were trying to bomb the Falcon,
and that asteroid field. [laughing]
[bombing in distance]
The first time we see the A-Wing is in Return of the Jedi.
And it’s one of my favorite designs
because it’s so fast, and it’s very sleek.
And in many ways, it’s the bare essence of speed
’cause you just have a cockpit with engines and a wing.
And I love the triangular look of it,
’cause it just looks fast. The A-Wing for me
is really interesting ’cause it’s one of the first time
we saw a really rounded shape for the fighters at least.
I thought that that made it really unique looking.
Lock S-Foils in attack positions.
[Amy Beth] B-Wing, from Return of the Jedi.
One of the fun things about the B-Wing design
is that it’s a transforming design.
The fact that it’s almost a flying wing
but then it goes vertical.
And I love the idea that the cockpit actually rotates.
And it’s the first time we’ve seen that.
And the whole thinking about that is that when it’s flying,
it’s actually a very interesting configuration
than when it’s landed.
Fighters coming in! The TIE Interceptor.
What’s great about this design
is the next evolution of the TIE Fighter.
The TIE Interceptor’s one of my favorite ship designs.
And one of the interesting things is that
we took the wings and stretched it
so that it made it look more forward propelling.
And then by doing that though,
we had to actually give it a slot
so the pilot could actually look left and right.
The Naboo N-1 starfighter.
One of the challenges of designing that
was that we actually had to figure out
a design history for Star Wars.
And George wanted to mirror that design history
with our real world design.
And so for instance, the original trilogy designs
of the X-Wing and the Y-Wing
were more in the 1970s, the more manufactured look,
the more angular look.
And so Episodes I, II and III, actually went back
to the 1920s, a more romantic time,
a more handcrafted, artisan look
for design of the spaceships. And Astromech droid
does fit in there or– On this one it does.
That’s one of the fun things about designing for Star Wars
is that we can take a lot of liberties.
And part of the sleekness of the N-1
is that you really can’t get an Astromech
behind the cockpit.
And so if you notice, it’s just R2’s dome.
His legs are somewhere inside the body.
The other important thing about the Naboo starfighter
is that Doug designed it. [laughing]
The Trade Federation Vulture Droid,
and the first time we see this
is Episode I Phantom Menace.
The thing that’s really cool about this
is the first time we see a starfighter in Star Wars
that is a droid. And at first,
originally, it wasn’t supposed to be a droid.
I remember George actually wanted to start to connect
the idea of the designs from Episode I to Episode IV.
And so this was gonna be a precursor to the TIE Fighters.
And that’s why you see the distinct wing configuration
and the central ball body.
The Geonosian Starfighter.
We first see that in Attack of the Clones.
What’s interesting about this design
is that George is a huge race boat fan.
And so he wanted to mirror and design a vehicle
that looked kinda like the F1 speedboats.
And that’s where you get the twin pontoons.
What I did was turn ’em vertically.
The great part about the design
of the Geonosian starfighter is that you really see
that it’s designed by the Geonosians.
They’re bug-like creatures
so they have their own distinct look to their vehicles.
One of the fun things is that when I was designing it
I wanted to make sure that the spaceship
actually looked almost like part of the Geonosians.
So that’s why the cockpit is really small.
It’s almost like a helmet. [adventure music]
The Jedi starfighter.
At this time, George wanted to blend and blur the lines.
So you can see here, even though these are Jedi ships,
we actually kept them very triangular
to sort of evoke a little bit of the transition
towards the Empire Star Destroyers.
And one of the fun things is that,
I remember George saying, Let’s just take a Star Destroyer
and turn it into a fighter ship.
That was such a bold statement.
At first I didn’t think it would work
until I actually saw it on paper,
and it actually works beautifully.
This little nerdy part
where it doesn’t have hyperspace capabilities,
but needs a hyperspace ring to go into hyperspace.
We’re on your tail General Kenobi.
[Amy Beth] The ARC-170 starfighter,
and the first time we see this is in Revenge of the Sith.
My favorite part about this design are the multiple wings
of the different designs are really cool.
It’s actually a precursor to the X-Wing.
So the multiple wings sort of start to hint
at the X-Wing S-Foil folding out.
But then the interesting thing
is that you’ll notice that there are multiple cockpits
and pilots and gunners.
And that’s to call back to the original inspiration
for this which was the Douglas Dauntless Fighter Bomber.
[Amy Beth] This is the Droid Tri-Fighter
and the first time we see this is in Revenge of the Sith.
One of the interesting things about this
is it’s the next evolution of droid starfighter ships.
And it’s very aggressive.
And it’s distinctly designed to look mean and menacing.
General Grievous’ starfighter.
What’s interesting about this
is that this is the most automotive of all the starfighters.
And you’ll notice that the cockpit is set way back.
And you have this long hood
sort of connoting power and engine.
And the engines are oversized.
And so all about this design is about power and speed.
And General Grievous is the general
of the Separatist Army, he was an alien, like Darth Vader.
He had to replace a lot of his parts.
So he’s mostly droid when we see him.
And his two arms split into four arms,
and he’s got four light sabers.
A lot of things about the prequels
kind of hint at what’s coming.
General Grievous is kinda a precursor to Vader
in those respects. [adventure music]
Jedi Interceptor, the first time we see this ship
is in Revenge of the Sith.
One of the interesting things,
that in the design language,
we’re actually starting to tie in story elements.
The good guys become the bad guys.
You’ll notice in the Jedi Interceptor
that we’re really starting to tie and bridge
the Jedi starfighter with the TIE fighters.
You’ll notice that the wings, when they unfold
have sort of early distinct silhouettes
of the TIE Fighter.
And then the cockpit is actually starting to become a ball.
And one of the other interesting facts
is that the R2 unit can’t fit in it.
The body is actually too thin.
So the R2 unit has to be a really short one.
[laughing] [exploding] We got him R2.
The original inspiration was the P-38 Lightning.
And that’s where you’ll see the twin tails on there.
As the design evolved, slowly we start to modify it
so that we took the round wings off
and then we actually removed the connecting tail piece.
You can see connecting elements like the engine scoops
are actually scoops on the P-38 Lightning.
This is the Techno Union Fighter,
the first time we see this is in Revenge of the Sith.
It has a very Flash Gordon esque feel to it.
And George was very inspired by Flash Gordon.
I think Star Wars itself
is sort of inspired by Flash Gordon
and George’s love of it.
And that can be seen in ships
like the Techno Union Fighter.
V-Wing from Revenge of the Sith
so you can kinda get a hint
at what’s going to come in A New Hope.
And I think this probably is the most extreme,
if you look at it head on,
has more of that TIE Fighter silhouette
where you kinda see the H with the ball in the middle.
The First Order Tie Fighter,
in keeping to our design philosophy,
where VII, VII, and IX were more contemporary times,
we wanted to update the TIE Fighter.
And part of the thinking was that maybe
the TIE Fighter for The First Order,
they made it more robust using new materials
to make it faster and leaner and more strong.
And so part of the idea was that we actually
took the classic design of the TIE Fighter
and just beefed it up, changed the material,
changed the configuration of the colors.
[yelling] This thing really moves!
[Amy Beth] The First Order Special Forces TIE Fighter.
We distinguished them by giving them red.
But then we also gave them external magazines
for the weaponry. The other thing
that distinguishes the Special Forces TIE Fighter
is it actually has two seats back to back in the cockpit.
You’ve got the gunner in the back,
and you’ve got the pilot in the front.
So that’s when Poe and Finn are actually piloting
Did you see that? I saw it!
[Doug] The T-70 Resistance X-Wing.
The inspiration for this was actually Ralph McQuarrie’s
original painting of the X-Wing
where he actually had the twin turbine of the engine
split down the middle for the split wing.
And it was a very sleek design.
It really looked like an F1 car mixed with a spaceship.
The T-70’s a little bit obsolete
in the Star Wars universe even at the time
of The Force Awakens.
The Resistance still doesn’t get all the new stuff,
right? Yeah, exactly.
Part of the charm of T-70 design is that
it evokes the original trilogy design, that it’s scrappy.
The Resistance at this time,
didn’t have a whole lotta resources, so they have leftovers.
The TIE Striker from Rogue One
One of the most interesting things
about the TIE Striker, is that we wanted to come up
with a new idea for a TIE Fighter.
And we thought, how would it actually operate
And so we turned the wings up
so they are almost like wings up on top.
And then the ball is suspended below.
And so it has a slight hang glider configuration.
And it really sort of helps to communicate the idea
that this TIE Fighter, this unique TIE Fighter
operates in the atmosphere. Behind you!
The Resistance A-Wing, the great part about this design
is that it really evokes the original A-Wing design,
but I like the engines are even more beefed up
than the original. And the great thing
is that it is sort of the next evolution.
It’s the next model.
And in this one, in particular,
you can see the power and the speed
in terms of the form language.
[Amy Beth] Resistance Bomber,
the first time we see this
is at the very beginning of The Last Jedi.
And one of the interesting things about it
is that we wanted to evoke sort of old technology.
So this is obviously an old bomber.
And the vertical spine is actually
almost like an ammunition cartridge of a gun.
The great thing about the bomb magazine
pointing downwards is it kinda gives you that hint
that the artificial gravity well is going to be used.
So that way the bombs can actually fall in space.
The TIE Silencer, basically the concept for that
is we wanted to give Kylo something really unique.
We just basically took the TIE Interceptor
and just stretched it even more
to make it even more aggressive.
It also reminds me of Kylo’s mask
because you see the silver framework around the cockpit
and that kind of reminds me of the silver around his mask.
When we design spaceships, they do tie in
to the personality of the character
that’s gonna be piloting it.
And for Kylo’s ship, it was really trying to evoke
the menace that we see in Kylo’s mask.
And so how do we translate that into a spaceship form?
And part of that was just the from language,
just making it more aggressive, making it more pointed
so it looks like it’s a flying dagger.
[Amy Beth] This is the TIE Brute,
and the first time we see it is in Solo
during the Kessel run.
This is really interesting to me
because this is the first really asymmetrical TIE design.
The bomber, if you drew it shorthand was still,
everything else has been symmetrical.
It was an interesting play to try to put
a separate ball turret for the gun.
It sort of is interesting in the sense
that it still feels very TIE fighter-ish,
but yet it looks like it’s a more brutish version of it.
The Resistance B-Wing, we first see that
in The Rise of Skywalker.
And it’s basically an updated model
from the B-Wing that we saw in Return of the Jedi.
the updates are primarily just thinning down the shapes,
making it a little bit sleeker, and adding new coloration.
[Amy Beth] The Resistance Y-Wing
first introduced in Rise of Skywalker.
Just like the Resistance X-Wing,
this one also evokes a little bit more
of that original Ralph McQuarrie painting.
TIE Dagger, the first time we see it
is in Rise of Skywalker.
And it’s basically the next evolution of the TIE Fighter.
Part of the idea is that we wanted to give it
a very angular, aggressive look.
And so we took the triangular shapes of the Star Destroyers,
and put ’em into the wings. And the red markings
on the TIE Dagger denote that they’re Sith.
The first time we see it is in The Rise of Skywalker.
Kylo Ren has a modified version with longer wings.
The design for this really feels like the original TIE.
But you can see it’s got the extra armor around the cockpit.
And it’s red, so it’s evil. [laughing]
Have two bonus ships that are technically
not starfighters, but they’re so cool
there’s no way we’re not including them.
The first one is the Ghost from Star Wars Rebels
but you can see it fight in Rogue One
and in Rise of Skywalker.
That ship was originally designed for rebels.
It’s piloted by Hera Syndulla
and the rest of the Ghost crew.
And then for the design of that,
originally Filoni was really drawn to the diamond shape.
So from the top down, you can see it’s got
that distinct, perfect diamond silhouette.
But he really wanted it to feel like the Falcon.
And it was also inspired by B-17 bombers
from World War II, that’s where you get
the rounded cockpit from the front.
The Millennium Falcon.
It is probably the most iconic design from Star Wars
and one of my favorite.
I remember when I first saw it, it was just like wow,
that’s a ship that I want to be on.
The original design actually was the blockade runner.
And it had the very distinct Falcon cockpit on there.
But then George wanted to create something else
a little bit more unique.
And he decided that let’s keep the cockpit,
but let’s turn it into something more iconic.
And so he suggested that perhaps we should make it round,
more like a saucer.
And so Joe Johnston, when he designed it again,
he actually gave it some front mandibles
to give it some direction.
And by combining that with an offset cockpit,
that gave it a really distinct personality
that was unlike anything that we had seen at that time.
I like the Falcon a lot because it feels very fast.
It’s got a subtle curve to the top and the bottom.
Kind of evoke that kind of saucer feel,
but also makes it feel very fast.
I love the engines on the Falcon.
I love that they’re a strip of blue light in the back.
Part of the charm of the Millennium Falcon
is that it is a character, it is a Star Wars character.
So we want to imbue it with a lot of personality.
And like a character, it evolves.
There’s a character arc to it.
And so one of the first tasks that we had
was for Solo we want to see an earlier version
of the Millennium Falcon, sort of the cleaner version,
prior to Han Solo coming in and sort of hot rodding it.
And so in Solo you see all the panels are intact
and there’s actually the escape pod
that actually fits between the front mandibles.
And as you progress into the original trilogy,
it becomes more beaten up. You came in that thing?
You’re braver than I thought. It becomes more robust.
You can see Han’s touch
in terms of how he beefed up the engine,
made it more robust, made it more practical in some ways.
And then moving forward to Episodes VII, VIII and IX,
you can start to see how the Falcon has been repaired
after all its various adventures
where it knocks off its radar dish in Return of the Jedi.
How there’s a new radar dish.
And so all those little evolutionary things
help to inform the evolution of the character of the Falcon.
And it’s interesting because the Falcon is so iconic
that even with all these slight variations,
you know that it’s the Falcon.
And one of the beautiful things about what we’re doing now
for Rise of Skywalker is that we’re consolidating
all those designs to create the iconic Millennium Falcon.
What a piece of junk!
She’ll make .5 past light speed.
She may not look like much,
but she’s got it where it counts, kid.
That was every starfighter in the live action
Star Wars films. And we can’t wait
to share what we have coming up next.
[swelling orchestral music]