6 Reasons The X-Wing Is the Real Reason The Rebels Defeated The Empire (2024)


  • X-wings have shields, giving rebel pilots a major advantage in battles against the Empire. TIE fighters are unshielded and more vulnerable.
  • X-wings have hyperdrives, allowing for long-distance travel between star systems. TIE fighters are short-range craft and require carrier vessels.
  • X-wings have astromech copilots, allowing for in-flight repairs, hyperspace navigation, and even astromechs flying the ship themselves.

The X-wing is not only one of the Star Wars franchise’s most famous starfighters, but it is also one of the key reasons why the Rebel Alliance defeated the Galactic Empire. Known as the T-65 X-wing in Star Wars Legends, the famous starfighter was initially intended to be an Imperial vessel, but the engineers of Incom Corporation unanimously joined the Rebellion. Following the Alliance’s successful theft of X-wing prototypes on Fresia, the ship became the primary rebel fighter craft. In the current Star Wars canon, the X-wing was renamed the T-65B, and it combines traits from the ARC-170s and Z-95 Headhunters used by clone pilots during the Clone Wars.

In both Star Wars continuities, starfighters are oftentimes the deciding factor in a battle, whether it takes place in space or on a planet’s surface. The Empire’s naval vessels were demonstrably more effective than the Rebellion’s ships, but the Alliance’s military strategies typically relied more on their Starfighter Corps than their Navy. This advantage was bolstered by the sheer effectiveness and variety of starfighters, with some craft, like the B-wing, being designed specifically to counter Imperial Star Destroyers. Ultimately, the Rebellion’s X-wing was their most effective starfighter, proving invaluable to their battles against the Empire for the following six reasons.

6 X-Wings Have Shields, Keeping Rebel Pilots Alive

6 Reasons The X-Wing Is the Real Reason The Rebels Defeated The Empire (1)

One key difference between the Rebellion’s X-wings and their rival Imperial TIE starfighter variants is that X-wings carried powerful deflector shields. TIE fighters are, infamously, unshielded, and thus the Empire only allowed the top 10% of Imperial Starfighter Corps applicants to fly the vulnerable craft to ensure that their sheer skill compensated for this weakness. The rebels simply could not afford to take such risks with their pilots and thus X-wings, like most Alliance starfighters, have strong deflector shields.

As shown in the Battle of Yavin in A New Hope, X-wings can survive direct hits from the powerful L-s1 blasters used by Imperial TIE fighters. Moreover, the X-wings’ shield generators projected both ray and particle shielding, protecting the craft from projectile and energy-based weaponry. No matter how skilled Imperial TIE Pilots are, however, most TIE starfighter variants will be destroyed by a direct hit, giving the Alliance’s X-wings a major advantage in engagements.

5 X-Wings Have Hyperdrives, Allowing For Long-Distance Travel

6 Reasons The X-Wing Is the Real Reason The Rebels Defeated The Empire (2)

Another major advantage that rebel X-wings have over their Imperial counterparts is their inclusion of hyperdrives. Traveling between star systems is all but impossible without hyperspace and all rebel X-wings come equipped with GBk-585 hyperdrive units, allowing them to independently travel to other star systems. Luke Skywalker uses his X-wing (named AA-589 in Legends and Red Five in the new canon) for personal missions, traveling to Dagobah after the Battle of Hoth and again following the rescue of Han Solo. Imperial TIE fighters, on the other hand, are short-range craft that cannot travel between star systems without a carrier vessel.

While TIE fighters and TIE interceptors themselves are faster and more maneuverable than X-wings, the Imperial fighters cannot engage in long-range attacks on their own. TIEs must be ferried into battle by a carrier vessel, such as a Star Destroyer, which eliminates their potential element of surprise to a degree. X-wings, on the other hand, can enter a system, immediately go into battle, and exit a system, thanks to their hyperdrives. Unlike TIE fighters, X-wings can go on long-range missions and perform fast hit-and-run strikes on their own.

4 X-Wings Have Astromech Copilots

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Although X-wings are described as “one-man fighters,” the craft actually requires a crew of two: One humanoid and one astromech droid. The astromech serves as a co-pilot, monitoring functions aboard the X-wing and performing background tasks while the craft is in flight. The X-wing’s astromech co-pilot is also essential for hyperspace travel, with the droids being pre-programmed for at least 10 jumps to hyperspace and serving as navigational computers for hyperspace travel. Astromech droids also assisted in combat, keeping track of hazards and enemy craft, and assisting the humanoid pilot in performing evasive maneuvers as well as keeping track of their targets.


A Clone Designed The Rebellion's X-Wings: Star Wars Theory Explained

Star Wars' iconic X-Wing fighter is the descendant of the clone ARC-170 and Z-95, and could have possibly been designed by a Rebel Clone Pilot.

3 Astromechs Could Even Fly X-Wings Themselves

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In addition to their roles as co-pilots and hyperspace navigators, astromech droids could also control whole functions of the X-wing starfighters. The droids could operate the X-wings’ KX9 blasters, ordnance, and even fly the ships themselves. This was extremely useful for elite pilots like those of Rogue Squadron, whose missions occasionally required them to land their ships and battle Imperial forces on foot. Having an astromech piloting their X-wings allowed for rapid takeoffs and emergency extractions, if need be. R2-D2 notably took control of AA-589 during a mission in Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire, allowing Luke Skywalker to rest during a long voyage.

2 Astromechs Provide In-Flight Repairs to X-Wings

6 Reasons The X-Wing Is the Real Reason The Rebels Defeated The Empire (6)

One of the most invaluable functions of an X-wing’s astromech droid co-pilot was in-flight repairs. Even with their powerful shields, X-wings were vulnerable to Imperial weapons, such as the L-s1 and L-s9.3 cannons found aboard TIEs. Upon sustaining hull damage, astromech droids could perform in-flight repairs, keeping their X-wings functional in the heat of battle. This function, when combined with the X-Wings’ shielding, made survival far more likely for rebel pilots than their Imperial enemies. With no co-pilot or shielding, even elite TIE pilots would need to retreat from a battle to repair their craft, assuming they survived whatever damage was inflicted on their TIE craft.

1 X-Wings Carry Ordnance, Making Them Highly Versatile

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While the primary armaments of X-wings are their quartet of KX9 laser canons, the starfighters also carry a pair of MG7 proton torpedo launchers, with each containing three MG7-A proton torpedoes. The fighter-grade ordnance had a sophisticated guidance system and could deal devastating damage to large targets, from the shield generators aboard a Star Destroyer to the main reactor of a Death Star battle station. This cements X-wings as truly multipurpose starfighters, as their speed and maneuverability made them highly effective in dogfights while their torpedo ordnance meant they could strike at fortified Imperial vessels and installations. By comparison, TIE fighters and TIE interceptors are far more specialized for dogfights.

The versatility of X-wings fighters goes even further, as their ordnance tubes can be modified for mission-specific functions. Rogue Squadron modified their X-wings for a rescue mission on Kessel in 1 ABY, installing ion cannons in their torpedo tubes, which allowed them to disable an Imperial hovertrain and extract Wedge Antilles. The sheer versatility, long range, and survivability of the X-wing starfighter made them one of the Rebel Alliance’s best assets in their war with the Empire in the original Star Wars trilogy era.

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6 Reasons The X-Wing Is the Real Reason The Rebels Defeated The Empire (2024)


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