| X-wing fighters
on their way into battle in a still from Star Wars
. Here, the fighters are shown with their wings closed, not in the open "attack" position. In the center right of the picture, some Y-wing fighters can be seen, which have fixed wing positions.
The Incom T-65 X-wing, a fictional starfighter in the Star Wars universe, is the main all-purpose craft of the Rebel Alliance. In A New Hope, the X-wing was the craft that Luke Skywalker used to destroy the Empire's first Death Star at the Battle of Yavin.
Most of the information that follows below was not featured in the Star Wars films themselves, only in the Expanded Universe of books and games released later.
The X-wing pilots of Rogue Squadron are the subject of several series of novels and video games. The craft is also used extensively in the X-wing computer game series. It is reasonably maneuverable and carries four laser cannons, along with tubes for proton torpedoes. Other warheads such as concussion missiles can be fired from the launchers, but this requires a considerable amount of time and effort on the part of the technical crews, and the overall versatility of the proton torpedo is ideally suited to the X-wing’s varied mission profile.
Hyperspace capable, X-wings have pairs of wing-like strike foils, or S-foils, mounted at the rear of the craft; normally the foils on each side are locked flush against each other, but during combat the foils are folded out to increase the spread coverage of the laser cannons mounted at the tips of the foils. This gives the craft its distinctive "X"-like appearance when viewed from the front or rear. The cannons on some earlier models cannot be fired with the S-foils in locked position.
The X-wing's lasers have various settings:
- Single fire, where laser fires individually;
- Dual fire, where two lasers, one on each side, pair up and the pairs fire alternately; or
- Quad fire, where all four lasers (one at each foil-tip) fire together, converging on the target.
- Scatter fire, many underpowered beams are fired out. These were utilised in the invasion of the Yuuzhan Vong to ovewhelm the singularity defences.
The fighter has cockpit space for one pilot, assisted by a droid (such as an R2 unit) in an external socket which monitors the status of the craft and can make emergency repairs.
The X-wing was originally designed by Incom Corporation for the Empire, but the entire engineering team defected to the Rebel Alliance with the prototypes. It is directly descended from the old Z-95 Headhunter, built by Incom and Subpro.
The X-wing has been continually updated throughout its design lifetime. The original T-65AC1 fielded by the Rebel Alliance was a competent strike fighter for its time, but was soon supplanted by the T-65AC2, boasting improved acceleration. The T-65AC3 improved the avionics, shields and sensors; the T-65AC4 was primarily another engine upgrade, which made it nearly the equal of the A-wing. One notable design, the T-65D-A1, replaced the astromech droid with an internal computer core for hyperdrive jump calculations but was considered a failure (partially due to ease of sabotage).
Shortly before the Vong invasion, the New Republic fielded the "J" series of X-wing. A third torpedo bay was added where previously a cargo bay was fitted; this increased proton torpedo loadout to nine. Engines, lasers and avionics were also improved. The "XJ" was greatly improved in all respects over the earlier designs and was initially issued to starfighter squadrons with Jedi pilots. Three variants were developed, culminating with the T-65J3: the ultimate evolution of the X-wing. Many older X-wings were rebuilt into the T-65BR reconnaissance variant.
It had been intended that the X-wing series would be replaced by the E-wing approximately six years after the Battle of Endor but initial design issues relating to the weapons placement delayed wide-spread introduction into the NRDF. Wide-scale deployment of the E-wing did occur (most notably in Fifth Fleet) but X-wing production continued on and may have equipped fighter squadrons not "at the tip of the spear." One notable exception is Rogue Squadron, the Republic's most elite fighter squadron and a squadron known for its almost exclusive use of the X-wing.
By the time of the Yuuzhan Vong invasion, the "J" series was in fleet service, supplementing the more advanced (and certainly more expensive) Series III E-wing. Some paramilitary groups were also equipped with earlier J-series fighters (probably T-65J or T-65J2); system-defense forces and poorer paramilitary groups may have had X-wings of varying age and capability.
There are two conflicting systems of identification for the X-wing. The basic designation "T-65" is constant, but the modifier is inconsistent. At least two systems were used. One of them uses the suffix "AC1" with the last number incrementing as the fighter is revised. A second system resembles that of the modern United States in which a letter is appended to the end in increasing value (T-65B, T-65D, T-65J, etc.). These are usually thought of as different names for the same variations.
The Sikorsky X-wing, an experimental helicopter/fixed-wing aircraft hybrid developed in the 1980s, was likely named for the fictional craft.
- Star Wars Databank | X-wing starfighter (http://www.starwars.com/databank/starship/xwing/index.html)