A legendary starship despite its humble origins and deceptively dilapidated exterior, the Millennium Falcon has factored into some of the Rebel Alliance's greatest victories over the Empire. On the surface, the Falcon looks like any other Corellian freighter, with a saucer-shaped primary hull, a pair of forward cargo-gripping mandibles, and a cylindrical cockpit mounted to the ship's side.
Beneath its hull, though, the Falcon packs many powerful secrets. Its owners made "special modifications" on the freighter, boosting its speed, shielding and performance to downright illegal levels. Its weaponry has been upgraded to military-class quad-turbolaser turrets. To cover rapid escapes, the Falcon sports a ventrally mounted hatch-concealed antipersonnel repeating laser. Between its forward mandibles rest concussion missile launchers. The habitable interior of the vessel also has a few surprises, such as concealed scanner-proof smuggling compartments.
The Falcon pays a heavy price for its augmented performance, though. It is extremely recalcitrant and often unpredictable. Its reconditioned hyperdrive often fails. Its current captain, Han Solo, has even been seen to restart a failed ignition sequence with a hard rap on the bulkhead with his fist.
A vessel employed in the shady fringe business of smuggling, the Falcon was owned by Lando Calrissian before Solo won it in a heated sabacc game. Under Solo's command, the Falcon became a famous starship, completing the Kessel Run at unprecedented speeds. Solo and his first mate Chewbacca maintained the Falcon, constantly modifying and tinkering with it, coaxing the maximum speed from the ship.
This speed became quite useful as Solo and Chewbacca were drawn deeper into the Rebel cause, and the Falcon began flying missions for the Alliance. It was the Falcon that provided covering fire for Luke Skywalker's final attack run on the first Death Star. The Falcon became Princess Leia Organa's escape transport during the Battle of Hoth. During the decisive Battle of Endor, the Falcon flew point for the Alliance Fleet. Under Lando Calrissian's command, it soared into the heart of the incomplete Death Star, and delivered a missile volley that helped seal the Empire's fate.
Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith, was the scourge of the Jedi, a master of the dark side of the Force, and one of the Emperor's most trusted servants. He wasn't always a fearsome enforcer, however.
He began life as Anakin Skywalker, a young slave from Tatooine skilled in piloting and strong in the Force. Once discovered by maverick Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, Anakin was taken before the Jedi Council to be trained. There was some controversy on the subject -- despite Jinn's adamant assurances that Skywalker was the chosen one spoken of in an ancient Jedi prophecy, the council was hesitant to allow his training at the age of nine.
Finally, the council agreed that Anakin should be trained, and he was assigned to Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi. Kenobi recklessly thought that he could be as skillful a master as Yoda. His mistakes had dire consequences for the galaxy.
Skywalker was seduced by the dark side of the Force. Fueled by rage and discontent with the pace of Obi-Wan's training, Anakin challenged his master to a duel. Despite newfound power bestowed by the dark side of the Force, which added to his already formidable abilities, Anakin was grievously wounded in the fight. His burning anger kept him alive, and he was forever scarred not only by his wounds but also by betrayal. He abandoned his former identity. When metal coupled with flesh in the form of cyborg implants and enhancements required to sustain him, Skywalker's transformation was complete. He was no longer Anakin. He was Darth Vader.
At the time of his transformation, Vadar never knew he was due to be the father of twins. Obi-Wan Kenobi hid the children from the Dark Lord and Vadar's master, Emperor Palpatine. He somehow discovered that he had a son, Luke Skywalker, but never suspected he had a daughter, Leia, who was secretly taken to be raised by Bail Organa, Viceroy and First Chairman of Alderaan.
In the chaos that accompanied Palpatine's rise to power, he became one of the Emperor's most loyal servants. The Emperor entrusted him with the elimination of the Jedi Knights. During these dark times, Vader and his agents destroyed the Jedi order.
When the Galactic Civil War raged across the Empire, he was tasked with discovering the location of the Rebel Alliance's secret base. He captured Rebel operative Princess Leia Organa and had her tortured to reveal the location of the hidden fortress. Vader also sought technical plans stolen by the Rebels. These plans carried the complete schematics of the Empire's most powerful weapon, the Death Star battle station. When a rescue team successfully liberated the princess, he found himself face to face with his former master, Obi-Wan Kenobi. He defeated the aged Jedi Knight in a lightsaber duel.
Using the stolen plans to pinpoint the Death Star's weakness, Rebel forces launched a starfighter attack on the station. Entering the battle, He piloted his own specially modified fighter. He managed to destroy the most Rebel pilots in the battle, but was forced out of the conflict when his own vessel was crippled by the Millennium Falcon.
Three years after the destruction of the Death Star, Vader led an elite squadron of Star Destroyers headed by his flagship, the Super Star Destroyer Executor. He was to seek out and capture the Rebels responsible for the Death Star's demise. Eventually, Vader tracked the Rebels down to the ice-world of Hoth. There, he launched a ground attack destroying the base. His quarry, the Millennium Falcon, escaped.
During the Hoth campaign, the Emperor commanded Vader to track down the "son of Skywalker," and have Vader turn him to the dark side of the Force. He planned to use Skywalker's friends as bait to lure him into a trap. He hired a motley gang of bounty hunters to track down the Falcon, and drew Luke to Bespin's Cloud City. He and Luke clashed in a lightsaber duel that Vader won by ruthlessly severing Luke's sword-hand. He then revealed to the broken young Jedi that he was his father, and that they would rule the galaxy as father and son. Luke refused to succumb to the dark side, and escaped his father. Vader was left empty-handed.
After these incidents, Palpatine reassigned Vader from the Imperial fleet, and instead put him in charge of overseeing the new Death Star operation. The Emperor began to distrust his once loyal servant. Vader's contact with his son sparked something within him, something the Emperor did not like.
Palpatine was scheduled to arrive at the second Death Star. The Emperor foresaw that Skywalker would come before the two, and then they would seduce young Luke to the dark side, just as Anakin had been drawn to its power decades earlier.
When Luke surrendered, and was taken before the Emperor, Palpatine pitted father and son in a lightsaber duel. Skywalker refused to fight and give into the temptation of the dark side. Vader, probing his mind, learned of his daughter, Leia Organa. He threatened to turn her to the dark side. At this threat, Luke gave into his hatred and attacked his father. In the ferocious assault that followed, young Skywalker nearly killed him. Horrified by what he had become, Luke abandoned his new found dark side rage, and refused Palpatine's offers of power. "I am a Jedi, like my father before me," Skywalker proudly claimed.
Palpatine unleashed a deadly barrage of dark side energy on the young Jedi. Lightning bolts spawned from pure evil tore into Luke's body with searing pain. Vader stood helplessly, watching his son writhe in agony from torture delivered by his master. Unable to watch anymore, Vader turned against his master. He grabbed a surprised Palpatine from behind, hoisted him above his head, and tossed his evil master down a bottomless reactor shaft. Vadar was bombarded by the Emperor's Force lightning, mortally wounding him.
As he lay dying, he ceased to be. Anakin Skywalker returned. He asked his son to remove the cumbersome, fearsome mask that had concealed his face for decades. His mask and life support removed, Anakin looked upon Luke for the first and last time. He then died, his body disappearing into the light side of the Force. Luke burned the dark armor that had encased Anakin's crippled body in a quiet funeral pyre on the forest moon of Endor that night.
The Incom T-65 X-wing starfighter has become a symbol of the Rebellion's starfighter corps. Pressed into service time and again, the typical Alliance X-wing shows the scars from previous engagements, though the fact that it still performs as an advanced vessel of space superiority is indication of the ruggedness of the craft.
The sleek fuselage of the X-wing starfighter is 12.5 meters long. The long, narrow spaceframe is flanked in the aft quarter by four massive realspace engines. Each engine has an aerodynamic S-foil mounted on it. The wings not only serve as stabilizer surfaces in air travel, but also distribute deflector shield energy and serve as weapons mounts. The surface of each S-foil bears squadron and fighter markings.
Located midway through the ship is the X-wing's cockpit module. Behind the X-wing's cockpit is an astromech socket. The astromech droid provides astrogation data for the fighter's hyperdrives, and serves as a co-pilot and technician during flight. Three landing gears extend when the fighter is docked.
The more the Empire tightened its grip on the people of the galaxy, the harder the Alliance to Restore the Republic fought. Born shortly after Palpatine's transformation of the Old Republic into the New Order, the Alliance started as little more than a rag-tag group of freedom fighters woefully under-equipped to challenge an enemy as mighty as the Galactic Empire. The continued injustices of the Empire, however, brought many into the Rebellion's fold.
As it grew, so to did its arsenal. To combat the Imperial starfleet, the Alliance's hotshot pilots made do with battle-worn yet effective craft like X-wing and Y-wing starfighters.
The Rebel Alliance scored a major victory over the Empire by using stolen technical plans to formulate an attack strategy capable of destroying the Empire's most fearsome weapon: the Death Star. During the next three years, the core group of Alliance commanders fled from base to base, constantly eluding the Empire's forces.
The Alliance eventually established a central base on the ice planet of Hoth. Imperial probes soon discovered the outpost, code-named Echo Base. The discovery precipitated the Battle of Hoth, wherein the High Command group was nearly destroyed. After the evacuation of the base, the Rebel leaders, including the Alliance's architect Mon Mothma, stayed with the ever-mobile and always-growing Alliance Fleet.
The joining of the Mon Calamari people into the Alliance bolstered the Rebellion's ranks, and brought badly needed capital ships into the fleet. Finally, about a year after the defeat at Hoth, the Rebellion was poised to make an all-out strike against the Empire. The opportunity came at the Battle of Endor. Despite it being an Imperial trap, the Rebels persevered. The conflict ended with the death of Emperor Palpatine, the destruction of the second Death Star, the scattering of the Imperial Fleet, and end of the New Order's long reign of oppression.
From the bloated carcass of the Old Republic, an ambitious politician carved the Galactic Empire, a New Order of government meant to sweep away the injustices and inefficiencies of its predecessor.
Rather than offer the people of the galaxy newfound hope, the Empire instead became a tyrannical regime, presided over by a shadowy and detached despot steeped in the dark side of the Force. Personal liberties were crushed, and the governance of everyday affairs was pulled away from the senate, and instead given to unscrupulous regional governors.
Accompanying the growth of the Empire was an unprecedented military buildup. The many shipyards in the Emperor's domain churned out immense fleets of Star Destroyers and TIE fighters. The Imperial starfleet maintained order in the galaxy, a role previously undertaken by the Jedi Knights, an august order of protectors wiped out during the Emperor's ascent.
It was through fear that the Empire ruled. Its power hungry lieutenants and technocrats developed greater and greater instruments of destruction to cow a rebellious populace. This philosophy culminated in the creation of the Death Star, a mobile space station with a prime weapon of unspeakable power. When fully charged, the Death Star's superlaser had the ability to destroy a planet.
Despite such shows of strength -- indeed, because of them -- the flames of rebellion fanned higher. Small pockets of resistance banded together to form the Alliance to Restore the Republic. At first, the pitiable number of freedom fighters seemed no match for the oppressive Empire. Nonetheless, they managed to score an impressive victory with the destruction of the Death Star at the Battle of Yavin.
Having proved itself a viable threat, the Rebel Alliance found itself under Imperial counterattack. The core group of Rebels spent three years relocating their hidden headquarters, before being routed in a crushing attack at the Battle of Hoth. A few short months later, the Rebels discovered that the Death Star was but the first of many Imperial superweapons in development. A second Death Star was nearing completion over the distant moon of Endor. Intelligence gathered by Bothan spies informed the Rebel planners that Emperor Palpatine himself would be present to oversee the final stages of construction.
Thus an irresistible target was in place over that peaceful green moon: the Empire's next great weapon, incomplete and vulnerable, and the head of the Empire himself, both in one place. The Alliance took the bait -- the Battle of Endor was entirely designed by the prescient Emperor Palpatine to be the final confrontation in the Galactic Civil War. Palpatine failed to foresee the resourcefulness of the Rebels or the treachery of one of his most trusted aides, however.
Palpatine died at Endor, and the second Death Star was destroyed. With this crippling blow, the Imperial reign of terror over the galaxy ended. The Rebellion began forming a New Republic, and worlds across the galaxy celebrated their newfound freedom.
Anakin grew up as a slave in the markets of Mos Espa, on Tatooine, arriving on the planet with his mother Shmi when he was just three years old. Shmi later revealed that there was no father to him, that she simply found out she was pregnant and carried the child to birth. He and his mother were owned by Gardulla the Hutt at the time, but were eventually won in a podracing bet by Watto.
Despite his gruff demeanor, Watto treated the Skywalkers fairly. After meeting Qui-Gon Jinn, he dreamed of becoming a Jedi Knight. His chances were enhanced when Qui-Gon learned of his immaculate conception, believing he to be the Chosen One prophesied by the ancient Jedi lore.
After winning the Boonta Eve Classic podrace and being freed by Qui-Gon, he left Tatooine and trained by Obi-Wan Kenobi. His own lightsaber was constructed on Ilum, but he could only remember obtaining the red blade from a vision of Darth Maul. Eventually, he grew into a brash young pilot who joined the Old Republic as a fighter pilot, gaining recognition during his education at the Academy and then during the Clone Wars.
He was still a brash young man, and the barriers of patience and hard work seemed to stifle his growing proficiency in the Force. It was about this time that Senator Palpatine also noticed the young Anakin. Sensing the Force within him, Palpatine also sensed his desire to learn quickly. After the death of Shmi Skywalker Lars at the hands of a clan of Tusken Raiders, he became so enraged that he killed the entire clan, inclding the females and the children. His descent into the Dark Side began. During the Battle of Geonosis, he lost his right arm in a lightsaber duel with Count Dooku. The arm was replaced with a cybernetic prosthesis, but took away some part of Anakin's humanity.
Seizing the opportunity, Palpatine introduced Anakin to the wonders of the Dark Side of The Force, and Anakin was hooked. He realized that, with the power of the Force behind him, he would be able to provide for himself and his pregnant wife. There would be nothing to hinder him, and his security seemed assured. He became Palpatine's student, and the fall from the Light Side to the Dark Side happened so quickly that Kenobi was powerless to stop it.
Kenobi pleaded with Anakin to return to the Light Side, but Anakin would have no part of it. After a heated argument, Anakin and Kenobi confronted each other in a vicious lightsaber duel. They were evenly matched physically, but Obi-Wan's knowledge of the Force was much greater than Anakin's, and Kenobi was able to maintain his strength. A coincidence led to their battle nearing a pit of molten lava, and Anakin misplaced his footing. He fell into the pit, and was seared alive. Obi-Wan, seeing that he had a single chance to save his friend and return him to the Light Side, pulled the burning Anakin from the pit. He returned to the Old Republic, where a tram of cybernetic surgeons worked furiously to save him.
The newly-promoted Emperor Palpatine spared no expense in trying to save Anakin. This was noted by Kenobi, who realized that Anakin would see Palpatine as a savior. Kenobi then fled with Anakin's wife, hiding her and her unborn twins on remote worlds, out of the Emperor's watchful sight. Palpatine, upon Anakin's recovery, re-introduced Anakin to the Dark Side of the Force. This eventually led to his acceptance of the Sith training and lore, and sometime during this training Anakin Skywalker ceased to exist. He became Darth Vader, and rose to become a Dark Lord of the Sith.
As such, he also became Palpatine's minion, and became the Emperor's tool. Sometime after the Battle of Yavin, Palpatine was able to discover that Anakin had had a son. He used this knowledge to help secure his hold on the former Anakin Skywalker, as well as a way to help turn Luke to the Dark Side. The Light Side of him seemed to try and return to the surface, and Vader was faced with a crisis. During the Battle of Endor, Luke managed to get the Light Side of Anakin to re-assert itself, and as
the Emperor was trying to kill Luke, Anakin rose up and threw the Emperor down the Death Star's power shaft. The life-support systems that kept Darth Vader alive, however, were seriously damaged by the Emperor's Force lightning, and failed. He died soon after Luke removed the facemask to allow Anakin to see his son with his own eyes.
With its sleek arrow-head shape, streamlined cockpit and massive twin engines, the A-wing starfighter suggests raw speed even when parked within Alliance hangar bays. Faster than even the TIE interceptor, the A-wing is well suited for lightning strikes. It sports a pair of pivoting laser cannons on each wingtip. The starfighters of Green Squadron, which flew in the Battle of Endor, were made up of A-wing starfighters.