I promised you a nerdy discussion, and a nerdy discussion ye shall have!

So, Return of the Jedi was on TV the other day; Unfortunately it was the Special Edition, but we’ll not be snobs about that today. It’s still a fantastic film, and I’d forgotten just how much I loved the film as a child!

But, older and (nominally) wiser, naturally questions raise themselves. Because I’m a shut-in who plays a lot of video games, the thing that got me this viewing was the roles of the rebel fighter craft.¬†Specifically, the B-Wing.

Let’s review the other craft: Everybody’s familiar with the popular (and awesome) X-Wing. It’s a fairly manouevreable, moderately shielded and well-armed fighter craft, designed and purposed to engage other fighter craft. A superiority fighter, in other words. In a pinch, it can also deliver one or two rounds of heavy ordinance, so I suppose it may count as a fighter-bomber as well.

Also present at the Battle of Yavin, the less popular (but still awesome) Y-Wing. It’s clearly older and more beaten up than the X-Wing, it’s slow, again with a reasonable amount of shielding, and its main armaments are flexible but pitifully undamaging. It does, however, have an increased capacity to hold heavy ordinance, thus putting it firmly in the role of bomber craft. And that’s fine (I happen to love the Y-Wing, myself).

Introduced at the Battle of Endor (well, technically, a bit earlier than that), the moderately popular (and awesome) A-Wing fighter. Light, with a low profile and light armament, it neatly fits the role of interceptor and skirmisher, designed to harass and disrupt enemy forces then retreat, reform and re-engage rather than to indulge in a stand-up fight.

And then, we have the B-Wing. It looks awesome, and it certainly has a people-pleasing quirky design. But, for me, it just doesn’t quite… Fit anywhere. It has superior weaponry to the X-wing, and I believe is only slightly slower, and its ordinance capacity is close to that of the¬† Y-Wing. It is, almost essentially, a spacebound tank.

To me, it sounds like the B-Wing was intended to be some sort of heavy assault gunship, but are there really many ‘hardened targets’ in space? The closest think I can think of in current military terms is the A10 Warthog, capable of delivering ridiculous amounts of ordinance and even stalling itself out of the sky with the hilarious overpower of its cannons. It’s a Close Air Support vehicle, and is a natural tank-killer.

As we’ve established, though, the B-Wing is ALREADY a tank in space. If its remit is to engage other craft like it, surely the same goal could be achieved with existing technology and different tactics? An X-wing could probably outmanouever something similar and deliver sufficient damage in a reasonably short time to destroy it early enough in the battle that the B-Wings would still be catching up.

Perhaps it’s meant to be used against capital ships? A distributed volley of heavily armoured missile platforms that were capable of defending themselves from fighters would be a formidable threat indeed, but again I can see the sheer volume of ordinance required being more economically provided by mounting more launch tubes on other capital ships?

Maybe I’m overthinking it, or I don’t have sufficient military knowledge (what very little I have, anyway!) to truly appreciate the role the B-Wing actually falls into in the rebel fleet. Any thoughts from people more knowledgable/intelligent/obsessive than I?

M.