The Death Star Trench Was a Conceptual Accident

artlords/Mark Molnar

Luke Skywalker would have had a difficult time avoiding the Death Star’s guns if not for the trench leading him to the oh-so-convenient exhaust port in Star Wars: A New Hope — which wasn’t even supposed to be there.

It turns out that George Lucas was originally going to make Luke’s life that much harder. Colin Cantwell, the concept artist and spacecraft designer for A New Hope, did a “Reddit Ask Me Anything” on Tuesday and revealed that he is the reason why Luke really only had to deal with Vader and the Troopers flanking him in the famed trench run. “I didn’t originally plan for the Death Star to have a trench, but when I was working with the mold, I noticed the two halves had shrunk at the point where they met across the middle,” Cantwell wrote. Fixing the mistake would have taken “a week,” so Cantwell went to Lucas rather than fixing it and suggested a trench.

“He liked the idea so much that it became one of the most iconic moments in the film!” Cantwell wrote.

Colin Cantwell shows George Lucas his progress on a Y-wing model.


But what would Luke and the Rebellion have done without the famed trench? It’s the sole reason they weren’t exposed to excess fire from the guns on the surface of the Death Star, and it led them straight to the correct exhaust port.

We can only guess at Lucas’s plans for the original Rebellion plot against the Empire’s new weapon. Luke and the gang probably would have had to win against impossible odds: dodging direct gunfire and trying to find the exhaust port with only the protection of the Rebellion’s other pilots.

There would have been another visual indicator, of course, but how could anything else ever have been so gloriously unsubtle?

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