The Resistance fleet in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is not only off the chain in the trailers, but it’s also very retro. In addition to the Millennium Falcon, you’ve got X-wings, A-wings, B-wings, and Y-wings. Now, because we haven’t seen those last two types of Rebel spaceship since the Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi, some speculation and “leaks” suggested that the Y-wings we see are literally from the past, and have arrived on the scene of battle via time travel.
But a forthcoming book from Lucasfilm totally debunks this idea. The Y-wings we’ll see in The Rise of Skywalker are 100 percent constructed starfighters, and not from the classic trilogy era or The Clone Wars. So, what does this revelation mean for the event of Episode IX? A lot, actually.
No spoilers ahead, but some speculation and details from a new technical Star Wars book follow.
This week, StarWars.com offered a sneak peek at a book called Rebel Starfighters Owners’ Workshop Manual. This series of books imitates the layout and no-nonsense approach of real life car owners’ manuals. Over the years we’ve seen editions focusing on everything from the Starship Enterprise to the TARDIS from Doctor Who. And on StarWars.com the creators of this new book, Ryder Windham and artists Chris Trevas made some pretty startling revelations and for hardcore fans, the biggest of those revelations is easily the fact that we’ve got all-new Y-wings.
Unlike the Y-wings from A New Hope, Return of the Jedi and The Clone Wars, the new stock of iconic starfighters from Episode IX have been manufactured pretty recently. In the book, it’s made clear that Koensayr, the company that creates the Y-wings within the reality of the Star Wars universe, decided to re-market a new-line of Y-wings to the New Republic, and specifically made them look like Y-wings from the Rebel Alliance, mostly because they knew people would like them more. See, nostalgia exists within the Star Wars universe, too. However, the manual also makes it clear that these Y-wings have updated technology, despite looking superficially the same as the ones that fought in The Clone Wars almost 50 years prior.
In the classic trilogy, Y-wings used more frequently as bombers rather than dogfighters. In fact, in numerous old-school Star Wars video games (like X-wing for the PC or Rogue Squadron for the N64) if you chose to fly a Y-wing, it was because you were on a “bombing” mission.
The Y-wing also rocked perhaps the most low-key badass weapon carried by any starfighter in Star Wars; the ion cannon. In short, the ion cannon is the Star Wars version of an EMP pulse, which means it had the ability to disable ships instead of destroying them. (The Rebels used a giant version of this on the surface of Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back.) So, does the new Y-wing in The Rise of Skywalker use an ion cannon, too? Short answer: yes. Everything about the description of this Y-wing suggests its an updated version of the one from the old-school films. If you remember flying a Y-wing in those video game games I mentioned, you’ll remember they were slower and way more sluggish than the nimble X-wings and A-wings. Apparently, this version of the Y-wing has fixed this problem. Which make sense, since we see one doing a full-on StarFox-style barrel roll in one of the Rise of Skywalker trailers.
The larger question here is about economics. This new book makes it clear that several manufacturers of spaceships remained in business after the end of the Empire. In-canon, the basic reasons why the Empire and the Rebel Alliance had different spaceships was all because different spaceship manufactures cut-deals with different factions. I.E. the company Incom — which makes the X-wing — sided with the Rebels, as did Koensayr. Meanwhile, the Kuat Shipyards were the folks who made all the ships for the Empire.
But, in the sequel trilogy, this stuff is a little muddier, at least in terms of onscreen canon. Plus, in The Last Jedi, it’s heavily implied that arms dealers and ship makers benefit from both sides of the conflict between the First Order and the Resistance, which is, seemingly, very different from what was happening in the classic trilogy. In other words, in the old days, a shipbuilder was seemingly loyal to one side of the war, but the events on Canto Bight in The Last Jedi make it seem like buying spaceships is little less clear-cut than in the past.
Now, it’s very unlikely that The Rise of Skywalker will provide an onscreen explanation as to why the Resistance suddenly has a lot more ships, but then again, because of the sheer number of ships, it just might. Right now, in this one technical manual about starfighters, we might be seeing an Easter egg that helps explain how the Resistance gets its shit back together in the time between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. Because if Leia and her allies were able to procure a bunch of brand-new Y-wings, it seems like something in the galaxy has changed, big time. Maybe Luke’s slick Rebellion propaganda worked after all?
Star Wars: Rebel Starfighters: Owners’ Workshop Manual is out next week on November 12. You can pre-order it here.