An RZ-1 A-wing filming model used for Return of the Jedi.
|First appearance||Return of the Jedi (1983)|
A-wing interceptors are fictional starfighters in the Star Wars franchise. Designed and manufactured by the Kuat Systems Engineering, they are depicted as fast but fragile interceptors of the Rebel Alliance, conceived for high-speed surgical strikes, deep reconnaissance and escort fighter duty. They first appear in Return of the Jedi (1983) and later in numerous Star Wars materials and productions. It gained popularity through its depiction in several video games, and since 1985 the A-wing has been merchandised by several companies. They are the fastest vessels in the Star Wars canon.
RZ-1 A-wings from Green Squadron participate in the climactic Battle of Endor depicted in Return of the Jedi (1983). At Endor, an A-wing piloted by Arvel Crynyd (Hilton McRae) crashes into the bridge of the Super Star Destroyer Executor, resulting in the Executor crashing out of control into the second Death Star. In addition to McRae, two women recorded A-wing cockpit footage; one of the actors was cut, and the other was dubbed over by a male actor.
A-wings later appear in various Star Wars Expanded Universe television shows, books, and games. Some Expanded Universe material says Jan Dodonna created the A-wing based on his analysis of the role of speed in the Battle of Yavin, the climactic battle in Star Wars (1977). Later material, such as the Star Wars Rebels television series, depicts the starfighters in use before the events of Star Wars.
The A-wings of Phoenix Squadron play an important role in Rebels' second season (2015–2016). Rebels producers used the A-wing in part because the ship was not used much in Return of the Jedi The fighter's presence in the cartoon was meant to show that different groups used different craft to fight the Empire. The series's episodes "The Holocrons of Fate" and "Twin Suns" also feature the two-seater RZ-1T trainer, a training spacecraft used by the rebels to train recruits. The RZ-1T also appears in the novel Battlefront II: Inferno Squad.
Concept and design
The A-wing was one of two new Rebel Alliance starfighters created for Return of the Jedi. It was dubbed the A fighter because it was the first of the two designs created. Ralph McQuarrie's concept art has blue coloring, but these sections were red on the models because of bluescreen limitations.
Wesley Seeds and Lorne Peterson of Industrial Light & Magic built the model, and its pilot figure is based on a World War I German airman. A battle-damaged engine "wing" was snapped into place to represent Arvel Crynyd's damaged fighter as it crashed into the Executor.
McQuarrie's original blue-and-white coloring was used for the craft's appearance in Rebels. Photographs from the filming of Star Wars: The Last Jedi show an A-wing on the film set. Screen Rant suggests the A-wing seen in the photographs evokes some of McQuarrie's original design, such as the blaster cannon shape and the presence of additional ports in the cockpit.
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CinemaBlend said the A-wing received little attention after Return of the Jedi because no prominent characters pilot the craft. Kenner in 1985 released an A-wing pilot figure as part of its Power of the Force line, and it released a "magnificent" A-wing toy as part of the Star Wars: Droids line. Since then, the A-wing has been recreated as various other toys, models, and collectibles by companies that include Galoob, Hasbro, Model Products Corporation, Estes Industries, Lego, and Fantasy Flight Games.
Screen Rant said the A-wing gained popularity as a playable craft in the Star Wars: X-Wing space combat simulator (1993), which The Escapist said depicted the ship as "an excellent dogfighter". Subsequent video games that allowed players to pilot the A-wing also contributed to the ship's popularity. Blastr ranked the A-wing 16th on its list of the best Star Wars vehicles.
Prince Harry was photographed sitting in an A-wing cockpit during his and the Duke of Cambridge's April 2016 visit to the Star Wars: Episode VIII set. Responding to the photographs, various publications called the A-wing "iconic", an "unsung hero", "woefully underappreciated", and "a classic".
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Ralph McQuarrie's original production paintings of A-wing starfighters featured blue markings. These were changed to a rusty red, in order to make shooting the fighter against bluescreen possible.
- Lawler, Kelly (April 19, 2016). "Princes William and Harry visit 'Star Wars' set, raise the bar for adorable". USA Today. Gannett Company. Image 2 of 6 in the article's picture gallery. Retrieved June 9, 2016.
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- "The 15 Best Space Combat Sims of All-Time". The Escapist. Defy Media. July 29, 2014. Retrieved June 9, 2016.
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- Creamer, Matt Timmy (April 20, 2016). "This Iconic 'Star Wars' Fighter Will Return in Episode 8!". Moviepilot. Archived from the original on June 24, 2016. Retrieved June 7, 2016.
- Arbeiter, Michael (April 20, 2016). "Star Wars: Episode VIII Will Bring Back the A-wing". Nerdist. Retrieved June 9, 2016.