|First appearance||Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker (1976)|
|Launched||Old Republic era|
|Combat vehicles||Various bombers, interceptors, and space superiority fighters|
|Auxiliary vehicles||Various walkers and shuttles|
|Armaments||Ion cannons, turbolasers, projectile weapons, and tractor beam projectors|
|Length||Between 1,600 to 1,900 metres|
|Width||Up to 600 metres|
|Population volume||Various, ranging from several thousand to tens of thousand crew and troop capacity|
Star Destroyers are capital ships in the fictional Star Wars universe. The Imperial-class Star Destroyer is "the signature vessel of the Imperial fleet" in numerous published works including film, television, novels, comics, and video games.
A single Star Destroyer could project considerable influence over a solar system in the name of the Empire: each can be deployed individually as both a forward operating base and as mobile weapon systems platform responsible for safeguarding multiple planets, trade routes and systems, and carried enough firepower to subdue an entire planetary system or annihilate a small rebel fleet. Besides the ubiquitous Imperial-class, there are another numerous other classes of Star Destroyers sharing the basic "triangular" hull; the successful v-shaped designs are explained in Legends as reflecting the Empire's "Tarkin's Doctrine" military philosophy and originating from Sith ideological influence, and have been adapted by numerous factions for a wide variety of applications.
Numerous Star Destroyer models and toys have been released. The iconic scene in Star Wars (1977), featuring the Imperial Star Destroyer's first appearance where it pursues a Corellian Corvette has been called a milestone in special effects history.
Concept and design
In draft scripts for the film that would become Star Wars, the term "Stardestroyer" refers to two-man fighters flown by what would become the Galactic Empire. The film's second draft features four Star Destroyers chasing a single Rebel ship, but the tremendous costs incurred by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) when production began helped lead Lucas to use a single "terrifyingly large" Star Destroyer instead of four. ILM built a 91-centimeter (36 in) shooting model that was about half the size of the model for the Tantive IV the Star Destroyer was chasing. Lucas asked ILM to build a larger Star Destroyer model to match the Tantive IV's scale, but ILM convinced him that the Dykstraflex camera invented for the film made this unnecessary. Nevertheless, they added additional hull details to the Star Destroyer model. The 13-second opening shot was the first special effects piece ILM completed, and its success was an essential test for the Dykstraflex.
ILM built a 259-centimeter (102 in) Star Destroyer, equipped with internal lighting to provide a better sense of scale, for The Empire Strikes Back (1980). During production, Lucas decided that every Star Wars film would open in space with a shot of a Star Destroyer. The Empire Strikes Back also introduces the Executor class of "Super Star Destroyer", also referred to as a "Star Dreadnought" or "Star Dreadnaught". The shooting model for the Super Star Destroyer Executor in The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983) was 282 centimeters (111 in) long.
The design of the Venator-class Star Destroyers appearing in Revenge of the Sith (2005) are meant to bridge the appearance of the Acclamator-class transports in Attack of the Clones (2002) and the Imperial class in the original trilogy.
The Imperial I-class Star Destroyers are white, as shown in A New Hope, Rogue One, and Solo. The Imperial II-class Star Destroyers in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi are grey.
Popular Mechanics has pointed out that the Star Destroyer's triangular shape is useless in space physics, and would only be useful in a planetary atmosphere as seen in Rogue One. Despite being freed from the 2D battle constraints of a planetary battle, Popular Mechanics has noted that Star Wars does not go by a true 3D environment in space battles.
Films and television
Star Destroyers of varying factions have appeared in every Star Wars film and television production except Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace.
The iconic Imperial Star Destroyer first appears in the opening scene of Star Wars, where the Imperial I (Imperator)-class Star Destroyer Devastator of Darth Vader, chases the CR90 Corvette Tantive IV carrying Princess Leia above Tatooine. This appearance shows the Imperial Star Destroyer's massive size in comparison to the Rebel Corvette. Star Destroyers of the Imperial II subclass (nicknamed the Impstar-Deuce in Legends) are seen in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi including the opening sequences of both films; the Imperial II has numerous changes (cosmetic and functional) compared to the Imperial I. According to both canon and Star Wars Legends (see below), Imperial I Star Destroyers including Devastator still remain in service as of the events of The Empire Strikes Back but have been refitted so they appear cosmetically identical to the Imperial II. The Empire Strikes Back introduces a massive Super Star Destroyer, the Executor-class Star Dreadnought Executor, flagship of "Death Squadron" under the command of Admiral Firmus Piett, Darth Vader's personal Imperial armada. The Executor dwarfs the Devastator and five smaller Imperial-class Star Destroyers escorting it. In Return of the Jedi, Death Squadron swelled to 33 Imperial-class star destroyers, 2 battle cruisers, and 3 Tector-class star destroyers; the Emperor assumes control of Death Squadron, which executes the ambush against the Rebel Fleet, with the Executor as his Imperial flagship.
Other Star Destroyer varieties appear in the Star Wars prequel films. The final moments of Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones depicts clone troopers being loaded into large Acclamator-class Republic transgalactic assault ships that are highly similar in appearance to Star Destroyers, perhaps signifying that the Acclamator as a precursor. Venator-class Star Destroyers are introduced in Revenge of the Sith and later appear throughout Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008–2014, 2019). Venator-class ships initially appear with a red and gray Republic color scheme. However, toward the end of Revenge of the Sith the Venators are dull gray, signifying the Empire's rise to power. (Star Wars creator George Lucas calls the cigar-shaped Separatist cruisers visible at the beginning of Revenge of the Sith "Star Destroyers" in the movie's DVD commentary track, although this is likely a misnomer. Separatist cruisers and frigates, with their organic shapes and bulges that contrast sharply with the angular lines of Star Destroyers, are the forerunners of the Mon Calamari Star Cruisers and Nebulon-B Escort Frigates used by the Rebel Alliance in the films Rogue One, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.)
In the first installment of the sequel trilogy, The Force Awakens (2015), set over 30 years after the fall of the Empire, the wrecks of the Empire's Star Destroyers appear on the surface of the desert planet Jakku. Rey scavenges material from the crashed Imperial II-class Star Destroyer Inflictor, and pilots the Millennium Falcon through the wreckage of the Executor-class Star Dreadnought Ravager. The Force Awakens and its sequel, The Last Jedi (2017), also introduce new Star Destroyers making up the forces of the First Order, such as Kylo Ren's Resurgent-class Star Destroyer Finalizer, the Mandator IV-class Siege Dreadnought Fulminatrix, and Supreme Leader Snoke's flagship, the Mega-class Star Dreadnought Supremacy. The final entry in the sequel trilogy, The Rise of Skywalker, introduces a fleet of "Death Star Destroyers" (which appear similar to the Imperial-class and not the First Order's designs) which are under the command of Emperor Sheev Palpatine.
Novels and other media
Star Destroyers appear in novels, games, and other media set during various periods in the Star Wars universe. Novels state the Empire had a dozen Super Star Destroyers in service during the time of the Battle of Endor in addition to Darth Vader's Executor. The final surviving Super Star Destroyer, the Executor-class ship Ravager, is the vessel whose wreckage appears in The Force Awakens. The Ravager's crash onto Jakku is depicted in the game Star Wars Battlefront (2015).
The Victory-class Star Destroyer first described in the early Star Wars novella, was initially designed as a direct predecessor to the Imperial-class during the development of A New Hope, which would make it a follow-up to the Venator-class seen in Revenge of the Sith. The Victory appears very similar in appearance to the Imperial-class which succeeded it; albeit the Victory being considerably smaller in scale (900 meters in length versus 1600 meters), adds atmospheric maneuvering "wings" on the port and starboard sides (according to Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game sourcebooks, the Victory I-class can enter a planetary atmosphere which is a unique attribute not found in the Victory II and Imperial-class Star Destroyers), and a shorter conning tower with different elements on the command bridge. The Victory-class was developed from a prototype Star Destroyer model created by Colin Cantwell for A New Hope, with the final design being used for the basis of the Imperial-class. Ending up the Victory-class Star Destroyer did not make it to the films and for a long time featured only in Star Wars Legends (see below). It first appeared in the new Star Wars canon in the 2014 novel Tarkin, written by James Luceno, and was first depicted in Darth Vader 6: Vader, Part VI, a 2015 comic book written by Kieron Gillen and illustrated by Salvador Larroca. The Victory Star Destroyer is the Imperial Navy's starting vessel in the core set of Fantasy Flight Games's Star Wars: Armada, a table top miniatures game released on March 27, 2015.
Star Wars Legends
In April 2014, most of the licensed Star Wars novels, games, and comics produced since 1976 (and prior to 2014), were rebranded by Lucasfilm as Star Wars Legends; and therefore declared non-canon to the franchise.
Star Destroyers feature in numerous Legends publications, with a considerable amount of additional notable information. According to West End Games' Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game sourcebooks and other texts, Imperial-class Star Destroyers are constructed by Kuat Drive Yards and hold a distinguished place in the Imperial Navy, symbolizing the Empire's military might with a peak number of more than 25,000 vessels. Like the Venator and Victory-class ships that precede it, the Imperial-class is a multi-role capital ship combining the roles of a battleship, starfighter carrier, and troopship. Notable for its massive size and overwhelming firepower compared to its fore-bearers; a single Imperial-class ship is capable of singlehandedly taking on a fleet of enemy vessels or "reducing the surface of a planet to a slag" (known as "Base Delta Zero"), and its mere presence is often enough to deter rebellion. At 1,600 meters (5,200 ft) long, Imperial-class Star Destroyers are crewed by 9,235 Officers, 27,850 enlisted personnel, and 275 Gunners. The Imperial I is armed with 60 turbolasers, 60 ion cannons, and 10 tractor beam projectors for space combat. The standard complement is 72 TIE fighters (including 12 TIE Bombers and 12-24 TIE Interceptors), and a variety of support craft including shuttles and transports. Unlike other comparable capital ships like the Mon Calamari MC80 Star Cruiser of the Rebel Alliance (later New Republic), an Imperial Star Destroyer carries a full array of ground forces (including 9700 stormtroopers, 20 AT-ATs and 30 AT-STs) with dropships for rapid deployment to planetary surfaces, plus a prefabricated base if a permanent planetary garrison is required.
Though the Imperial Navy also has smaller capital ships like Nebulon-B Escort Frigates and CR90 Corvettes (the films show these vessels being used exclusively by the Rebel Alliance), Imperial-class Star Destroyers are usually the default choice for frontline deployments. At the Battle of Endor the Rebel Alliance captured two Imperial-Star Destroyers and added them to the New Republic fleet; they serve alongside Mon Calamari Cruisers in General Han Solo's task force as told in the X-wing series of novels and Dark Empire comics. Although the New Republic eventually upgrades its starfleet with newer ship types, the Imperial-class Star Destroyer remains in service well into the New Jedi Order era and fights during the Yuuzhan Vong War.
Described in A Guide to the Star Wars Universe (1984) as being 8 kilometers (5.0 mi) long, Executor-class Super Star Destroyers were later described as being 19 kilometers (12 mi) long. In addition to Vader's command ship Executor, Star Wars novels introduce the prison ship Lusankya and stealth-armored Knight Hammer as other in the class. Kevin J. Anderson's novel Darksaber describes a Super Star Destroyer as being "worth twenty Imperial Star Destroyers".
The description "Star Destroyer" and "Super Star Destroyer" are applied to several other massive dagger/triangle-shaped warships in Star Wars, such as the Pellaeon-class Star Destroyer in the Legacy comic series (2006–2010), and the reborn Emperor Palpatine's flagships Eclipse and Eclipse II Super Star Destroyers in the Dark Empire series (1991–1995). The Eclipse-class was perhaps the ultimate Super Star Destroyer or Star Dreadnought in the Expanded Universe, incorporating a Death Star-type Superlaser but miniaturized and more advanced, and gravity well projectors to prevent enemies from jumping to hyperspace, and having strong enough shields/armor to be able to ram enemy vessels. Curtis Saxton, in the unofficial Star Wars Technical Commentaries (he has since been the author of the official Star Wars: Attack of the Clones Incredible Cross-Sections and Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith Incredible Cross-Sections), has advocated using the term Imperator-class in lieu of Imperial-class. Saxton argues that "Imperial Star Destroyer" is a somewhat generic term, as the vast majority of Star Destroyer types are operated by the Galactic Empire's Imperial Navy which technically means they are all "Imperial Star Destroyers", although the Imperator/Imperial-class Star Destroyers are by far the most common type. Similarly the "Super Star Destroyer" moniker has been used for numerous unrelated vessels of varying sizes and classes, so fans have suggested labeling the class instead by the lead ship such as Executor-class and Eclipse-class, with some referred to them instead as a "Star Dreadnought" (sometimes spelled "Star Dreadnaught") to emphasize their massive size relative to Star Destroyers. Author Jason Fry introduced the "Anaxes War College System" which specifically divide warships into different types depending on their size and power, which explain all the differently sized "Super Star Destroyers" appearing in the Expanded Universe (now Star Wars Legends), supplementing the contradictory classification systems used in Star Wars lore previously, becoming reference material in the Star Wars Sourcebooks by West End Games.
The Super Star Destroyer has also been merchandised. Kenner wanted to use a less ominous name than Executor for the toy playset of Darth Vader's meditation chamber. An advertisement agency's list of 153 alternatives included Starbase Malevolent, Black Coven, Haphaestus VII, and Cosmocurse; ultimately, the toy was labeled "Darth Vader's Star Destroyer". In 2006, Wizards of the Coast created an Executor miniature as part of its Star Wars Miniatures Starship Battles game. An electronic Super Star Destroyer toy released by Hasbro "is the rarest among Hasbro's Collector Fleet".
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