Star Wars: TIE Fighters
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Tie Fighter Technical Specifications
6.3 meters long
Sienar Fleet Systems
Star Wars Episode IV – A New Hope
Star Wars Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
Star Wars Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens
Star Wars Rebels
Star Wars Expanded Universe
Star Wars Legends
Bursting from Imperial hangar bays in gnat-like clouds are the standard starfighters of the Imperial arsenal — the Twin Ion Engine craft known as the TIE starfighter. The single-seater short-range vessel lacks a hyperdrive, and as such requires deployment from launch bases and capital ships. It features two fire-linked laser cannons chin-mounted on the ball-shaped cockpit.
TIE fighters were typically employed en masse to make up for their shortcomings. Speedy and maneuverable, these fighters are nonetheless fragile. Though hard to hit, even a glancing blow can destroy a TIE. Though TIEs presented a formidable challenge to pirates and civilian craft, the skilled pilots of the Rebel Alliance made short work of them in combat. The Alliance workhorse, the T-65 X-wing starfighter, continually bested the TIE in numerous engagements. As the Galactic Civil War raged on, the standard TIE arsenal was supplemented with more advanced and specialized craft, such as the fearsome TIE interceptor and the dedicated TIE bomber.
TIE Fighters From the Movies
It takes a dedicated warrior with unending loyalty to strap in behind the control yoke of a TIE fighter and pilot the fragile, speedy craft into battle. Imperial combat pilots are well trained to overcome the inherent design flaws of the TIE fighter, and turn it into a formidable and deadly vessel. Star Wars TIE fighter pilots wear a flight helmet reminiscent of the stormtrooper design, with breather tubes affixed to provide necessary life support in the cramped quarters of their starfighters.
Star Wars TIE Fighters From the Expanded Universe
During the waning years of the Republic, Republic Sienar Systems first developed the original T.I.E. fighter, the craft that was the forerunner to the standard Imperial vessel. When Palpatine cemented his rule, the rechristened Sienar Fleet Systems entered into an exclusive arrangement producing the starfighters of the Imperial Starfleet.
With this transition came the upgrated TIE, which went under continual revisions until the TIE/ln became the standard line starfighter in Imperial use.
The hexagonal solar panels supply power to a unique propulsion system. Microparticle accelerators propel Ionized gasses at a substantial fraction of lightspeed. These gasses are then expelled from rear vents to generate thrust. The ion streams can be directed along amost any vector, allowing for the TIE’s incredible velocity and maneuverability. The twin ion engines have few moving parts and require comparably less maintenance to the starfighters of the Alliance.
TIE fighter units are typically organized into wings — a grouping of 72 fighters carried aboard a Star Destroyer. These wings are subdivided into six squadrons of 12 fighters each.One of these squadrons is typically made up of TIE interceptors while another consists of TIE bombers. Each squadron consists of three flights of four fighters each. Each flight contains two elements. An element is the smallest tactical unit of starfighters ever deployed, and consists only of a leader and a wingman.
TIE production was extremely modular and automated, as the Sienar foundries churned out countless starfighters to fuel the insatiable Imperial war machine. Variant models of the basic TIE include the TIE/rc (a model with advanced sensors and communication gear for reconnaissance missions), the TIE/fc (equipped with accurate fire control and target designation for long-range naval bombardments), the TIE/gt (with an enlarged hull to deliver heavy ordnance).
Star Wars TIE Fighter Pilots
TIE fighter pilots in Star Wars represent the elite of the Imperial Navy, having undergone grueling physical and psychological testing to achieve their ranks. Only 10 percent of prospective candidates are chosen for duty. The rest are reassigned throughout the Navy as combat gunners and other personnel.
TIE fighter pilots are drawn from the graduates of the Imperial Academy, a proud institution that trains the men and women who will serve in the Imperial Navy. An important part of TIE fighter training is psychological conditioning that produces unswerving loyalty to the New Order’s tenets.
To a TIE pilot, the success of a given mission is paramount, eclipsing personal safety and even the safety of fellow wingmen. TIE pilots learn to view themselves as individually expendable, yet an integral part of the Imperial war machine. Since most TIEs lack deflector shields, ejection gear or life support systems, Imperial fighter pilots are an incredibly brave and loyal force willing to die for the Emperor.
It came as a great shock, then, that one of the greatest TIE fighter pilots should ever defect from the Empire. It happened years after the Empire’s demise at Endor, when the squabbling warlords attempting to fill the Emperor’s throne became corrupt. Disgusted with the state of the Empire, Baron Soontir Fel of the 181st Imperial Fighter Wing, defected and joined the New Republic for a time.
Behind the Scenes
An interior shot of a TIE fighter’s destruction is never seen in the original trilogy, though behind-the-scenes photos prove that such shots were filmed.
Although a costumed TIE pilot isn’t seen in The Empire Strikes Back, effects artists animated a gruesome tumbling corpse being hurled from a TIE-asteroid collision at one point in the film.
The Star Wars TIE fighter design was first established in a concept model by Colin Cantwell. The simplified model defined the TIE’s most distinctive features — its ball cockpit and twin hexagonal wings. Subsequent sketches built up the TIE’s form. Limitations in visual effects technology at the time dictated that Cantwell’s blue color scheme be replaced with a more bluescreen-friendly gray. As the classic trilogy progressed, the TIEs regained a bit of their blue hue, although use of that color was fairly muted.
The distinctive scream of a TIE fighter’s engines came from sound designer Ben Burtt mixing the sound of cars streaking by on a rain-slicked highway and the trumpeting cry of an elephant.
Although literature attests that TIEs lack such pilot-friendly features as ejection seats, LucasArts’ popular TIE fighter simulator game of 1995 showed that at least some Imperial units retrofitted the life saving devices into the craft. After all, it wouldn’t do to have players die after every botched mission.