Star Wars Canon Catch-Up: The History Of Star Destroyers

Star Wars is going through a state of transition. For twenty years, an Expanded Universe of novels, comics, and games have supplemented the films and TV shows to create an incredibly deep and detailed Star Wars universe. Soon after Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm, however, they wiped the canon slate clean, saying they would no longer adhere to the stories of the Expanded Universe in order to have the greatest creative freedom with their new Star Wars films starting with The Force Awakens.

But with the new films, so comes new books, comics, and games in a new continuity to replace the old one. So, what is canon and what isn’t anymore? After twenty years, are these the same characters and planets we’ve always known and loved? Is it even the same universe? Well, in our column Canon Catch-Up, we’re here to answer those questions and set the record straight.

Today, we’re discussing Imperial Star Destroyers.

So, what’s the deal with Star Destroyers in the current continuity? 

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After the end of the Clone Wars and the rise of Emperor Palpatine‘s regime, the Imperial-class Star Destroyer replaced its smaller predecessor, the Venator-Class Star Destroyer. Designed to promote fear as well as act as a mobile platform of the Empire‘s might across the galaxy, the Imperial Star Destroyer became the backbone of the Imperial Navy for decades.

After the rise of the First Order after the destruction of the second Death Star at Endor, a different class of Star Destroyer was utilized. It is still, however, based on the same basic design.

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What about Star Destroyers in the Expanded Universe?

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The first use of Star Destroyer-esque ships dates back thousands of years to the Mandalorian Wars, but the first “modern” class of the ship became common with the Acclamator-class assault ship at the start of the Clone Wars. The Acclamator was phased out by the end of the war by the Venator-class. After the Empire replaced the Galactic Republic, the Victory-Class Star destroyer became the first dedicated Imperial destroyer.

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The Imperial-Class Star Destroyer, however, was a massive vessel. The second and most common iteration of the class, the Imperial II, entered imperial service shortly before the Battle of Yavin and participated in several engagements with the Rebellion that include the Battles of Hoth and Endor.

The Imperial II sported a heavily reinforced hull, strong deflector shields, and rows of eight-barreled turbolasers along with heavy ion canons to disable fleeing vessels. The ships could carry up to 8 Lambda-class shuttles and 72 TIE Fighters along with 20 AT-AT walkers and 30 AT-ST walkers for ground campaigns. During the time of the Galactic Civil War, the only ships that could outmatch the Imperial Star Destroyer were the Death Stars or the rare Super Star Destroyer.

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The Star Destroyer did have one weakness, however: if its shield generator domes on the bridge were destroyed it could leave the ship’s hull open to attacks. During the Battle of Endor, an A-Wing pilot was able to disable the Super Star Destroyer Executor with a suicide run after its shields had been disrupted, which led it to crash into the second Death Star.

After the Battle of Endor, the Imperial II Star Destroyers remained in active service for years for both the New Republic and the Imperial Remnant. Even during the Yuuzhan Vong invasion and the Second Galactic Civil War, Imperial Star Destroyers saw action along with their successor classes.

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What does the Expanded Universe tell us about Star Destroyers in the new continuity?

The Star Destroyer is the second ship we ever saw in Star Wars… but it was the first to leave an impression.  The EU may have introduced dreadnoughts, super weapons, and even bigger versions of Star Destroyers… but it always kept the Imperial Star Destroyer front and center. The reasoning is that the Empire just built a ton of these things during its run, so they wouldn’t just disappear overnight. They’re the AK-47s of capitol ships: they’re powerful, reliable, and they’re all over the place.

We actually wouldn’t be surprised to see the Imperial Star Destroyer in The Force Awakens. It’s already been featured in a now iconic shot from the trailer as a remnant of the Battle of Jakku

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… but we also think it’ll still be in use by the First Order. They’ll probably have some modifications and be featured in the background, but the simple fact of the matter is when resourced are at a premium you don’t go and replace ships that still work perfectly fine. The closest real world analogy we can think of is the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier in the United States Navy: they were commissioned in 1975 and are only now being replaced by the Gerald Ford class.

With that in mind, we think the Imperial II Class Star Destroyer still has some screen time left in her.

While we’re waiting for more post-Return of the Jedi information, check out our previous entry of Canon Catch-Up about B-Wings.

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