Star Wars Canon Catch-Up: What Are B-Wings? [Updated]

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 B-Wing Starfighters.

[Update 11/16/2015] We’ve updated the “current continuity” section with information from the Star Wars Rebels episode “Wings of the Master.”

So, what’s the deal with B-Wings in the current continuity? 

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The A/SF-01 B Wing Starfighter is manufactured by the ship manufacturer Slayn & Korpil. The most advanced starfighter in the Rebellion, it had an advanced avionics package that negated the need for a navigation droid. Though slower than the X-Wing, the B-Wing had far greater firepower, hull integrity, and shield strength, which made it the perfect fighter to engage capital ships rather than TIE Fighters.

Like the X-Wing, the B-wing has S-foils running down the length of its body that carry several weapons. When the S-foils were deployed to combat position, the entire ship would rotate and lock into the shape of a cross.

[Update 11/16/2015] The original prototype for the ship was developed on the planet Shantipole by the Mon Calamari engineer Quarrie. While it lacked a hyperdrive and a dedicated targeting system, the prototype was more powerful than later models but required a gunner to control the weapons. Originally nick named the “Blade Wing,” Rebel pilots Hera Syndulla and Sabine Wren were the first to fly the ship in a mission to break an Imperial blockade.

During the lead up to the Battle of Endor, a dedicated B-Wing squadron was formed, designated Blade Squadron. During the battle, a detachment of B-Wings followed Lando Calrissian inside the second Death Star. Blade Squadron was assigned to take on the Star Destroyer Devestator, which they destroyed at great loss.

What about B-Wings in the Expanded Universe?

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Designed by Slayn & Korpil under the supervision of Gial Ackbar shortly after the Battle of Yavin, the B-Wing was a powerful but difficult to fly ship that became part of the Rebel starfighter corps during the latter half of their campaign against the Empire.  Seen as a heavy fighter, it was originally created to replace the increasingly antiquated Y-Wing, but the difficulty in mastering the B-Wing forced the Rebellion to invest in upgrading their Y-Wing fighters instead.

The armaments of the B-Wing were large for a fighter of its size, including three ion cannons, two proton torpedo launchers (with 8 torpedoes each), one heavy blaster canon, and two laser canons.

The B-Wing saw its first real continuous service after the Battle of Hoth and were even used by Rogue Squadron on several missions. By the Battle of Endor, the B-Wing proved its worth when the Rebel fleet was surrounded by Imperial Star Destroyers.

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After the Rebellion became the New Republic, B-Wings remained a fundamental part of their military. They were used in several campaigns against the Imperial Remnant, including the liberation of Coruscant. Even Luke Skywalker logged time in one when the situation called for it. The B-Wing continued to be deployed through the Vong invasion, the Swarm War, and the Second Galactic Civil War until it was replaced by the Besh-type personal starfighter.

What does the Expanded Universe tell us about B-Wings in the new continuity?

Designed by Joe Johnston and Bill George, the B-Wing was given life by famed concept designer Ralph McQuarrie. What we got on screen is pretty much what was designed, which means there are no rejected possibilities for the new Star Wars movies to use in their post-Return of the Jedi continuity.

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However, the B-Wing has always had a following in the fan community due to its very unconventional design. We wouldn’t be surprised if there were a fighter inspired by the B-Wing used by the Resistance. We might even see some old B-Wings in their fleet, as it was the most advanced fighter at the time and may have proven their worth over the years.

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

B-Wing art by Shimmering-Sword.

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