Star Wars Canon Catch-Up: What Are Snowspeeders?

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 Snowspeeders.

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

Like the X-Wing, the T-47 Airspeeder was manufactured by the Incom Corporation. When the Rebel Alliance fled Yavin following the Imperial reprisal for the destruction of the first Death Star, they made Echo Base on Hoth their home. Echo Base held a contingent of T-47’s that held two pilots, a pilot and a rear gunner, and was equipped with two heavy laser cannons and a harpoon launcher. The harpoons were also attached to tow cables.

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When the Empire laid siege to Echo Base, Rogue Squadron used the T-47’s tow cables to trip up AT-AT walkers and buy the Rebel personnel time to escape.

What about snowspeeders in the Expanded Universe?

Used by the Rebels on the icy plains of Hoth as a patrol and combat craft, the Incom T-47 Airspeeder became commonly known as a snowspeeder despite having been used on planets such as Dantooine. In fact, to work in the extreme cold at all the T-47s required extensive modifications including heating units, de-icing nozzles, and armor plates to compensate for lack of shields.

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Lacking the engines of starfighters such as X-Wings and TIE fighters, T-47 Airspeeders use repulsorlifts to hover above the ground. They cannot travel above a certain altitude and must be carried on transport ships to be moved from planet to planet.

In addition to Hoth, snowspeeders were seen on many other planets and environments, which tended to change the nickname and modifications. Swampspeeders required water-tight seals and floatation gear in the event of a crash landing. Sandspeeders deployed on desert worlds were equipped with cooling units, advanced radar to allow the pilot to navigate sandstorms, and an advanced system of filters that kept sand out of the machinery.

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Though T-47s were instrumental during the Battle of Hoth, they saw other active deployment in many other theaters of war including the Battle of Kothlis and capture of Imperial AT-PTs on the planet Fest.

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

Snowspeeders are iconic, though not to the same extent as X-Wings or TIE fighters. Their brief but memorable moment in the spotlight was the Battle of Hoth and they haven’t been seen in the films since.

We certainly expect to see T-47s in Anthology films that take place around the time frame of the original trilogy, but we actually don’t expect an updated version of them to make it to the sequel films. X-Wings and TIE fighters were very much the backbone of Rebel and Imperial forces, where the snowspeeders were something the Rebels used in a pinch.

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

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