Star Wars Canon Catch-Up: What Are Y-Wings?

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 new column Canon Catch-Up, we’re here to answer those questions and set the record straight.

Today, we’re discussing the Y-Wing Starfighter.

So, what’s the deal with the Y-Wing in the current continuity? 

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Originally produced by Koensayr Manufacturing for the Republic during the Clone Wars, the first iteration of the Y-Wing was a two manned craft with space for a pilot and a gunner for an ion turret. It was equipped with an astromech droid, two forward facing laser canons, and dual proton torpedo launchers. They also featured extensive hull plating between the main hull and the engine nacelles.

However, by the time of the Galactic Civil War the Rebel Alliance had appropriated the Y-Wing as a bomber for their early operations. Most of the hull plating was stripped away to allow easier maintenance for the aging Clone Wars era parts. A squadron of Y-Wings joined X-Wings when defending the Rebel base on Yavin IV against the Death Star, though only one survived the battle.

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During the Battle of Endor, Y-Wings participated in the attack on the second Death Star, first engaging the ambushing Star Destroyers and then following General Lando Calrissian inside the station’s superstructure. After the station’s destruction and the death of Emperor Palpatine, Y-Wings were still used by the New Republic in their campaign against the crumbling Galactic Empire.

What about the Y-Wing in the Expanded Universe?

Though heavily shielded, the Y-Wing was also slow and lacking in agility compared to other fighters of the era. Still, it was seen as a competent bomber and was very usable for disabling targets with its ion canon until the introduction of the B-Wing. Earliest versions were used during the Clone Wars and saw many notable engagements including the Battle of Ryloth, the Battle of Kamino, and the Battle of Malastare.

When the Galactic Empire replaced the Republic, they discontinued their contract with Koensayr Manufacturing in favor of ship’s easier to mass produce such as the TIE Fighter. As a result, Koensayer started selling Y-Wings to third parties including pirates, mercenaries, and the Rebel Alliance.

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The Rebels used the fighter mostly for heavy attack runs while relying on X-Wings and A-Wings to take out fighter support. By the end of the Galactic Civil War, the B-Wing had been introduced as its successor. However, the Y-Wing was far easier to pilot, had more abundant numbers, and had heavier armor which allowed it to stay in service far longer than anticipated.

By the time of the Thrawn Crisis, the Y-Wing was beginning to show its age and became increasingly difficult to repair. They were relegated to defensive duties. Eventually, they were phased out of usage aside from a few stubborn old pilots. By the time of the Yuuzhan Vong War and the second Galactic Civil War, Y-Wings were seen as antiques.

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What does the Expanded Universe tell us about the Y-Wing in the new continuity?

In both continuities the Y-Wing is seen as a reliable but old fighter. If we compare time frames, the Force Awakens takes place about the same time as the second Galactic War does in the Expanded Universe, which means the Y-Wing is most likely all but phased out. So, unless the Resistance is really hurting for fighters we doubt we’ll be seeing any classic Y-Wings. After all, if the X-Wing got a new model we imagine the Y-Wing has probably seen a new iteration or been replaced by a new fighter altogether.

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

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