FALL OF THE REPUBLIC
The Imperial Star Destroyer evolved from the smaller Venator-class Star Destroyer, a mainstay of the Republic Navy during the Clone Wars. Known colloquially as Republic attack cruisers or Jedi cruisers, Venators proved exceptionally versatile warships. They were effective in ship-to-ship combat but also served ably as starfighter carriers and troop transports. The later Imperial-class built upon the strengths of these Republic predecessors.
THE DARK TIMES
After the dissolution of the Republic, the Emperor ordered a massive military buildup, crushing dissent and bringing systems that had been beyond the reach of Republic law under Imperial rule. For planet after planet across the galaxy, Imperial Star Destroyers became symbols of this new order. Citizens weary of chaos and war cheered the sight of these giant dagger-shaped warships, while pirates and slavers quailed at the thought of confronting them. But a few citizens wondered if the imposition of Imperial law was worth the freedoms lost.
GALACTIC CIVIL WAR
Imperial Star Destroyers became the backbone of the powerful Imperial starfleet. Star Destroyers hunted down Rebel task forces, blockaded disorderly worlds and served as bases for ground assaults. And in secret, the Empire was adding even deadlier assets to its already formidable arsenal. The Death Star’s firepower dwarfed that of Star Destroyers, threatening to eliminate all resistance to the Emperor’s rule.
Alliance strategists developed starfighters designed to punch through an Imperial Star Destroyer’s defenses, and the biggest rebel capital ships had the firepower and defensive capabilities to slug it out with one. But the Imperial starfleet dwarfed the combined task forces of the Alliance. Rebel tacticians knew the best strategy when confronted by a Star Destroyer was to flee.
The Republic attack cruiser was not primarily a cargo transport, troop carrier or other replenishment or supply vessel; it was developed and honed for ship-to-ship combat. Its huge armored shape had an aggressive, dagger-like profile, studded with heavy weapons emplacements capable of punching through powerful shields and sturdy armor. The front half of the ship's spine contained a massive flight deck capable of scrambling the latest in Republic starfighters. The huge hangar doors opened to allow ships to land or takeoff from the deck; the vessel also had a smaller docking bay entrance on its lower side.
Despite her humble origins and shabby exterior, the Millennium Falcon has played a role in some of the greatest victories of the Rebel Alliance and the New Republic. The Falcon looks like a worn-out junker, but beneath her hull she’s full of surprises. A succession of owners, including Lando Calrissian and Han Solo, have made special modifications that boosted the freighter’s speed, shielding and firepower to impressive – and downright illegal – levels. The price of such tinkering? The Falcon can be unpredictable, with her hyperdrive particularly balky. Despite her flaws, she’s beloved by her owners – Han Solo and Chewbacca spent years searching the galaxy for the ship they once called home, rejoicing when they finally reclaimed her.
Once a heroic Jedi Knight, Darth Vader was seduced by the dark side of the Force, became a Sith Lord, and led the Empire’s eradication of the Jedi Order. He remained in service of the Emperor -- the evil Darth Sidious -- for decades, enforcing his Master’s will and seeking to crush the fledgling Rebel Alliance. But there was still good in him…
The TIE fighter was the unforgettable symbol of the Imperial fleet. Carried aboard Star Destroyers and battle stations, TIE fighters were single-pilot vehicles designed for fast-paced dogfights with Rebel X-wings and other starfighters. The iconic TIE fighter led to other models in the TIE family including the dagger-shaped TIE Interceptor and the explosive-laden TIE bomber. The terrifying roar of a TIE's engines would strike fear into the hearts of all enemies of the Empire.
Scheming, powerful, and evil to the core, Darth Sidious restored the Sith and destroyed the Jedi Order. Living a double life, Sidious was in fact Palpatine, a Naboo Senator and phantom menace. He slowly manipulated the political system of the Galactic Republic until he was named Supreme Chancellor -- and eventually Emperor -- ruling the galaxy through fear and tyranny.