Step inside the Rogue One fighter.
In “Ships of the Galaxy,” StarWars.com celebrates all the different kinds of craft across the saga. Strap in, punch it, and join us for the ride.
The U-wing is a multipurpose gunship and troop transport highly valued by the burgeoning Rebellion. These vessels are required to swoop in and out of heavy-fire combat situations, transport multiple passengers, and provide air support. While U-wings are fast and reasonably maneuverable, they are more akin to a heavy repulsorcraft than an X-wing. However, their versatility and functionality make them an invaluable battlefield asset — one that Cassian Andor and his team used to wreak havoc on the Empire.
Behind the Scenes
It's a daunting task to create a vessel that lives up to the legacy of the X-wing or the Millennium Falcon. Lucasfilm VP and executive creative director Doug Chiang told StarWars.com that was precisely the mandate from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story director Gareth Edwards. “In my mind, those are two of the most perfect designs," Chiang reflected. "So in order to design our ship to compete at that level was just mind-blowing for me.” It’s not an exaggeration to say that Chiang and the team went through hundreds of designs -- 781, to be exact!
As with all things, it all starts with what works best for the story. The U-wing had to be, among other things, a troop carrier, so Chiang started with a Huey helicopter version of the X-wing. From there, the team had to consider the proportion of the wings to the engine to the body. Every tweak affects the rest of the vessel which ended up being a very organic process. Chiang even told StarWars.com that the U-wing was the “hardest ship to design” because the bar was set so high. It is fair to say that this mission was accomplished.
Specs and Features
The U-wing is one of the last original designs to emerge from the Incom Corporation before the eventual emergence of the Empire. These vessels never received a full production run off the assembly line, making them a rarity. If not for some clever record manipulation by Bail Organa, they might not have found their way into the service of the Rebellion. These rare vehicles are highly valued for their versatility and function and are crucial to some early integral victories against the might of the Imperial fleet.
The U-wing is a unique swing-wing vessel built and designed for two primary objectives: delivering troops to battle in heavy-fire combat zones and as air support close to the surface of planets. It is the largest of the starfighters used by the Rebellion with a length of eighty-two feet (twenty-five meters). U-wings features a Class 1 hyperdrive, which is significantly powerful but also consumes large amounts of fuel, making it ineffective for distance combat. They tend to stay out of sight after a drop-off so that each ship can conserve its fuel supply.
Because of the ship’s build, it handles like a repulsor craft and is prized for its high maneuverability and offensive capabilities. The bottom can be customized to hold several different guns, including two laser cannons and one repeating ion blaster. When the wings are forward, it is in non-attack mode. At top speed, the U-wing can reach a top speed of 950 kph (590 mph).
Unique to this vessel, the U-wing has a two-seater cockpit with dual controls. It is possible for a solitary pilot to fly the craft, but certainly not recommended due to the high-intensity missions U-wings are deployed for. A savvy flight team has a greater likelihood of success operating the gunship and is more able to handle landing zone fire suppression and defense. Fortunately, the Incom design features a standard control system that is much more accessible to new pilots who have civilian aircraft experience.
A resistance group on Lothal led by Ryder Azadi had possession of an older model U-wing missing a functional hyperdrive. Hero of the Rebellion Hera Syndulla used the ship (after it had a working hyperdrive installed) to escape the planet and share flight data recorder information with the rebel leaders. These details helped the rebels effectively attack an Imperial armory mass producing the dangerous TIE Defenders.
During Rogue One, a U-wing was a pivotal part of the action for Cassian Andor and his team as they sought the plans for the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the Death Star. A U-wing piloted by a reprogrammed Imperial security droid named K-2SO took Jyn Erso from an Imperial labor camp on the planet, ultimately bringing her to Mon Mothma. Jyn Erso’s father was believed to be Wobani.
For Operation Fracture, Cassian Andor, K-2SO, and Jyn Erso flew to Jedha to recruit former Imperial, Bodi Rook, who had been in contact with Jyn’s father, Galen Erso. Instead, they left the planet aboard the U-wing with new rebel recruits Baze Malbus and Chirrut Îmwe. The team then raced to Eadu to rescue Galen, but the ship was damaged by bad weather and rock formations, ultimately abandoned as the crew sought a different means of escape.
The Battle of Scarif featured several U-wings in Antoc Merrick’s Blue Squadron, though many were destroyed in the struggle for the plans to the Death Star. U-wings appeared periodically throughout the Galactic Civil War, notably to transport captured Inferno Squadron member Iden Versio. One was also spotted landing on Naboo to provide reinforcements during Operation Cinder. While the use of U-wings was not prevalent throughout galactic history, their impact helped to usher in a new age with the destruction of the Empire.