We’ve Spotted Imperial Walkers: A History of Legged War Machines

Discover the massive weaponized transports of the Star Wars saga!

Legged vehicles, commonly known as walkers, had taken an important place in many armies, especially in the Grand Army of the Republic during the Clone Wars and in the Imperial Army of the Galactic Empire during the Galactic Civil War. Some walkers were used for reconnaissance, while others were lumbering giants, reminiscent of behemoths from legends. Driving a walker successfully was performed by specialist drivers who were trained in handling specific walkers.

Built at the factories of Kuat Drive Yards (KDY) and its subsidiary Rothana Heavy Engineering (RHE), walkers certainly weren’t indestructible, but they could function on multiple terrains and often inspired fear to those who awaited their arrival. Walkers were instrumental in numerous battles, from the Battle of Bothawui in the Clone Wars to the infamous Battle of Hoth. Let’s check out the best known walkers from historical battles in a galaxy far, far away…

Galactic Republic

: The All Terrain Attack Pod was a late addition to the Grand Army of the Republic by KDY. Basically a mobile artillery unit, the Attack Pod was a cross between the older AT-PT and the AT-TE. The AT-AP had an adjustable suspension system and a third retractable leg that offered additional balance when the projectile cannon was fired. The top-mounted heavy blaster cannon was best operated by an outside gunner. Another gunner and the pilot were seated in the cockpit. The AT-AP saw action during campaigns on Kashyyyk and Felucia.

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AT-OT: The All Terrain Open Transport was developed by KDY and was an overland troop carrier. The AT-OT was a late addition to the Clone Wars and wasn’t really meant to participate in direct combat. It was armed with four laser cannons, but it performed better in a safe zone outside the battlefield. It could transport about 34 troopers in seated positions, but more when the troopers were standing. The AT-OT’s body was supported by eight powerful legs and it could go as fast as 55 km/h.


AT-RT: The All Terrain Reconnaissance Transport was a light one-man biped walker, mostly used for patrolling, police support, civil defense and during reconnaissance missions. Sometimes they were also used to support the infantry. The AT-RT was an open walker and it was armed with a repeating blaster cannon. It could attain a speed as a high as 90 km/h. The AT-RT saw a lot of action during the Clone Wars during which it was often driven by ARF troopers and specialist AT-RT drivers. They participated in combat missions on Ryloth, Christophsis, Kiros, Umbara and Kashyyyk among many other locations.

AT-TE: The six legged All Terrain Tactical Enforcer was one of the heavyweights during the Clone Wars. Developed and produced at RHE, the AT-TE already made its debut on Geonosis. The AT-TE wasn’t the fastest vehicle around, but it had an excellent stability and it even could function in outer space or climb steep hills with magnetic clamps. The walker was heavily armed and it was able to transport up to 40 clone troopers into the battlefield. The large projectile cannon was manned by an exterior gunner. AT-TEs were sometimes dropped by LAAT/c gunships into the middle of a battle. These walkers were known to be vulnerable against mines and other attacks from below. AT-TEs saw action on many worlds, including Geonosis, Teth, Muunilinst, Christophsis, Ryloth, and Felucia. A volley from an AT-TE tried to eliminate General Kenobi on Utapau, right after Commander Cody had received Order 66.


SPHA-T: The Self-Propelled Heavy Artillery-Turbolaser was an atypical walker developed by RHE. It was a lumbering giant (40,15 meters long), supported by twelve legs that provided the walker with excellent stability on a variety of terrains. The SPHA-T wasn’t built for speed or finesse, but for the raw power of its huge heavy turbolaser cannon that could even damage capital ships. Additional blaster cannons provided cover on certain models. Anakin Skywalker made the suggestion to position SPHA-Ts in the ventral hangar bays of Venator-class Star Destroyers to augment the firepower of the ships. During the Battle of Geonosis, a group of SPHA-Ts managed to destroy several Lucrehulk-class Core Ships that were trying to escape.


Imperial Walkers

Though the Imperial Army continued to use the Republic’s walkers, additional models were built as well.

AT-AT: As soon as the All Terrain Armored Transport was developed, it became a symbol of the Imperial Army. Although it was basically a transport, the AT-AT carried heavy firepower and had armor that was nearly indestructible by blaster fire. Measuring over twenty meters in height, the mere sight of an AT-AT already generated fear into the hearts of the enemy. Most of the AT-ATs were produced at KDY and a walker was controlled by a commander, a pilot and a gunner. It could transport at least 40 troops, heavy weaponry and speeder bikes. Some AT-ATs were adapted to carry AT-STs or INT-4s. An AT-AT could be destroyed by focusing fire on its neck or by using cunning tactics directed towards the legs and stability. General Veers commanded Blizzard Force on Hoth which allowed Darth Vader to land and to infiltrate the almost abandoned Echo Base.

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AT-DP: The All Terrain Defense Pod was a bipedal walker used as a police vehicle and to protect Imperial installations. It was also used during scouting and patrolling missions. An AT-DP was crewed by a pilot and a gunner, usually combat drivers. This walker was armed with one laser cannon and could attain a top speed of 90 km/h. Lothal was one of the planets where this walker was a common sight.


AT-ST: The All Terrain Scout Transport, nicknamed Scout Walker, was an agile bipedal walker. It was lightly armed, but fast (top speed of 90 km/h) and it could quite easily target its enemies with its maneuverable cockpit. AT-STs sometimes provided cover for larger vehicles, such as AT-AT walkers. An AT-ST was at its top in confined, urban environments, as was proven by the Ewoks. During the Battle of Endor the diminutive warriors lured more than one AT-ST into one of their primitive, yet deadly, forest traps.


Tim Veekhoven (Sompeetalay) from Belgium is president and co founder of TeeKay-421, the Belgian Star Wars fanclub. He has contributed to Star Wars Insider (Rogues Gallery) and has written four character back stories for “What’s the Story?”.


Battles for the Galaxy (2011)Complete Vehicles (2013)
Imperial Handbook (2014)
Star Wars Chronicles: The Prequels (2005)

Star Wars Rebels: The Visual Guide (2014)

Star Wars Sourcebook (1987)
StarWars.com Databank

The Clone Wars Campaign Guide (2009)

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