Star Wars: 5 Best Rebel Fighters

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The Rebel Alliance has used many fighters over the course of their war with the Empire, but today I’m here to talk only about the 5 best ones.

A swarm of starfighters migrating towards a new hive.
Surprisingly, one of these is the best. And it’s not the one you think it is.

The Rebel Alliance Starfighter Corps has always been a weird bunch. Because they lacked the Empire’s production capability, they had to resort to a combination of begging and thievery to get their hands on any fighters at all. The end result is that calling the Starfighter Corps diverse is the understatement of the century. Logistical problems aside, the Rebels basically have as many starfighter types as there are stars in the galaxy.

Out of all of these fighters though, only 5 deserve to be called the “best”. Here are my 5 top picks:

5. A-Wing

In 5th place, we have the RZ-1 A-wing interceptor.

Wedge Antilles joke.
It’s a Wedge-shaped fighter, get it? No? I’ll just show myself out then.

The A-wing is a starfighter used by the Rebel Alliance as an interceptor. It measured 6.9 m/22.6 ft long, 4.47 m/14.7 ft wide, and 2.47 m/8.1 ft high. This made it of comparable size to the P-26 Peashooter, but with a much shorter wingspan.

The conundrum of the Peashooter.
Is the Peashooter a deformed A-wing, or is the A-wing a deformed Peashooter?

It was originally built by Kuat Systems Engineering, was “acquired” by Rebel cells, and then was stripped down to increase its speed. Its most famous action was during the Battle of Endor, when an A-wing piloted by Arvel Crynyd suicided into the Executor super star destroyer’s bridge and destroyed her. I don’t know about you, but 1 starfighter for an entire battleship sounds like a good trade to me.

Fighter cowabunga, it is.
The trade of the millennium.

In spite of this awesome victory though, the A-wing isn’t what I’d call great. It suffers from a case of crippling overspecialization. It completely sacrifices armor and shields for its blisteringly quick acceleration rate of 5,100 G. There’s nothing it can’t catch, but once it catches something, there’s not a whole lot it can do to it. With only a pair of laser cannons and a pair of concussion missile launchers to work with, all it can really do is spam missiles and hope it can kill the enemy before it dies.

Everyone could be a Bothan spy.
Bothan spies are everywhere.

It’s ultimately outclassed even by the later TIE series, which retains a good acceleration rate without sacrificing protection and firepower. This basically makes the A-wing the Rebels’ version of the A6M Zero.

The IJN's attempt at an A-wing fighter.
The proto-A-wing.

This is why I put the A-wing at 5th place.

4. X-wing

I know this is going to be a point of contention, but in 4th place is the T-65B X-wing starfighter.

Not everyone has audio hallucinations telling them where to aim.
Don’t forget to keep that targeting computer on, you non-Force users!

The X-wing is the Rebel Alliance’s flagship fighter, much like how the TIE Fighter is the Empire’s. Unlike the Eyeball though, this Incom-built fighter is actually a good fighter. It was the fighter that killed the Death Star through a backdoor exploit, after all.

A pair of golden BBs inbound.
It’s always that golden BB’s fault.

The X-wing measures 13.4 m/44 ft long, 11.76 m/38.6 ft wide, and 2.4 m/7.9 ft high. This makes it about the same size as a Mosquito, but oddly with less than half the height.

Mosquito pilot: "That's definitely a moon."
I’d like to see this guy blow up a Death Star.

The X-wing is armed with 4 laser cannons and a pair of proton torpedo launchers, making it pretty heavily armed for a starfighter. The only thing that really holds it back is its lack of ion cannons, which limits its usefulness against capital ships. Unfortunately, this is what kills it compared to its brethren.

Bothan spies hiding under your bed too.
There could be a Bothan spy in your closet.

With an acceleration rate of 3,700 G, there’s very few starfighters that can outrun it, and there’s no capital ship it can’t catch. But without any ion cannons, it can’t really do much against the latter. It’s as though it’s specialized for killing other starfighters. With its shields and astromech droid, it can tank hits far better than any other fighter. To put it simply: it’s a better interceptor than the purpose-built interceptor: the A-wing.

X-wing fighter goes "Zoom!"
You don’t need to be the fastest. You just need to be fast enough.

This is why the X-wing goes in 4th place.

3. Millennium Falcon

Now for my choice in 3rd place: the famed Millennium Falcon!

Don't let it get back up, Chewie!
Punch it hard, Chewie!

Once upon a time, the Millennium Falcon was a simple YT-1300f light freighter, until Lando Calrissian made some very extensive and highly illegal modifications to it. She has a very long and storied career, but there are 2 actions that she’s particularly famous for. One is driving off Darth Vader and allowing Luke Skywalker to kill the Death Star. The other is destroying the 2nd Death Star at the Battle of Endor. I’d say a kill count of 1.5 Death Stars is a pretty good one for a modified freighter, ain’t it?

Falcon kills: 1 Death Star+millions of Ewoks.
Great kill! Too bad about all those Ewoks, eh?

I know what you’re all thinking: the Falcon isn’t a fighter! She’s a freighter, not a purpose-built starfighter! Well, you’re right, but she’s still one of the best fighters the Rebels have. Her one real weakness as a fighter is that she’s huge. At about 34.75 m/114 feet long and 7.8 m/25.6 ft high, she has about the same dimensions as the Ju 390 bomber built for the German Amerika Bomber project back in WWII.

Nazis: "We only need the one!"
Probably a good thing the Nazis only ever made 1 of these.

In all other respects, the Falcon is superior to a good chunk of the starfighters in the Rebel arsenal. She not only has an acceleration rate of 3,000 G, but she also have heavy armor, 3 shield generators, and sheer mass that makes her tanky as hell. Not to mention, she’s armed with 2 quad laser cannons (1 dorsal, 1 ventral), and has a pair of concussion missile tubes in between her “mandibles”. She basically has an X-wing strapped to the top and bottom of her hull, allowing her to punch far above her weight.

Greedo was secretly hiding this in his vest.
No Bothan spies died to get this, although 1 Rodian did.

This is why she’s at 3rd place, even in spite of having one of the most confusing names in-universe.

xkcd reveals secret of Star Wars universe.
xkcd make me wonder if Star Wars‘ intro is lying, and it actually takes place in the Milky Way’s distant future.

2. B-wing

In 2nd place, we get the A/SF-01 B-wing starfighter.

B-wing fighter: "You can spin me round and round."
AKA: that 1 dizzy fighter.

The B-wing is perhaps the oddest of the Rebel starfighters. It was designed by a Mon Calamari named Quarrie, and was then subsequently produced by Slayn & Korpil in secret. Its most notable action was during the Battle of Endor, where a squadron of them destroyed the Imperial-class star destroyer Devastator.

"Don't look at the light!"
Cool fighters don’t look at explosions.

Measuring the B-wing is tricky due to its revolving nature. When lying sideways, it measured 16.9 m/55.4 ft long, 2.9 m/9.5 ft wide, and either 2.5 m/8.2 ft tall with its S-foils folded or 7.3 m/23.9 ft with its S-foils in attack position. This made it about the size of a He 111 bomber, but again with a fraction of the wingspan.

A non-fighter with wings.
Why do starfighters hate wings so much?

The B-wing is the most heavily armed Rebel starfighter in service, even when it’s just using its standard loadout. In its cockpit pod, it carries a pair of blaster cannons. Just below the cockpit pod is a proton torpedo launcher. On the opposite end of the cockpit pod is the weapon pod, which mounts a laser cannon, and ion cannon, and another proton torpedo launcher. Finally, at the end of each S-foil wing is an ion cannon.

Although maybe not.
I think it’s likely a Bothan spy died to get this.

The B-wing pays a price for that heavy armament though. Its acceleration rate is only 2,390 G. It can catch a star destroyer, but nothing else. I argue though that it doesn’t need to. With its combination of weapons, shields, and a difficult-to-hit cockpit; it can outgun virtually any starfighter that tries to catch it, and tank a surprising amount of damage in return.

This is why I put it in 2nd place.

1. Y-wing

And now in 1st place, the underdog of the century: the BTL-A4 Y-wing starfighter!

Not quite a fighter, but close enough.
The workhorse of the Rebel fleet indeed.

I have to admit: I didn’t expect to find this in 1st place when I set out to write this. This product of Koensayr Manufacturing though, is the workhorse of the Rebel fleet for a reason. Its most famous action was during the Battle of Scarif, where a squadron of them knocked out the Scarif Shield Gate and allowed the Death Star plans to be released on open source. They even knocked out the Imperial-class star destroyer Persecutor in the process.

The X-wings can’t take all the credit, you know.

The Y-wing measures 16.24/53.3 ft m long, 8.54 m/28 ft wide, and 2.44 m/8 ft tall. Funnily enough, this is about the same size as a B-25 Mitchell bomber, but with again a fraction of the wingspan and half the height.

Hmm, a bikini-clad Twilek girl, perhaps?
Inspiration for Y-wing nose art, anyone?

The Y-wing is pretty fast for something that’s supposed to be a bomber. At 2,700 G, it’s faster than the TIE Bomber, and while there’s no way it can outrun a TIE Fighter, it doesn’t need to. Not with its weapon loadout. The Y-wing is armed with a pair of laser cannons, a pair of proton torpedo launchers that can launch a variety of other ordnance, and a pair of ion cannons on a rotating turret topside. In addition to weapons, it also has a powerful shield generator, and an astromech droid for on-the-fly repairs.

We'll never forget your name Bothan spy, provided that we find out what it is.
RIP, Bothan spy.

This combination of speed, firepower, and tankiness makes it a lightning bruiser. It can knock out anything it can catch, and outgun almost any starfighter that tries to catch it. A B-wing has a chance of killing it, and the B-wing has the impossible job of catching it first. A TIE Defender would outgun and outrun it, but the Empire decided not to produce it, so the Y-wing is safe for now.

This is why the Y-wing deserves its workhorse reputation and gets 1st place.

Conclusion

I’d suggest that the Rebel Alliance acquire more Y-wings, but they’re already doing that. The only thing I’d suggest is to swap one of its laser cannons with one of its ion cannons. That way, a single shot wouldn’t completely take out either type of weapon. Do that, and the Y-wing would be a solid starfighter.

Assuming that the Empire doesn’t start producing TIE Defenders, at least.

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