The Cygnus Spaceworks Alpha-class Xg-1 Star Wing, also known as the Xg-1 Starwing and commonly referred to as the Assault Gunboat, was one of the Galactic Empire's first general-deployment starfighters to be equipped with deflector shields and a hyperdrive.
The 10-meter-long Xg-1 was based on a tri-wing design similar to the Lambda-class shuttle, another craft that Cygnus Spaceworks designed. Like the Lambda shuttle, the Star Wing had a fixed dorsal wing flanked by a pair of lateral folding wings. When landing, the lower wings folded upwards. However, the Xg-1 had a sleeker cockpit and warhead/engine pods along the side of the hull. It had two additional folding wings that protruded diagonally from the side pods, at an angle reflexive to the lateral wings. These secondary wings afforded the Xg-1 significantly increased maneuverability over its shuttle counter-part. When in flight position, the wing configuration resembled a flatened five-point star, thus the name "Star Wing".
Its armament consisted of two chin mounted laser cannons, two ion cannons above the cockpit, and a pair of general purpose warhead launchers. The Gunboat could also carry the tractor beam weapon developed for the TIE Avenger and newer Imperial starfighters; the only known use of this was during Maarek Stele's campaign in the Eva-T system to snare enemy craft.
The standard payload was sixteen concussion missiles, eight per launcher, though depending upon the mission the Gunboat could alternatively carry twelve proton torpedoes, eight heavy rockets, or four heavy space bombs. Some gunboats also carried Ion torpedoes.
The Xg-1 was a relatively large craft, which enabled it to accommodate a hyperdrive and deflector shields. However, it was not particularly fast and had an average level maneuverability, making it mediocre in space superiority. The starfighter also borrowed the standard reactor design from the TIE series, which, like those fighters, was mounted directly on the tail of the craft. 
The Star Wing was equipped with a hyperdrive, which meant that it did not need the support of a Star Destroyer or other starfighter carrier. It proved very useful in conducting hyperspace raids against convoys and space stations, and also served in a reconnaissance capacity.
The fact that it was armed with ion cannons made the Assault Gunboat an ideal choice for capture operations or planetary customs duties. Its high magazine capacity made it a deadly bomber, as a squadron of Star Wings could penetrate most medium-sized capital ships' shields with a single warhead salvo from each fighter.
The Xg-1 was famed for its resilience. Its powerful shields allowed it to engage foes at point blank range, enabling it more opportunity to inflict damage, whereas an unshielded craft would be forced to break off the attack. The Star Wing's reinforced hull could survive a direct hit from an advanced concussion missile, and several times these craft were able to return home safely despite being badly damaged. Pilots such as Maarek Stele, having previously flown TIEs whose best defense was speed and maneuverability, often took advantage of the Star Wing's defenses to press bold assaults. If the Star Wing was deployed into a combat zone directly by a Star Destroyer or carrier, its deflector shields enabled it to spearhead the attack and draw fire away from unshielded TIEs. One such rare deployment when Maarek Stele led other Imperial Navy starfighters at the final battle of the Conflict at Mylok IV.
The Assault Gunboat was designed and deployed to perform specific missions that standard TIE fighters were unable to complete. It was not planned for widespread production like TIEs, so it did not alter the Imperial doctrine of quantity over quality. (The TIE Avenger and TIE Defender, however, were designed as high-quality alternatives to using swarms of cheap craft.)
The Star Wing did not prove overwhelmingly successful in its first independent deployments. As the Star Wing was the only hyperdrive-capable starfighter in the Imperial arsenal, there was initially no other space superiority craft available to escort it. The Xg-1 was able to compare favorably against similarly heavy Alliance craft such as the Y-wing and the B-wing. However, against the more common X-wing and especially the nimble A-wing which it was often forced to engage, the Xg-1 had a hard time. The Xg-1 did have the advantage of stronger shields and armor to prolong its survival, but its comparative lack of speed prevented it from coming out on top. Consequently, Star Wings were often forced into lengthy dogfights with more maneuverable Alliance fighters, which detracted from their main mission goals. When the tractor beam weapon was developed, while it would have helped the Xg-1's chances against other starfighters, most flight officers opted to install what limited beam weapons they had on the TIE Avenger and other newer faster craft, where it would be even more effective. At some point, several Star Wings underwent servicing at the Naval Station Validusia.
As a stopgap, Imperial flight officers decided that hyperspace raids should be conducted in two groups, with a squadron of missile-equipped Star Wings being pressed into the space superiority/escort role, and another group tasked with delivery of the warheads to their target, usually proton torpedoes, heavy rockets, or heavy space bombs. An example of this was the assault on the Rebel Mon Calamari Light Cruiser Lulsla, in which the Imperials succeeded.
Once available, Star Wings were escorted by TIE Avengers—another class of Imperial fighter equipped with shields and hyperdrive. Because of the hyperspace capability of both classes, they could arrive in a system at the same time, catching Rebel patrols by surprise. As the Avengers proved excellent at space superiority, this enabled Star Wings to concentrate on their intended roles, whether that be capturing craft or assaulting capital ships. Successful Starwing-Avenger partnerships included the capture of Admiral Harkov and the seizure of Galactic Electronics' mag pulse weapons.
The Assault Gunboat was largely overshadowed by the fast and versatile TIE Defender, which was virtually equal or superior in every aspect save for armor and cost. However, due to the traitor Admiral Demetrius Zaarin who threatened loyalist Avenger and Defender facilities, the loyalists were forced to resort to older craft. The Assault Gunboat made a comeback in the Eva-T system to combat the rogue TIE Defender threat. The first was during the "trade" with the Rneekii pirates for the TIE Defender scientist; the mutual exchange was actually an Imperial trap, but sending a newer starfighter would be provocative, and also because the Rneekii would underestimate the Gunboat. The Xg-1, however, was piloted by ace Maarek Stele, and it carried a full load of advanced concussion missiles and the new tractor beam weapon. In the following mission, Stele would take the Xg-1 into battle against the Zaarin's TIE Defender and TIE Advanced fighters, where Stele used the tractor beam in conjunction with advanced proton torpedoes to great effect against much faster and more agile craft. Stele's ability and the inclusion of the latest technology in the Star Wing proved that it could prevail against overwhelming odds.
The follow-up to the Alpha-class Xg-1 Star Wing was the Missile Boat. Despite several innovations, notably a much larger warhead capacity and a sublight acceleration system, it lacked ion cannons so it was not a direct replacement. Three Xg-1s participated in the disabling and capture of the Strike Cruiser Nuance, escorted by two Missile Boats. Other noted Gunboat-Missile Boat partnerships included the successive captures of the MC80 Mon Calamari Rebel cruiser Link and the rogue Victory Star Destroyer Zeplin.
Behind the scenesEdit
The Assault Gunboat first made an appearance in Star Wars: X-Wing, midway through the main game's second tour of duty—in order to give the Imperial Navy a fighter with deflector shields. However, two Assault Gunboats had previously appeared in the cutscene after the first tour of duty, assisting AT-AT Walkers attacking a Rebel base on Orion IV.
In Star Wars: TIE Fighter, Assault Gunboats and Missile Boats were assigned squadron names Tau, Mau, Mu, Nu, and Rho.
In Star Wars: Essential Guide to Vehicles, Imperial Star Destroyers are stated to carry five Assault Gunboats (not explicitly stated to be the Alpha-class Xg-1 Star Wing), in addition to their standard complement of TIEs, shuttles, and landing barges.
Possibly because of its equivalence to typical Rebel Alliance fighters, the Assault Gunboat has received little to no mention outside of the X-wing computer game series. While exceptional Imperial fighters such as the TIE/D Defender have shown up increasingly in later Expanded Universe novels, the far more numerous Gunboats are rarely depicted in such works.
- Star Wars: X-Wing (First appearance)
- Star Wars: TIE Fighter
- Star Wars: X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter
- Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance
- X-Wing: Rogue Squadron (Mentioned only)
- "A Bitter Winter"—Star Wars Adventure Journal 5
- X-Wing: Isard's Revenge
- Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith (in the hands of the Lumini Pirates)
- Before the Storm (as "assault gunboat") (Mentioned only)
- Showdown at Centerpoint
- The Far Orbit Project
- The Stele Chronicles
- The Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels
- Secrets of the Sisar Run
- "A Buyer's Guide to Alternative Starships"—Star Wars Adventure Journal 5 (As "Imperial assault gunboat") (Mentioned only)
- Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance: Prima's Official Strategy Guide
- Rebellion Era Campaign Guide
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 11 (STA3, Imperial Star Destroyer)
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 39 (SEN1, Imperial Landing Craft)
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 46 (LAM2, Lambda-Class Imperial Shuttle)
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
- The Essential Guide to Warfare (Picture only)
- Fly Casual
- Endless Vigil
Notes and referencesEdit
- ↑ 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 The Stele Chronicles
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Pricing for a slightly modified Assault Gunboat. Secrets of the Sisar Run, page 77-78
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 The Far Orbit Project
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Rebellion Era Campaign Guide
- ↑ Star Wars: X-Wing
- ↑ The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, Vol. III, p. 342
- ↑ 8.00 8.01 8.02 8.03 8.04 8.05 8.06 8.07 8.08 8.09 8.10 8.11 8.12 8.13 8.14 Star Wars: TIE Fighter
- ↑ Secrets of the Sisar Run
- ↑ The Essential Guide to Warfare