Stationed aboard the first Death Star during the Battle of Yavin, Black Squadron was the TIE unit which Vader led into battle against the attacking Rebel snubfighters—the only TIE unit to deploy against the Rebels during the battle. As Moff Tarkin and most of the rest of the Death Star's chain of command refused to take the threat the Rebellion posed seriously, only the squadron that Vader personally commanded launched—fortunately for the Alliance, as the giant station carried several thousand TIEs that would have easily overwhelmed the few dozen snubfighters the Rebels managed to throw against it. An element of six TIEs attacked the X-wings providing top cover, while Vader himself and two wing guards engaged the ships making the trench run. It is not often appreciated these TIE pilots were significantly outnumbered during the battle, but the members of Black Squadron were among the finest the Empire had to offer: they fought hard, and were responsible for many of the Alliance casualties.
During the Battle of Yavin, the pilots of Black Squadron bore DS-61 designations, but this does not mean that they were specifically created or regularly assigned as part of the Death Star's TIE force—rather, their designations indicated the fact that they were assigned to the Death Star at that time, just as the pilots of the 181st Imperial Fighter Group bore DS-181 designations during the Battle of Endor. More clearly, the DS-61 designation does suggest that the squadron was associated with a numerical designation as the 61st, though it is unclear whether this denoted Black Squadron itself, or a wing or group that they were part of.
It is sometimes assumed that Darth Vader held the position of Black Leader, but there is no direct evidence for this. His two wing guards were "Mauler" Mithel, flying as "Black 2" and DS-61-3, nicknamed "Backstabber" as "Black 3". The composition of the rest of the squadron is less clear, but it is known that they included DS-61-4 "Dark Curse" (the pilot who scored a hit on Luke Skywalker's X-wing) and DS-61-8. Lieutenant Tanbris was the unit's non-flying executive officer. As Black Squadron were the only fighters actually deployed in the battle, it seems almost certain that Qorl was also a member of the unit, although he may in fact have been one of the pilots already mentioned. Additionally, Qorl's operating number was CE3K-1977, giving further evidence that the DS-61 designations were not static assignments, but were given in addition to the pilots' individual Imperial identifications.
Behind the scenes
- Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (Mentioned only)
- Death Star
- Star Wars: Empire at War
- Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption
- Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (First appearance)
- Star Wars: Trench Run
- Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader
- Star Wars Battlefront: Mobile Squadrons
- Star Wars Customizable Card Game
- Death Star Technical Companion
- Star Wars PocketModel TCG – Base Set (Card: Black Squadron TIE Fighter)
- Star Wars PocketModel TCG – Base Set (Card: Darth Vader's TIE Advanced x1)
- Star Wars PocketModel TCG – Scum & Villainy (Card: Black Squadron TIE Advanced)
- Star Wars PocketModel TCG – Scum & Villainy (Card: Black Leader TIE Advanced)
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia