- "This is my personal battle cruiser…and I did not name it the Executor for nothing!"
- ―Darth Vader
The Super Star Destroyer Executor was the personal flagship of the Lord Darth Vader, the premier command ship of the Imperial Navy, and the first of the Executor-class Star Dreadnought line. Designed by starship engineer Lira Wessex as a successor to the original Imperial-class Star Destroyer, the Executor, at a monumental 19,000 meters in length, represented the largest traditional warship the galaxy had ever seen by the time of its completion. The Executor bristled with more than 5,000 weapon emplacements, enough firepower to blast any planetary surface to slag in hours, and a military complement capable of annihilating any ground installation. The Executor's presence alone, however, was enough to frighten an entire star system into submission.
Construction on the Executor began under complete secrecy in the secluded Scarl system, where Vader raised and trained Galen Marek, his secret dark side apprentice, in a failed plan to overthrow Emperor Palpatine as galactic ruler. By 0 ABY, the Executor was transferred to the Starship Yards of Fondor for the final stages of construction, under the overall direction of Admiral Amise Griff. At Fondor, the Executor became the failed target of internal sabotage by a group of traitorous Imperial admirals, who hoped to destroy Vader's project to prevent their own decline in power. Once completed, the Executor made for Yavin 4, site of the Rebel Alliance base. Vader hoped to crush the Rebellion once and for all with his new weapon, but the Executor failed to stop the Rebel evacuation from Yavin, and Griff died in the process.
For three years after Yavin, under the command of Admiral Kendal Ozzel, the Executor led Vader's Star Destroyer fleet, the Imperial Death Squadron, in the Empire's hunt for the Rebellion's secret headquarters as part of Vader's personal mission to locate his son, Luke Skywalker. In 3 ABY, the Executor led the Imperial victory at the Battle of Hoth, but due to the tactical blundering of Ozzel, Skywalker and the Rebellion leadership escaped, and Vader executed Ozzel for his failure. The Executor's admiralty immediately passed to Captain Firmus Piett, under whom the Executor chased the Millennium Falcon from Hoth to Bespin's Cloud City in continued pursuit of Skywalker. The Executor again failed to capture Skywalker at Bespin, however, and so Vader's search for his son continued.
For a time, with the search for Skywalker on hold, the Executor returned with Vader to Coruscant, where, in 3.5 ABY, tensions between Vader and Prince Xizor of the Black Sun crime syndicate came to a head. In orbit above the Imperial capital, the Executor obliterated Xizor's personal skyhook, killing Vader's nemesis and ending Black Sun's threatening influence on the Empire. Immediately afterward, the Executor was assigned to protect the construction site of the incomplete second Death Star in the remote Endor system.
In 4 ABY, the Executor's relatively short life came to a crashing end above the Forest Moon of Endor. During the Battle of Endor, the Executor led a massive Star Destroyer armada in trapping the Rebel Fleet between itself and the Death Star battlestation. However, the Rebels turned the tables on the Empire by attacking the Executor at point-blank range. A concentrated assault on the Executor at the climax of the battle brought down the massive Super Star Destroyer's bridge deflector shields, before a wayward A-wing starfighter, piloted by Arvel Crynyd, crashed into the Executor's command bridge. With navigation failing, the Executor was sucked into the gravity well of the Death Star and collided with the battlestation, disintegrating on impact.
- "I—it looks like a battle cruiser, sir…the largest one I've ever seen!…"
"…The biggest thing this side of the Death Star, Threepio…"
- ―C-3PO and Luke Skywalker, upon first sighting the Executor
The Executor was the first of the Executor-class Star Dreadnought line and the premier flagship of the Imperial Navy. Measuring a colossal 19,000 meters long, the Super Star Destroyer marked a crowning achievement in starship engineering for both the Imperial Navy and Kuat Drive Yards, the warship's designer. Nearly twelve times as long as the 1,600-meter-long Imperial I-class Star Destroyer, the Executor represented the largest traditional starship ever constructed by the Imperial Navy at the time of its completion—only the first Death Star and select Torpedo Spheres were larger.
Following the same recognizable dagger-shaped design of the Imperial-class Star Destroyer, the Executor's superstructure resembled an arrowhead from above. A smooth titanium-reinforced alusteel hull surrounded a massive island of habitable volume in the center of the Star Dreadnought, which accommodated the command, control, operation, and habitat decks. In the blackness of space, the Executor's interior lighting enshrouded the warship in a cerulean glow, though the Executor's exterior was in fact a grayish hue, darker than the traditional "Star Destroyer White" typical of the Imperial-class line.
Rising above the dorsal technoscape of the Executor, supported by a thick axis, stood the 285-meter-wide trapezoidal command tower—a veritable ship unto itself. In a true testament of the Kuat Drive Yards' design philosophy of "terror styling," the command tower was deliberately positioned in prominent view of any vessel bold enough to dare an attack. The command tower housed several key components of the Star Dreadnought, including the dual geodesic KDY ISD-72x deflector shield generator domes—an enlarged version specially developed from those aboard Imperial-class Star Destroyers—which doubled as communications sensor globes; as well as the officers' quarters; briefing rooms; escape pods for the Executor's upper-echelon commanders; and, most importantly, the bridge.
In accordance with the Executor's standard command tower module found on many KDY-constructed warship classes, the bridge design mirrored that of the Imperial-class Star Destroyer. A gleaming command walkway, separating twin crewman pits, led to a series of two-meter-tall transparisteel viewports that offered an unobstructed view of space beyond. Although the command tower stood arrogantly exposed above the Executor's superstructure, the ship's shielding system, which matched the power output of a medium star, kept it sufficiently protected from attack, making such Imperial pretentiousness a possibility. The Executor's shielding system was among the most powerful ever conceived for a warship.
The underside of the Executor contained the engineering sections; the enormous primary hangar bay, which was large enough to dock an Imperial Star Destroyer and thousands of starfighters; and countless secondary docking bays and staging areas located near the bow of the ship. Thirteen immensely powerful, blood red-glowing KDY Executor-50.x sublight drive engine thrusters propelled the warship forward at a maximum speed of 1,230 G, or forty megalights. The thruster exhaust bells created an energy wash so powerful that an unshielded ship traveling too close to the Executor's wake would be instantly destroyed by the radiation. The Executor was outfitted with a Class 2.0 hyperdrive engine for hyperspace travel.
Aside from the Star Dreadnought's unprecedented size, the Executor's awesome offensive capabilities set it apart from other warships, bristling with more than 5,000 turbolaser batteries and ion cannons. With 2,000 turbolaser batteries, 2,000 heavy turbolaser batteries, 250 concussion missile batteries, each armed with thirty heavy concussion missiles, 250 heavy ion cannons, 500 laser point-defense cannons, and forty Q7 tractor beam projectors along its city-like surface, the Executor was capable of reducing any planetary surface to slag in a matter of hours. The warship's mere presence in an engagement alone was enough to frighten an enemy force into submission.
While the incredible mass of the Executor proved an advantage in terms of its firepower and the power of its defensive shields, it likewise proved a disadvantage in keeping the warship supplied—the Executor could hold far more resources than the Empire normally had available to provide. More than 100 times as massive as the Imperial-class Star Destroyer, the Executor nevertheless boasted quite a formidable complement of support vessels and instruments of ground warfare.
Standard practice set the Executor with two wings, or twelve squadrons, of varying TIE Series starfighters, for a total of 144 ships, the fighter equivalent of two Imperial-class Star Destroyers. These two wings primarily comprised TIE/LN starfighters, TIE/sa bombers, and TIE/IN interceptors. By the year 3 ABY, the starfighter fleet expanded to include TIE/D Defenders and TIE/ad starfighters. The Executor also routinely hosted Darth Vader's TIE Advanced x1.
Additionally, the Executor regularly maintained 200 miscellaneous combat and support ships in secondary docking bays, including gunships, such as Gamma-class ATR-6 assault transports for troop deployment; and armed shuttles, such as the Lambda-class T-4a shuttle, used to transport senior officers and dignitaries.
Likewise, as a standard the Executor carried a massive army that included three prefabricated garrison bases; a full corps of stormtroopers and Army troopers; 38,000 ground troops; and hundreds of assault walkers for planetary warfare, typically including thirty All Terrain Armored Transports, fifty All Terrain Scout Transports, and All Terrain Personal Transports, deployed by Y-85 Titan dropships and other landing craft. A small armada of speeder bikes and landspeeders completed the ground arsenal. In theory, the Executor could hold far more starships and troops, though such resources were never available.
Facilities and accommodations
Darth Vader had the Executor specially equipped with a spherical hyperbaric meditation chamber for his own use within his personal suite. Inside the chamber, which opened by splitting in two, like the gaping maw of some beast, a supermedicated high-pressure gas mix allowed Vader to safely rest free of his breathing mask, aiding his badly damaged lungs in the absorption of oxygen, so that his scarred head and face could feel fresh air. The pod's pressurized atmosphere enabled Vader to relax into a meditative state, providing a sanctuary from the rigors of command. While within the chamber, a series of high-bandwidth communications consoles and a large visual display screen allowed Vader to communicate directly with his commanders on the Executor's bridge. Just beyond the chamber within the suite rested a HoloNet transceiver projection pod with which Vader could immediately communicate with the Emperor directly from throughout the galaxy.
The Executor's onboard facilities included the central Engineering section, which managed the various systems that kept the titanic vessel running. The Star Dreadnought's powerful engines vibrated through the deckplates of Engineering. Ship security was maintained centrally within a large security office, equipped with various control panels and monitoring stations, including a ring of primary panels positioned in the middle of the office. Security cameras provided the office with feeds of various portions of the ship. A central droid pool maintained and serviced the Executor's many droids. The droid pool's facilities could only be accessed by logging into the system's computer network.
Further crew accommodations aboard the Executor included at least one sparsely furnished, nondescript conference/briefing room near the middle of the ship; dining galleys and an officers' mess hall in the command tower; at least one recreational facility in the middle of the ship, populated with games, such as dejarik, programs playing on video screens lining the walls, and dining tables; and an infirmary, with an adjacent reception area, furnished with chairs and couches for waiting patients. The infirmary offered a level of cleanliness surpassing the rest of the ship to meet the needs and desires necessary for the Executor's medical staff to perform its duties well.
Located in the levels immediately above the command bridge within the central command structure was a series of suites designed for the Executor's admiral. Adjacent to the suites was a special escape pod for the admiral's specific use. Small cabins and personal quarters accommodated the rest of the Executor's crew—higher-ranking officers were typically afforded solitary quarters within the command structure, while lower-ranking personnel shared cabins with a roommate. Another area contained the Executor's troop quarters.
The Executor's brig comprised detention and interrogation cells, which were roughly four paces in length and large enough to hold at least two individuals. The cells had cots to accommodate slumber and ceilings that disappeared into darkness, while the walls had a barren black-gray finish intended to impress upon a captive the hopelessness of the situation. Alternatively, the Super Star Destroyer hosted civilian vessels within its many secondary docking bays, directed by a nearby launch control center. The Executor charged civilians by the day to keep their vessels docked in its storage bays. A cavernous cargo storage area allowed for another 250,000 metric tons of material in addition to the Executor's military complement. Six years' worth of consumables kept the Executor's crew members well supplied.
Like all Imperial-class and Super-class Star Destroyers, the Executor was constructed with a special throne room set aside for exclusive use by the Emperor. From this throne room, the Emperor could take control of the Empire in whole and contemplate the dark side of the Force.
- "Vader's on that ship."
- ―Luke Skywalker
The Executor's origins could be traced back to the final days of the Clone Wars. Starship engineer Lira Wessex, daughter of famed Galactic Republic engineer Walex Blissex, designed the Imperator-class Star Destroyer, a massive 1,600-meter-long warship with an intimidation factor as great as its firepower, which saw limited use in Republic task forces. Following the Republic's transition into the Galactic Empire in 19 BBY, the Imperator, since renamed the Imperial-class Star Destroyer, became the iconic staple of the Imperial Navy—a terrifying symbol of the Emperor's might. Recognizing the immense size of the Star Destroyer was largely responsible for its ability to intimidate, Wessex began to design a new warship that would dwarf even the enormous Imperial Star Destroyer.
The Empire's initial attempt at realizing a larger Star Destroyer class began in the early years of the New Order with the Sarlacc Project, a top-secret initiative to construct a twelve-kilometer-long prototype Super Star Destroyer. However, the Empire's project suffered repeated delays and was eventually sabotaged by insurgent elements loyal to Senator Bail Organa of Alderaan before it could be completed. Still, the destroyed prototype would prove to be the forerunner to an even larger Imperial warship.
Wessex's efforts to improve upon the design of the original Imperial-class Star Destroyer eventually resulted in the conceptualization of an unprecedented nineteen-kilometer-long Super Star Destroyer, the final product of the Sarlacc Project. This new starship class was designed to be a terror weapon like the galaxy had never seen. With construction authorized by the Emperor, the finished product, the first of a new generation of Super Star Destroyers, would serve as the personal flagship of the Lord Darth Vader.
However, the term "Super Star Destroyer" was by no means an official label. The Imperial Navy initially listed the vessel as a "Super-class Star Destroyer" in budget requests to mask the true destructive nature of the warship from the Imperial Senate. The Imperial Navy even went so far as to incorrectly report the size of the new ship to keep oversight committees from discovering its purpose. Such measures would create naming confusion in attempts at officially classifying the Executor in the future.
Although Kuat Drive Yards served as the primary manufacturer of the Empire's Star Destroyers, the Executor's manufacturing contract was unexpectedly granted to the Starship Yards of Fondor. The Empire demanded total secrecy for the Executor project, closing off the Fondor system to all nonmilitary traffic. No longer able to meet the needs of their most valuable civilian clients, the Fondor executives were enraged. Still, the massive project took up virtually all of Fondor's resources, and they knew better than to test Vader's anger. They also reasoned that if they met the Empire's expectations, they might very well be able to steal future lucrative military contracts from their Kuat competitors.
In reality, the Empire awarding the Executor contract to Fondor opened up the KDY shipyards for a new project. Having lost the Executor job, Kuat executives made sure that all future Super-class Star Destroyers would bear their logo, which only further angered Fondor. In fact, Kuat would be simultaneously constructing a duplicate Super Star Destroyer for the Empire along with Fondor. The Empire provisionally named both ships "Executor" to make it seem as if only one ship was being constructed. By attributing all expenses of the sister ship to the true Executor, the Empire kept the existence of the second Super Star Destroyer a secret from the galaxy at large. Under this ruse, both Kuat and Fondor publicly laid claim to having produced the Executor, Darth Vader's flagship.
Starkiller's base of operations
- "The historical records will claim that the Rebel Alliance was born on Corellia. That is a documented fact. But the truth is this: The Rebel Alliance was born somewhere in the Scarl system aboard Darth Vader's personal starship, the Executor."
- ―PROXY's historical analysis
The Executor first began construction at a top-secret shipyard facility in the secluded Scarl system, located on the restricted Imperial Gandeal-Fondor Hyperlane—which the Empire had secretly forged in accordance with the Executor project—mere parsecs from Fondor. Coupled with the Scarl system's anonymity, the Executor's Scarl labor force at first consisted entirely of droids, which concealed the Super Star Destroyer's construction quite effectively. By 3 BBY, thousands of construction droids continued to labor on the Executor in complete secrecy, and construction had proceeded such that the ship's superstructure was largely completed, and the traditional dagger-shaped hull of a Star Destroyer was recognizable. The command tower had been erected almost in full, with the two shield/sensor globes intact, and the engines were operational. Substantial sections of the hull, including the defined voluminous center, nevertheless remained incomplete, leaving portions of the Executor's interior exposed.
During this time, Vader utilized his uncompleted Super Star Destroyer as a training ground and home for a secret dark side apprentice—Galen Marek, who, unknowing of his true name or identity, operated only under the codename "Starkiller." Vader took great steps to keep the existence of the apprentice hidden from the Emperor, as his taking of an underling was paramount to the betrayal of his own master. The Scarl system provided a location away from the Emperor's spies, who perpetually monitored Vader's every move. Aboard the Executor, Vader frequently sparred with the apprentice, training him in lightsaber combat and other telekinetic measures of the Force. The Dark Lord also provided his apprentice with a holodroid named PROXY. Programmed with a variety of highly efficient lightsaber duel programs, the droid was similarly capable of engaging the apprentice in what effectively served as combat training, although PROXY, by definition of Vader's programming, truly intended to kill the apprentice each time. Vader planned to eventually overthrow the Emperor and succeed him as ruler of the galaxy with the apprentice at his side.
While living aboard the uncompleted Executor, Vader and his apprentice occupied a concealed level in the underside of the Super Star Destroyer that had long since been removed from the original floor plans and would go unnoticed by the future crew. The level, while sparse, consisted of an inner sanctum for Vader, a meditation chamber, a droid workshop, sleeping quarters large enough for one, and a hangar deck. Vader's inner sanctum was lined with a wide angular viewport.
At some point by 2.5 BBY, Vader dispatched the apprentice on a series of missions designed to test his meddle in preparation for deposing the Emperor. To aid the apprentice, Vader secretly assigned the female Imperial pilot Juno Eclipse to the Executor to captain the Rogue Shadow, the apprentice's starship, under the stipulation that anyone learning of her assignment would mean her death. Eclipse had personal quarters on the forty-first deck of the Executor.
After the apprentice succeeded in his appointed mission, killing three fugitive Jedi, thus proving his readiness, Vader ordered him to return to the Executor, where together they would finalize their plan to take control of the galaxy. Upon the apprentice's return to the Scarl system, however, Vader discovered that the Emperor's spies had followed him to the Executor's hidden location—the Emperor's personal fleet of three Imperial-class Star Destroyers and a dozen smaller vessels exited hyperspace and surrounded the Executor. Aboard the Super Star Destroyer, the apprentice believed the time had come to strike against the Emperor, but Vader instead impaled the apprentice with his lightsaber, his plan to move against the Emperor a failure. Having learned of Vader's treachery of taking on an apprentice of his own, the Emperor, watching via hologram through PROXY, ordered the Dark Lord to kill the apprentice or be killed himself. Vader obeyed by telekinetically throwing the apprentice through one of the Executor's transparisteel viewports, out into space.
Vader in fact rescued the apprentice from certain death soon thereafter, treating his grievous injuries over a period of six months, and once more setting him loose upon the galaxy under the guise that he was to organize an armed rebellion against the Empire. With the Emperor distracted with an alliance of rebel dissidents, the apprentice believed, Vader and he would finally strike. In reality, Vader and the Emperor manipulated the apprentice into bringing together the Emperor's greatest political adversaries in one location where they could be eliminated in one fell swoop. On the planet Corellia in 2 BBY, the apprentice joined with Imperial Senator Bail Organa and former senators Mon Mothma and Garm Bel Iblis to discuss the formation of an official rebellion against the Empire. The Executor interrupted the clandestine meeting, however. With the Super Star Destroyer looming in the upper atmosphere alongside several Imperial-class Star Destroyers, Vader and a squad of stormtroopers seized the three senatorial conspirators, revealing to the apprentice that he had been used all along.
Vader took the three imprisoned senators to the Horuz system, the construction site of the incomplete first Death Star, where the Emperor could execute his enemies personally. In a final confrontation with Vader and the Emperor, the apprentice died but liberated his allies nevertheless, freeing them to continue their rebellion. Having become the impetus behind the first significant armed resistance movement against Imperial forces in the galaxy by way of the Emperor's machinations, in a sense the apprentice's efforts staged from the Executor marked the advent of the Alliance to Restore the Republic.
Imperial admirals' plot to sabotage the Executor project
- "Lord Vader advances himself at the expense of me and my fellow officers!…If Darth Vader's project succeeds, my fellow officers and I lose prestige and power. Rather than see that happen, we've paved the way for your Rebel Alliance to intercede."
- ―Admiral Amise Griff
As the Death Star project neared completion in 0 BBY, construction on the Executor had stalled in turn. The planet-destroying battlestation had become the new symbol of Imperial power, and the Death Star was draining much needed resources from the Executor and other projects. Nevertheless, Admiral Conan Antonio Motti promised the Super Star Destroyer line's imminent introduction to active service in authoring the Imperial Navy chapter of the Imperial Handbook: A Commander's Guide, a tactical manual distributed just prior to the Battle of Yavin. Motti noted the Super Star Destroyer's intended role as the Imperial Navy's primary TIE fighter carrier, troop transport, battleship, and planetary bombardment platform, declaring also the Empire's ultimate vision to have one Super Star Destroyer per sector as a command ship for Imperial forces. The Imperial Handbook included an image of the still-under-construction Executor.
Yet following the Death Star's sudden destruction at the Battle of Yavin, the Executor became the Empire's top priority. The nearly-completed Super Star Destroyer was hastily towed from the secrecy of the Scarl system to the Starship Yards of Fondor and a living construction crew, who redoubled their efforts to speed up the Executor's stalled progress. Although the Empire had nationalized Fondor around the time of the Battle of Yavin, it still left the Fondor Guild of Starshipwrights, the planet's ancient rulers, in power to oversee the Executor project.
Construction entered the final stages at Fondor under the utmost levels of security. A fleet of Imperial-class Star Destroyers patrolled Fondor, ordered to destroy any unauthorized civilian craft attempting to gain access to the shipyards. The sheer number of bulk freighters delivering materials to the shipyards as a result of the Executor project prompted Fondor to add additional shipping lanes not indicated on standard star charts to accommodate the heavy construction traffic. Admiral Amise Griff supervised the Executor's overall construction at Fondor.
Following the sudden emergence of the Rebellion in the wake of the Battle of Yavin, work slowdowns and sabotage reached critical levels at Fondor's shipyards. Fearing punishment from the Emperor if the Executor was not completed according to schedule, the Fondor system's governor loosened security restrictions on the shipyard's workers and extended more generous benefit packages to non-Human laborers. Although the governor's measures quelled the unrest, the lighter security only left the Executor project vulnerable to external saboteurs—namely, a group of five traitorous Imperial admirals.
After Vader's return to Coruscant following the Imperial disaster at Yavin, the Emperor ordered him to Fondor to personally oversee the final stages of construction of the Executor. Before reaching Fondor, Vader rendezvoused with the group of Imperial admirals, including Amise Griff, to dictate his decided war policy against the Rebellion. Vader planned to use the Executor to single-handedly destroy the Alliance, thus taking absolute control of the Imperial war effort, much to the admirals' disgust, who viewed the Executor's construction as little more than grandstanding. They loathed the favor Vader courted from the Emperor, and feared that with the completion of the Executor, they would suffer a great loss of influence and stature. Whereas the Death Star had previously eclipsed the Imperial Navy as the Emperor's preferred weapon of terror, the battlestation's destruction at Yavin returned the admirals to their original position of prominence. The Executor, however, threatened to once again steal that dominance away and place it solely in Vader's command.
During the meeting, Vader telekinetically lifted Griff out of his seat in a Force choke in response to the admiral raising an objection against his outlined course against the Rebellion, as well as to intimidate the other admirals into adherence. Vader and Griff in fact staged the entire scene to make it seem as if Griff truly sympathized with the admirals' concerns, when he was actually in league with Vader. The two planned to use the Executor project to weed out those who sought to undermine Vader in the Emperor's eyes by bringing the project to ruin.
Griff anonymously contacted the Alliance High Command on Yavin 4, leaking to them the existence of Vader's secret project at Fondor aimed at the Rebellion's destruction. He explained that he and his fellow Imperial admirals wished to halt Vader's rise in power and therefore had used their influence to keep open a position in the droid maintenance section of the project, which the Alliance could in turn use to their advantage by inserting a spy into that position. Luke Skywalker volunteered for the mission, having droid maintenance experience, and, along with the droids C-3PO and R2-D2, he journeyed to the Fondor Shipyards to collect any information he could on Vader's project. In addition to Skywalker, the Alliance also dispatched a team of agents to destroy the project. Only upon arriving did Skywalker discover that Vader's undertaking was nothing less than the largest starship he had ever seen.
Skywalker's maintenance duties included moving all along the Executor, often repairing droids in zero gravity. While he kept up the ruse of droid repair, R2-D2 compiled detailed information on the Executor's schematics. During his masquerade, Skywalker befriended Tanith Shire, a woman who had also infiltrated the Executor project in order to steal one of the shipyard's drone barges.
With the Rebel spy in place, Vader used the Imperial admirals' ambition to sabotage the Executor to lure them to Fondor to meet with the spy—planning to destroy them all at once. After Vader purportedly left the Fondor system to briefly attend to other matters, in actuality remaining on Fondor waiting to strike, Griff and the admirals secretly convened with Skywalker to supply him with explosive weapons necessary to sabotage the Executor. Although Vader's plan to capture the Rebel spy failed when Skywalker sensed the Dark Lord's presence through the Force and escaped the scene, Vader's stormtroopers nevertheless rounded up the traitorous admirals, bringing their scheme to sabotage the Executor project to an end.
Simultaneously, Vader succeeded in uncovering the team of Alliance saboteurs, foiling their sabotage mission as well. Skywalker eventually returned to the Rebel base on Yavin 4—the only member of the Alliance team to survive the failed sabotage mission—with a great deal of information on the Executor stored within R2-D2, his own mission largely a success.
- "Gentlemen…a toast! To celebrate completion of the most powerful new craft in the Imperial fleet!"
- ―The Executor's first commanders congratulate themselves
In the interim between the Death Star's destruction and the imminent completion of the Executor, Vader initiated a large-scale, if highly ineffective, blockade of the Yavin system. Vader also reassigned Griff away from Fondor to take command of the blockade as the Executor project neared completion. Vader did not want to crush the Rebel base immediately, using the blockade as a means to keep the Rebel command in place on Yavin 4 until the Executor itself was ready to lead a full-scale planetary assault. He planned to use the Executor as personal retribution for the embarrassment he suffered at Yavin. As the months wore on, however, the blockade situation angered local fleet commanders and even Griff himself, who urged Vader to strike. Consequently, Fondor accelerated the Executor's construction.
Around two months after the Battle of Yavin, the Executor was transferred to the remote Endor system, the secret construction site of the second Death Star battlestation. Along with a number of Imperial-class Star Destroyers, the Executor patrolled the construction site, where the new Death Star's progress fell sort of the Emperor's expectations. Still incensed with Vader over his failure at Yavin, the Emperor relieved Vader of his command of the primary Imperial Fleet and reassigned him to administrative duties at Endor to ensure the Death Star's continuing progress. Vader's reassignment included relinquishing command of his flagship, the Imperial I-class Star Destroyer Devastator, to the upstart Colonel Kell Bircher.
The Executor played host to the Emperor's eventual arrival at the Endor construction site. The Emperor discovered, much to his disgust, that Vader had appointed Birra Seah, a Kuat Drive Yards systems engineer serving as a liaison to the construction project, as acting Moff in command of the Death Star's construction. However, to save Seah, whom Vader discovered to have a strong connection to the Force, from the Emperor's wrath, he instead surreptitiously placed her in an officer's position aboard the Devastator as his spy to keep tabs on Bircher. From aboard the Executor's bridge in the Endor system, Vader remained in regular contact with Seah as she served on the Devastator. Seah reported to Vader that Bircher captured two Rebels aboard his Star Destroyer, Wedge Antilles and Luke Skywalker, the latter being of intense interest to the Dark Lord. Vader commanded Seah to detain Skywalker and bring the Rebel immediately to him. Eventually, the Executor returned to Fondor.
Finally, six months after the Battle of Yavin, the Executor reached completion on schedule. The first Super Star Destroyer ever constructed, the Executor represented the most powerful starship in the Imperial Navy inventory and, for the matter, the largest and most powerful capital ship in the entire galaxy. The Executor, which replaced the Star Destroyer Devastator as Vader's flagship, would become the most famous of all the Empire's Star Destroyers, and held the mantle of Imperial Command Ship. By time of completion, the Executor's official designation was changed from the colloquial Super Star Destroyer to the Executor-class Star Dreadnought. Nevertheless, the term "Super Star Destroyer" stuck and many continued to borrow superlatives from the Clone Wars era and simply classify the Executor as a Super-class Star Destroyer.
By purely military standards, the completed Executor was somewhat impractical, since a smaller ship could fulfill its mission duties. Instead, the Executor served as physical proof of the unlimited resources and might of the Emperor. Indeed, Wessex's design succeeded where the Imperial-class Star Destroyer had left off—the Executor could conquer an enemy through sheer intimidation without even firing a shot, capable of demoralizing a planetary population merely by appearing in orbit and even subduing an entire star system.
The Executor project had taken years to complete, and the incredible cost to fund the construction of such a large warship—an estimated 1,143,350,000 credits—had practically bankrupted several star systems. In fact, years later in 12 ABY, Imperial Admiral Gilad Pellaeon once remarked that the Executor alone had practically bankrupted the entire Empire. The Imperial treatment afforded Fondor during the Executor's construction—namely locking out all civilian traffic from the Fondor system and awarding subsequent Super Star Destroyer contracts to their Kuati competitors—would erode support for the Emperor at Fondor and eventually lead to the Empire losing the planet to the Rebellion, reportedly with inside help, in the years following.
The Executor's completion paved the way for the introduction of the new warship line. Three Super Star Destroyers would enter service in the three years following, with several more under construction. At the same time that Fondor completed work on the Executor, Kuat Drive Yards likewise finished the Executor's sister ship. Rechristened the Lusankya, the duplicate Super Star Destroyer was interred on Coruscant as the Emperor's private escape vessel, while Vader pressed the Executor into immediate active military service.
Maiden voyage and approach to Yavin 4
- "The Executor performed magnificently, Lord Vader! The destruction is complete!"
"No, Admiral…it is just beginning!"
- ―The Executor's interim admiral and Darth Vader, following the destruction of Laakteen Depot
Vader's impatience barely allowed surrounding space tugs and equipment barges time to scatter out of the way as the finished Executor blasted out of the Fondor Shipyards. Vader ordered his commanders to set course for the nearest Rebel installation to christen his new warship by testing its destructive power. The Executor's maiden voyage saw it annihilate the Rebel outpost at Laakteen Depot with little resistance, a stronghold the Rebellion had fought nearly a year to win. While a minor skirmish, the Executor's destruction of Laakteen Depot served both a military and political purpose, demonstrating to the Rebel Alliance and the galaxy that the Rebellion's victory over the Death Star was by pure chance and that the new Super Star Destroyer, of which there would be many more, was unstoppable. With the outpost left a smoldering ruin, the Executor continued on toward the Rebel base on Yavin 4.
En route to Yavin 4, the Executor soon fell under attack at the planet Skorrupon by a Rebel task force consisting of an EF76 Nebulon-B escort frigate and two CR90 corvettes trying to slow the Super Star Destroyer's advance. Rather than taking immediate action against the attackers, Vader ordered the Executor to stand down momentarily, allowing the Rebel ships a strafing run across the Executor's prow, which inflicted minimal damage against its shields. The Executor's acting admiral at first worried at Vader's delay, but the Dark Lord was simply toying with his ship's prey. After a moment longer, the Executor easily destroyed the three Rebel ships. Vader acknowledged that his hesitation was to allow the Rebels time to report back to the Rebel base the Executor's advance toward Yavin 4, before ordering the Super Star Destroyer onward with no delay.
Knowing the Executor inexorably neared Yavin 4, the situation at the Rebel base turned desperate. The Executor threatened to wipe out the Rebellion's top starfighter pilots, including Luke Skywalker and a core group that would eventually form the elite Rogue Squadron, if the base was destroyed. Alliance General Jan Dodonna had no choice but to therefore order a full evacuation of the base despite the Imperial blockade waiting to ensnare the fleeing Rebel transports, but he still held out hope for one last remaining chance of stopping the Executor's approach.
Using the detailed information Skywalker collected during his spy mission of the uncompleted Executor at Fondor, Dodonna and the Rebellion previously discovered several possible exploitable weaknesses in the Super Star Destroyer. First, however, they would need to break through the Executor's powerful deflector shields, a near impossible task only an entire fleet would likely be able to accomplish—resources the Rebellion certainly did not have at their disposal. Instead, they planned to use a power gem—a rare meteorite particle once used by the Pirates of Iridium during the days of the Old Republic that could disable any starship's energy shields—to knock out the Executor's own shielding system and inflict enough damage to stop the approaching warship. The inherent risk was that the gem's power was rapidly deteriorating and time was of the essence. If the power gem failed to disable the Super Star Destroyer's shields, it would be a suicide mission, and the Executor would be clear to destroy the Rebel base.
Both Skywalker and Vrad Dodonna, Jan Dodonna's son, volunteered for the mission. The younger Dodonna had participated in the Rebellion's previous failed attack on the Executor at Skorrupon, except the monstrous Super Star Destroyer had broken the man's spirit entirely and had sent him running back to Yavin 4 with deliberate, personally-inflicted damage to his ship to mask his cowardice. Completely disillusioned with the Rebel Alliance, Dodonna planned to sabotage the mission to stop the Executor and use the power gem to bargain with the Empire for his life.
Stopped by Rebel power gem attack
- "I—It's remarkable that with time for only one brief shot…the Rebels were able to hit one of our few vulnerable spots, Lord Vader!"
"Is it, Admiral? Those who served on the Death Star might disagree…if they were still alive!"
- ―The Executor's admiral and Darth Vader
The Executor encountered Skywalker and Dodonna in their special power-gem attack ship in the Feswe Corridor, an uninhabited star system filled with densely-packed, tumbling asteroids, the cover of which provided a perfect spot for the Rebel attack. The Executor's second acting admiral derided the attack as foolhardy, believing a single small vessel could do no harm, especially since the Rebels' capital ships had so easily been defeated previously at Skorrupon. Vader, however, remembered how a single starfighter had destroyed the Death Star. Taking no chances, he ordered the admiral to maintain full shields and for the gunners to open fire on the Rebel craft.
Dodonna wildly maneuvered the vessel away from the Executor but purposely vectored close enough for the power gem to nearly penetrate the Super Star Destroyer's shields, hoping the Empire would detect the anomaly, which would then allow him to purchase his own safety. Vader instantly realized that the Rebel attack ship was indeed equipped with such a power gem, but the craft had come close enough to the Executor that Vader had also sensed the Force in one of the ship's pilots. Believing the sensation to be emanating from none other than his own son, Luke Skywalker, Vader ordered the Executor to reverse its course heading away from Yavin 4 to pursue the Rebel craft, which had disappeared from sight.
Once the Rebel ship reappeared, after landing on a nearby planetoid where Dodonna expelled Skywalker from the craft, the Executor continued pursuit. The primary acting admiral, concerned that the Executor's battle schedule did not allow for such a deviation from its course toward Yavin 4, voiced his concerns to Vader, but the Dark Lord silenced his commander by momentarily closing his windpipe with the Force. Vader considered a chance at capturing Skywalker worth delaying the attack on the Rebel base. He ordered the Executor to capture the Rebel ship by tractor beam in order to take Skywalker alive.
However, Vader grew concerned when he could no longer sense the presence of the being whom he believed to be Skywalker aboard the Rebel ship, since Skywalker had indeed disembarked. Only when Dodonna suddenly changed course to attack the Executor head on in a suicide maneuver as part of a change of heart did Vader realize he had indeed lost Skywalker. With shields transferred fully forward, the Executor suffered little damage as the Rebel craft slammed into the Super Star Destroyer at full force. Although the power gem's strength had weakened enough to have no effect on the Executor, setting the shields forward left the Executor's entire aft section unshielded and vulnerable. Han Solo and Skywalker in the Millennium Falcon took advantage of the momentary lapse by firing off one brief shot at the Executor's engines, disabling its gyro-control system. Once more drawing a parallel to the Death Star's destruction, Vader saw nothing extraordinary in that the Rebels succeeded in hitting one of the few vulnerable spots on the Executor with a single shot.
The attack left the Executor temporarily unable to turn and resume its approach to Yavin 4. Having successfully slowed the Executor, the Rebellion bought enough time to complete the evacuation of Yavin Base. Vader allowed responsibility to subsequently fall upon the shoulders of Griff, in charge of the blockade, to stop the Rebels fleeing from Yavin 4 until the Executor could complete repairs. Griff hoped to reap the full accolades of the opportunity placed before him by crushing the Rebellion himself, not Vader. Meanwhile, the Executor fell back from the Feswe Corridor to the nearby planet Toprawa for repairs.
Race to destroy the Rebel Fleet
- "Three of our own cruisers! Dropping out of hyperspace right into us, Lord Vader!"
- ―Executor commander
Vader soon learned, however, that the Rebels had indeed evacuated Yavin 4, though he still trusted Griff, in charge of the Imperial blockade, to stop the escaping Rebel Fleet while the Executor continued repairs at Toprawa. To help effect the fleet's escape, the Rebels orchestrated a three-pronged simultaneous attack at different points along the Imperial blockade, including a diversionary strike in the Vallusk Cluster, which succeeded in drawing enough of the blockade away to open up a small hole leading to a hyperspace escape corridor. Griff quickly figured out that the Rebel strikes were designed to do nothing more than divert his attention from their true course, and he ordered the three Imperial-class Star Destroyers under his command to make all haste to cut off the Rebel Fleet, but he refrained from informing Vader and the Executor of the Rebels' actions or location.
What Griff failed to realize was that the Rebels had discovered an alternate escape corridor away from Griff's waiting Star Destroyers, albeit an extremely dangerous one that passed perilously close to the erupting stellar flares of the unstable red giant star of the Feswe Prime system. Although the Executor's admiral feared that Griff would steal the glory away from the Executor by destroying the Rebels himself, Vader carefully bided his time, knowing that if Griff hounded the Rebel Fleet hard enough, Luke Skywalker would eventually use the Force to try and help his allies escape, which Vader would be able to sense. When Vader did, the Executor would arrive to annihilate the Rebel Fleet.
The Executor's admiral's constant whining about Griff soon exhausted Vader, and the Dark Lord executed his ship's commander by choking him to death. After several hours, the Executor finally completed repairs, although Vader refrained from rushing his ship into action. He patiently continued to wait for Skywalker's Force signature to reveal the Rebel Fleet's location.
Vader's instincts proved correct when Skywalker began using the Force to sense when the Feswe Prime sun's stellar flares would erupt, safely guiding elements of the Rebel Fleet past the danger during intermittent lulls. Detecting Skywalker's tapping into the Force, Vader immediately ordered the Executor to make for the Rebel Fleet's escape route past the unstable sun. Meanwhile, having learned that the Executor's damage had been repaired and that the Rebel Fleet had begun escaping into hyperspace at the alternate escape corridor at Feswe Prime, Griff desperately ordered his three Star Destroyers to execute a quick hyperspace micro-jump, hoping to bring his ships out on the far side of the unstable sun where they would intercept the remainder of the Rebel Fleet. It would be a race to the finish between the Executor and Griff's Star Destroyers to see which ships arrived first to wipe out the Rebel Fleet.
The Executor exited hyperspace on the far side of the unstable sun first, ahead of Griff, just as the final element of the Rebel Fleet approached its hyperspace jump point. As the Executor moved around the sun, the Rebel Fleet's approach brought its ships right into the Executor's path. With still no sign of Griff, Vader ordered the Executor to open fire with all guns on the Rebel Fleet, but the Super Star Destroyer never had the chance. At that moment, Griff's three Star Destroyers suddenly emerged from hyperspace right on top of the Executor. Although the Executor's powerful shields protected the ship from sustaining any significant damage, Griff and his Star Destroyers were instantly obliterated in the collision. The Star Destroyers' inaccurate hyperspace jump stopped the Executor's pursuit cold, allowing the last remnants of the Rebel Fleet to escape safely into hyperspace. Once more, Vader and the Executor had failed to capture Luke Skywalker, but the Dark Lord vowed that the time would come when he would confront his son.
Following the Rebels' evacuation from Yavin, Vader discussed the Empire's misfortunes with the Emperor via his private holographic chamber aboard the Executor, ensuring his master that their destiny would be fulfilled. Around this time, Vader's personal chambers aboard the Executor continued to play host to further holographic communications between Vader and the Emperor regarding the Imperial quest for dominion. The Dark Lords reassured themselves of the Rebellion's impending doom despite the defection of Imperial pilot Tycho Celchu to the Rebellion and his theft of certain Imperial intelligence, which resulted in the escape of Rebel scientists on the planet Ralltiir.
Shortly after taking possession of the Executor, Vader conducted a holographic conference from the bridge of his Super Star Destroyer with the Emperor and the Dark Prince Xizor, the secret head of the Black Sun crime syndicate, in the Imperial Palace on Coruscant to discuss Xizor's plan to destroy the Bounty Hunters' Guild. The success of the plan, which splintered the Guild into disparate factions, allowed Vader to frequently hire these free-agent bounty hunters in the future for his own ends.
Formation of Death Squadron
- "…with the destruction of the Death Star, the Empire's need for an even greater show of force became not a return to the days of the great fleets, but the dawning of the day of the greatest fleet."
- ―From the writings of Rebel Alliance historian Voren Na'al
The destruction of the Death Star forced the Empire to consider the Rebellion a far greater threat than ever before imagined. The Emperor offered Vader a free hand in hunting down the elusive Rebel High Command, which had disappeared since their escape at Yavin, and the Executor was the Emperor's gift to Vader to achieve that end. Vader took this liberty to call together a fleet of his favored and, indeed, some of the best, Star Destroyers of the Imperial Navy to assist him in his hunt. They primarily included the Imperial II-class Star Destroyers Avenger, Accuser, and Stalker, and the Imperial I-class Star Destroyers Devastator, Adjudicator, and Tyrant, though they were all merely ornamental compared to the might of the Executor.
The code-named Imperial Death Squadron, elements of which had originally been formed under Griff during his command of the Executor prior to his death and failure to stop the Rebel evacuation from Yavin 4, represented the most powerful fleet of warships ever assembled in the history of the galaxy. Accordingly enough, the fleet epitomized typical Imperial overkill and inefficiency, much like the Executor itself. Death Squadron's official insignia featured an Executor-class Super Star Destroyer against the backdrop of the Imperial emblem.
Death Squadron's formation became a public event, for the Emperor no longer considered it necessary to keep the threat of the Rebellion a secret. A reminder to the galaxy of the Empire's power, Death Squadron had but one goal: locate the Rebel Alliance and destroy it. Still, Vader had a more specific goal in mind—namely, the capture of Luke Skywalker.
Following Death Squadron's formation, Imperial Advisor Ars Dangor issued a holomessage to the Imperial Military hierarchy and the Empire's Grand Moffs on behalf of the Emperor, announcing the fleet's creation and the Executor's mission to hunt down the Alliance High Command. Dangor stressed that those receiving the message were to do whatever Vader and the Executor required in the completion of their task.
- "I guess you ground-thumpers don't need to keep up with Fleet news. The Executor just happens to be the brand-new flagship of the Lord Darth Vader."
- ―Renegade Imperial stormtrooper Joak Quiller
Within a month after the Rebels' evacuation of Yavin 4, the Executor returned Vader to Coruscant, seat of power for the Empire.
Orbiting Coruscant's cityscape for the first time, the Executor's massive presence over the skies of Imperial City awed the Coruscanti masses, some of whom couldn't believe an object so large could possibly be a starship. Meanwhile, Vader and the Emperor looked on proudly at the Imperial Navy's newest gargantuan, marveling over its size and power. The Emperor presented the Executor to his servant to provoke fear in the entire galaxy.
The Executor later continued to orbit the Imperial capital while Vader conducted archival research concerning the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker. Another opportunity for Vader to capture his son came in the form of a message Chief Administrator Vilim Disra of the remote Shelsha sector in the Outer Rim Territories sent to Vader on Imperial Center, informing him that the fugitive Princess Leia Organa was present on the planet Shelkonwa, the sector capital. Knowing Organa was the key to locating Skywalker, Vader and the Executor set course for Shelkonwa.
Under commanding officer Admiral Bentro, the Executor initiated a lockdown of Shelkonwa, disallowing any ships landing clearance at the palace of sector Governor Barshnis Choard within Makrin City, the planetary capital, while Vader's elite personal stormtrooper contingent, the 501st Legion, conducted a search for Organa. During the blockade, the Executor intercepted an approaching Suwantek Systems TL-1800 freighter, the Melnor Spear, carrying five renegade Imperial stormtroopers—the self-titled Hand of Judgment—as well as the Rebels Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and the Wookiee Chewbacca, the latter of whom had come to Shelkonwa to extract Organa from Imperial danger. After the Melnor Spear provided a legitimate clearance code for passage under a fake transponder code, masking its true identity as an Imperial Security Bureau vessel commandeered by the rogue stormtroopers, the Executor permitted the ship to land.
The Executor just as soon intercepted a second vessel, a Z-10 Seeker piloted by none other than the young Emperor's Hand Mara Jade, a rival of Vader's for the Emperor's favor, who had come to Shelkonwa to administer her brand of Imperial justice to the traitorous Barshnis Choard. Much to the befuddlement of the Executor's controller, Jade identified herself as the Emperor's Hand, demanding to see Vader himself aboard the flagship, hoping to ensure Vader's presence on Shelkonwa didn't interfere with her mission. After a few moments, Vader personally granted her permission to come aboard, and the Executor's captain directed her to his personal hangar bay. Vader met with Jade in a small conference room, quickly coming to the rash assumption that she intended to capture Leia Organa as part of her own mission. The Dark Lord ignited his lightsaber, fully determined to destroy her rather than allowing her to ruin his chance at seizing Organa and thus destroying the opportunity to capture Luke Skywalker. But after realizing that Jade's target was in fact Choard and not Organa, Vader relaxed, recognized her duty to deal with Choard, and left her with the strict caveat not to get in his way.
During Vader's meeting with Jade, the Executor intercepted yet a third vessel, the freighter Happer's Way, a stolen ship piloted by the BloodScar pirate Caaldra, carrying a cargo of fifty likewise stolen Imperial AT-STs. In league with Choard, Caaldra was delivering the walkers to Shelkonwa to facilitate the independence of the Shelsha sector from Imperial authority for his group's own end. Once Jade returned to her ship, she noted the freighter ahead of her veering off the course the Executor had allowed for incoming vessels and soon recognized the freighter for who and what it was. Learning from the Executor's controller that the Super Star Destroyer had granted the freighter special permission to land at the governor's palace, Jade exercised her authority as Emperor's Hand to order Bentro to redirect the Happer's Way back to its original landing zone, to which the Executor complied. Bentro asked whether she required ground troops or air support from the Executor, but she declined, not wanting to elbow Vader twice in the same day, to the quiet relief of the admiral. Jade would handle Choard and Caaldra herself.
The three parties the Executor allowed into Shelkonwa converged upon one another within Makrin City. The Rebels rescued Organa from Imperial capture and Jade eliminated Caaldra. Vader and the 501st Legion stormed upon the governor's palace and arrested Choard, before taking him aboard the Executor for prisoner transfer to Coruscant. Jade ordered the Executor to allow clearance for the five stormtroopers of the Hand of Judgment safe passage off Shelkonwa, protecting their identities as fugitives of the Empire, though she did not realize that the stormtroopers were secretly transporting the Rebels from Shelkonwa as well. The Executor's scanners detected only the five lifeform signatures of the stormtroopers as their Suwantek freighter exited the system, leading Jade to later believe that Organa couldn't have possibly stowed away aboard the ship and that her purported presence on Shelkonwa was just a ruse Vilim Disra fabricated to attract Vader to Shelkonwa to eliminate Choard. Of course, Organa and Luke Skywalker were in fact aboard the Suwantek, once again escaping capture from Vader and the Executor.
Kendal Ozzel takes command
- "I don't know if the man's disloyal, easily manipulated, or just plain stupid. But I think he bears watching."
"Leave him to me. I believe I can arrange something."
- ―Mara Jade and Darth Vader
With Griff dead, the position of fleet admiral in command of the Executor and of Death Squadron remained vacant. The Imperial Navy hierarchy expended much consideration as to who should lead the Executor, command ship of the entire Empire. With some reluctance, the Imperial Navy decided to grant the position to Kendal Ozzel, formerly of the Imperial-class Star Destroyer Reprisal. The reasoning being that not even Ozzel would be stupid enough to argue with Vader, the true commander of Death Squadron, as he hunted down the Rebel base.
Speculation abounded as to the reasoning behind Ozzel's promotion. Many believed that Ozzel's bloodline and ties to the Imperial Military were responsible for his appointment to the Executor; others believed he was a casualty of clerical oversight, one of many officers of lesser ability promoted to fill the vacancies of the Imperial Navy's finest lost in the Death Star's destruction; still others thought Death Squadron needed a military commander besides Vader to appease high-ranking members of the Imperial Navy's general staff. The truth was a bit different. After the Shelkonwa skirmish, Mara Jade requested that Vader keep an eye on Ozzel, whom she believed had tried to kill her to prevent her from hurting his chances at becoming an admiral. Vader agreed, arranging Ozzel's promotion.
Many officers in Death Squadron at first viewed Ozzel as Vader's equal as the new commanding officer of the Executor. However, the fleet in fact belonged to Vader. Ozzel served only as a figurehead as the fleet admiral, a mere puppet whose strings Vader pulled. Ozzel soon came to resent the Dark Lord as result. He had finally gained his long sought-after admiralty, but he wielded little real power.
One of the Executor's first assignments under Ozzel's command was to patrol the Black Widow Nebula, an immense field of impenetrable interstellar dust, in search of the Imperial-class Star Destroyer Eradicator and an Imperial courier corvette commanded by one Captain Sodarra, an Imperial deserter. Along with the Star Destroyer Avenger, the Executor intercepted the Millennium Falcon, piloted by Han Solo, who was passing through the sector. After ordering the Millennium Falcon to standby in preparation for a customs inspection, the Executor dispatched four TIE Fighters and a shuttle holding a squad of Zero-G assault stormtroopers to board the freighter. Eventually, the Executor impounded the Millennium Falcon and took Solo and Chewbacca captive.
Solo spent several hours in the Executor's brig before Ozzel summoned him to the bridge to interrogate him personally concerning his involvement with the traitorous Sodarra. During the brief questioning, Solo alluded to knowing about Sodarra's corvette in the nebula, which prompted Ozzel to formulate a plan: he would allow the Millennium Falcon to escape from the Executor in the hope that it would lead him to Sodarra. Solo, however, had lied about knowing about the corvette and had seen right through Ozzel's ruse—which he found less than clever.
When a group of stormtroopers later arrived at Solo's cell to take him to his execution, he and Chewbacca dispatched their guards and boarded the Millennium Falcon with little trouble, per Ozzel's plan. The Millennium Falcon conveniently slipped through its impound hangar's hyperspace doors just as they were closing and escaped from the Executor into the nebula with no pursuit, leaving Ozzel with nothing. Reports of the incident concerning Solo's brief imprisonment aboard the Executor varied, however.
Defense of Poln Major
- "Senior Captain Thrawn. Are these the enemies of the Empire you spoke of?"
"They are, Lord Vader…"
"…Then let us make an end of it. All ships: engage at will."
- ―Darth Vader and Senior Captain Thrawn
Eight months following the Battle of Yavin, the Executor and Death Squadron came to the aid of Senior Captain Thrawn in a campaign against the alien warlord Nuso Esva, whose amassed power in the Unknown Regions of the galaxy had begun threatening the fringes of Imperial territory. Thrawn, whose own local forces had been spread too thin to respond, first turned to the Emperor to request a minimum of six Star Destroyers to crush the Nuso Esva threat, but the Emperor instead suggested he appeal to Vader for the military support he required. In doing so, Thrawn and his personal pilot, Jorj Car'das, traveled aboard the DeepWater-class light freighter Lost Reef to the Executor, where a deal was struck: Vader would provide the Executor and the fleet where and when Thrawn needed in exchange for Thrawn delivering the Rebellion leadership into Vader's hands.
Thrawn's where and when proved to be the remote double planetary Poln system—consisting of Poln Major, capital world of the Candoras sector, and the smaller Poln Minor—at the culmination of a carefully crafted plot to reel in and smash Nuso Esva's navy. The alien warlord targeted Poln Major, at the edge of Wild Space and the Unknown Regions, as his next conquest into Imperial space by suborning its occupying Imperial governor, Bidor Ferrouz, into committing treason. By kidnapping Ferrouz's wife and daughter, Nuso Esva forced the otherwise loyal Ferrouz to make overtures to the Rebellion, offering them sanctuary on Poln Minor to establish a new base following their evacuation from Yavin. Likewise, by simultaneously attempting to assassinate the governor and pinning it on the Rebels, Nuso Esva attracted to Poln a sizable Imperial presence—Thrawn, specifically, his nemesis—which he planned to destroy. Nevertheless, Thrawn adeptly anticipated Nuso Esva's scheme and had the Executor and Death Squadron waiting to strike when the warlord's naval forces finally moved on Poln Major.
At Thrawn's predetermined signal—cherek, esk, krill—the Executor and Death Squadron, including the Star Destroyers Devastator, Accuser, Stalker, Adjudicator, Tyrant, and Avenger, emerged from hyperspace into the Poln system in the middle of an already escalating battle. A small Imperial task force consisting of the Imperial Star Destroyers Admonitor and Chimaera, supported by a handful of cruisers, were opposed by Nuso Esva's Eastern Fleet, totaling twenty-eight Firekiln warships—five of which equaled a Star Destroyer's firepower—and nearly a hundred escort ships, hopeless odds for the Imperials by any measure. But the Executor's intervention, for which Nuso Esva had been totally unprepared, turned the battle into a resounding victory for the Empire, smashing Nuso Esva's fleet and driving the warlord back into the Unknown Regions. Afterward, Thrawn made good on his end of the deal to deliver the Rebellion leadership by providing Vader with a manifest of war matériel the Rebels had collected during their time on Poln Minor before escaping the system, much of which was designed to operate with the greatest tactical effectiveness on a cold, uninhabited world, thereby providing Vader with both an excellent lead in his search for Luke Skywalker and intelligence to tailor his eventual attack for quick victory.
Ambushing the Rebel Fleet
- "Their ships have started jumping to hyperspace, my Lord. If they're heading to their rendezvous point we're ready for them. It appears this could well be the end of the Rebellion."
- ―Admiral Kendal Ozzel
Three months after the Rebel evacuation from Yavin 4, and nine months following the Death Star's destruction, opportunity offered Vader and the Executor another chance at destroying the Rebel Fleet and finding Luke Skywalker. Vader previously detained the Rebel strategist Jorin Sol, torturing him into revealing the Rebel Fleet's coordinates at Tingel Deepspace Besh and its hyperspace protocols. Almost simultaneously, Imperial Lieutenant Janek Sunber, a childhood friend of Skywalker who had recently learned of the latter's involvement in the Death Star's destruction, offered to Vader his information on his friend.
Sunber rendezvoused with the Executor and Death Squadron in orbit around a verdant planet. After Sunber boarded the Executor, Ozzel escorted him to Vader's personal suite, where he provided the Dark Lord with a complete history of his background with Skywalker. Sunber volunteered to infiltrate the Rebellion, masquerading as a defector, to deliver Skywalker into Vader's hands. Armed with the Rebel Fleet's location and with Sunber embedded among the Alliance High Command, Vader called together a mammoth task force of several dozen Star Destroyers to support the Executor in finally crushing the Rebellion and capturing Skywalker.
The Executor and its many dozens of accompanying Star Destroyers soon emerged from hyperspace on all sides of the Rebel Fleet at its hidden coordinates at Tingel Deepspace Besh, completely surrounding and heavily outgunning the Rebels. Even if the Rebel Fleet escaped into hyperspace, the Empire knew from their obtained hyperspace protocols where their next rendezvous point would be. As the Star Destroyers began ripping into the Rebel Fleet, inflicting extremely heavy losses, the Rebel ships began escaping into hyperspace with little choice, just as the Empire expected. But rather than moving on to the next prearranged rendezvous point, the Rebel Fleet instead scattered among random hyperspace vectors at the urging of Jorin Sol, the same man who had sold out the Fleet's location, in an attempt to redeem himself.
Although Ozzel joyously remarked to Vader as the two watched on from the Executor's bridge that the end of the Rebellion seemed near if the Rebel Fleet was indeed jumping to their rendezvous point where the Empire awaited them, Vader offered his admiral no such congratulations. His thoughts instead rested on the Alliance command ship Rebel One, where his true prize awaited him—Luke Skywalker.
With the Rebel One on the verge of destruction, Jorin Sol initiated the ship's jump into hyperspace at the last moment, taking Skywalker along with it. In what was becoming an uncomfortably familiar trend for Vader, the Dark Lord could only watch on helplessly from the Executor as he again lost his son, as well as the surviving elements of the Rebel Fleet. Despite Skywalker's escape, the Executor and its task force heavily decimated the Rebel Fleet, scattering it in all directions.
Vader's annoyance with Ozzel began to take shape at that time when the admiral interrupted the Dark Lord's brooding following the Rebel escape to make a report. Ozzel's life was saved only by the consolation that the Executor's sensors detected nearby the escape pod that had been intended for Sunber's escape from the Rebel One.
Nearly twelve standard months after the Battle of Yavin, Vader met with the notorious bounty hunter Boba Fett within a dark chamber aboard the Executor. Vader contracted him to hunt down the Shi'ido Mammon Hoole and the two Human children Zak and Tash Arranda for their efforts to sabotage Project Starscream, an Imperial research initiative to create an army of supersoldiers. Although Fett failed to capture his targets, Vader nevertheless called off the hunt for Hoole and the Arrandas midstream, instead directing Fett to return to the Executor for a much more important assignment: to track down the Millennium Falcon, the ship of Han Solo, friend of Luke Skywalker.
Dark Trooper Project
Vader wielded the Executor as a tool of near unlimited power as his flagship and Death Squadron scoured the spacelanes in the continued hunt of the Rebellion, a search that would prove long and tiresome before its eventual end. Vader led the hunt from the Executor's bridge, running down leads on the planet Jazbina and a number of other scattered worlds. The Executor destroyed the remaining Rebel bases over the period of months following the Rebels' escape from Yavin 4.
In early 1 ABY, the Executor oversaw the destruction of one such installation, the Rebellion's Tak Base on the planet Talay. This assault held greater significance than a run-of-the-mill obliteration of a helpless Rebel outpost, however. The Empire chose Talay as the location for General Rom Mohc to demonstrate the effectiveness of his brainchild, the Dark Trooper Project, a new breed of battle droid that would effectively serve as a "super stormtrooper."
With Vader on hand to oversee the first implementation of the new Imperial military project with the Emperor's approval, Mohc joined the Dark Lord on the bridge of the Executor to monitor the Talay operation from orbit. The Executor waited alongside several Imperial-class Star Destroyers and the Arc Hammer, the titanic dark trooper production vessel, as a group of dark troopers launched from the Arc Hammer and made planetfall on Talay. The dark troopers wiped out Tak Base in a matter of minutes. Pleased with the successful demonstration, Vader approved the project's continuation.
During the Dark Trooper Project's progression, the Arc Hammer made periodic hyperspace jumps across the galaxy for security reasons. Only the Executor knew the Arc Hammer's location at any given time. Mohc employed smugglers to deliver the vital mined phrik alloy for use in the dark troopers' construction, but the Empire required each smuggler to rendezvous with and deliver Mohc's raw goods to the Executor, which served as a liaison for the refined phrik. The Executor would then hyperspace to the Arc Hammer's secret location and make the delivery itself.
The dark troopers' incredible effectiveness at Talay proved a great concern to Rebel Alliance Commander-in-Chief Mon Mothma, who tasked the mercenary Kyle Katarn with investigating and shutting down the Imperial project. Katarn followed the trail of smuggler ships under Mohc's hire to the Imperial Fuel Station Ergo, where he hijacked a cargo ship refueling in preparation for a rendezvous with the Executor. Posing as a smuggler himself, Katarn docked the cargo ship in one of the Executor's hangars and infiltrated the Super Star Destroyer to wait for its rendezvous with the Arc Hammer.
Katarn stowed away aboard the Executor while it traveled through hyperspace and, once the ship reached the Arc Hammer's secret location and began transferring over its cargo allotment, he made his move. Katarn tore his way through the Executor's lower engineering and docking sections looking for one of the cargo containers being transported, which he planned to sneak inside and ride to the Arc Hammer. The Executor's security detail quickly became aware of the intrusion, shutting down the cargo transfer, but Katarn muscled his way past three Phase II dark troopers, restarted the cargo transfer, and hid inside a cargo container, before it delivered him aboard the Arc Hammer.
While aboard the Arc Hammer, Katarn proceeded to eliminate Mohc himself and destroy the dark trooper production vessel, bringing an end to the Dark Trooper Project once and for all. So enraged at the loss of the Arc Hammer was the Emperor that he ordered all research into battle droid stormtroopers ceased. Thus, the Executor's role in the development of the Imperial military project came to an end as well.
Probe droids launched and Circarpous V
To greater facilitate the hunt for the hidden Rebel base and Luke Skywalker, Vader commissioned the creation of a modified version of Arakyd Industries's successful Viper probe droid model, a spy droid specifically designed to discover Rebel installations, on the factory world of Mechis III, sometime circa late 1 ABY. When Vader personally visited Mechis III to inspect the progress of his new probots, the Dark Lord earned the admiration of the IG-series assassin droid IG-88A, who had covertly taken over the planet's droid manufacturing factories in preparation for a galactic Droid Revolution. IG-88A considered Vader to be the perfect synthesis of biological being and droid, and so, when IG-88 tapped into the droids he had infiltrated into the Empire for information on Vader, he learned of the existence of the Executor. Intrigued by the Executor's massive size and powerful onboard computers, IG-88A reflected on how he might use the Super Star Destroyer to further his droid conquest of the galaxy.
Once Mechis III completed the construction of these probe droids, IG-88A shipped them to Death Squadron. Soon, the Executor and the rest of the fleet began dispatching the probe droids by the thousands into the remote corners of the galaxy to uncover the location of the Rebel base.
At the time of the Executor's first probe launches, a malfunctioning R2-series astromech droid interrupted Vader's musings of Skywalker by bumping into the back of him while the Dark Lord was standing on the bridge. The R2 unit caught Vader by surprise by suddenly transmitting a holographic display of the Emperor, who used the opportunity to confront his servant, as he had previously with Starkiller, of his discovery that Vader had taken on another disciple as a Sith apprentice, a boy named Tao.
Two of the Emperor's Royal Guardsmen appeared on the bridge behind Vader, holding Tao before them, as the Emperor commanded his servant to strike the boy down and prove his loyalty. Vader reluctantly felled Tao with his lightsaber, although the boy did not die from the blow. After the Emperor's hologram faded, pleased with his servant's performance, Vader departed from the Executor with the still-living Tao to bring the boy to die on his homeworld of Shumari.
Vader's long-awaited confrontation with Skywalker finally came in early 2 ABY. Imperial governor Bin Essada of Gyndine forwarded to the Dark Lord information concerning the presence of Skywalker and Leia Organa being held in Imperial captivity on the planet Circarpous V, in the Expansion Region. Operating at peak efficiency during this time, the Executor was a twenty-seven hour and forty-two minute hyperspace jump from Circarpous IV's orbit, by the ship's navigator's estimate. Vader ordered the Executor and Death Squadron to make for the Circarpous system with haste, warning that any delay came at the expense of the navigator's life. He greatly anticipated enacting his dark vengeance on Skywalker and Organa, as well as collecting the Force-enhancing Kaiburr crystal from Circarpous V, which would greatly increase his powers.
After the Executor delivered Vader to the Circarpous system, the Dark Lord caught up with Skywalker and Organa in the Temple of Pomojema on Circarpous V. Skywalker defeated Vader in a lightsaber duel with the aid of the Force-magnifying influence of the Kaiburr crystal, despite being far from a match for Vader's might, and he escaped once again. Nevertheless, the encounter intensified Vader's determination to find and capture his son, and the Empire would soon be tightening the noose on the elusive Rebellion.
Kuat commissioning ceremony
Despite being in active military service for nearly two years, the Executor was not officially commissioned until circa 2.5 ABY. The Empire held a grandiose unveiling ceremony for the Super Star Destroyer at the Kuat Drive Yards Imperial Transfer Post. The Emperor himself presided over the ceremony, with Vader at his side, along with Grand Admiral Rufaan Tigellinus and Admiral Thrawn. Also present were members of the Imperial Navy's general staff, including Admirals Tandres, Tavares, and Ozzel. The Imperial Navy gathered a fleet of warships numbering in the thousands, including three dozen Star Destroyers, to welcome the Executor as it slowly pulled into the transfer post.
The Imperial Defense Daily NewsNet covered the ceremony in a release on 37:10:23, reporting a number of factual errors contradictory to the Executor's history. The report claimed that the Executor's commissioning marked the Super Star Destroyer first joining Death Squadron at Vader's request and the formal dispatching of Death Squadron to hunt down the Rebellion, despite the Executor and Death Squadron having been jointly searching for the Alliance High Command for nearly two years. Similarly, the report claimed that Ozzel, already in command of Death Squadron, was expected to transfer his flag to the Executor, when the Imperial Navy had placed him in command of the Executor a year and a half previously, as well as noting that the Executor had just completed a six-month shakedown cruise five weeks prior, when the Super Star Destroyer had first left the Fondor Shipyards two years before. The Executor and Death Squadron would be departing for the Outer Rim in a month following the ceremony to begin their search of the Rebellion, according to the report.
Simultaneous with the ceremony, Vader tasked Imperial Security Bureau Central Commander Sollaine with delivering to him a Rebel deep-cover spy embedded within the Empire, Rivoche Tarkin, the niece of the late Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, though Vader did not know her identity. Rather than delivering Tarkin to Vader and allowing the Dark Lord to take credit for her capture, Sollaine planned to deliver the prize directly to the Emperor, which he believed would allow him to supplant Vader at the Emperor's side and take command of the newly-commissioned Executor himself.
Following the ceremony, the Executor was scheduled to deliver Vader to the planet Corulag in time for him to attend the engagement ceremony of Vastin Caglio, eldest son of Moff Jamson Caglio of the Bormea sector, and Rivoche Tarkin, the very Rebel spy he had assigned Sollaine to detain. The Executor arrived at Corulag as scheduled, exiting hyperspace directly in front of the Helix-class light interceptor G Cat, pursued closely by the Imperial Star Destroyer Devastator, under Sollaine's command. The G Cat was desperately ferrying Tarkin to safety away from Sollaine's forces on Corulag, and when the Executor emerged from hyperspace directly in the midst of the skirmish, the Super Star Destroyer's massive presence proved to be the perfect obstacle for the G Cat to evade the Devastator's tractor beams and escape into hyperspace. The Executor's sudden arrival inadvertently cost Vader the Rebel spy.
By late 2 ABY, in the months immediately following its Kuat unveiling ceremony, the Executor was again mentioned in a NewsNet report on 38:1:9 by the Independent Traders' Infonet, regarding Imperial boarding actions on free-traders operating in remote Outer Rim regions. Several free-traders reported being apprehended by and interrogated aboard patrolling Imperial Star Destroyers after traveling lesser-known hyperlanes and thereby being suspected of working for the Rebellion. The Imperial Star Destroyers responsible were reportedly elements of Ozzel's Imperial Death Squadron.
At some point circa late 2 ABY–early 3 ABY, the Executor helped quash a nascent Rebel uprising on the desolate planet Zaloriis, home to an Imperial research facility that produced AT-AT walkers. Vader decided to pay the planet a visit after Zaloriis missed its monthly tribute to Coruscant. Upon arriving on the surface, Vader met with Zaloriis Zalor Minister Transe Decar, who formally declared his world's independence from the Empire and surrounded Vader with armed men. The Dark Lord quickly executed Decar, and from orbit the Executor and at least one Imperial-class Star Destroyer responded by storming the planet. In the ensuing assault, Vader's forces wiped out the Rebel presence on Zaloriis and freed Imperial Colonel Maximilian Veers from captivity, who brought with him a prototype AT-AT walker. Afterward, Vader reassigned Veers to his flagship and arranged his promotion to general, placing him in command of the Executor's ground forces.
Discovering Echo Base
- "The report is only a fragment from a probe droid in the Hoth system, but it's the best lead we've had…"
"…That is the system, and I'm sure Skywalker is with them. Set your course for the Hoth system."
- ―Captain Firmus Piett and Darth Vader
Early 3 ABY saw the Executor visiting the thriving Mid Rim port world of Ord Mantell on a scheduled stop to receive supplies while Vader conducted business on the planet below. The Dark Lord met briefly with the bounty hunter Boba Fett while his shuttle took on supplies for the waiting Executor in orbit. Fett suggested the idea of using Han Solo, whose lucrative bounty he was hunting, to lure Luke Skywalker into Vader's hands, which would prove mutually beneficial for both, since Fett could then collect on Skywalker as well. Intrigued, Vader endorsed the proposal before departing the planet for the Executor. Little did Vader or Fett realize that a bounty hunting team associated with Fett was delivering the captured Skywalker and Solo to Ord Mantell at that very moment.
As the Executor departed from Ord Mantell's orbit, Vader contacted the Emperor from his personal holochamber, reporting that Death Squadron's search for the new Rebel base began. Vader also introduced his plan to use Boba Fett to bring in Skywalker, which likewise intrigued the Emperor. The bounty hunter plan failed when Skywalker and Solo escaped Fett on Ord Mantell, but Vader had a contingency plan.
Vader deployed a Viper probe droid to the jungle planet Verdanth, knowing its presence would attract a Rebel investigation team. The probe was specially designed to emit a laserwave transmission back to a cybernetic chamber aboard the Executor. Through the cybernetic link, Vader could reach out with the Force using the probe as a vicarious means of interrogating whomever had decided to investigate into revealing the location of the Rebel base.
The probe droid attracted none other than Luke Skywalker, who soon fell prey to Vader's Force probing back aboard the Executor, but the plan failed when Han Solo destroyed the probe before Vader could force Skywalker to reveal the Rebel base's location. The failure did not perturb Vader, however. The Dark Lord ordered the Executor to continue launching probe droids into the expanses of the Outer Rim in search of Skywalker and the Rebellion, hoping another probe might succeed where the one on Verdanth had not.
Not long after Verdanth, the Executor's search for the Rebel base came to an end after nearly three years. Vader often received insights, seemingly from the Force, into his son's whereabouts while in quiet moments of meditation in his hyperbaric chamber. After one such meditation session, Vader's intuition paid off. At his order, the Star Destroyer Stalker launched a Viper probe droid to the remote Outer Rim ice planet Hoth, where it discovered the Alliance High Command's headquarters of Echo Base. The probe droid relayed audio and visual sensory data of Echo Base's shield generator and Rebel snowspeeders via HoloNet transceiver to the Executor. When Captain Firmus Piett reported the probe's findings to his superiors, Ozzel believed the data fragment to be nothing more than smugglers, but Vader overrode his admiral, knowing he had finally found the Rebellion—and where the Rebels were, he would find Luke Skywalker. Vader ordered the Executor and Death Squadron to the Hoth system in preparation for the impending destruction of the Rebellion.
The Executor and Death Squadron were near the Qeimet system, far from Hoth, at the time of the Echo Base discovery. Vader's fleet first made its way to the Farstine system before jumping on the nearest major hyperlane, the Hydian Way, and proceeding to the planet Eriadu, at the junction of the Hydian Way and the Rimma Trade Route. From there, the Executor traveled Coreward to Yag'Dhul, where the Rimma intersected the Corellian Trade Spine, which the Executor and the fleet then used to travel Rimward out toward Hoth.
Battle of Hoth
- "The Rebels are alerted to our presence. Admiral Ozzel came out of lightspeed too close to the system."
- ―Darth Vader
While the Executor approached the Hoth system, the Viper probe on Hoth continued to transmit strategic data concerning Echo Base, including troop movements and positions, artillery emplacements, and even the size, model, and location of the base's V-150 anti-orbital ion cannon. This information would prove invaluable to the Executor's ground forces as they prepared for battle.
The Executor and the fleet exited the Corellian Trade Spine at the Indellian system and continued traveling Rimward down the Ison Corridor before finally arriving in the Hoth system. Upon reaching the Hoth system, Ozzel purposely brought the Executor and Death Squadron out of hyperspace directly on top of Hoth, the system's sixth planet. Standard naval procedure called for the fleet to enter the system far enough away from the hostile planet so as not to be detected, but Ozzel completely failed to observe protocol. Because his pride had been hurt by Vader's order to follow up the Hoth lead, Ozzel decided for himself that sudden surprise was the best tactic, despite even having the coverage of the nearby Hoth asteroid field at his advantage.
Ozzel's highly visible maneuver broadcast the fleet's presence across Echo Base's system monitors as soon as it emerged from hyperspace, allowing the Rebels time to raise their planetary shield, as the Executor detected via com-scan, and to charge up their ion cannon. The blunder rendered a direct planetary bombardment impossible. Enraged, Vader ordered General Maximilian Veers, commander of Death Squadron's ground forces, to prepare the Executor's troops for a planetary assault. Moreover, the Dark Lord had had enough of Kendal Ozzel.
Ever since taking command of the Executor three years before, Ozzel had constantly been at odds with Vader. Ozzel's tenure in command of Death Squadron had been filled with public criticism of the Dark Lord, and he preferred to follow up any substantial leads in the hunt for the Rebel base personally, which often resulted in sending Death Squadron off on unproductive forays. Vader began to restrict Ozzel's involvement so that he became a mere figurehead to relay orders to the rest of the Executor's crew. After questioning Vader's decision to investigate the Hoth system, followed by his latest tactical blunder, Ozzel's career had come to an end. Having tired of Ozzel's persistent stupidity, Vader telekinetically executed his admiral, before promoting Piett to fill the vacancy.
Left with no alternative but a planetary invasion, Vader ordered Piett to deploy the Executor and the Star Destroyers of Death Squadron so that nothing escaped the planet. The Executor assumed a position in low Hoth orbit as it began to deploy an assault force of AT-AT and AT-ST walkers to the surface via Y-85 Titan dropships—the elite Blizzard Force, under Veers's command. The Battle of Hoth had begun.
While Veers led the Executor's ground forces in the assault against the Rebels' defenses, the Executor and Death Squadron worked to intercept Echo Base's fleeing escape transports. The Imperial fleet succeeded in destroying seventeen of thirty Rebel GR-75 medium transports blasting away from Hoth. The Executor participated in the destruction of at least one such Rebel vessel, the medium transport Bright Hope, the final escape transport to leave the planet. Once Veers destroyed the Echo Base shield generator, Vader landed on the planet himself, in search of Skywalker, but he arrived in time only to see the Millennium Falcon blasting away from the base. Although the Empire routed the Rebel defenses in a crushing victory, overtaking Echo Base, Luke Skywalker had escaped. Still, Vader's hunt had begun anew.
When Death Squadron notified Vader that the Millennium Falcon was still in the Hoth system and had not yet jumped into hyperspace, Vader knew the ship was disabled. From the planet, he immediately ordered the Executor and the fleet to pursue the fleeing Millennium Falcon as their primary objective, caring little for the base's other escaping transports, a move that proved to be a tactical blunder in itself. Vader's obsession with Skywalker diverted Death Squadron in search of the Millennium Falcon, allowing much of the Alliance High Command core to safely evacuate and regroup. Remembering his meeting with Boba Fett months before on Ord Mantell and the bounty hunter's suggestion, Vader hoped to capture Skywalker's friends aboard the Millennium Falcon to use them as bait to lure Skywalker himself into his trap.
As the Millennium Falcon raced away from Hoth, the Executor intercepted and captured the JumpMaster 5000 scout ship Punishing One, piloted by the rogue Imperial assassin Dengar, who had come to Hoth to capture Han Solo's bounty. The Punishing One fell prey to a blast from Echo Base's ion cannon after emerging from hyperspace in the midst of the battle. Just as the Executor gripped the Punishing One by tractor beam and began reeling in the disabled vessel, the Millennium Falcon rocketed past, firing at the Executor's gun emplacements and dodging blasts from the Super Star Destroyer. The Millennium Falcon evaded the Executor for the moment, but three other Star Destroyers doggedly pursued the freighter toward the fringes of the Hoth system.
After the Executor pulled the Punishing One into one of its many docking bays, launch bay twelve, a stormtrooper force boarded the ship and incapacitated Dengar, dragging him to an interrogation cell. The Empire questioned Dengar about his Rebel ties and his past history of assassinating Imperial agents, before sentencing him to death.
The Executor waited for Vader to return aboard before pulling out of Hoth's orbit, flanked by two other Star Destroyers and a squadron of starfighters. Vader soon received reports from the Star Destroyers pursuing the Millennium Falcon that their tactical analysis suggested the Rebel ship did not appear have a functioning hyperdrive. The welcome news, however, soon changed. While the Dark Lord rested within his hyperbaric chamber, Piett reported that the fleet had lost the Millennium Falcon in the Hoth system's asteroid field, warning of the danger the asteroids presented to the Star Destroyers if they were to continue pursuit. But Vader cared little for inconsequential excuses. He ordered the Executor to proceed head on into the rocky maelstrom in search of the Millennium Falcon.
In a propaganda message delivered through the Imperial HoloVision NewsNet, Imperial Advisor Alec Pradeux publicly released details on the Battle of Hoth and of the Executor's participation in the engagement. Pradeux outlined the key points of the battle, including the crushing ground assault led by Veers, and listed Ozzel among the battle's casualties. Rather than revealing Ozzel's execution at the hands of Vader, however, Pradeux explained that he died when a ground-based energy weapon fired upon and disabled the Executor, which subsequently allowed several Rebel ships to escape past the Imperial blockade. Pradeux also noted Piett assuming the Executor's admiralty and that Death Squadron was planning to deploy in search of the many fleeing Rebel ships from Hoth, though of course the truth was drastically different. Pradeux finished by noting that NewsNet reporters were denied direct contact with Vader's fleet.
Search for the Millennium Falcon
- "Bounty hunters! We don't need their scum…Those Rebels won't escape us."
- ―Admiral Firmus Piett
All of Vader's Star Destroyers, including the Executor, were diverted into the asteroid field in pursuit of the Millennium Falcon. A hail of enormous asteroids bombarded Death Squadron, inflicting heavy casualties, as Vader's fleet moved through the asteroid field, though, incredibly, the Executor itself remained unscathed. Vader held a holographic conference on the Executor's bridge with the Star Destroyer captains of the fleet, who briefed Vader on the pursuit's progress. Captain Lorth Needa of the Star Destroyer Avenger believed the Millennium Falcon to have been destroyed respective to the damage Death Squadron had sustained, but Vader insisted they were alive, well aware of the reputation of Solo and the Millennium Falcon. He ordered the Executor to continue searching, despite further imminent damage to the enormous Super Star Destroyer.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Piett notified Vader that the Emperor demanded an audience with him. Vader quickly ordered the Executor out of the asteroid field to ensure a clear transmission with his Master. Within his holochamber, Vader spoke first with Sate Pestage, the Emperor's Grand Vizier, who warned Vader that the Emperor was in a foul mood. Vader reported the Empire's victory at Hoth to Pestage, before the Emperor appeared. Together, Vader and the Emperor privately discussed the growing threat of Luke Skywalker to their Sith dominion of the galaxy. The Emperor revealed to Vader for the first time that he was indeed aware of Skywalker's existence and identity as Vader's son, warning that if Skywalker were to ever become a Jedi Knight, he could destroy them both. Rather than destroying Skywalker, Vader offered an alternative: to turn him to the dark side of the Force, for Vader secretly harbored no intention of actually killing his son. The Emperor approved Vader's suggestion, relishing the idea of such a powerful asset.
The Executor dispatched waves of TIE Fighters and TIE bombers to sweep the asteroid field, hoping to chase the Millennium Falcon out of its hiding place. But Vader quickly grew tired of the fleet's inability to locate its prey. He therefore decided to send out a general call for bounty hunters to help with finding the Millennium Falcon but also to demonstrate his extreme disappointment with the performance of the Executor's crew. Soon, some of the galaxy's most notorious underworld figures would be convening aboard the Executor.
The response to Vader's call was staggering. From the horde of applicants who arrived aboard the Executor at the edge of the asteroid field to join the hunt for Han Solo, Vader's personal staff weeded out all but a motley group of six elite hunters. They included the notorious Boba Fett, the first to board after having beaten the Executor to the Hoth system while responding to an Imperial hyperspace message announcing a reward for any Rebels fleeing from the battle; the already-captured Dengar, to whom Vader extended a reprieve from his death sentence to join the hunt; the assassin droid IG-88B; the Trandoshan Bossk, who berthed his vessel in Docking Bay Six; and the duo of the protocol droid 4-LOM and the Gand Zuckuss. Other applicants rejected by Vader's screening crew included the Chadra-Fan Tutti Snibit; the Wookiee Chenlambec, partnered with the Human female Tinian I'att, both of whom purposely arrived aboard the Executor too late to be considered for the hunt, only showing up on a private mission to foil Bossk's involvement; a Bosph hunter; and another alien hunter. The bounty hunter Nariss Siv Loqesh was also invited to join the hunt for Solo, but he refused, earning him his own Imperial bounty on his head as punishment.
Vader's choice to call upon bounty hunters was an unsettling surprise to many. The Executor's crew, Piett foremost among them, was outraged that Vader would choose to deal with such unsavory characters, but Vader did not care. He had lost his patience with the Executor's crew, who had failed him time and time again, and so he was pulling out all the stops to capture the Millennium Falcon. Piett regarded the move as a threat to himself, knowing the bounty hunters' involvement symbolized his own failure and the jeopardizing of his life. He believed the Executor would in fact capture the Millennium Falcon.
On the Executor's bridge, Vader announced a substantial reward for the bounty hunter who captured Solo and the crew of the Millennium Falcon, but, knowing Fett's reputation for disintegrating his targets, he included the stipulation that they be brought in alive. No sooner had Vader briefed the hunters than Piett notified him that the Star Destroyer Avenger had found the Millennium Falcon leaving the asteroid field. But, after a short chase, the Millennium Falcon had once again disappeared from the Imperial fleet, much to the vexation of Captain Lorth Needa. When Vader demanded an update on the Avenger's pursuit, Needa traveled to the Executor to personally apologize for losing the Millennium Falcon. Vader summarily executed Needa, as he had Ozzel, for his failure.
The Executor had traversed the length of the asteroid field, emerging on the far end within the Anoat system with nothing to show for its efforts. The Millennium Falcon gone from sight, Vader ordered Piett to disperse Death Squadron along every possible hyperspace trajectory the ship may have taken to escape, before calmly yet sternly warning his admiral that further failure would not be tolerated.
However, where the Executor had failed, Boba Fett had not. The hunt for the Millennium Falcon was over before the bounty hunters even departed the Executor. Fett knew that the Millennium Falcon's hyperdrive was disabled, or Solo would have jumped into hyperspace as soon as possible. When Fett looked out the Executor's viewports, he confirmed what he had suspected—Solo had attached the Millennium Falcon to the backside of the Avenger's command tower, an area invisible to the Imperials' sensors. After leaving the Executor, Fett placed his ship, the Slave I, near the Avenger's waste chutes and watched expectantly as Solo detached the Millennium Falcon from the Star Destroyer and silently drifted away in the Avenger's garbage.
As Fett tracked the Millennium Falcon's course out of the Anoat system along the Ison Corridor, he deduced that Solo could only be heading for one location: the nearby planet Bespin, home of the mining facility Cloud City. Several hours after the Avenger had first lost the Millennium Falcon in its garbage, Vader received a transmission from Fett, and the Executor rendezvoused with the bounty hunter at Kinyen, further Coreward up the Corellian Trade Spine. Vader learned from Fett of Solo's destination, and, together with the Slave I, the Executor set course for the Bespin system, easily beating the Millennium Falcon there. Solo's trip from Anoat to Bespin took weeks on the Millennium Falcon's backup hyperdrive. Fett's suggestion to Vader to use Skywalker's friends to lure him into a trap made months before was finally coming to fruition.
Before the Executor had departed the Anoat system previously, IG-88B hacked into the Executor's central computer core while still aboard, bypassing ship security with the assistance of several on-board Imperial droids who had received special sentience programming as part of their inclusion in IG-88A's Droid Revolution. After downloading the Executor's entire database of information, including Darth Vader's personal code-locked files, IG-88B discovered the existence of the still-under construction second Death Star. Armed with the Imperial shipping schedule for the battlestation's computer core from the information stolen from the Executor, IG-88A decided to upload himself into the Death Star—the ultimate step in his planned conquest of the galaxy.
Occupation of Bespin
- "They'll be in range of our tractor beam in moments, Lord."
"Did your men deactivate the hyperdrive on the Millennium Falcon?"
"Yes, my Lord."
"Good. Prepare the boarding party and set your weapons for stun."
- ―Admiral Firmus Piett and Darth Vader
The Executor assumed a holding pattern well out of Bespin's scanning range, with Death Squadron waiting elsewhere in the system, in preparation for the Millennium Falcon's arrival. Additionally, the Super Star Destroyer dispatched a number of TIE Fighters for sentry duty around Cloud City, instructed to herd any vessels attempting to escape toward the Executor. Meanwhile, Vader, Fett, and a stormtrooper garrison from the Executor secretly occupied Cloud City. The Dark Lord manipulated city Baron Administrator Lando Calrissian, an old friend of Solo's, into cooperating with the capture of the Millennium Falcon's crew in exchange for Vader's promise that the Empire would not occupy the city once he had Skywalker. The Executor was sent to the far side of Bespin as the Millennium Falcon finally touched down. Once Solo arrived, the Empire captured he and Leia Organa, which eventually drew Skywalker to Cloud City, as Vader planned. The Dark Lord failed to convert his son to the dark side during a lightsaber duel that raged through Cloud City's lower levels, in which Vader finally revealed to Skywalker his true family heritage. Nevertheless, Skywalker escaped Vader's grasp.
After Vader turned Solo over to Fett, the Executor and Death Squadron granted the bounty hunter and the Slave I safe passage through the Imperial blockade, as well as a TIE Fighter escort, on his departure from Bespin. Soon thereafter, having temporarily lost Skywalker, Vader returned to the Executor, confident that the Millennium Falcon's crew would be back in his custody. Calrissian had helped Organa to escape the city after turning the tables on Vader's stormtroopers, rather than delivering the Rebels to the Executor as the Dark Lord commanded. With Cloud City in chaos as residents rushed to escape the Imperial subjugation, the Millennium Falcon rescued Skywalker from the city as well. As the Rebels fled from Bespin, the Executor's TIE sentries chased the Millennium Falcon toward the Executor waiting in orbit, as directed.
Little did the Rebels know, Vader's men had deactivated the Millennium Falcon's hyperdrive upon first arrival at Cloud City. Only when the Executor came in visual range of the fleeing ship did the Rebels realize the trouble they were in. Vader planned to capture the Millennium Falcon in the Executor's tractor beam and complete his conversion of Skywalker. The Dark Lord trusted that his crew was capable of closing this simple trap.
On the bridge of the Executor, Vader observed as the TIE Fighters herded the Millennium Falcon directly into the massive Super Star Destroyer's path, while the Executor simultaneously moved to cut them off. The Dark Lord telepathically called out to Skywalker aboard the Rebel ship, urging him once more to give in to the dark side's temptations. However, the Executor's tractor-beam technicians found the fleeing Rebel ship a difficult target to lock onto. They managed to position the ship within the targeting crosshairs, but with only seconds remaining before the Executor activated its tractor beam, the Rebel ship made the sudden jump into hyperspace and assured freedom, courtesy of quickly performed maintenance by R2-D2 on board, leaving a defeated Vader to stare dejectedly off into space through the bridge viewport. Never had Vader come so close to capturing his son. The Executor had chased the Millennium Falcon from Hoth to the Bespin system, finally capturing the Rebel ship before luring Skywalker himself in a carefully orchestrated trap, but the Rebels were gone. The Executor's bridge crew collectively watched in anticipated fear as Vader stalked away from the viewport, but Vader refrained from executing another one of his admirals, knowing Piett was not at fault this time.
Even though the Rebels had escaped, Calrissian's abandonment of Cloud City left the facility in the hands of the Empire. Vader left a garrison behind to subdue the populace, just as he had warned Calrissian he would, completing the Executor's subjugation of Bespin. Following the Bespin fiasco, Piett officially promoted Lieutenant Venka to the Executor's captaincy, filling the position that had been left vacant since his own promotion upon Ozzel's execution.
With Skywalker gone, Vader retreated to his personal meditation chamber to reflect upon his failure. In the middle of a lengthy meditation, Vader received a signal from members of his Noghri honor guard, informing him that they had discovered among Cloud City's lower depths the severed hand and lightsaber lost by Skywalker during his duel with Vader earlier that day. Departing from the Executor, Vader returned to Cloud City aboard his shuttle to retrieve the trophy items from a group of Ugnaughts. With both items secured in hand, Vader returned to the Executor, only to receive direct orders from the Emperor to deliver the trophies to his personal vaults on the planet Wayland.
- "I am not going to fool around but get right to the point. Lieutenant Tanith Sorn, one of the ship's bridge officers, is dead. Lord Vader has chosen you to investigate this crime and bring the perpetrator to justice."
- ―An Executor lieutenant commander
At some point prior to the Imperial discovery of the Rebel base on Hoth, a Rebel spy, Malkor Trel, infiltrated the crew of the Executor. Posing as a droid technician with the rank of petty officer, Trel obtained a position working in the Executor's droid pool. During his masquerade, Trel secured strategic information regarding Imperial Fleet deployment throughout the galaxy, which would prove vital to the Rebellion's own planned fleet movements and determining optimal locations to strike against the Empire. However, Lieutenant Commander Tanith Sorn, one of the Executor's bridge officers, eventually discovered evidence that pointed to Trel being a Rebel spy and arranged a clandestine meeting in a secluded section of the Super Star Destroyer's Engineering section with one of the ship's security officers to confirm her suspicions. But Trel likewise learned that Sorn was onto him and reprogrammed four of the Executor's ASP-7 labor droids to silence her from jeopardizing his mission. The night before the Battle of Hoth, the labor droids ambushed and murdered Sorn in Engineering before her meeting could take place.
By the next morning, as the Executor and Death Squadron first approached Hoth, the mystery behind Sorn's murder had come to fore. Vader himself chose a team of six of his flagship's crew members to investigate the crime: Zurel Hoban, a bridge pilot; Noa Endac, a security crewman; Lilit Arranda, a medic; Iaco Shild, a droid technician; Ariq Melvar; and Anya Foravis, an intelligence analyst assistant. While the Battle of Hoth raged on the planet below, the team began its investigation of the murder aboard the Executor, tasked with bringing the perpetrator in alive to face justice.
The investigation first led the team to Engineering, the scene of the murder, where Sorn's body had been found in a secluded storage locker. The crime scene was left intact, except for the removal of Sorn's body. Evidence there suggested to the team that Sorn had been attacked from multiple angles at close range. More tellingly, the presence of a bloody footprint and a damaged droid part confirmed the involvement of Imperial labor droids in Sorn's death. After questioning crew members working in Engineering at the time of the incident, the team eventually discovered someone who witnessed three labor droids follow Sorn through the area and then return minutes later requesting to report to the droid pool for maintenance. The team also spent some hours in the Executor's central security office reviewing security camera footage of the corridor leading to the crime scene, which confirmed the witness's testimony and also revealed that one labor droid actually entered the storage room ahead of Sorn. About a minute later, all four labor droids exited the area, two of them splattered with blood.
The team tracked the four labor droids, their primary suspects, to the Executor's droid pool, where they found them scheduled to undergo a memory wipe. But just as the team arrived, a skirmish broke out in the droid pool—the reprogrammed labor droids went berserk and murdered a couple technicians to prevent anyone from tampering with their mission. The team neutralized all four renegade droids, eventually confirming that while these droids did murder Sorn, someone else went to the effort of reprogramming them to draw Sorn to Engineering and then ambush her in private. Judging from the droid pool's computer records, the team narrowed their list of suspects down to three people who were logged into the droid pool's maintenance system at the time the droids were reprogrammed: Sergeant Landin Thyte, an Engineering technician; Lieutenant Ein Truminn, a bridge flight officer; and Malkor Trel, the droid technician on duty at the time.
Interviewing their suspects netted the team little information at first other than Thyte visited Engineering only to research his hobby of building small droids, and, according to Trel, he performed no droid programming whatsoever while on duty—a lie to maintain his cover. Tracking down Truminn proved more difficult. The team eventually elected to visit the Executor's bridge to question the crew who worked alongside Truminn, arriving around the same time Vader's bounty hunter recruits arrived aboard the Executor to join the search for Han Solo. On the bridge the team learned of a suspiciously bitter rivalry that existed between Truminn and Sorn, and were subsequently directed to the hangar bay, where Truminn was welcoming the arriving bounty hunters and arranging their escort to the bridge. Before departing, the team passed the bounty hunter Dengar being escorted to the bridge.
The team reached the hangar bay at the same time a distracted Truminn received a Ghtroc Class 720 freighter, the Onderian Raptor, aboard the Executor, carrying a group of three Human bounty hunters, led by another heavily armored individual identifying himself as "Bail Antilles," all of whom claimed to have arrived for the bounty on Solo. However, as Truminn began registering the new arrivals, the team received a comlink call from a bridge commander warning them that the bounty hunters' ship was transmitting a known Rebel code, and that orders had come down from Vader himself to apprehend the hunters. Indeed, Antilles and his henchmen were in fact Rebel agents who had come to extract Trel from the Executor. After a shootout in the hangar, the team neutralized the four Rebel agents, confirming their true identities and their mission to rendezvous with a Rebel spy aboard. Antilles' ship was also impounded in the hangar. Amidst the melee Antilles shot Truminn at point-blank range, critically wounding him. As he lay on the brink of death, Truminn informed the team that he knew who murdered Sorn.
Truminn barely survived the encounter with the Rebels and was taken to the Executor's infirmary to recover. Although barely conscious, he was able to tell the team from his bedside that, despite their hostile relationship, Sorn confided in him moments before her death in Engineering that she was looking into the presence of a Rebel spy aboard the ship named Malkor Trel. Truminn also explained that at the time of the murder he was at his post on the bridge, which was confirmed by the bridge's terminal logs, thus eliminating him as a suspect. After checking a datapad recovered from Antilles, the team discovered a dossier file further confirming Trel was indeed the Rebel spy and the murderer they sought. Upon checking Trel's quarters, which was in complete disarray, the team also discovered a small flashing signal locator tuned to the same frequency broadcasting from Antilles' ship—Trel was making his getaway.
Trel had made his way down to Antilles' impounded Ghtroc 720 and had secretly deactivated the hangar's tractor beam systems to effect his escape from the Executor, but the team arrived in the hangar just in time to see him board the freighter, followed by two allies disguised as stormtroopers. The team quickly boarded the ship and found Trel in the cockpit, preparing for departure, when the Rebel spy turned to face them. Before explaining that he had no choice but to kill Sorn for the sake of his mission, Trel offered the investigation team the chance to escape the Executor with him and join the Rebel Alliance. The team was faced with the choice of arresting Trel for his crimes or abandoning the Empire.
Invasion of Mygeeto and quelling Rebel convoy raids
In 3 ABY, the Outer Rim planet Mygeeto, one of the Empire's currency reserves, was briefly seized by the Rebellion. At Vader's order and under Piett's command, the Executor led an invasion fleet of Imperial-class Star Destroyers to retake Mygeeto, where the Empire had discovered a strong Rebel presence operating. In order to ensure Vader's expectations that the elimination of the Mygeeto Rebel presence went smoothly, the Imperial Navy's best pilots transferred to the Executor to participate in the assault. Among the pilots transferring was the "Imperial Ace."
Upon reaching Mygeeto's orbit, Piett dispatched the Imperial Ace's TIE Fighter squadron on a reconnaissance mission. Piett discerned from the TIEs' collected reconnaissance data that a number of Rebel scout ships had discovered the Executor's presence, forcing him to proceed with the invasion at maximum speed. Nevertheless, the Imperial Ace prevented the Rebel scouts from reporting the Executor and the Imperial fleet's presence, ensuring the invasion would proceed with the element of surprise.
Soon, a Rebel fleet consisting of EF76 Nebulon-B escort frigates, CR90 corvettes, and GR-75 medium transports conducted a counterattack on the Executor and the Imperial fleet, but the Imperial Ace helped engage and defeat the Rebel offensive. With Mygeeto's orbit under Imperial control, Vader led a ground force from the Executor to the planet below, where they succeeded in destroying the Rebels' headquarters. The Executor proceeded to help crush the remaining Rebel forces, leading to a resounding Imperial victory.
In approximately 3 ABY, also, a small Rebel force staging from the planetoid Annamar began raiding Imperial convoys along the Corellian Trade Spine. After one particular raid, in which the Rebels captured a vital component of the weapons system of the under construction second Death Star, effectively rendering the battlestation useless, the attacks attracted the attention of the Emperor, who called upon Vader to eliminate the raiding Rebels and retrieve the stolen weapons component. Vader took the Executor to the site of the raid, at the edge of a vast asteroid field, wherein the Empire believed the Rebels were hiding. Upon arrival, Vader ordered Captain Holt, on duty aboard the bridge at the time, to ready the Executor's fighters to enter the asteroids in pursuit. At that moment, Holt announced that the Executor's sensors detected another vessel—the YT-2000 light freighter Faithless—entering the asteroid field nearby. On Vader's command, the Executor captured the freighter and brought it aboard via tractor beam.
Within one of the Executor's hangar bays, Holt and a large stormtrooper contingent took into custody the detained freighter's lone occupant, a smuggler named Luca, who had been attempting to deliver supplies to the Rebels on Annamar. Finding Luca to be extremely sarcastic and defiant, Holt sent the man to one of the Executor's interrogation rooms to await Vader's personal questioning. During the ensuing heated interrogation, Vader eventually determined from Luca's defiance the truth of his supply mission and that he was able to infiltrate the asteroid field, where so many Imperial fighters had failed previously, with the application of set of command codes that overrode the Rebels' automatic defenses within the field. From there Luca knew the location of the Rebels' base within an abandoned droid factory on the surface of Annamar, at the heart of the field.
Armed with Luca's intelligence of how to reach the Rebel stronghold, Vader formulated a plan to infiltrate the asteroid field. The Dark Lord and Luca departed the Executor aboard the smuggler's freighter, leading a squadron of TIE Fighters and bombers into the asteroid field—at the appropriate time Luca would input the command codes to disable the Rebel defenses, allowing the Executor's fighters to then descend upon Annamar. However, Luca quickly betrayed Vader, resulting in the destruction of the entire TIE squadron. Nevertheless, Vader proceeded to successfully fulfill his task, destroying the Rebel base on Annamar and reclaiming the lost Death Star weapons component for his master.
Sometime shortly after the Battle of Hoth, Vader, from his holographic chamber aboard the Executor, discussed the continuing developments of the Imperial storm commando Sarkli with the Emperor. Sarkli, a one-time Rebel pilot, became a valuable Imperial agent after he defected to the Empire, feeling his abilities were being wasted with the Rebellion.
Return to Coruscant
- "I have been recalled to Coruscant to make my report to the Emperor. The Executor shall accompany me under the command of Captain Kallic. You shall remain in command of the Imperial fleet to continue the hunt for the Rebels…Do not permit yourself any failures—if any come to my attention, be assured a new admiral will be placed in charge of this fleet."
- ―Darth Vader, to Admiral Firmus Piett
Not long after the Rebels' escape from Cloud City, the Executor received notification of a possible sighting of the rendezvoused Rebel Fleet. An Imperial Strike-class medium cruiser had indeed stumbled upon the Rebel Fleet's hidden location, but Rebel forces destroyed the Imperial ship before a proper transmission could be sent.
The Emperor contacted Vader aboard the Executor in the Dark Lord's meditation chamber to discuss Vader's failed conversion of Skywalker at Bespin. Vader assured his angered master that the seeds of change had been sewn in Skywalker's mind and that he had redoubled his efforts to locate his son with the possible sighting of the Rebel Fleet, but the Emperor had more pressing concerns. He ordered Vader and the Executor to return to Coruscant to attend to the construction of the Empire's new Death Star, which was proceeding apace. Vader was to negotiate construction shipping rights with Xizor Transport Systems, led by Prince Xizor himself, Vader's longtime nemesis.
With Vader's search for Skywalker temporarily on hold, the Dark Lord summoned Piett to his chambers to reassign his admiral while the Executor was pulled from Death Squadron. Piett feared that the discussion was intended to be his execution for his failure to capture the Millennium Falcon at Bespin, but his time had not come yet. Vader instructed Piett that he would continue the fleet's search for Skywalker and the Rebels from aboard the Star Destroyer Accuser and that he would be reassigned back to the Executor once Vader's duties on Coruscant concluded. Meanwhile, Captain Kallic would assume temporary command of the Executor.
The Tarkin superweapon and Shira Brie
- "We've received a termination signal from Shalyvane, Lord. Apparently, the transmitting unit there has self-destructed!"
"Excellent! Then all is proceeding as planned. Have the helmsman reset our course, Captain. We go to Krake's Planet at once!"
- ―An Executor captain and Darth Vader
A few weeks removed from the Imperial occupation of Cloud City, Vader's duties took the Executor and Death Squadron to the Patriim system in the Outer Rim, above the garrison planet Hockaleg, the construction site of a new Imperial superweapon, the Tarkin. Vader had come to inspect the Tarkin, a scaled-down version of the first Death Star similarly equipped with a planet-cracking superlaser.
During the Executor's approach to the Patriim system, Vader received word from a Major Kuhru of a failed Imperial attempt to capture a live Rebel subject for interrogation at his order, for which Vader executed Kuhru by mentally compelling him to walk out of one of the Executor's airlocks. What Vader did not know was that the Rebel who had eluded capture was none other than Luke Skywalker, who was simultaneously being sent to the Patriim system as well as part of a Rebel commando team assigned to destroy the Tarkin.
The Executor and the fleet maintained orbit above Hockaleg, just beyond the Tarkin's own defensive web of Star Destroyers, while Vader boarded the Tarkin itself to assume command of the project. Skywalker indeed slipped onto the Tarkin shortly after along with Leia Organa, who succeeded in sabotaging and destroying the superweapon in a massive explosion. The Rebels escaped the system aboard the Millennium Falcon before a pursuing Vader could confront his son, leaving the Dark Lord stranded in space aboard his own crippled TIE interceptor, floating among the Tarkin's debris.
Positioned several kilometers away from the Tarkin upon its destruction, the Executor remained intact, though the blast instantly consumed two nearby Star Destroyers and a dozen smaller vessels. The resulting explosion filled the area with electromagnetic interference, rendering Vader unable to signal his flagship to pursue the Millennium Falcon as the Rebels made their getaway. Although stranded in his TIE, Vader presumed the Executor's crew, who had been aware that he had been aboard his fighter when the Tarkin blew, would already be sending out a search party for him, though he knew any search team would be unable to use its sensors to discover his position aboard the mass of debris. Still, he figured his men would find him sooner rather than later, for they knew the price of failing him. Vader was eventually rescued by a veteran stormtrooper from the Hockaleg garrison below. When the stormtrooper offered to return Vader to the Executor, the Dark Lord instead instructed the trooper to take him to the garrison and to leave a distress strobe on his fighter, not caring what the search team might suspect when it found the fighter empty.
Vader's continuing search for Skywalker eventually brought the crippled body of Imperial Special Forces agent Shira Brie aboard the Executor. Masquerading as a Rebel pilot, Brie had previously infiltrated the highest tiers of the Rebellion on a personal mission for Vader, tasked with either eliminating Skywalker or discrediting him in the eyes of the Rebellion, which Vader hoped would thus drive his son back to him. Brie accomplished her objective, although at the expense of herself—during a Rebel mission, Skywalker shot Brie's fighter down after believing her to be an enemy target. Nevertheless, Skywalker became a pariah among the Rebellion after evidence surfaced showing him to have killed a fellow pilot, and he left his comrades to seek answers.
Skywalker's own search led him to Brie's purported homeworld of Shalyvane, where he inadvertently caught Vader's attention by triggering Brie's secret holoprojector with which she communicated with her master while encamped with the Rebellion. The device self-destructed upon Skywalker's tampering, which sent an immediate termination signal to the Executor, just as Vader had planned.
Simultaneous with Skywalker's Shalyvane expedition, Vader received Imperial Admiral Mils Giel within his private meditation chamber aboard the Executor. Vader rebuked Giel for failing to stop the destruction of the one-of-a-kind teezl, a non-sentient creature that could have allowed the Empire to communicate across the galaxy instantaneously, during the same Rebel raid in which Skywalker shot down Brie. Although Vader spared Giel's life, he demoted him to lieutenant. But just as Giel departed the Dark Lord's presence, Vader received word of the termination signal from Shalyvane. Realizing that Skywalker had triggered the device as he expected, and knowing that his son's next move in his quest for answers on Shira Brie would lead him to the Imperial data vault on Krake's Planet, Vader ordered the Executor to reset course immediately to intercept his son.
The Executor and Death Squadron reached Krake's Planet too late, however, arriving in the midst of a skirmish at the Imperial data complex, during which Skywalker retrieved the background history on Brie for which he was searching. Before the Executor could dispatch and land a ground force, Skywalker destroyed the entire complex. Seeing the resulting explosion from orbit, Vader quickly instructed the Executor's bosun to track the imminent escaping Rebel vessel, but Skywalker escaped the system aboard the Millennium Falcon. The Executor had lost Skywalker again, to Vader's silent but great agitation.
Despite losing Skywalker, Vader had not lost Shira Brie. Vader's agents had rescued her body from the Rebel raid and delivered her to a secret medical lab aboard the Executor, where she slowly recuperated from her substantial injuries suffered at Skywalker's hands. Assigning Imperial scientists to work round-the-clock to restore Brie to operational state, the Dark Lord closely monitored her recovery process as Brie's body was rebuilt using prosthetic limbs and a life-support suit. Eventually, Brie emerged from recovery a changed woman. Taking on the new identity of the Dark Lady Lumiya, she honed her already considerable Force abilities under Vader's tutelage. Pleased with his creation, Vader presented Lumiya to the Emperor as an Emperor's Hand.
Later, Vader ordered Giel to return to the Executor to deliver a report concerning intelligence gathered from an abandoned Rebel base on the planet Golrath. However, Giel's troop transport was destroyed in the base's destruction by Rebel saboteurs before Giel could ever reach the Executor.
At some point circa 3.5 ABY, Vader spoke with the Emperor from his private holographic chamber aboard the Executor concerning the Rebellion's destruction of a Super Star Destroyer equipped with a cloaking device under construction at the Fondor Shipyards. The Emperor reassured Vader that the Empire's loss of the cloaking device would only instill a false sense of confidence within the Rebellion, for even then the Emperor was drawing them into a trap.
Assault on the Vergesso Asteroids
- "Look at that Imperial force! That's Vader's ship! I have a bad feeling about this."
The growing prominence of Xizor at the Emperor's side in the Imperial Court proved a great threat to Vader. Xizor's position as leader of the Black Sun crime syndicate—a truth Vader heavily suspected but could not prove—greatly concerned Vader, who did not trust the Dark Prince. The Emperor enjoyed pulling the strings of the rivalry between the Dark Lord and Xizor, both of whom jockeyed for their master's favor. In truth, Vader's suspicions of Xizor proved profoundly correct. Xizor hoped to supplant Vader as the Emperor's right-hand man by killing Luke Skywalker before Vader could convert his son to the dark side.
To improve his standing with the Emperor, Xizor reported the presence of a large Rebel shipyard in the Vergesso Asteroids, in the Lybeya system of the Bajic sector, in the Outer Rim. When reports of the Rebel base were confirmed, the Emperor ordered Vader to take part of the Imperial Fleet there to crush the facility. Vader offered that Imperial Admiral Ledre Okins handle the expedition in his stead, but the Emperor wanted Vader to personally oversee the operation. Okins nevertheless temporarily joined the Executor as the Super Star Destroyer's acting admiral for the battle. Also joining the Executor for the assault was a task force comprising the Star Destroyer Avenger and the Victory II-class Star Destroyers Victory 1 and Victory 2.
The Executor's task force carried more than enough firepower to crush a single shipyard, but the Emperor had instructed that too much was better than too little. Coupled with the fact that the Vergesso shipyard was little more than a repair yard, albeit housing hundreds of ships ranging from starfighters to transports, Vader expected a simple operation.
A week after Vader's meeting with the Emperor, the Executor exited hyperspace in the Lybeya system. Okins joined Vader on the Executor's bridge to manage the operation. However, the surprise attack did not proceed as simple as expected, much to Vader's satisfaction, who relished a fight over a slaughter. Once the Executor closed in on the giant asteroid base housing the shipyard, two Rebel Nebulon-B escort frigates, the Cruuz and Fox, came around from behind the asteroid to meet the Imperial force, simultaneously launching a dozen T-65 X-wing starfighters. They were soon joined by several other capital ships, including three CR90 corvettes and the bulk cruiser Fairfax.
Okins responded by launching the Executor's TIE Fighters and TIE bombers, preferring not to waste his capital ships' firepower on such small targets. Seeing that the Rebels were going to put up a fight, Vader took the opportunity to join the battle directly in his personal TIE Advanced x1 starfighter, leaving the Executor's destruction of the shipyard to Okins.
The battle lasted a short duration despite the Rebels' efforts. Okins positioned the Star Destroyers in a triangular attack formation, with the Avenger at the point position and the Super Star Destroyer occupying the rear, flanked by the Victory Destroyers. The Executor helped to destroy both of the Nebulon-B escort frigates and the bulk cruiser Fairfax without difficulty, before pounding and obliterating the asteroid shipyard itself. The Executor's task force destroyed hundreds of ships and thousands of accompanying pilots and troops in a crushing victory for the Empire.
During the midst of the battle, the YT-2000 light freighter Otana, piloted by Rebel fighter pilot Ace Azzameen and his droid MK-09, entered the fray virtually unnoticed, exiting hyperspace behind the Executor. After slipping past the Imperial task force and boarding the asteroid to rescue Azzameen's sister, Aeron Azzameen, from the besieged facility, the Otana survived a near-suicide escape run across the length of the massive Executor to flee safely into hyperspace once more.
Xizor's revealing of the Rebel shipyard in the Vergesso Asteroids was in fact a ruse to get Vader away from Coruscant as part of his own political machinations. Suspecting as much, Vader wasted no time returning with the Executor to Coruscant. Vader reported the base's destruction to the Emperor via the HoloNet even as the Executor made its return trip, during which he was humiliatingly forced to openly thank Xizor for his contribution in front of his master.
Chasing Luke Skywalker at Kothlis
- "They've just dropped out of hyperspace and into the system…I didn't get close enough to read nameplates, but the lead ship is a Star Destroyer."
"Bigger than that."
- ―Lando Calrissian and Luke Skywalker
Sometime after the Executor had returned to Coruscant, Xizor succeeded in manipulating Vader away from the Imperial capital once more. At Xizor's suggestion, the Emperor had deliberately allowed the top-secret construction plans to the new Death Star to fall into Rebel hands as part of a grand scheme to crush the Rebellion once and for all. Simultaneously, a group of bounty hunters, reacting to the price Vader had placed on Luke Skywalker's head, had captured the young Rebel on the Bothan colony world of Kothlis—where the stolen Death Star plans were being held—after Skywalker himself had participated in the plans' capture.
And so, over Vader's objections, the Emperor ordered the Executor to Kothlis as a blunt show of force to make it appear as if the Empire was truly concerned over the loss of the Death Star plans. If Vader himself led the attack, he explained, the Rebels would be convinced that the Empire's concern was legitimate. Further, the Emperor instructed Vader to collect the imprisoned Skywalker while he was at Kothlis.
After a several hour-long hyperspace trip from Coruscant, the Executor, once more supported by the Star Destroyer Avenger, arrived at the edge of the Kothlis system, with Vader's primary concern being Skywalker. However, just as Vader had disembarked from the Executor and made planetfall on Kothlis to capture his son, Skywalker had escaped from his captors and the planet with Lando Calrissian in the Millennium Falcon. Realizing he had just missed his son, Vader hastened to return to the Executor in orbit, hoping there was still time to catch him.
The Millennium Falcon had detected the Executor early enough during its departure from the planet to afford enough time, because of hyperdrive malfunction, to take refuge in a nearby asteroid field in parabolic orbit around Kothlis that hid the Rebel ship from the Executor's sensors. Once back aboard the Executor, Vader nevertheless detected a presence in the Force emanating from the asteroids, which he suspected to be no less than Skywalker. The Executor's captain suggested that the Super Star Destroyer dispatch TIE squadrons to ferret the ship out rather than barging forward and risking the great strain colliding asteroids would put on the Executor's shields, to which Vader agreed.
Before the TIE Fighters could reach the Millennium Falcon, however, the Rebel ship escaped safely into hyperspace, although Vader had received confirmation that the Millennium Falcon had indeed been the source of the Force signature, meaning his suspicions of his son's presence were correct. Vader dejectedly wished to return with the Executor to Coruscant, but he knew the Emperor had sent him to Kothlis for another reason.
Feigning pursuit of the Death Star plans
- "We must appear to make an attempt to recover the plans…Therefore your trip will serve two purposes. You can fetch Skywalker, and you can destroy some of the local scenery so that the Rebels will be gulled into believing we are concerned over the theft…If you personally lead the attack, the Rebels will be convinced that we think these plans of great value."
- ―Emperor Palpatine, to Darth Vader
With Skywalker gone, the Executor and the Avenger turned back toward Kothlis, executing a small hyperspace jump to arrive near two Rebel space stations in orbit in pursuit of the Death Star plans. Indeed, the Super Star Destroyer's presence alone upon initially arriving in the Kothlis system convinced the Rebels that the data they possessed was of utmost value to the Empire, as the Emperor had foreseen, and they scrambled to escape. Just as the Executor had arrived to collect Skywalker, the Rebel Lambda-class shuttle Fey'lya's Pride had departed Kothlis carrying the plans. The Rebels hoped to transfer a supercomputer holding the plans to the CR90 corvette Razor waiting in orbit, which would then deliver the computer into safe hands elsewhere.
Immediately after emerging from their small hyperspace jump, the Executor and the Avenger opened up concentrated turbolaser fire on the Rebel Golan II defense platform Sentinel, which they handily destroyed in a matter of minutes, simultaneously deploying flights of TIE series starfighters and at least two Gamma-class ATR-6 assault transports, the Talon 1 and Talon 2, to attack the Rebel outpost Kothlis II and the Razor itself. Later stages of the battle also saw the Executor deploy several of the Empire's new TIE/ad starfighters, or TIE Avengers. After destroying the Sentinel, the Executor and the Avenger began exchanging fire with the Kothlis II outpost while the Rebels desperately rushed to whisk the plans to safety.
Soon enough, the Fey'lya's Pride completed its transfer, and the Razor escaped into hyperspace, out of immediate danger, with the Death Star plans in tow. Nevertheless, the Executor and the Avenger continued their assault, destroying the Kothlis II outpost and three GR-75 medium transports, and unleashing fire on the Mon Calamari Star Cruiser Liberty, before it too escaped into hyperspace.
The Executor remained in the Kothlis system for a short time after the assault, while the Avenger proceeded to chase the Razor and the Death Star plans to a point elsewhere in the system. The Avenger caught up with the Razor while trying to rendezvous with and transfer the computer holding the plans to the Mon Calamari Star Cruiser Independence, commanded by Rebel Fleet Supreme Commander Admiral Gial Ackbar himself. With the transfer interrupted and the Avenger bearing down, however, the Razor was forced to jettison the plans aboard an escape pod, which was in turn picked up by the civilian Dreadnaught-class heavy cruiser Mercury. The Mercury again whisked the plans away into hyperspace to the Independence rendezvous point elsewhere, but there it encountered the Executor.
While the Mercury released the escape pod to send it off to the waiting Independence, the Executor and the Avenger once more emerged from hyperspace in the midst of the transfer. From several kilometers away, the Executor immediately began firing upon the Mercury, forcing the civilian vessel to escape into hyperspace with minimal damage, and unleashing waves of TIE interceptors and TIE bombers to destroy the escape pod en route to the Independence. The Rebels succeeded in holding off the Executor's TIEs long enough to allow the escape pod to reach safe haven, and the Independence too jumped into hyperspace, escaping further engagement with the Executor, and finally securing the Death Star plans for good.
Half of the Executor's mission had been a success. The Executor and the Avenger delivered a display of destruction and pursuit convincing enough that the Rebels believed they had genuinely secured the supercomputer during the Imperial assault. But, Vader had arrived too late to catch Skywalker. Despite missing his son, Vader had stumbled upon a far more urgent truth during the Kothlis trip—Xizor had been behind an assassination attempt on Skywalker's life. With Vader anxious to return to his domestic issues, the Executor set course for a return to Coruscant.
During the Executor's return trip, Vader received a brief holographic report aboard his Super Star Destroyer from Wrenga Jixton, an agent he had implanted in the palace of the Hutt crime lord Jabba Desilijic Tiure on the planet Tatooine to wait for the inevitable arrival of Skywalker, who would eventually journey there to rescue the carbonite-frozen Han Solo. Jixton's report only confirmed Vader's suspicions that Xizor was trying to manufacture his ruin.
Destruction of Falleen's Fist
- "Commander, destroy the skyhook."
- ―Darth Vader
Upon returning to the Coruscant system, the Executor remained in orbit over the Imperial capital while Vader returned to the planet below. Xizor's efforts to kill Skywalker had driven Vader over the edge, and, once the Emperor had left Coruscant on a personal matter, Vader challenged the Dark Prince directly.
Skywalker, coincidentally, had also come to Coruscant from Kothlis, freeing the captured Leia Organa from Xizor's clutches and destroying Xizor's Palace in the process. As Skywalker and the Millennium Falcon fled Coruscant, the Executor intercepted a transmission originating from Xizor's personal starship, the Virago, en route to the Dark Prince's skyhook Falleen's Fist in high orbit, in which Xizor ordered the commander of his navy to destroy the fleeing Rebel ship. Once the transmission's contents reached Vader, he knew he finally had the evidence needed to convict Xizor of conspiring to kill his son. Quickly, he boarded his shuttle to make for the Executor.
The Executor occupied an orbital position on the opposite side of Coruscant from Xizor's skyhook. Once reaching the bridge of the Super Star Destroyer, Vader ordered the Executor around the planet to make contact with the Falleen's Fist as soon it came in range. The Dark Prince's machinations had come to an end.
On the other side of Coruscant, the Executor and a giant flotilla of warships prevailed upon a battle between Xizor's navy of StarVipers and X-wing starfighters of the Rebellion's Rogue Squadron. Immediately, Vader ordered the Executor to deploy its TIE squadrons, but not in pursuit of the Rebels or the Millennium Falcon—the Imperial Navy began firing on Xizor's starships. During the congested battle over Coruscant, the Executor suffered explosions on its dorsal technoscape.
As the Executor neared the Falleen's Fist, Vader opened up direct communication with Xizor to demand his surrender, for he had warned him to stay away from Skywalker. Vader offered Xizor a very direct ultimatum: recall his navy and offer himself into Vader's custody in two minutes, or the Executor would destroy the skyhook. To Vader's great satisfaction, the two minutes expired with no word from Xizor, who believed Vader was bluffing, and the Executor opened up fire. Several punishing rounds of turbolaser fire smashed into the Falleen's Fist before a single powerful beam from the Executor destroyed the skyhook in a blinding explosion, killing Xizor. Xizor's death crippled Black Sun, throwing the criminal organization into a fragmented internal power struggle from which it would never fully recover.
Some weeks after the Coruscant battle, the Executor, escorted by a fleet of Imperial-class Star Destroyers, delivered Vader to the planet Gamandar to oversee the progress of the Imperial subjugation of the Iskalon system. The Empire had kept a close watch on the water world Iskalon itself for signs of Rebel activity, where the Rebel spy Tay Vanis had previously fomented such rebellion, and who had also acquired a set of plans to the new Death Star project in addition to those the Emperor had allowed the Rebellion to have.
Vader held a conference with three Imperial officers aboard the Executor's bridge to bring him up to speed with the Iskalon situation. While discussing the progress of the Imperial search for Vanis, who had gone missing, Vader was interrupted by a transmission from his droid agent on Gamandar, K-3PX, who notified him that Imperial Admiral Griggor Tower had devastated the Iskalonian populace with a missile attack in an attempt to assassinate Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa after learning they were present on the planet. Angered that Tower had overstepped his bounds and jeopardized his son's life, Vader ordered K-3PX to arrest Tower.
From aboard the Executor in orbit above Gamandar, Vader held a brief holographic communication with the thus detained Tower, condemning his attack on Iskalon that may have killed Skywalker. Although reports of survivors on Gamandar quickly came in, meaning that perhaps Skywalker had in fact survived, Tower's insolence had cost him his life. Vader ordered Tower's execution before departing from the Executor in his shuttle to visit Iskalon personally. Eventually, after Vader resolved the Vanis situation, the Executor returned to Coruscant.
Protecting the Death Star construction site
- "Send the fleet to the far side of Endor. There it will stay until called for…Your work here is finished, my friend. Go out to the command ship and await my orders."
- ―Emperor Palpatine orders Darth Vader to oversee the Executor's defensive net
As the year 4 ABY dawned, Imperial interests turned fully to the Death Star project, under construction in the remote Endor system. For some time, the Death Star's construction schedule had been lagging, and so the Emperor assigned Vader to the project personally to pick up the slack. His duties on Coruscant completed, Vader reassigned Piett back to the Executor while the Super Star Destroyer was still in Coruscant's orbit, and under the admiral's command the Executor entered hyperspace for the Endor system, traveling by way of the Corellian Run, the Corellian Trade Spine, and the Sanctuary Pipeline hyperlanes.
While in his meditation sphere aboard the Executor during the trip from Coruscant to Endor, Vader pondered the course of his life and the events that had transpired to bring him to his current situation, trying to turn his son to the dark side. By the time the Executor entered the Endor system—one year since his encounter with Luke Skywalker on Bespin—Vader knew that a final confrontation drew near between himself, his son, and the Emperor, and that one of them would have to die. The Executor remained in Endor's orbit above the incomplete Death Star while Vader departed in his shuttle to board the battlestation. The Executor also regrouped with the Star Destroyers of Death Squadron at Endor.
Shortly after Vader's arrival, the Executor also played host to the arrival of the Emperor himself at the Death Star. The Executor led a massive formation of varying warships and smaller TIE starfighter escorts as the Emperor's shuttle departed from the Super Star Destroyer's central hangar bay, accompanied by four squads of fighters, and approached the Death Star. The Emperor had come to orchestrate the final steps of the intricate plan to crush the Rebel Alliance in one final blow first put into motion months earlier when he allowed the Death Star plans to fall into the Rebellion's hands at the recommendation of Xizor. He had used the plans as bait to draw the entirety of the Rebellion to the Endor system under the guise that the Death Star was inoperable, when in fact its powerful superlaser was very much operational, where the Executor would help trap and destroy them.
In preparation for the Rebellion's arrival, the Empire gathered a huge armada of several dozen Imperial-class Star Destroyers at Endor, all under the command of the Executor. Knowing that Luke Skywalker would eventually be drawn to Endor, the Emperor instructed Vader to position the Imperial Fleet out of sight on Endor's far side, where it would wait in ambush. Meanwhile, he ordered Vader back to the Executor to await further instruction.
The Executor and two Imperial-class Star Destroyers maintained a deceptively small defensive perimeter around the Death Star's construction site. Periodically, the Executor orbited the area, all the while surveying the construction progress from all angles and monitoring the ingress and egress of thousands of construction vessels through the Death Star's powerful deflector shield projected from the moon below. In light of the first Death Star's debacle at Yavin, the Emperor placed a premium on the security of his new superweapon. From the Executor's bridge, a constant stream of codes, orders, and diagrams were transmitted and received between the ships moving through the construction site, and the process ran with maximum efficiency.
Once a certain Lambda-class shuttle, the Tydirium, entered the congested construction site, however, the Executor's efficiency came to a stop. Claiming to be technicians bound for the Forest Moon and requesting the deactivation of the Death Star's deflector shield for passage, the shuttle's crew was none other than Skywalker and a Rebel strike team who had come to sabotage the shield in preparation for a massive assault on the Death Star itself. Indeed, the Emperor's allowance of the Death Star plans to fall into Rebel hands previously was coming to fruition, and Skywalker had arrived as planned. Immediately, Vader sensed the proximity of his son through the Force from aboard the Executor—as did Skywalker his father—and questioned Piett as to the shuttle's destination, to learn that it did have a proper code clearance, albeit an older code. But rather than holding up the Rebels, Vader permitted the shuttle through the shield, and he soon departed his flagship for what would prove to be the final time to confront his son himself.
Battle of Endor
- "We're not going to attack?"
"I have my orders from the Emperor himself. He has something special planned for them. We only need to keep them from escaping."
- ―Fleet Commander Gherant and Admiral Firmus Piett
Skywalker's arrival meant the Rebel Fleet was not far behind, and the Executor took up position with the rest of the Imperial Fleet on the far side of Endor to wait. The whole of the Rebel Fleet emerged from hyperspace in the Endor system to find a completely undefended Death Star. When the Rebels' starfighters moved in to attack the battlestation, they discovered that the Empire was jamming their sensor readings of the Death Star's deflector shield, which they grimly determined to mean only that they had walked into a trap—the shield was still up and the Empire knew they were coming.
At that moment, the massive Imperial armada moved out from the far side of the Forest Moon with the Executor leading the charge at the forefront of the Fleet, in perfect regimental formation. The Executor and its dozens of accompanying Star Destroyers, taking up position close to the Forest Moon, effectively had the Rebel Fleet sandwiched between themselves and the Death Star's shield in an inescapable vise, and they immediately launched a swarm of hundreds of TIEs, mostly TIE interceptors, that overwhelmed the Rebel fighters. Dozens of dogfights erupted among the trapped Rebel Fleet's capital ships, which simply had nowhere to run. The decisive Battle of Endor was underway.
The Imperial Fleet began hammering the ambushed Rebel armada, but only the Empire's TIE fighters were attacking at first, which proved disquieting to the Rebels. The Executor and the mass of Star Destroyers hung back, maintaining their distance and refraining from jumping into the fray. Once the Executor reached attack position, Piett gave the order for the Super Star Destroyer and the entirety of the Fleet to hold position, which also surprised Fleet Commander Gherant, serving with him aboard the Executor's bridge. Piett explained that his orders to hold position came down directly from the Emperor, for he had something special in store for the Rebels. The Executor's only responsibility was to keep their prey from escaping.
The Emperor's surprise was nothing less than a shattering realization for the Rebel Fleet. The Death Star unexpectedly opened fire with its superlaser to obliterate the Mon Calamari Star Cruiser Liberty in a single blast, and suddenly the truth dawned upon the Rebels as to the gravity of their situation—the Death Star was in fact operational despite what their intelligence had claimed, and they were caught in its web. The Executor and the Imperial Fleet had only set the stage for the Empire's final act.
The Death Star began systematically picking off the Rebel Fleet's capital ships with its superlaser one by one. What neither the Empire nor the Rebellion knew, however, was that the assassin droid IG-88A was secretly in control of the Death Star's superlaser, after uploading his consciousness into the battlestation's computer core, the fruits of IG-88B's endeavor of hacking into the Executor's central computer core a year previously during the Hoth campaign to steal the Super Star Destroyer's information database. IG-88A still admired the mighty Executor as he had upon first discovering the Super Star Destroyer's existence back on Mechis III, but his intrigue for controlling the giant warship had been surpassed by his usurpation of the Death Star.
In desperation, and on suggestion from Lando Calrissian, the Rebel Fleet turned to attack the Star Destroyers directly at point-blank range, hoping that the Death Star wouldn't be able to fire its superlaser without hitting Imperial ships in the process, and that by doing so might open up a hole in the Imperial Fleet through which the remaining Rebel ships could escape. Specifically, the Rebel Fleet concentrated on the Executor, knowing that simply disabling the command ship, much less destroying it, would devastate Imperial morale.
The unorthodox Rebel tactic proved incredibly effective. By engaging the Star Destroyers in ship-to-ship combat, the Rebels succeeded in using the Imperial Fleet as a shield to all but negate the Death Star's destructive capabilities. During the close-quarters fighting, Calrissian, eagerly piloting the Millennium Falcon, inadvertently chased a pair of TIE interceptors up toward the underside of the Executor, right below its massive central hangar bay, so close to the ship that attempting to retreat would have only brought the Millennium Falcon into range of more of the Super Star Destroyer's blazing guns. With little alternative of where to run, Calrissian sent the Millennium Falcon straight into the overhead hangar bay, into the very interior of the Executor.
Safe from the Executor's external fire for the moment, Calrissian shot the Millennium Falcon forward at full throttle through a tight access corridor running through the massive Super Star Destroyer's countless secondary hangar bays before the ship's command crew had figured out what had become of them. Eventually, the Millennium Falcon entered a staging area, sending the Executor's ground crew scattering before crashing through a repair gantry and wiping out several technicians who were working on it. However, time was running out before TIEs entered the hangar after them. In a single instant, Calrissian ordered the Millennium Falcon's crew to open up fire, raking the unarmored interior of the Executor with concussion missiles and the ship's dual quad laser cannons. The blasts created a massive inferno large enough to allow the Millennium Falcon to escape the hangar back out the way it had come and to obscure the targeting of the Executor's gunners long enough for the Rebel ship to get out of range.
Death of a giant and Imperial Fleet fallout
- "Concentrate all fire on that Super Star Destroyer!"
- ―Admiral Gial Ackbar
Although the Imperial Fleet outnumbered the attacking Rebel ships ten-to-one and had them significantly outgunned, engaging the Star Destroyers at point-blank range—nose-to-nose fire between such massive vessels as Imperial-class Star Destroyers and Mon Calamari Cruisers—was a tactic never before tried, and the Rebels turned the tables on the Empire by targeting the Executor. Piett believed that the Rebels were doomed from the beginning, and so once the Rebel Fleet first advanced upon the Executor and the Star Destroyers in response to the Death Star firing, he was already beaten. Piett did not expect the Rebels' close-range tactic, and the Executor fell victim to repeated barrages from Rebel ships.
Soon enough, the Rebel strike force succeeded in bringing down the Death Star's deflector shield from the moon below, opening the way for the Rebels' starfighters to target the battlestation's reactor core. Several TIEs doggedly pursued the attacking Rebel ships into the Death Star's exposed superstructure, however, prompting Admiral Gial Ackbar at the forefront of the Rebel Fleet to press the attack on the Executor in order to buy his fighters more time by drawing the TIEs away from the Death Star. He ordered the entirety of the Fleet to concentrate all fire on the Executor, which was already experiencing difficulty with its guidance system.
The remaining Rebel cruisers and starfighters, led by B-wing starfighter pilot Ten Numb from Blue Squadron, began pummeling the Executor mercilessly, which rapidly engulfed the Super Star Destroyer's entire stern in flame, and the command ship began listing badly to starboard. Eventually, concentrated fire against the front of the Executor broke through its powerful forward shields, exposing the Super Star Destroyer's command tower to attack. Immediately, Rebel RZ-1 A-wing interceptors from Green Squadron moved in to strafe the bridge on Ackbar's orders, and two A-wings destroyed the Executor's port-side deflector shield generator dome with a proton torpedo salvo, knocking out the bridge's shields.
Watching the Executor's mounting damage inflicted by the pressing starfighter attack from aboard the bridge, Piett ordered his Super Star Destroyer to intensify its forward firepower upon learning that the bridge's shields were down to prevent anything from penetrating the window of opportunity, but it was too late. Already, the A-wing of Green Leader Arvel Crynyd had been irreparably damaged by the Executor's turbolaser fire while making its attack run on the command tower and was sent careening wildly. Crynyd purposely steered his wayward A-wing fighter on a suicidal run directly toward the Executor's bridge. Seeing the approaching fighter barreling toward him, Piett screamed once more for his bridge crew to intensify the forward batteries, but to no avail. With the Executor's navigation suite in ruins and its defensive guns losing coordination, Crynyd's A-wing smashed into the bridge's viewports.
The collision's resulting explosion, largely caused by the A-wing's wedge-shaped design and explosive fuel system, instantly killed Piett and destroyed the Executor's main navigation complex, tearing through the bridge and into the rear of the command tower, enabling the damage to spread. A series of explosions set off a chain reaction from power station to power station along the middle third of the massive Super Star Destroyer, producing another set of colossal explosions that buckled the Executor at right angles and sent it spinning toward the Death Star. With its flight systems gone and damage-control crews failing to regain command of the ship from auxiliary control centers, the Executor was pulled into the Death Star's powerful gravity well and began one final, long descent toward the battlestation. The Executor wiped out ten more starfighters, two cruisers, and an ordnance vessel before smashing bow-first into the side of the Death Star in an enormous, cataclysmic fireball powerful enough to rock the battlestation, which set off a further series of severely damaging explosions through the Death Star's interior network. All hands onboard died with the Executor.
The Executor's destruction marked the climax of the Battle of Endor and the beginning of the end for the Imperial Fleet. The loss of the command ship—a horrifying spectacle to the crews of surrounding Star Destroyers—proved a significant demoralization, and the remaining Star Destroyers fell into disarray. Moreover, the accuracy of Imperial fire dropped off—not by a substantial margin, but to a noticeable degree. Several TIEs from the Executor stationed aboard the Death Star to protect the exposed superstructure began making crucial errors once their command ship and source of coordination was gone. The Rebel fighters targeting the battlestation's reactor core succeeded in slipping through the TIEs' defensive perimeter and destroyed the Death Star.
Command of the confused remnants of the Imperial Fleet passed from the Executor to the Imperial II-class Star Destroyer Chimaera, which ordered an official withdrawal. The Fleet escaped with whatever they could, though the Imperial Navy as a whole would never recover from the Endor fiasco. Many of the Imperial Navy's best, brightest, and most experienced young officers died along with the Executor, which made the Rebellion's eventual victory over the Empire that much easier. In a battle orchestrated to crush the Rebellion, not the Empire, Endor saw the loss of four super icons: the Emperor, Vader, the Death Star and the Executor, marking the end of the New Order.
- "But sir, we have an Imperial fleet incoming!"
"What you have is a ghost. That ship is the Executor, currently a cloud of scattered atoms."
- ―New Republic General Crix Madine dispels a Super Star Destroyer attack on Kintoni
In the hours following the Imperial retreat from Endor, the Rebel Fleet encountered the Imperial-class Star Destroyer Unrepentant engaging in hit-and-run tactics in an effort to gauge the strength of the Rebels' remaining defensive forces, a maneuver simply prohibited by Imperial military doctrine. The strange Imperial behavior led Major Breslin Drake of Alliance Intelligence to conclude that the Executor and the Death Star shared a unified system-command over Imperial forces in the region due to the remoteness of the Endor system, and that the Unrepentant's hit-and-run maneuver was evidence of the state of confusion the Imperial command hierarchy fell into following the Executor's destruction.
What was left of the Executor's wreckage came to settle in a large canyon on the Forest Moon of Endor. Three days after the Battle of Endor, Rogue Squadron X-wing pilots Wedge Antilles, Wister, and Kirst inadvertently stumbled upon the wreckage while pursuing TIE fighters during subsequent cleanup operations, only to find many of the Super Star Destroyer's turbolasers very much in functioning order. Remaining Imperial forces in command of the Executor showered the three Rebel fighters with laser fire as soon as they entered the canyon, destroying Wister's X-wing, before Antilles and Kirst escaped.
Circa 4-5 ABY, the former Emperor's Hand Mara Jade, still reeling from the death of the Emperor at Endor, stumbled upon an old sensor recording of the Executor while on the Rebel-held planet Kintoni. She discovered that the Executor and a fleet of Immobilizer 418 cruisers were the last group of ships to visit the backwater world, nevertheless the site of an Imperial garrison housing a long-range communications/sensor nexus, while still under Imperial control. Although she couldn't fathom what might have drawn Vader all the way out to Kintoni, Jade copied the Executor sensor recording from the comm nexus and fed it into the garrison's main sensor feed, which duped the Rebel forces present into believing a Super Star Destroyer had descended upon the planet. The ruse allowed Jade to escape with the traitorous ex-Imperial Governor Barkale, who was being held at the garrison, while the Rebels soon learned their threat was nothing but a ghost ship of the Executor.
At some point an artist created an illustration of a scene during a space battle in which the Executor led Death Squadron in an orbital bombardment on an artificially-ringed planet, before an AT-AT assault force was dispatched to the planet's surface. The artist's work was entitled Executor Executes.
The threat the Executor posed to the Rebellion continued to manifest itself against the New Republic vicariously through the other Super-class Star Destroyers Kuat Drive Yards produced in succession to the Executor. The Rebels knew that destroying the Executor at Endor happened more by sheer luck than any amount of skill, and the emergence of additional Super Star Destroyers following the Empire's collapse—namely, the Executor's sister ship, the Lusankya—proved more than alarming and prompted many to draw comparisons to the original.
In 7 ABY, de facto Imperial leader Ysanne Isard took command of the Lusankya, which the Emperor had hidden beneath Coruscant's surface as his private escape vessel upon the Executor's completion following the Battle of Yavin, to utilize as her flagship in the Bacta War, a campaign to destroy the New Republic. Rebel Alliance and, later, New Republic Intelligence had not known of the Lusankya's existence until its sudden emergence in Isard's hands. Once the Lusankya revealed itself by literally blasting out of Coruscant, the revelation of the Executor's convoluted construction history, intertwined with the Lusankya's to mask the sister ship's existence, dawned upon the New Republic. Eventually, the New Republic defeated Isard and the Lusankya entered New Republic service.
Three years after the Battle of Endor, New Republic starfighter pilot Starter, a man regarded for telling overly embellished tales of his past, recounted to a group of friends one story of his adventures while fighting with the Rebellion during the Galactic Civil War in which he supposedly escaped from Darth Vader aboard the Executor. Starter claimed he was captured by the bounty hunter Boba Fett after stealing secret Imperial data and taken to the Executor, where he resisted the efforts of five Imperial interrogation droids overseen by Admiral Ozzel. At the Emperor's direct order, according to the story, Vader had Starter brought to his chambers in an attempt to personally extract the location of the stolen data from him with the dark side of the Force. Starter responded by using a stolen blaster to fire a shot into the command console of Vader's meditation sphere, forcing it closed, trapping the Dark Lord inside. Starter claimed he then blasted his way through the Executor to one of the main docking bays, where he stole the Lambda-class shuttle Tydirium to escape from Vader's flagship, which is how, he claimed, the Rebellion obtained the Tydirium for use in the Endor operation. Starter's friends, however, disregarded his tale as complete fallacy.
The images of the Executor crashing into the Death Star continued to haunt Imperial Captain Gilad Pellaeon years after the Endor defeat. He mourned the loss of so many of the Imperial Navy's best officers. By 9 ABY, upon Grand Admiral Thrawn's return to assume command of the Empire's fragments, Pellaeon often wondered how the Battle of Endor's outcome might have been different if it had been Thrawn commanding the Executor, rather than Vader. Thrawn later revealed to a flustered Pellaeon that the Imperial Fleet's defeat at Endor and the Executor's destruction partially was a result of the death of the Emperor, who had been controlling the outcome of the conflict through use of the Force, not from battle stress, as he had believed.
In 12 ABY, Imperial Remnant leader Admiral Natasi Daala led a failed assault on New Republic forces on the moon Yavin 4, home of Luke Skywalker's Jedi Praxeum, from aboard the Super Star Destroyer Knight Hammer. Upon sighting the Knight Hammer during the defense of Yavin 4, former Jedi Knight Callista Ming recalled having once studied schematic sketches of the Executor as she considered how to cripple the nearly invulnerable Imperial warship bearing down on her.
Amidst the New Republic-Imperial Remnant struggle to annex the planet Adumar in 13 ABY, Wedge Antilles and Imperial Admiral Teren Rogriss discussed the widely theorized reasoning behind the Emperor's choice to apply such malevolent names to his Star Destroyers, such as "Executor." Luke Skywalker believed that the Emperor enjoyed the internal struggle many Imperial officers faced, readily accepting corruption by serving aboard the aptly named Executor, among other vessels, yet clinging to honorable motives.
The difficulty the Rebel Fleet had with destroying the Executor at Endor convinced Admiral Gial Ackbar that the Empire's remaining Super Star Destroyers were the greatest threat posed to the New Republic, since there was nothing in the New Republic's arsenal to combat such a massive warship. In response, Ackbar convinced the New Republic to begin manufacturing the Viscount-class Star Defender, a seventeen-kilometer-long vessel powerful enough to take on a ship as formidable as the Executor, though these new ships would not enter New Republic service until 25 ABY.
Commanders and crew
- "Political connections do not concern me."
- ―Darth Vader
As the premier flagship of the entire Imperial Navy and the personal vessel of the Lord Darth Vader, earning a command position aboard the Executor naturally became the Empire's highest military accolade. The Executor was staffed with officers of wealth and prestige, many of whom earned their position via the political connections they had forged along the way. Vader originally brought his personal staff from the Devastator, his former flagship, with him to the Executor. Many in the Imperial Navy considered assignment to the Executor to be the fast track to promotion. Whereas promotion within the ranks of the Imperial Navy was slow and almost always politically-motivated, promotion aboard the Executor instead primarily came by way of attrition through failure and execution. The Executor's officer corps was rife with fierce internal competition and devious political calculating, and those officers naïve to the promotion-scheming of their peers were doomed to failure.
Vader demanded nothing less than success from the officers under his command, and those who failed him routinely met the Dark Lord's wrath. While the Executor's crew represented the cream of the Imperial Navy, the risk of serving under Vader offset that honor, and those ensnared in the Executor's prestigious yet deadly promotion race competed reluctantly. Vader did not entirely trust any member of the Executor's crew, but he knew the powerful effect of motivation by fear.
Admiralty line of succession
- "You have failed me for the last time, Admiral."
- ―Darth Vader
The Executor presented a unique command hierarchy. Vader, the Emperor's personal representative, was superior to the standard Imperial military structure, and, while he did not claim a true title, he formally outranked all those who did. Vader possessed absolute power over his crew. Still, the duty of carrying out the Dark Lord's orders fell to a fleet admiral in command of the Executor and the entire Death Squadron, whose sole responsibility was the annihilation of the Rebellion. Vader had little use for the Emperor's Grand Admirals and instead gathered the Empire's best officers to command the Executor without regard to political standing.
More than one admiral in command of the Executor would suffer summary execution at Vader's hands for their failure, a fate that perpetually threatened the admiral who served the Dark Lord. Because of Vader's well-known proclivity for punishing his officers, the Executor's junior crew members formed betting pools on their new admiral's life expectancy.
- "I used his ambition to drive the Rebels to me…I didn't foresee it would also drive him to the madness of an inaccurate hyperspace leap in an effort to beat us!"
- ―Darth Vader
The Executor's entire post-Yavin construction phase at the Starship Yards of Fondor fell under the command of Amise Griff, the Executor and Death Squadron's first admiral. Griff worked under Vader for the sake of his own career, helping the Dark Lord to ferret out a group of traitorous Imperial admirals who wished to destroy the Executor before it was completed in order to halt Vader's rise to power in the Imperial Navy. Griff made arrangements for a Rebel spy, Luke Skywalker, to infiltrate the Executor construction site in a grand scheme to expose the Imperial admirals, which succeeded, although Skywalker escaped Fondor and Vader with the Executor's construction data.
Later, as the Executor neared completion, Vader reassigned Griff to oversee the Yavin blockade in preparation for Vader to crush the Rebel base on Yavin 4 with the Executor himself. Tired of living in Vader's shadow, Griff jumped at the opportunity to advance his own position after learning the Executor had been disabled in the Feswe Corridor during its maiden voyage en route to Yavin 4. His forces rushed to annihilate the Rebel Fleet, which was in the middle of a rushed evacuation from Yavin, before the Executor could arrive. Griff's ambition got the better of him when he ordered three of his Star Destroyers to perform a risky hyperspace micro-jump he hoped would beat Vader. Rather than intercepting the Rebels along their escape corridor at Feswe Prime, the Star Destroyers emerged from hyperspace directly on top of the Executor's shields, obliterating the three ships, killing Griff, and momentarily crippling the Executor long enough for the Rebel Fleet to escape.
- "Find a replacement for our doubting friend!"
- ―Darth Vader
During the Executor's maiden voyage, command fell on an interim basis to another admiral in Griff's absence. This admiral oversaw the destruction of Laakteen Depot and the subsequent approach to Yavin 4, during which the Executor fell under a series of Rebel attacks that eventually succeeded in stopping the Super Star Destroyer's relentless march.
During the Yavin approach, this admiral's persistent skepticism became an annoyance to Vader. He doubted the Executor's ability to take on an attacking Rebel capital ship task force at Skorrupon, while Vader purposely allowed them an opportunity to attack the Executor at close range before obliterating them to send the Rebels a message of hopelessness; he believed that after no subsequent attacks befell the Executor after Skorrupon that the Rebels had given up trying to stop the Super Star Destroyer, which Vader knew to be foolhardy; and he later questioned Vader's delaying the attack on Yavin 4 in order to seek out Luke Skywalker following the Rebels' power-gem attack on the Executor in the Feswe Corridor, for which the Dark Lord threateningly Force-choked him before easing off.
When Rebel pilot Vrad Dodonna made a suicide attack run on the Executor with the power gem, the admiral impatiently pleaded for Vader to allow him to take action, while Vader instead continued to probe for Skywalker's presence aboard Dodonna's ship with the Force. An aggravated Vader Force-choked the admiral a second time after he declared the Millennium Falcon's subsequent disabling of the Executor's gyro-control system remarkable, which Vader knew instead to be only a result of the Force.
Vader's patience with the admiral ran out soon thereafter, when the admiral doubted Vader's decision to allow Griff to move on the Rebel Fleet first. Vader Force-choked the admiral for the third and final time, killing him, after the admiral disturbed the Dark Lord's meditation with further criticism concerning Griff. This admiral was the first commander of the Executor to be executed by Vader.
Bentro served as the Executor's admiral in command of the blockade of Shelkonwa six months after the Battle of Yavin, during Vader's attempt to apprehend Princess Leia Organa. Bentro offered the Executor's military forces to assist the Emperor's Hand Mara Jade in handling complications on the planet, but he was quietly relieved when she declined, meaning he would not have to interfere with Vader's own operations. After Shelkonwa, Bentro would be replaced when Jade suggested to Vader that the Dark Lord keep an eye on the devious Kendal Ozzel.
- "With the Executor under my command, I will be the ultimate power in the universe!"
- ―Kendal Ozzel, moments before his execution
For nearly three years, Kendal Ozzel commanded the Executor and Death Squadron in search of the new Rebel base, a tenure marked with being at constant odds with and public criticism of Vader. After Ozzel tried to kill Mara Jade to prevent her from spoiling his rise to an admiralty position, Vader agreed to install him as the Executor's admiral to keep him under watch. Meanwhile, rumors swirled concerning the reasoning behind Ozzel's prestigious promotion, ranging from family ties to appeasing the Imperial Navy's general staff, although the latter was partially true—Ozzel's presence aboard the Executor paid lip service to the established chain-of-command. Still, Ozzel found out the hard way that while he commanded the Executor in name, Vader was actually pulling the strings. Although the belief was that not even Ozzel would be stupid enough to chafe with Vader's orders, he frequently did, and relations between the two soon deteriorated to where Vader relegated Ozzel's position to mere figurehead status to relay orders to the Executor's crew.
Ozzel was responsible for the Executor's search of the Black Widow Nebula for a group of Imperial deserters shortly after taking command, although his bumbling of the situation resulted in failure. A few months later, Ozzel failed to destroy the Rebel Fleet after the Executor and a massive Imperial armada surrounded and trapped it. Ozzel's token flattering and cheeriness throughout the battle did nothing to ingratiate himself with the Dark Lord.
Ozzel later attended the Executor's public unveiling ceremony at Kuat and the ship's official dispatching to the Outer Rim to search for the Rebel base in 2.5 ABY. However, Ozzel's resentment toward Vader's preferential position in the Imperial Navy as the Emperor's enforcer grew. Ozzel frequently took it upon himself to follow up any substantial leads concerning the Rebels personally, diverting Death Squadron on pointless journeys, much to Vader's annoyance. When in 3 ABY Ozzel learned from Captain Firmus Piett that a probe droid in the Hoth system had a fragment of information suggesting the Rebels' possible location, he dismissed it as nonsense, lacking the common sense not to argue with Vader over the point, who overruled Ozzel and ordered the fleet to Hoth. Ozzel was so furious that his opinion had been ignored, he decided to do things his own way, bringing the Executor and the fleet out of hyperspace too close to the planet Hoth, a direct violation of standard operating procedure, such that the Rebels immediately detected the Imperial presence, necessitating a costly ground invasion. Ozzel had failed Vader for the last time, and the Dark Lord executed him for his blunder, at least the second Executor admiral to receive such a punishment.
- "Don't fail me again…Admiral."
- ―Darth Vader
Firmus Piett held the distinction of being the last officer Vader appointed admiral of the Executor. However, while he was in many regards the polar opposite of his predecessor, Ozzel, his arrogance, a breeding trait of Imperial command, would result in his own downfall, much like Ozzel.
Piett's rise through the ranks of the Imperial Navy came by way of a stellar military record, not because of his background. Vader selected Piett as one of the original elite group of commanders assigned to Death Squadron, appointing him captain of the Star Destroyer Accuser, under the overall command of Admiral Griff. Piett served aboard the Executor during the Super Star Destroyer's maiden voyage, opportunistically being on hand to congratulate Vader when his tactics succeeded in stopping the power-gem attack of Vrad Dodonna, whereas the Executor's interim admiral had only doubted Vader. Upon Griff's death during the Rebel evacuation of Yavin 4, Piett took over as captain of the Executor, under the command of Admiral Ozzel.
Piett participated in the Executor's search for the Imperial deserter Sodarra in the Black Widow Nebula, leading a Customs boarding party of a dozen spacetroopers aboard the Millennium Falcon. Piett interrogated Han Solo concerning his ship's cargo and, when Solo thought he detected Piett trying to bribe him, he subtly offered to pay Piett off. Angered, Piett ordered Solo's and Chewbacca's arrest. Ozzel later refused to believe that Piett would indeed ask for a bribe, since he was too well paid.
In early 2 ABY, Piett served aboard the Executor's bridge during the journey to Circarpous IV as part of Vader's hunt for Luke Skywalker, reporting to Vader that the Executor was operating at peak efficiency. A year later, in early 3 ABY, Piett reported to Vader that a special probe droid, cybernetically linked with the Executor and installed on the planet Verdanth, had attracted a Rebel presence into its trap, which turned out to be Skywalker, although Vader lost his quarry.
Piett's first assignment aboard the Executor had been to monitor telemetry data received from the thousands of probe droids dispatched throughout the galaxy in search of the Rebel base. By 3 ABY, a probe droid discovered the Rebel base in the remote Hoth system, and the time had come for Piett to step into the Executor's limelight. When Ozzel first took command of the Executor, many viewed him as Vader's equal, but Piett knew better, vowing not to become a victim of Vader's anger. Moreover, he had quickly learned how to get around his new commanding officer. When reporting the Hoth probe droid's findings, Piett made sure to wait to inform Ozzel until Vader was on the bridge so that the Dark Lord would overhear the news, a tactic that worked just as Piett had planned. Ozzel rejected the data as trivial, as Piett knew he would, but Vader ordered the fleet to Hoth anyway, making Piett look sharp and attentive and Ozzel the fool. Vader promoted Piett to admiral immediately after executing Ozzel for the Hoth blunder, and Piett's first command was to order the disposal of his predecessor's corpse.
Although Piett's detractors pointed to the Executor's high officer turnover rate as ammunition for his own unfitness for the position, Piett, unlike Ozzel, understood perfectly the Executor's command arrangement, knowing to follow Vader's orders implicitly. However, Piett was outraged that Vader called in a group of bounty hunters aboard the Executor during the search for the Millennium Falcon following the Battle of Hoth, believing the move to be denunciatory of his own command performance. Still, he did not voice his disapproval to Vader directly, as Ozzel had done. Miraculously, Piett avoided execution after Skywalker and the Millennium Falcon escaped the Executor at Bespin. Vader had left his admiral with a stern warning that further failure would not be permitted after Death Squadron lost the Millennium Falcon in the Hoth asteroid field, but this time around Vader simply left the bridge, too shaken from his encounter with Skywalker on Cloud City. Piett had escaped his fate where Ozzel had not.
Not long after Bespin, Piett oversaw the Executor's assault on the Rebel forces on Mygeeto, working closely with the so-called "Imperial Ace" TIE pilot. Piett's service aboard Vader's flagship came to a temporary hiatus in 3.5 ABY, when the Executor was recalled to Coruscant so the Emperor could personally debrief Vader of his encounter with Skywalker. Vader placed the Executor under the temporary command of Captain Kallic, while Piett transferred Death Squadron's flag to the Star Destroyer Accuser to continue the hunt for the Rebels.
Piett would return to the Executor in time for the Battle of Endor in 4 ABY, but his fortune had run its course. Taking up position with the Executor and the Imperial Fleet to trap the Rebels between the Death Star as the Emperor commanded, Piett believed unequivocally the Rebels were doomed. Thus, Piett was caught completely off-guard by the Rebels' tactic of attacking the Executor at point-blank range. Furthermore, he and his tacticians discounted the threat of Rebel starfighters during the battle, and he died with the Executor when an A-wing smashed into the Super Star Destroyer's bridge. Piett's error of arrogance had doomed him, as it had Ozzel.
While not formally a part of the Executor's admiralty lineage, Admiral Okins commanded the Executor during the Vergesso Asteroid operation of 3.5 ABY in Piett's absence. Vader hoped that Okins might handle the Vergesso Rebel presence himself so that he could remain on Coruscant to keep watch over the devious Xizor, but the Emperor wished Vader to handle the situation personally. Still, Vader took Okins along anyway. During the battle, Okins initially dispatched the Executor's TIEs, preferring not to use the Super Star Destroyer's heavy guns on inferior targets, and the operation proceeded flawlessly.
At times throughout the Executor's relatively short life, a second admiral served aboard the ship in addition to the primary acting admiral. During the Executor's maiden voyage, a second admiral aside from the interim admiral serving in Griff's absence was present on the bridge for Luke Skywalker and Vrad Dodonna's power-gem attack. Likewise, Admiral Chiraneau served as Piett's personal advisor during the Battle of Endor, before he was killed when the Executor was destroyed.
Much of the operation of the Executor rested on the shoulders of the Super Star Destroyer's captain. During the intrigue on Shelkonwa in 0.5 ABY, a captain served aboard as first officer to Admiral Bentro, directing Emperor's Hand Mara Jade to land her ship in his personal hangar bay upon her demand to speak personally with Vader. After Piett's promotion to admiral following Ozzel's execution, the flagship's responsibilities fell to Lieutenant Venka. However, Piett denied Venka a corresponding promotion to captain, stating that the Hoth campaign would be a test of his command abilities. Once the Millennium Falcon escaped the Executor at Bespin, Piett relented and granted Venka his promotion to captain. Eventually, the Executor's captaincy passed on to Captain Kallic, who assumed command of the flagship to escort Vader back to the Imperial capital of Coruscant following the Dark Lord's duel with Skywalker on Cloud City, while Piett remained with Death Squadron aboard the Star Destroyer Accuser.
In approximately 3 ABY, Captain Holt served aboard the Executor during Vader's mission to the Corellian Trade Spine to stop Rebel raids on Imperial convoys. Later, another captain would serve under Vader during the Executor's pursuit of Skywalker at Krake's Planet in the aftermath of Vader's Shira Brie-infiltration initiative. By 3.5 ABY, another captain commanded the Executor during Vader's search for Skywalker near Kothlis, and subsequently overseeing the Super Star Destroyer's show of destructive power in feigned pursuit of the Death Star plans.
Other commanding officers during the Executor's history included an officer who assumed command during the Executor's maiden voyage, following Vader's execution of the interim admiral. This commander served under Vader aboard the bridge, only to be present when Griff's three Star Destroyers crashed into the Executor, allowing the Rebel Fleet to escape from Yavin 4. Later that year, another commander served on the bridge at Shelkonwa under the command of Bentro, while yet another commander oversaw the Executor's destruction of Prince Xizor's skyhook, Falleen's Fist, over Coruscant in late 3 ABY. During the Battle of Endor, Gherant served alongside Piett aboard the Executor's bridge as the Fleet Commander of the large Imperial armada amassed at Endor to crush the Rebellion. Gherant had originally been hand-picked to his position aboard the Executor by then-Captain Piett before the Battle of Hoth. He was responsible for preventing unauthorized access to the flagship's sensitive areas. Gherant died with Piett when the Executor was destroyed.
Bridge officers and crew
The command bridge served as the Executor's nerve center, where a permanent team of controllers, flight data officers, tracking systems specialists, and combat supervisors worked alongside high-ranking officers, operating the Super Star Destroyer's navigation, shield, and weapons systems in shifts, perpetually under Vader's withering scrutiny. The bridge crewmen working in the two crew pits on either side of the command walkway were able to focus on their consoles without distraction because the location of their stations prevented their looking through the bridge's viewports.
Vader purposely instilled fear into his flagship's crew members, believing that fear was the best motivating factor. He had heard that the junior officers serving aboard the Executor had become so frightened of him that they drew lots when the time came to deliver messages to him, and that the loser would have to go. However, that fear proved a detriment to the overall performance of the Executor and Death Squadron during the Hoth campaign. Fear of Vader became nothing but a distraction, creating pressure and tension, which led to a series of mistakes and failure.
Vader's decision to enlist bounty hunters in the search for the Millennium Falcon was an unpopular move among the Executor's officers, Piett especially. Vader did so partly to demonstrate his extreme dissatisfaction with the performance of his crew. The bounty hunters' involvement sent a public message to Vader's officers that they had failed in their assigned duties. The very presence of the six bounty hunters on the bridge created great consternation among the Executor's ranks, who despised their unwanted guests. After the Millennium Falcon's escape from Bespin, the Executor's crew witnessed a thoughtful distance in Vader's mannerisms, as the Dark Lord's encounter with his son had rekindled what traces of humanity still existed within him. The crew welcomed Vader's feelings distracting him from their own failings, and they eagerly directed his attention to outside threats, such as Prince Xizor.
Because the Executor was Vader's flagship, a disproportionate fraction of the Imperial Navy's best young and mid-level officers and crewers manned the Super Star Destroyer. When the Rebels destroyed the Executor at Endor, these officers were irreplaceably lost.
Other ranking Executor bridge officers included Commander Merrejk, who served during the Battle of Endor, responsible for notifying Piett that the Super Star Destroyer had reached attack position during the early stages of the engagement. Another officer, stationed in one of the bridge's crew pits during the Battle of Endor, anxiously reported to Piett that the Executor had lost its bridge deflector shields, moments before Arvel Crynyd's A-wing smashed through the bridge's viewports.
During the Hoth campaign, Lieutenant Commander Ardan served as the commander of the Executor's pit crews. Another bridge officer served on the bridge amidst the Hoth campaign, during the Tanith Sorn murder investigation, alerting the investigation team that a group of bounty hunters who had arrived aboard the Executor were in fact Rebel agents. Chiefs Retwin and Hurdiss also served on the bridge during the Hoth campaign, the latter of whom was a communications specialist responsible for coordinating the tactical movements of Death Squadron when Vader ordered the fleet to disperse in search of the Millennium Falcon after losing the ship in the Anoat system. Warrant Officer Bachenkall was one of several helmsmen operating in the bridge's crewman pits during the Hoth campaign under Ardan. Zurel Hoban served aboard the Executor as one of the bridge's pilot crewmen. Hoban participated in the Tanith Sorn murder investigation.
Lieutenant Commander Tanith Sorn, a bridge officer, and Lieutenant Ein Truminn, a flight officer assigned to bridge operations, worked together on the bridge during the time leading up to the Battle of Hoth. A bitter rivalry existed between the two, as they competed against each other nearly every day. Sorn, whose death prompted a detailed murder investigation aboard the Executor concurrent with the Hoth battle, gained the upper hand in one of their final contests before she was killed. The incident utterly shamed Truminn in front of both the bridge officer on duty at the time and Vader himself, although the bridge officer allowed Truminn to continue serving on the bridge following a scolding. The rivalry marked Truminn as a murder suspect, although he was eventually exonerated. Truminn later helped welcome the bounty hunters aboard the Executor during the hunt for Han Solo, narrowly avoiding death himself during a hangar skirmish with Rebel operatives masquerading as bounty hunters.
A bosun served on the bridge in 3.5 ABY during the Executor's journey to Krake's Planet, failing to catch Skywalker as he departed the planet in the Millennium Falcon. Shortly before 4 ABY, a corporal boldly interrupted a conference Vader was holding with three Imperial officers aboard the bridge concerning the political situation in the Iskalon system, notifying him that circumstances in the area required his immediate attention. He narrowly avoided Vader's wrath by doing so.
During the Shelkonwa situation of 0.5 ABY, a crisp-voiced controller was responsible for directing incoming traffic through the Executor's blockade of the planet. He was flustered first by Mara Jade's demand to speak with Vader aboard his flagship and later by her demand to redirect the inbound civilian vessel Happer's Way, which she knew to have illegal cargo aboard. Controller Jhoff later fulfilled this responsibility shortly before the Battle of Endor, speaking with the Rebel strike team board the shuttle Tydirium as it approached the Death Star, before Vader ordered him to allow the shuttle to pass through the Death Star's deflector shield. Another Imperial controller served aboard the Executor during the Battle of Hoth, communicating with the bounty hunters Zuckuss and 4-LOM aboard their vessel, the Mist Hunter, to rendezvous with the flagship within the Hoth asteroid field to join Vader's hunt for Han Solo.
One particular junior officer narrowly avoided strangulation by Vader in 3.5 ABY. Following the Executor's destruction of the Rebel shipyard in the Vergesso Asteroids, this officer attempted to speak with Vader, who, angry because of his situation with Xizor, cut him off mid-sentence by telekinetically choking him before he could voice more than three words. However, Vader spared the man's life, warning that he did not wish to be disturbed.
- "General, prepare your troops for a surface attack."
- ―Darth Vader
The Executor's ground forces operated under the overall command of a general. In circa late 2 ABY–early 3 ABY, the Executor's commanding general at the time suddenly "retired." At the recommendation of Grand Admiral Thrawn, Vader arranged the promotion of then-Colonel Maximilian Veers, reassigning him to the Executor to assume command of the armies of Death Squadron, replacing the general who had resigned one month prior—an unorthodox promotion that went unchallenged. Veers led the elite Blizzard Force in the rout of the Rebellion during the Battle of Hoth in early 3 ABY. During his tenure aboard the Executor, Veers blocked Commander Nahdonnis Praji from earning an assignment to Vader's flagship. Praji had served with Vader while aboard the Devastator, the Dark Lord's previous command ship, but Vader, focused on his search for Luke Skywalker, was disinclined to waste time overruling his general.
Lieutenant Cecius, a specialist in boarding operations and taking control of enemy starships, served as a bridge officer aboard the Executor during the Hoth campaign. Cecius was to be responsible for the boarding of the Millennium Falcon and the capture of Skywalker following Vader's encounter with his son on Cloud City, but the Rebels escaped the Executor before Cecius had an opportunity.
During the Battle of Talay in early 1 ABY, a Captain Nonam served in the Executor's port-side bridge crew pit, directing the dark troopers dispatched from the Arc Hammer factory ship. Nonam was attached to General Rom Mohc, who was aboard the Executor to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Dark Trooper Project to Vader.
The 501st Legion stormtrooper unit, known colloquially as Vader's Fist, was also attached to the Executor. The 501st saw action in conjunction with the Executor during Vader's search for Princess Leia Organa on Shelkonwa six months after the Battle of Yavin, and later during the Battle of Hoth.
The Executor also boasted Zero-G assault stormtroopers to complement its ground troops. Captain Piett led a squad of spacetroopers in the boarding and capturing of the Millennium Falcon in the Black Widow Nebula in the months preceding 1 ABY.
Specialty and security
Among Vader's crew were several security officers, including Lieutenant Suba, the Executor's chief of security and political officer, who was responsible for ensuring the loyalty of his fellow officers. During the Hoth campaign, Suba stayed by Piett's side throughout the Executor's pursuit of the Millennium Falcon. Suba also assisted the Tanith Sorn murder investigation team by granting them access to the victim's personal quarters.
The Executor's dedicated security personnel maintained ship security from a specialized security office, manned by officers, stormtroopers, and other security personnel. During the Tanith Sorn murder investigation, a security officer allowed the investigation team to review the Executor's security recordings. Noa Endac, an Executor security force crewman, and Anya Foravis, an intelligence analyst assistant, both participated in the murder investigation. An Executor lieutenant commander was responsible for issuing the assignment orders, passed down from Vader, to the investigation team to uncover and apprehend the perpetrator responsible for murdering Sorn. Crewman Ariq Melvar also participated in the investigation.
Other security personnel specially assigned to the Executor by 3 ABY included Corporal Vandolay, the Super Star Destroyer's Imperial Security Bureau attaché, who served as a detention officer and a political liaison for COMPNOR, or the Commission for the Preservation of the New Order. Vandolay was responsible for all of the Executor's prisoner transfers. Corporal Derdram, a member of Imperial Intelligence, was assigned to the Executor by Intelligence's Internal Security Branch. He was responsible for the physical safety of Imperial personnel against Rebel sabotage.
Imperial trooper guard Dainsom was among the Executor's naval guard contingent during the time of the Hoth campaign. Various stormtrooper squads were further responsible for maintaining security throughout the Executor. Nine months after the Battle of Yavin, a contingent of the Emperor's Royal Guard was present aboard the Executor concurrent with the meeting between Vader and Lieutenant Janek Sunber.
A scarfaced officer served with Vader aboard the Executor by late 1 ABY, during the Emperor's Tao confrontation. Vader had originally tasked this officer with uncovering the identity of the Rebel pilot who destroyed the Death Star, eventually presenting Vader with the realization that it was his own son, Luke Skywalker.
Following Vader's briefing of the six bounty hunters on the bridge of the Executor during the search for the Millennium Falcon in the Hoth asteroid field in 3 ABY, a low-ranking Imperial officer escorted Boba Fett from the bridge back to his docked starship. During the several-minute walk through the Executor's corridors, this officer, although visibly uncomfortable in Fett's presence, was eager to know of the bounty hunter's past history with the Rebel fugitive Han Solo.
Moff Tiaan Jerjerrod, the supervisor of the construction of the second Death Star, was present aboard the Executor during the Imperial takeover of Bespin's Cloud City in 3 ABY to issue a report to Vader on the battlestation's progress. Jerjerrod was on hand to greet Vader as the Dark Lord first arrived aboard the Executor on his shuttle immediately following his lightsaber duel with Luke Skywalker on Cloud City.
The Executor's two wings of TIE starfighters were managed by a TIE operations officers. One such operations officer served at the Battle of the Bajic Shipyards in 3.5 ABY, under the command of Admiral Okins. Okins ordered the operations officer to scramble the Super Star Destroyer's fighters rather than wasting firepower to destroy the present Rebel ships.
Commander Brandei served aboard the Executor's bridge, in one of the twin crewman pits, during the search for the Millennium Falcon following the Battle of Hoth. Brandei, a Technical Services Officer of the Imperial Navy's Fleet Support Branch, was responsible for keeping the Executor's twelve TIE squadrons serviced and combat ready. Shortly after the Hoth campaign, Brandei would receive a transfer from the Executor.
Individual TIE pilots who served aboard the Executor included the "Imperial Ace," an elite pilot who Vader had specially transferred to his flagship to ensure the success of the Mygeeto operation in 3 ABY. The pilot known as "Wampa" flew the TIE Fighter Black 11 while stationed aboard the Executor by early 4 ABY. Wampa often escorted Vader's personal shuttle. The TIE pilot OS-72-10 also had a stint aboard the Executor.
Other TIE series starfighters stationed aboard the Executor included the TIE Fighter EX-4-9, the TIE bomber EX-1-8, both of which participated in the search for the Millennium Falcon in the Hoth asteroid field in 3 ABY, and the TIE bomber EX-1-2.
The Executor's Engineering crew typically numbered in the hundreds during a routine work shift, technicians who ran diagnostics on and monitored various systems to keep the titanic vessel running. Captain Godherdt, an elite fleet engineer, served aboard the Executor as a sensor monitor, maintaining data on the Super Star Destroyer's hull integrity. Sergeant Landin Thyte, a technician assigned to Engineering, was present there during the time surrounding the murder of Tanith Sorn, and thus was targeted as a possible suspect during the ensuing murder investigation. Thyte was eventually exonerated. Other technicians and dockhands serviced the Executor's hangar bays.
A technician maintained the cybernetic chamber aboard the Executor that Vader used in early 3 ABY, prior to the Battle of Hoth, as part of his continuing search for the hidden Rebel base. Vader attempted to capture Skywalker on the planet Verdanth using the chamber's cybernetic link that enabled him to reach out with the Force across space through the machine. The technician's chamber failed to net Vader Skywalker, however.
Medical staff aboard the Executor operated in the Super Star Destroyer's infirmary. Lilit Arranda, who participated in the Sorn murder investigation, served her first military tour of duty aboard the Executor as a medic. During the murder investigation, a nurse tended to the critically wounded Lieutenant Ein Truminn in the infirmary. Also on duty at the time, a female receptionist supervised the infirmary's waiting area.
The Executor boasted a droid pool of 10,000. By the time of the Battle of Hoth, many of these droids in fact had been manufactured on the factory world Mechis III after the planet's takeover by the assassin droid IG-88, as part of his galactic Droid Revolution. Thus, these droids aboard the Executor had been installed with IG-88's special sentience programming that would allow the assassin droid to override their Human programming and adapt them to his will.
Droid technicians worked in the droid pool, responsible for performing droid maintenance and programming duties. The Executor's droid pool technician roster included Iaco Shild, who participated in the Tanith Sorn murder investigation, and Petty Officer Malkor Trel, who was in reality a Rebel spy and the one responsible for the Sorn murder. Another droid technician on duty during the time of the murder investigation was critically wounded when the four ASP-7 labor droids Trel had reprogrammed to murder Sorn went berserk in the droid pool and killed other technicians.
Rebel mercenary Kyle Katarn encountered several different droid types during his infiltration aboard the Executor in early 1 ABY. Aside from battling Viper probe droids and IT-O Interrogator droids, Katarn destroyed three Phase II dark troopers. The Executor also used Viper probes in the search for the new Rebel base following the Battle of Yavin by dispatching them throughout the galaxy. Admiral Kendal Ozzel also used an IT-O interrogator's intimidating presence to force Han Solo to talk while the smuggler was incarcerated aboard the Executor circa 0.5 ABY during the Super Star Destroyer's mission in the Black Widow Nebula. Other droid types aboard the Executor included maintenance droids, courier droids, service droids, MSE-series mouse droids, giant mouse droids, and labor droids, many of which assisted the crew in Engineering.
The Emperor seized control of a certain R2-series astromech droid serving on the Executor by late 1 ABY to present his holographic visage to Vader, in order to confront his servant with the taking of a disciple, Tao. The R2 unit, malfunctioning as a result, was sent colliding into Vader before the Emperor revealed himself through the droid. After Vader struck Tao down, the Emperor's hologram disappeared, and the R2 unit remained unmoving aboard the bridge.
Vader ordered the requisitioning of a TC-series protocol droid from the droid pool for the purpose of greeting the bounty hunters arriving aboard the Executor to join in the hunt for Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon during the Hoth campaign. This TC-series droid was on hand alongside Lieutenant Ein Truminn during the arrival of a group of bounty hunters who were revealed to be Rebel agents.
In the aftermath of Vader's duel with Luke Skywalker on Cloud City in 3 ABY, during which he suffered a minor lightsaber wound on his right arm, Vader trained with ASP-19 battle droids equipped with lightsabers to hone his own lightsaber dueling skills in an effort to recover from his injury in preparation for an eventual second encounter with his son. Vader kept some of these battle droids aboard the Executor. Shortly following the Cloud City duel, Vader was interrupted while training with one of the battle droids to learn he had received a communication from the Emperor recalling he and the Executor back to Coruscant for domestic Imperial duties.
The FX-series medical assistant droid FX9 supervised the extensive recuperation of special agent Shira Brie in a secret medical lab aboard the Executor in 3.5 ABY. The V-series supervisor droid AV-6R7 served aboard the Executor's bridge during the time of the Battle of Endor.
Behind the scenes
The Executor, Darth Vader's flagship, was created for the May 1980 second installment of the Star Wars Original Trilogy, Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back. Vader's flagship first appeared in the April 12, 1980 simultaneous release of The Empire Strikes Back novelization and The Empire Strikes Back Storybook, written by Donald F. Glut and Shep Steneman, respectively. However, the formal name of Vader's flagship was not officially revealed until the June 1980 release of The Empire Strikes Back Official Poster Monthly 2 magazine, which identified the ship as the Executor.
Originally, The Empire Strikes Back called for the Executor to only be seen briefly in a few establishing shots. However, once the finished Star Destroyer model was created and placed in front of the camera, the film's production team was so impressed that additional storyboards were created to accommodate Vader's ship, and the Executor became one of the primary focal points of the film.
Designing a Super Star Destroyer
During the production stages of The Empire Strikes Back, model makers at Industrial Light & Magic planned to realize the Executor simply by painting an existing Star Destroyer model a different color, although this plan was abandoned in an effort to retain as many of the original Star Destroyers as possible for the film. Star Wars creator George Lucas and art director of visual effects Joe Johnston then designed a longer, thinner starship to be Vader's Star Destroyer, although this created a problem for model makers, who were required to construct a lightweight yet durable model well over eight feet long but only seven inches wide at its thickest point.
To solve the problem, visual effects artist Lorne Peterson innovatively designed the Executor model's infrastructure out of lightweight honeycombed aluminum, the first starship to be made in such a way. The finished model was essentially two thin layers of aluminum skin sandwiching a honeycombed sheet, measuring an eighth of an inch thick and ten feet long, with full detailing, including tiny glued-on balconies to create the impression of structure. Plastic model kits were used to create the superstructures of other Star Wars ship models, but ILM model makers handcrafted individually-made pieces to create the fine mosaic pattern seen on the Executor. The finished Executor measured 92 x 282 x 33 centimeters.
While previously-constructed Star Destroyer models were lit by bundles of delicate fiber optics, the Executor featured an internal illumination system of neon tubes. A complex photographic etching process created small, pinprick holes through brass plates to form an estimated 25,000 windows on the model through which the neon lights were seen.
A great deal of time and money went into producing the Executor model, which cost a total of $100,000 to construct, the most expensive model created for the Original Trilogy. After the decision was made to give the Executor a more prominent role in The Empire Strikes Back due to the great impression the model made on the production team when filmed, ILM constructed three additional models. Star Wars technical researcher Curtis Saxton points out in his self-created Star Wars Technical Commentaries that a toy soldier figure with arm raised is located on one of the Executor models' external port-side superstructure, visible here and here.
Most of the internal Executor shots for The Empire Strikes Back were filmed on two sets designed by Norman Reynolds and constructed at Elstree Studios in England, one for the command bridge and another for Vader's personal meditation chamber. Conceptual artist Ralph McQuarrie created matte paintings, which completed the rest of the Executor's interior shots.
The bridge set, constructed on Elstree's Stage 5, featured star-filled panoramic windows to reflect Vader's insatiable desire for power. Additionally, the bridge's two crew pits were reminiscent of slave ship galleys, with enlisted men toiling at the feet of their superiors.
For the 1997 Special Edition reissue of The Empire Strikes Back, new scenes were specially created to depict Vader's return to the Executor aboard his personal shuttle after the duel with Luke Skywalker on Cloud City. The establishing shot of the Executor's hangar bay during Vader's arrival was a digitally-created matte painting. In fact, a portion of the Executor hangar scene is actually reused archival footage of Vader's arrival on the second Death Star from Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi, showing the same group of officers, including Moff Jerjerrod, on hand to greet Vader.
To create the Tydirium-Executor scene from Return of the Jedi, numerous elements were combined to create a seamless illusion. The Executor and the other ships within the scene, including the Death Star, were all models filmed separately on a blue screen and later composted with a starfield background, along with a matte painting and half-sphere model of Endor's forest moon.
In order to simulate the A-wing starfighter crashing through the Executor's bridge at the end of the film, a flaming automobile was sent through the set. To create the Executor's destruction, a detailed deflector shield dome was specially created for the scene, and the explosion of the Executor colliding with the Death Star was carefully planned using videomatic storyboards.
The Empire Strikes Back originally included a scene aboard the Executor in which Vader speaks with Sate Molock, later named Sate Pestage, Grand Vizier to the Emperor, through hologram from his personal chamber while in pursuit of the Millennium Falcon in the asteroid field. Pestage warns Vader that the Emperor is in a foul mood, before Vader speaks with the Emperor himself concerning the threat of Luke Skywalker, as seen in the film. The Pestage scene dated as early as the script's second draft but was cut by the fifth draft. Nevertheless, the scene remained as part of the film long enough to be included in the shooting schedule, which indicates that the scene was in fact filmed on June 18, 1979, as scene 286. Kenner Products toys even released a "Darth Vader's Star Destroyer" action playset in 1980 that features a simulated hologram evidently intending to mimic the deleted Pestage scene. The release of the 1980 The Empire Strikes Back: Official Collectors Edition magazine, however, establishes the Pestage Executor scene as canon.
Another scene shot for The Empire Strikes Back aboard the Executor but cut from the final version of the film included General Veers waiting to enter Vader's private quarters to speak with the Dark Lord, prior to the Battle of Hoth. The StarWars.com Hyperspace feature "Photoreceptor" released a never-before-seen still of this scene, entitled "Warranted Trepidation," seen here. The Photoreceptor feature also released an image entitled "Holo Booth," showing a hologram booth prop never seen in the film that Vader was intended to use while on the bridge of the Executor to communicate with the officers of his fleet during the Battle of Hoth.
The rough drafts of Return of the Jedi feature several scenes aboard the Executor that drive a heated Vader-Jerjerrod rivalry subplot that was changed in subsequent versions of the script. In the rough draft, Skywalker surrenders to Imperial forces, and General Veers begins to transport him to the Executor via shuttle. However, the shuttle's captain argues that Skywalker must be taken to the Emperor, but Veers, whose loyalty lies with Vader, refuses and takes Skywalker to the Executor as planned. Vader confronts his son aboard the Executor, but they are interrupted by Jerjerrod, who is furious that Vader has disobeyed his orders. In response, Vader kills Jerjerrod. In the revised rough draft, Vader instead takes Skywalker to the Emperor.
Later in the rough draft, after Princess Leia and Captain Jode destroy the Imperial communications dish on Had Abbadon, Admiral Piett detects the sudden loss of communications aboard the Executor and notifies Vader. Vader orders General Veers to take reinforcements to the Green Moon—an early name for Endor—and for the Executor and the Imperial Fleet to protect the Empire's twin Death Stars while he transports Skywalker to the Emperor.
Earlier in the script in the revised rough draft, as part of his rivalry with Vader, Jerjerrod activates a private communication chamber aboard the Executor to secretly meet with the Emperor alone. The Emperor orders Jerjerrod to capture Skywalker without alerting Vader.
An early Return of the Jedi storyboard, included in Return of the Jedi: The National Public Radio Dramatization, depicts a scene in which the Executor delivers the Emperor to the incomplete Death Star above Endor. Although omitted from the final version of the film, the scene still appears in the Return of the Jedi novelization, with the Emperor's shuttle departing from the Executor before arriving aboard the battlestation. Therefore, this article still includes this scene in the canonical history proper.
The exact canonical, in-universe length of the Executor has been a hotly debated topic for years among Star Wars fans. Dozens of officially-licensed Star Wars reference books have provided varying lengths for the Executor for over twenty years.
8 kilometers, 1984–1998
In December 1984, four-and-a-half years after the release of The Empire Strikes Back, Raymond L. Velasco's A Guide to the Star Wars Universe was the first Star Wars source to provide a hard figure for the Executor, which clearly dominated all other starships seen in the trilogy, naming the Super Star Destroyer to be "approximately five times larger than any Star Destroyer in the Imperial fleet." The book also provides a precise length of 1.6 kilometers for the Imperial-class Star Destroyer, meaning the Executor was approximately eight kilometers long.
West End Games repeated and specified the eight-kilometer length explicitly with the release of the Imperial Sourcebook in October 1989 as part of Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game. The Imperial Sourcebook also identified the Executor as "the largest warship ever constructed" and provided an "Imperial Capital Ship Recognition Guide," which showed a detailed, to-scale comparison of numerous Imperial warships in relation to a Super Star Destroyer.
As a result of West End Games' contribution, the eight-kilometer Executor length would be perpetuated through subsequently released sources for the next fifteen years, including the second editions of A Guide to the Star Wars Universe, the Imperial Sourcebook, and the Star Wars Technical Journal from 1994, the latter of which specified a somewhat differing length of "more than four times the length of a standard Star Destroyer"; the West End Games second edition of Galaxy Guide 5: Return of the Jedi in 1995; Kevin J. Anderson's anthology book Tales of the Bounty Hunters in 1996; the West End Games Star Wars Adventure Journal 12 and Star Wars Galaxy Magazine 11 magazine in 1997; the Star Wars Encyclopedia in 1998; the third edition of A Guide to the Star Wars Universe in 2000; and as late as 2004, with the release of The Empire Strikes Back junior novelization.
The eight-kilometer length, however, while firmly cemented as Star Wars canon by the year 1995, did not accurately reflect the Executor model seen in the films in relation to the smaller, 1.6-kilometer Imperial-class Star Destroyer. The true length of the Executor, according to fans, was significantly larger. By 1995, according to Curtis Saxton's Star Wars Technical Commentaries, Internet fan discussion of the Executor's length had been running "at the grassroots level" for years. With the advantage of modern technology, such as video tapes, fans had independently discovered the eight-kilometer length to be faulty.
In fact, the behind-the-scenes book From Star Wars to Indiana Jones: The Best of the Lucasfilm Archives, published in March 1995, was the first Star Wars-released item to contradict the established eight-kilometer length, though not in any official manner, revealing that the Executor "was conceived as eleven times the size of the original Star Destroyer…For a reference, the conning tower that rises from the Executor was supposed to be as big as the original Star Destroyer's conning tower." This implied that the in-universe Executor measured approximately 17.6 kilometers long.
Early in 1995 came the announcement that a starship version of the Star Wars Essential Guide series would be released, The Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels. When the book's conception became known, Saxton first created his Star Wars Technical Commentaries Web page "for the purpose of bringing the [eight-kilometer] error to wider public notice and to improve the chance that the first edition of the then-impending book would contain a truthful Executor length."
The year 1996 saw the start of Star Wars canon's first movements toward changing the Executor's length from the eight-kilometer figure to something more reflecting of the evidence seen in the films. The Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels, released in March 1996, was the first official source to provide a description that seemed to exceed the eight-kilometer length, stating that the Executor was "over five times the length of a standard Star Destroyer," though the very same Executor description, in a seemingly contradicting fashion, still provided the established mark of being "8,000 meter long."
Subsequent Star Wars sources published in 1996 took a step further what The Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels seemed to begin. The Galactic Empire—Ships of the Fleet, a children's popup book released in April, and the West End Games second edition of Galaxy Guide 3: The Empire Strikes Back, released in July, both included descriptions that the Executor was "over" eight kilometers long. However, like The Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels, both sources also seemed to contradict themselves by stating in technical specifications charts that the Executor was still a hard "8,000 meters" in length.
Other sources to repeat the "over eight kilometers" description in the year following included the Executor card from the Dagobah Limited expansion set of the Star Wars Customizable Card Game and the West End Games Star Wars Trilogy Sourcebook, Special Edition, released in April and October 1997, respectively, although the latter also included the contradictory "8,000 meters" in a technical specifications chart. The original wording from The Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels, describing the Executor as "over five times the length of a standard Star Destroyer," was repeated verbatim as late as 2001, in accompanying data in Hasbro Inc.'s Star Wars: Power of the Jedi "Darth Vader (Emperor's Wrath)" action figure pack.
12.8 kilometers, 1998–2004
StarWars.com became the first official source to provide a length that truly surpassed eight kilometers when, in 1998, the Web site stated that "The Executor is over eight times the size of an Imperial-class Star Destroyer." This implied that the Executor's new canonical length was at least 12.8 kilometers.
Also in 1998, at the personal behest of Saxton for use in his own Executor length Web site, Lucasfilm employee David West Reynolds took measurements of the original Executor model in the Lucasfilm archives. By scaling the measurements with the constant command tower found on the standard Star Destroyer, Reynolds determined that the Executor's length was between 17.4 and 17.8 kilometers, with 17.6 being the most likely.
The multimedia PC program Star Wars: Behind the Magic, released in the Fall of 1998, was the first source to explicitly provide a length of 12.8 kilometers for the Executor, "12,800 meters," in the Super Star Destroyer's individual database entry. However, the program's Executor glossary entry repeated the old figure of "8,000 meters."
Not until August 5, 2001 did the newly-created StarWars.com Databank officially update the Executor page with the new length figure of "12,800 meters." In December 2001, the Star Wars Roleplaying Game statistics book Starships of the Galaxy repeated the StarWars.com description from 1998, stating the Executor was "over eight times the length of an Imperial-class Star Destroyer," but on the very next page identified the ship as being "8,000 meters" in length.
The 12,800-meter length would persist for the next two years, in sources including the De Agostini publication The Official Star Wars Fact File 47 in 2002 and The New Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels in 2003, which identified the Executor as "the largest military starship of its time." The Official Star Wars Fact File issue, however, like Starships of the Galaxy in 2001, simultaneously included the contradictory description of the Executor being "eight kilometres long" on the very next page.
19 kilometers, 2004—
Nearly twenty years after the release of the original A Guide to the Star Wars Universe in 1984, which first provided the approximate length of eight kilometers, James Luceno's Inside the Worlds of Star Wars Trilogy, published on August 1, 2004, finally provided an Executor length more befitting of the Super Star Destroyer model seen in the films. Luceno described the Executor as being "almost 12 times as long" as a "common Star Destroyer," suggesting a length around nineteen kilometers.
In December 2004, posting on the StarWars.com message boards, Holocron continuity database keeper Leland Chee, in response to questions stemming from Luceno's new length change, noted that in no way was there any conspiracy among Lucasfilm to hold fast to previously established lengths. He explained that the process of changing the Executor's length involved a discussion of rationale, comparing previous Star Wars sources to what was seen in the film, and then waiting for an author to submit a draft of to-be published material that would officially change the Executor's length, with Lucasfilm's permission. He also noted that, although unlikely, another size change is not impossible.
Whereas Luceno did not explicitly provide a hard figure for the updated length of the Executor in Inside the Worlds of Star Trilogy, the beginning-readers book Star Pilot, published by Dorling Kindersley on April 2, 2005, became the first Star Wars source to do so. Author Laura Buller described the Executor as "the largest starship in the galaxy, at an incredible 11.8 miles (19,000 meters) long." This new nineteen-kilometer figure has been repeated in all Star Wars sources providing an Executor length to date, including Vader: The Ultimate Guide, DeAgostini's Star Wars: The Official Figurine Collection 1, and the Inside the Worlds of compilation book Star Wars: Complete Locations, all released in 2005. The StarWars.com Databank did not officially update the Executor's length to 19,000 meters until October 13, 2005, although Chee explained in December 2004 that any such delay had to do with the site's online group's protocol and that the Databank is not actively updated with each new canonical release.
Other Star Wars sources reinforcing the nineteen-kilometer Executor length to date include Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary and the Starship Battles Preview 1 Wizards.com article in 2006, the Starships of the Galaxy Saga Edition in 2007, and the Star Wars Fandex Deluxe Edition and The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia from 2008. Starship Battles effectively retconned the extensive length discrepancies by explaining that the Imperial Navy purposely incorrectly reported the Executor's length to the Imperial Senate to conceal its destructive power.
|Source||Year||Crew||Turbolasers||Heavy turbolasers||Concussion missile tubes||Ion cannons||Tractor beams||Point laser cannons||TIE fighters||Misc. ships||Garrison bases||Walkers||AT-ATs||AT-STs||AT-PTs||Other vehicles||Troops||Engines|
|Imperial Sourcebook||1989||280,734||250||250||250||250||40||-||12 sq.||200||3||-||25||50||-||Various||38,000||-|
|Imperial Sourcebook||1994||279,144||250||250||250||250||40||-||12 sq.||200||3||-||25||50||-||Various||38,000||-|
|Galaxy Guide 5: Return of the Jedi||1995||279,144||250||250||250||250||40||-||12 sq.||200||3||-||25||50||-||Various||38,000||-|
|The Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels||1996||-||1000+ (combined weaponry)||-||-||-||-||-||144||200||3||-||-||-||-||-||38,000||9|
|The Galactic Empire—Ships of the Fleet||1996||279,144||250||250||250||250||40||-||144||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||"Nearly 30,000"||9|
|Galaxy Guide 3: The Empire Strikes Back||1996||279,144||250||250||-||-||40||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||38,000||-|
|Dagobah Limited||1997||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||12 sq.||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||38,000||-|
|Star Wars Trilogy Sourcebook, Special Edition||1997||279,144||250||250||-||-||40||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||38,000||-|
|Star Wars Encyclopedia||1998||-||1000+ (combined weaponry)||-||-||-||-||-||144||200||-||-||-||-||-||-||38,000||-|
|Star Wars: Behind the Magic||1998||279,144||250||250||250||250||40||-||144||200||3||-||30||40||-||-||38,000||13|
|Starships of the Galaxy||2001||280,734||250||250||250||250||40||-||12 sq.||200||3||-||25||50||-||-||38,000||-|
|The Official Star Wars Fact File 4||2002||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||144||200||Several||Several||-||-||-||-||38,000||-|
|The Official Star Wars Fact File 47||2002||279,144||250||250||250||250||40||-||144||200||-||-||"A force"||"A force"||-||-||38,000||13|
|The New Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels||2003||-||1000+ (combined weaponry)||-||-||-||-||-||144||200||3||-||"Two dozen"||50||"Small armada"||"Small armada"||38,000||-|
|Inside the Worlds of Star Wars Trilogy||2004||-||5000+ (combined weaponry)||-||-||-||-||-||"Wings"||-||2||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Star Pilot||2005||-||1000+ (combined weaponry)||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||Thousands (combined military forces)||-|
|Vader: The Ultimate Guide||2005||"Nearly 300,000"||1000+ (combined weaponry)||-||-||-||-||-||2 wings||"Almost 200"||3||-||"Two dozen"||50||-||"Horde"||38,000||-|
|The Official Figurine Collection 1||2005||-||250||250||250||250||40||-||12 sq.||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Star Wars: Complete Locations||2005||-||5000+ (combined weaponry)||-||-||-||-||-||"Wings"||-||2||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Starship Battles Preview 1||2006||280,734||2000||2000||250||250||40||250||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||38,000||-|
|Starships of the Galaxy||2007||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||144||200||3||Hundreds||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|The Force Unleashed video game databank||2008||-||1000+ (combined weaponry)||-||-||-||-||-||144||200||-||-||-||-||-||-||38,000||-|
|Star Wars Fandex Deluxe Edition||2008||-||1000+ (combined weaponry)||-||-||-||"A tractor beam"||-||144||200||Plural||Plural, undifferentiated||-||-||-||-||38,000|
|The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia||2008||-||5000+ (combined weaponry)||-||-||-||-||-||"Wings"||-||2||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|The Official Starships & Vehicles Collection 3||2008||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||2 wings||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|StarWars.com Databank||2011||-||5000+ (combined weaponry)||-||-||-||-||-||"Wings"||-||2||-||-||-||-||-||-||13|
|Star Wars: Sith Wars||2013||280,735||5000 (combined weaponry)||-||250||-||40||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
As with the Executor's length discrepancies, many Star Wars sources vary concerning the Executor's precise technical specifications. The preceding table provides a detailed chronicle of different Star Wars sources to provide specific Executor statistics, from the release of the first edition of the Imperial Sourcebook in 1989 to The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia in 2008, highlighting the most significant deviations from the original 1989 statistics.
Primarily of note is the development of the number of engines and number of weapon emplacements on the Executor. The Executor model seen in the films sports thirteen engine banks, although Star Wars reference material, beginning with The Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels in 1996, incorrectly asserted that the Executor only had nine engine banks, until the release of Star Wars: Behind the Magic in 1998, which included an interactive rotating model showing thirteen engines. The Official Star Wars Fact File 47, released in 2002, first explicitly identified the Executor as having thirteen engines. The incorrect engine figure, according to Curtis Saxton, has its roots in the 1989 Imperial Sourcebook, which shows what he believes to be a distorted representation of the Executor in order to fit the eight-kilometer length mark.
The 1989 Imperial Sourcebook was also the first source to identify the Executor as boasting over 1,000 weapon emplacements, including 250 turbolasers, heavy turbolasers, concussion missile tubes, and ion cannons each. These figures were perpetuated, despite the Executor's canonical length growing to 12.8 kilometers, until the 2004 release of Inside the Worlds of Star Wars Trilogy, which, in addition to being the first source to provide the Executor a length of approximately nineteen kilometers, updated the Executor's offensive complement to over 5,000 weapon emplacements. The 2006 Wizards.com article Starship Battles Preview 1 expanded on the 5,000-plus weapon figure by identifying the Executor as boasting 2,000 turbolasers and heavy turbolasers each, to match the updated length of nineteen kilometers.
There also exists a slight discrepancy between the number of AT-AT and AT-ST walkers the Executor carries. Most sources, beginning with the Imperial Sourcebook, identify the Executor as holding 25 AT-ATs and 50 AT-STs. However, Star Wars: Behind the Magic names 30 AT-ATs and 40 AT-STs, unique figures never repeated before or since. Given that the 2007 edition of Starships of the Galaxy states that the Executor could hold far more resources than the Empire ever had available, this article asserts the largest figures available: 30 AT-ATs and 50 AT-STs.
The Executor's "interim admiral" appearing in the Classic Star Wars run is not referenced in any other Star Wars material, and thus is never truly given credit as being part of the Executor admiralty lineage. Instead, most sources, beginning with the second edition of Galaxy Guide 3: The Empire Strikes Back in 1996, identify Amise Griff as being the first admiral of the Executor and Death Squadron, who is then succeeded by Kendal Ozzel and then Firmus Piett.
The September 2007 article The Empire's Finest: Who's Who in the Imperial Military from Star Wars Insider 96 claims that Ozzel "eventually seized captaincy of Darth Vader's Super Star Destroyer Executor, then took over as admiral of Vader's Death Squadron following the death of Admiral Griff." This description suggests that Ozzel's service aboard the Executor included a stint as the Super Star Destroyer's captain, overlapping Griff's tenure as admiral, before succeeding Griff directly. However, no other source states that Ozzel ever served as a captain aboard the Executor, and the novel Allegiance, released eight months earlier, in January 2007, has established that the character of Admiral Bentro was in fact Ozzel's direct predecessor as the Executor's admiral.
Adding to the Griff-Ozzel confusion is The Official Star Wars Fact File 47, which suggests a different end to Griff's Executor admiralty. The Fact File issue explains that, following Griff's miscalculated hyperspace jump, which results in his death in the Classic Star Wars comic strip Race for Survival, "Griff was demoted and command of the Executor was given to Admiral Ozzel." Fact File 47 also asserts that Griff commanded the Executor during its maiden voyage and the destruction of Laakteen Depot. This is in direct contradiction to the Classic Star Wars comic Revenge of the Jedi, which places Vader in command of the Executor during this time and Griff away in charge of the Yavin 4 blockade.
There also exists a slight discrepancy concerning the Executor's captaincy lineage. The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia explains that following Piett's promotion to admiral after Ozzel's death, "Kallic took Piett's place as captain," suggesting that Kallic was Piett's immediate successor. However, the second edition of Galaxy Guide 3 establishes that Piett promoted Lieutenant Venka to the Executor's captaincy as his immediate successor, which is supported by The Official Star Wars Fact File 89, which explains that "actual captaincy of the Executor passed on to Lieutenant Venka [upon Piett's promotion] and much later to Captain Kallic."
Further contradictions and notes, Rise of the Empire era
In Chapter 37 of the 2005 novel Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader, Vader boards the Imperator-class Star Destroyer Executrix. However, at one point the novel mistakenly refers to the Executrix as the Executor. Dark Lord takes place in 19 BBY, nearly twenty years before the completion of the Executor.
The release of the Star Wars: The Force Unleashed multimedia project in 2008 created an expanded back history for the Executor, placing the Super Star Destroyer under construction in the Scarl system several years before reaching Fondor, as originally presented in the Classic Star Wars comic series.
However, The Force Unleashed also created a few continuity inconsistencies. In the Classic Star Wars comic Darth Vader Strikes, the Executor is shown first without engines, before a set is installed. In The Force Unleashed, the Executor is equipped with a propulsion system as early as 3 BBY and travels to different locations in the galaxy. No canonical explanation for this discrepancy exists, although Leland Chee vaguely addressed the issue in Star Wars Insider 107, stating the Executor was "transferred to the Fondor shipyards for its final stages of construction."
A discrepancy also exists concerning the precise location of the Scarl system, the Executor's original construction site. The Force Unleashed video game includes an in-game information databank, which claims the Executor was constructed in "the remote reaches of the Outer Rim Territories." However, The Essential Atlas, released in August 2009, confirms that the Scarl system is located just parsecs from Fondor, which is in turn located in the Colonies region, a considerable distance from the Outer Rim. Chee had previously stated in Insider 107 that the Scarl system was likewise "not far from Fondor."
Further contradictions and notes, Rebellion era
Among several other various inconsistencies, The Official Star Wars Fact File 47 claims that the Executor was disabled by several power gems during its maiden-voyage approach to Yavin 4, as depicted in the Classic Star Wars comic series. However, the comics The Power Gem and Doom Mission, the primary sources of the Executor-power gem story arc, clearly identify the Rebels as obtaining one power gem for the attack on the Executor, the last known of its kind in the galaxy.
During a transition scene between levels in the 1985 Atari arcade game The Empire Strikes Back, a starship moves across screen with the accompanying caption, "Darth Vader's Executor is searching for the Rebel hideout." This starship that appears on-screen does not resemble the Executor model as seen in the films. Instead, the Atari graphic is very similar in appearance to an original Executor concept sketch from December 1978, on which it was likely based.
The book-and-tape publication Classic Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, a heavily abridged children's read-along adaptation of the film, released in 1994 by TW Kids, includes the scene in which Darth Vader communicates with the Emperor via hologram from his personal chambers aboard the Executor. However, the book and audio mistakenly refer to Vader's flagship in this scene as the "Imperial Destroyer Avenger." Likewise, the Executor makes an indirect appearance in the accompanying book-and-tape Classic Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, in the scene in which the Rebel strike team passes through the Death Star deflector shield to reach Endor. However, the Executor is represented in this scene only by a radio-transmitted voice identifying itself as "Deflector Shield Control," a certain deviation from the film's dialogue, and is not referred to by name.
Similar to the 1985 Atari graphic, the personal flagship of Imperial Admiral Mils Giel in the 1982 Marvel comic Star Wars 60: Shira's Story is remarkably similar to another early Executor concept illustration, from September 1978. Marvel artist Walter Simonson likely used the Executor concept art as inspiration for his starship design. A comparison of the Executor concept drawing and Giel's flagship can be seen here.
The obscure Shadows of the Empire Ertl minicomic depicts an account of the Executor's assault on the Bajic Shipyards that contradicts both the Shadows of the Empire novel and the video game Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance. In the Shadows of the Empire minicomic, the Executor is shown firing on a lush, inhabited planet that is meant to be the Rebel shipyard base in the Vergesso Asteroids. However, the Shadows of the Empire novel and X-Wing Alliance both depict the Rebel base as being a giant asteroid, which the Executor summarily obliterates.
Despite clearly being destroyed upon crashing into the Death Star at the Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi, the Executor is shown virtually fully intact after having crash-landed on the Forest Moon of Endor in the comic A Day in the Life from Star Wars Tales 12. All sources dealing with the subject of the Executor's fate describe the ship as having been fully obliterated, including the novel Heir to the Empire, which claims the Executor "[disintegrated] completely in the battle station's massive explosion." The Star Wars Tales run included several stories that were intended to be Infinities, or outside of the realm of Star Wars canon, and this tale of the Executor would naturally seem to be among them. However, the intact Executor of A Day in the Life is referenced in The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, which serves to validate its canonical, if extremely contradictory, status.
The Executor is erroneously mentioned in Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption: Prima Official Game Guide, the strategy guide to the PC game Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption. The guide's section detailing the final, climactic battle of the game's "Consortium Campaign" refers to the Executor as the Imperial Super Star Destroyer that enters the level at the battle's climax, which the player must then destroy. However, in the game this Super Star Destroyer is in fact the Annihilator. The Executor has no role in this battle.
Kenner toys hoped to avoid using the ominous "Executor" name on toy packing for the creation of its 1980 playset modeling Darth Vader's meditation chamber from The Empire Strikes Back. Kenner's ad agency created a list of 153 potential names to use instead of Executor, including Starbase Malevolent, Black Coven, Haphaestus VII, and Cosmocurse. In the end, Kenner chose a name not included in the list: "Darth Vader's Star Destroyer."
When creating new starship designs for the Star Wars: Legacy comic series, artist Sean Cooke hoped to create an incantation of the original Super Star Destroyer that was just as iconic but, in his words, "not necessarily just this super, super, Executor where it was like nine ships long." Rather than creating an incredibly long starship model, Cooke instead imaged something that was exceptionally tall, eventually resulting in the Pellaeon-class Star Destroyer.
There are several Star Wars stories that suggest an Executor appearance, though none explicitly mention the Executor's involvement. Due to the ambiguous nature of these appearances, the Executor cannot be assumed to be within without further confirmation.
In both the serial comic Imperial Spy, appearing in Star Wars Kids magazine, and the comic Moment of Doubt from Star Wars Tales 4, Vader is seen resting in his meditation chamber without his helmet donned, drawing upon the meditation chamber scenes aboard the Executor from The Empire Strikes Back. However, the "Vader's Imperial Shuttle" card from the Star Wars Trading Card Game expansion pack set The Empire Strikes Back confirms that Vader's personal shuttle contained a meditation chamber aboard similar to the one on the Executor, thus making the preceding two appearances ambiguous.
Similarly, Vader appears on the bridge of a Star Destroyer both in an illustration created for the Star Wars Insider 66 article Who's Who: Imperial Grand Admirals, and the Marvel Star Wars comic Star Wars Annual 3: The Apprentice, although the Executor is never stated to be the Star Destroyer in either. In the Who's Who picture, the Emperor and Grand Admirals Thrawn and Miltin Takel join Vader on the Star Destroyer bridge during a discussion of the second Death Star plans, meaning that the Star Destroyer could be the flagship of either individual present. Further, the Marvel comic seems to suggest that Vader is on retainer to that Star Destroyer to carry out the Emperor's commands.
The Executor is included in the Wizards.com article Rebel Raiders, which presents a hypothetical battle scenario for use with Wizards of the Coast's Star Wars Miniatures: Starship Battles roleplaying game, in which a Rebel naval force performs a typical raid on an Imperial shipyard. In the battle scenario, the player may choose from a number of Imperial vessels to defend the shipyard, including the Executor. The nature of this battle scenario does not necessarily suggest any degree of canonicity, however.
Murder on the Executor
Author Patrick Stutzman created the roleplaying game adventure Murder on the Executor for use with Wizards of the Coast's Star Wars Roleplaying Game. Released in August 2009, Murder on the Executor is the first full-length RPG adventure to feature the Executor as the story's primary backdrop. The adventure takes place concurrently with the events of the Battle of Hoth as seen in the film Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, in which the players must investigate the murder of one of the Executor's crewmen, eventually discovering that the perpetrator is an undercover Rebel spy.
While the players' successful completion of the adventure ultimately depends on the results of a series of skill checks, the adventure's overall progression assumes that the players meet each of the adventure's requirements, including uncovering necessary evidence in the course of the investigation and surviving three successive battle encounters. This article details the complete progression of the adventure in the order outlined in the Murder on the Executor RPG module. However, the resolution of the adventure is left open for the sake of the players roleplaying their own fate, and the adventure module itself does not stipulate one desired outcome over another. Therefore, this article treats the resolution as ambiguous. The possible ending scenarios to Murder on the Executor are detailed here.
In the adventure's third and final battle encounter, the investigation team confronts Malkor Trel, the Rebel spy and murderer, aboard the Onderian Raptor as he is attempting to make his escape from the Executor. Realizing the team is there to apprehend him, Trel offers them the opportunity escape with him and join the Rebellion, leaving the team to determine where their loyalties lie. The adventure module suggests that ideally the entire team comes to a unified decision, rather than the team splitting apart. If the team decides to accept Trel's offer, two of Trel's Rebel allies request that the team drop their weapons as a sign of good will. Refusing the demand triggers the final battle, a shootout aboard the Rebel ship, in which the team ultimately defeats Trel and his allies, who are then taken into custody. If the team complies with the request, the team will then assist Trel in escaping from the Executor and the rest of Death Squadron. As the Onderian Raptor flees from the Imperial fleet, it is pursued by the Executor, the Star Destroyers Accuser and Tyrant, and several TIE Fighters. The battle's successful conclusion results in the escape from the Executor.
Alternatively, the team may choose to deny Trel's offer and apprehend the Rebel murderer, which triggers the final shootout battle aboard the Rebel ship. After the team defeats Trel and his men, Trel is taken to the Executor's brig and the team is summoned to a conference room where they were originally briefed of their mission at the beginning of the adventure. In the conference room, the team is met by Admiral Piett, who congratulates them on a job well done and rewards each member with a citation of valor and a promotion by one grade.
The following are examples of stories and video games in which the Executor appears that are not included in this article's canonical history proper. These appearances alternatively represent non-canon scenarios. However, it should be noted that only the comic Star Wars Infinities: The Empire Strikes Back and the Star Wars Manga comic Vader vs. Artoo & Threepio are non-canon appearances in the truest sense, considering their Infinities status. The rest typically represent scenarios that contradict established canon or are "game mechanics."
Star Wars Infinities: The Empire Strikes Back
Three months after the Battle of Hoth, the Executor and Death Squadron led an Imperial operation on a forested planet as part of Vader's continuing search for Luke Skywalker. When Vader's search of the planet uncovered no trace of his son, he returned with his shuttle to the Executor in orbit, where an officer informed Vader that a new shipment of probe droids had arrived, and another group of six bounty hunters—this time including a Nikto, a light-skinned humanoid, a Wookiee, a droid, a Rodian, and a Human—waited to join the hunt for Skywalker. Vader ordered the probe droids launched as soon as programmed and for the bounty hunters to be briefed, for he sensed his search was coming to an end.
The Executor then escorted Vader to the planet Tatooine, where he had learned Han Solo and Chewbacca had been taken prisoner by Jabba the Hutt. Although Vader soon discovered that Solo and Chewbacca had just recently escaped from Jabba's Palace, Vader nevertheless took possession of the Rebels' protocol droid, C-3PO, knowing he held the key to finding Skywalker. Upon returning to the Executor, Vader recognized C-3PO as the same protocol droid he had built as a child on Tatooine and ordered his creation to reveal Skywalker's whereabouts. C-3PO refused to betray his master, and so Vader detached the droid's head, severing his programming, and this time C-3PO provided Vader with the information he sought: Skywalker was on Dagobah. Instantly, Vader ordered a commander to change the Executor's course for the Dagobah system.
The Executor did escort Vader to Dagobah, but there the Dark Lord met his end. Vader encountered the Jedi Master Yoda, from whom he learned his son had died and that Princess Leia Organa was in fact his daughter. Vader dueled both, before Solo and Chewbacca blasted and killed him.
Vader vs. Artoo & Threepio
Vader vs. Artoo & Threepio presents a scenario that parodies the Darth Vader-Luke Skywalker confrontations throughout The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
After arriving on the Forest Moon of Endor to collect the imprisoned Rebel droids C-3PO and R2-D2, Vader returns with his droid captives to the Executor waiting in orbit, but he is most interested in R2-D2. Once on the Executor, the ship's captain is informed that Vader, who has taken the droids into a private throne room, does not wish to be disturbed.
In the Executor's private chamber, Vader pressures R2-D2 into joining the dark side so that he may complete the droid's training, and together they will bring order to the galaxy, for it is R2-D2's destiny. Vader threatens that if R2-D2 should not join him, then perhaps C-3PO will instead, before Vader reveals that he is C-3PO's creator.
Before Vader can destroy C-3PO, R2-D2 brandishes a lightsaber, and Vader and the droid clash sabers within the Executor. The duel rages until R2-D2 slices the chest panel on Vader's armor regulating his internal oxygen system. Beaten and struggling to breathe, Vader tumbles into a carbon-freezing chamber within the Executor's private chamber and is promptly frozen in a block of carbonite.
Star Wars: X-Wing
The Executor appears in the 1993 original release of the PC game Star Wars: X-Wing, although its inclusion is not part of the central storyline. In the instance that the game's player character, Keyan Farlander, is captured by the Empire, a cut scene appears showing the captured Farlander being taken by shuttle to a large Imperial fleet headed by the Executor itself, with the caption "Arriving at the Executor. Flagship of the Empire!" However, the X-Wing canonical game storyline does not include Farlander being captured by the Empire, so the Executor's appearance is therefore non-canon.
In an earlier sequence of X-Wing, a cut scene shows a Super Star Destroyer leading a sizable Imperial force to the planet Tatooine in pursuit of Princess Leia and the Death Star plans, drawing upon the opening battle scene from Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. The Super Star Destroyer seen in this cut scene is identical to the Executor as depicted in the non-canon Farlander capture scene, although the Tatooine Super Star Destroyer is not identified by name.
Star Wars: X-Wing was re-released on the Windows 95 platform in 1994 with several graphical improvements and changed cut scenes. In the re-release, the unidentified Super Star Destroyer was removed from the Imperial fleet Tatooine cut scene, and the Executor model in the non-canon Farlander capture scene was redone to look more like the film version.
The Theft of Vader's Helmet
The Wizards.com Star Wars Miniatures roleplaying game presents an online RPG scenario entitled The Theft of Vader's Helmet, in which a group of Rebels, led by Han Solo and Chewbacca, somehow infiltrate the Executor, possibly with inside help. While Vader is resting in his meditation chamber, the Rebels steal his helmet and try to escape, but they find that a blast door has closed, sealing them in that section of the Executor with an angered Vader.
The scenario presents possible endings for both a Rebel and Imperial victory. However, the article describes the scenario as "improbable" at best, with the focus on making the Star Wars Miniatures adventures fun for gamers. Therefore, this scenario is most likely non-canon.
The Executor appears in the choose-your-own-adventure book Scoundrel's Luck, while under the command of Admiral Kendal Ozzel. In the adventure, the Executor intercepts Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon while outside the Black Widow Nebula. While there are several possible outcomes to the scenario involving the Executor, this article presents the canonical path, as derived from information in The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, in the canonical history proper. The adventure's alternative, non-canonical variables are presented here.
Once the Executor hails the Millennium Falcon and orders the ship to stand down for boarding, the reader has the choice to run or comply and stand by for boarding, the latter being the canonical path. If the reader chooses to run, the Executor deploys six TIE Fighters to oversee the boarding operation, while Solo hopes to pass beneath the Executor before the Imperials realize he is making a break for it. However, the Millennium Falcon is caught in the tractor beam of the Star Destroyer Avenger before it can escape. From this point, the reader can choose to out-muscle the Avenger's tractor beam or try to break the tractor beam's hold by turning hard to port.
If the reader chooses to out-muscle the tractor beam, the Avenger fires a warning salvo at the Millennium Falcon that hits so close to the Executor that it too rocks from the explosion. However, the Millennium Falcon moves close enough to the hull of the Executor to slip underneath the giant vessel. The Super Star Destroyer's size inadvertently acts as a giant buffer zone that allows the Millennium Falcon to escape into the nebula, for the Avenger would not dare risk firing again for fear of hitting the Executor. If the reader chooses the alternative path, turning hard to port to escape the tractor beam, the Millennium Falcon is disabled and the Executor's spacetroopers board the vessel and capture Solo and Chewbacca, ending the adventure.
The canonical path involves the Executor's spacetroopers, led by Captain Firmus Piett, boarding the Millennium Falcon and questioning Solo on the spot. Solo tries to bribe Piett into letting him go but is taken captive aboard the Executor. Rather than bribing Piett, the reader can instead choose to have Solo threaten to report Piett for asking for a bribe. In this non-canonical alternative, Piett does allow Solo to go on his way, thus escaping the Executor.
In the canonical path, once captive aboard the Executor, Solo is interrogated by Ozzel, who orders his and Chewbacca's execution, although he in fact allows them to escape in the hope that they will lead him to the Imperial traitor Sodarra. While Solo and Chewbacca make their escape from the Executor, the reader can choose one of two options for attacking their escorting guards: either attacking the guard in front of Solo, or attacking the guard to Solo's rear, the latter being the canonical choice. Should the reader instead choose to attack the guard in front, Solo is neutralized and cannot escape, ending the adventure.
Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption
The PC game Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption includes the Executor as a warship the Empire can build in the game's "Galactic Conquest" mode, representing Darth Vader's personal space unit, although this is not part of the game's canonical storyline. In game play, the Executor is especially vulnerable to attacking bomber squadrons in the absence of an adequate starfighter escort.
Star Wars: Flight of the Falcon
In Star Wars: Flight of the Falcon for Game Boy Advance, the player must recreate the Rebels' escape from the Executor at Bespin while piloting the Millennium Falcon, as seen in The Empire Strikes Back. However, in the Executor level, the player pilots the Millennium Falcon down a trench in the Executor's superstructure, not unlike the Death Star trench run from A New Hope, while destroying TIE fighters and avoiding horizontal laser traps. The level presents a clear departure from established film canon, which includes no such trench run, and thus this article considers the Executor level to be game mechanics.
Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance
In the second phase of the Battle of Endor level, "That Thing's Operational," in the PC game Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance, the player recreates the Rebel Fleet's attack on the Executor. The player must destroy each of the Executor's two deflector shield domes in an allotted amount of time before the Super Star Destroyer is considered destroyed. However, the player brings down the Executor's bridge shields while piloting the Millennium Falcon, ostensibly as Lando Calrissian. Moreover, X-Wing Alliance's timeline of the Battle of Endor contradicts that seen in the film. In the game, the Rebels begin the attack on the Executor before the Rebels destroy the Death Star's shield generator and before the Rebels' starfighters begin the attack run on the Death Star's central reactor core. In the film, the attack on the Executor occurs simultaneously with the Death Star reactor core run—which is led by Calrissian, who does not participate in the Executor attack—following the destruction of the Death Star's shield.