- "…Seinar System's [sic] basic TIE fighter—a commodity which, after hydrogen and stupidity, was the most plentiful in the galaxy…"
- ―Corran Horn
The TIE/ln starfighter or TIE/line, simply known as the TIE Fighter, was the standard Imperial starfighter seen in massive numbers throughout most of the Galactic Civil War and onward. Colloquially, Imperial pilots referred to the crafts as "eyeballs."
The TIE fighter is the original design for later upgraded TIE models such as TIE/sa bomber, TIE/In interceptor, TIE/D Defender, TIE/D automated starfighter, and many more. In the early days of the Rebellion era, TIE prototype models were designed such as TIE Experimental M3, TIE Experimental M4 and the TIE Scout. The TIE Fighter was a descendant of the T.I.E. starfighter and the V-wing starfighter, both developed for the Galactic Republic, was manufactured by Sienar Fleet Systems. In addition to the T.I.E. and V-wing, it was also descended from the TIE starfighter, the first TIE model developed for the Galactic Empire.
The TIE/ln's engine was one of the most precisely manufactured propulsion systems in the galaxy and, with no moving parts, was low-maintenance. Unlike the TIE before it, the TIE/ln sported independent generators for the engine and the weapons. The lack of combat shields, hyperdrive, and life-support systems, in concert with the advanced engine design, reduced the mass of the fighter and conferred exceptional maneuverability.
Primary armament was a pair of laser cannons. These cannons were relatively powerful, and a well-placed hit on a starfighter or medium transport could damage or destroy it. It did not carry missile tubes, but such weapons could be added on if necessary.
Due to the lack of life-support systems, each TIE pilot had a fully-sealed flight suit superior to their Rebel counterparts. The absence of a hyperdrive also rendered the fighter totally dependent on carrier ships when deployed in enemy systems. TIE/lns also lacked landing gear, another mass-reducing measure. While the ships were structurally capable of "sitting" on their wings, they were not designed to land or disembark their pilots without special support. On Imperial ships, TIEs were launched from racks in the hangar bays.
TIEs were designed to attack in large numbers, overwhelming the enemy craft. Standard attack squadrons consisted of 12 fighters while full attack wings were made up of six squadrons. The Imperials used so many that they came to be considered symbols of the Empire and its might. They were also very cheap to produce, reflecting the Imperial philosophy of quantity over quality.
Contrary to popular belief, the ships did possess ejection seats, but the nature of space warfare often resulted in pilots riding their craft down to a swift end rather than ejecting and risking slow death by heat loss and oxygen starvation in the vacuum of space.
The design choices of the TIE/ln could arguably be explained by Imperial military philosophy, which viewed the starfighters and their pilots as an expendable asset. Though Imperial pilots were of an elite stock, they also considered themselves expendable, in accordance with their ideological training.
Like stormtroopers, TIE pilots had their own identification, such as DS-61-2 (the first two letters indicated the posting, the next two or three digits indicated the squadron number, and the last number indicated the pilot's ranking in the squadron). This procedure reduced them to being no more than anonymous and standardized operatives of the Imperial war machine. This attitude was further reflected by the lack of any sentimental attachment to particular TIEs by TIE pilots, unlike Rebel pilots who often grew attached to their craft. As far as they were concerned, every fighter, whether reconditioned or factory-fresh, was identical.
A disadvantage of the fighter was its lack of deflector shields. In combat, pilots had to rely on the TIE/ln's maneuverability to avoid damage. The cockpit did incorporate crash webbing, a repulsorlift antigravity field, and a high-g shock seat to help protect the pilot, however these did next to nothing to help protect against enemy blaster fire. However, despite this lack of protection, the fighter was at least able to survive glancing hits, such as when the quad laser cannons on the Millennium Falcon were able to hit a TIE fighter without actually destroying it.
The TIE/ln starfighter's eponymous twin ion engines are also notoriously easy to sabotage; all it takes is moving an energizer out of alignment for a TIE's recharge systems for them to become time bombs.
The side view of a TIE/ln's radiator panels curiously resembles the emblem of the Confederacy of Independent Systems, but it is not clear if the similarity was intentional. The front/rear cross-section of the fighter was designed to be small to make it difficult to hit with blasters, but these side panels proved easy targets for flanking enemy pilots. They also hampered the fighter's ability to maneuver while in the atmosphere. Due to their distinct shape, TIE/ln came to be referred to occasionally as "eyeballs" by enemy pilots.
The basic TIE starfighter inspired a number of other Imperial starfighters manufactured by Sienar Fleet Systems, which became collectively known as the TIE series. The TIE Line fighter was one of them, and replaced the original model as the standard fleet fighter in the Empire. While the original TIE had performance parity with heavier-built X-wings, the newer TIE/ln boasted improved engines and more powerful weapons, surpassing contemporary Rebel fighters.
TIEs would be used in massive numbers throughout the Galactic Civil War and would be regarded by many as a symbol of the Empire. Some TIEs fell into the hands of the Rebellion, who would sometimes use them to infiltrate Imperial facilities.
It had been intended that the TIE/ln would be replaced by the TIE Interceptor, and indeed Interceptors began to see greater use around the time of the Battle of Endor, but the collapse of the Imperial government into sectionalism precluded this. As the Galactic Empire retreated, more and more factories found themselves behind New Republic lines and ceased production. The New Republic made limited use of captured TIEs, equipping them with shields and assigning them to sectors where they weren't considered a symbol of the Empire. Their most notable use in New Republic service was at the Battle of Adumar. Captured TIE fighters were also used for deceptive purposes, such as during the Mission to Prefsbelt IV.
By the time the peace treaty was signed, the Empire (now known as the Imperial Remnant) began to use export starfighters manufactured by other races (such as the Sullustan SoroSuub Corporation Preybird-class starfighter) because they lacked the manufacturing facilities to build new TIE Fighters.
Behind the scenes
Originally meant to have a blue color on the hull, this was abandoned when blue-screen filming made the fighters transparent. The original TIE/ln fighters seen in A New Hope were relatively white in color; the TIEs of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi were more gray with a gradual bluish hue added during post-production.
The sound for TIE Fighters was created by combining an elephant's scream with the noise of a car driving on a wet road.
Rob Coleman originally considered putting TIEs into the end of Revenge of the Sith, but Lucas decided to show Alpha-3 Nimbus-class V-wing starfighters instead, pointing out that the Empire would have nineteen years to build TIEs.[source?]
Although Expanded Universe material and also a speed chart used by the film crew of RotJ sets the speed of the TIE fighter to equal that of an X-wing, in ANH they are shown overtaking X-wings despite the latter going "full throttle".
In the 2001 video game Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, TIE fighters serve as the Galactic Empire's fast fighter unit and may be built at airbases in single player or multiplayer. The 2005 video game Star Wars: Battlefront II depicts TIE Fighters as having a proton torpedo launcher in addition to two laser cannons. However this was most likely a game mechanic, used to balance both teams.
A TIE fighter, alongside a T65 X-wing starfighter, made a very brief cameo in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones during Anakin and Obi-Wan's chase against Zam Wessel, where the latter vessel was chasing the former.
Notes and references
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Star Wars: Empire at War: Prima Official Game Guide
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Star Wars: Behind the Magic
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 The Official Star Wars Fact File 7
- ↑ Star Wars Sourcebook
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Template:WEG, p. 55
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Star Wars Customizable Card Game – Dagobah Limited (Card: Lost In Space)
- ↑ Star Wars Customizable Card Game – Dagobah Limited (Card: Lost Relay)
- ↑ Mist Encounter
- ↑ Star Wars: Battlefront II
- ↑ Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 Heir to the Empire
- ↑ Destiny's Way
- ↑ Betrayal
- ↑ Battlefront II: Prima Official Game Guide
- ↑ Star Wars: Rebel Assault II: The Hidden Empire
- ↑ Template:CSECite
- ↑ Incredible Cross Sections; pg. 8-9
- ↑ 18.0 18.1 The New Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels; pg.156-157
- ↑ Tatooine Sojourn