Trench run

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This article is about the Rebel attack on the Death Star. You may be looking for the video game with the same name.

A Rebel X-wing pursued down the Death Star Trench by TIE fighters

"Get set up for your attack run!"
Garven Dreis, moments before his death[src]

The trench run was the name of the most critical portion of the Battle of Yavin.


Rebel tacticians analyzed the Death Star plans and determined that the most promising strategy to attempt to destroy Death Star I was to maneuver their starfighters through the meridian trench in the northern hemisphere of the Death Star and fire a proton torpedo into a small thermal exhaust port approximately 2 meters wide, no bigger than a womp rat. If successful, a direct hit would cause a chain reaction that would destroy the Death Star.

The Rebel starfighters that participated in the Battle of Yavin consisted primarily of X-wings (Blue and Red Squadrons), which would play a space-superiority and support role, and smaller number of Y-wing bombers (Gold Squadron), which would be primarily responsible for the actual assault on the exhaust port.

The BattleEdit

Ywings trenchrun

A pair of Y-wings during the first wave of attack runs.

First attemptEdit

Red Squadron and Gold Squadron reached their positions and three Gold Squadron Y-wings initiated their attack run on the exhaust port as Red Squadron and the remaining Y-wings maintained position overhead and fought off Imperial TIE fighters and surface-based guns.

Darth Vader, in his TIE Advanced x1, personally intervened at this point, and entered the trench flanked by two Black Squadron TIE Fighters, in pursuit of the three Gold Squadron Y-Wings. The surface- and tower-based guns on the Death Star ceased fire to avoid the risk of "friendly-fire" casualties. Vader, accompanied by his wingmen, quickly closed the distance with the slower and heavier Y-Wing fighters and destroyed two of the three. The remaining Y-Wing, Gold Five, was forced to abandon the run and was soon destroyed.

Trench run TIEs

Darth Vader leads a group of TIE fighters into the trench.

Second attemptEdit

The Rebels then attempted another trench run with the lighter and faster X-Wings, of which six were remaining. The Rebel tacticians on Yavin 4 directed Red Leader to keep half of the group out of range, and Red Leader instructed Reds Two, Three and Five (Wedge Antilles, Biggs Darklighter, and Luke Skywalker respectively) to hold back while he led the second trench run, flanked by Reds Ten and Twelve. Vader and his wingmen once again gave pursuit, but took longer to catch up to the faster X-Wings in the trench. They picked off Reds Ten and Twelve, but not before Red Leader reached the exhaust port. He fired his proton torpedoes but they missed their mark and impacted on the surface of the Death Star instead of going into the exhaust port as intended. The remaining X-Wings attempted to cover Red Leader on his exit from the trench, but Red Leader, who had been hit and damaged while pulling out, ordered them to maintain their position and prepare for their trench run, just as he was hit again by Vader. He plunged into the Death Star moments later.

Third attemptEdit

Luke then assumed de facto command of Red Squadron and commenced the third trench run, the last chance for the Rebels to destroy the Death Star before it came into range of Yavin 4. Luke was in the lead, and Biggs and Wedge maintained a greater distance behind him in order to shield him from the Imperial fighters. They traversed the trench at full throttle in order to keep the TIEs away. Vader and his wingmen gave chase, and opened up on the X-Wings at long range. One of the wingmen's shots scored a minor hit on Wedge's X-Wing, damaging the engine array, and he was forced to abandon the trench run, unable to keep up with his wingmates. While Vader's wingmen would eagerly have given chase to the crippled X-wing, Vader curtly instructed them to let him go and maintain their pursuit of Biggs and Luke. As they closed the distance, Biggs threw his X-Wing into a weave maneuver, erratically moving around both laterally and vertically, to deny his pursuers a clean shot at either his leader or himself -- a highly risky maneuver given the claustrophobic confines of the trench and the speed of the fighters. While this was successful against Vader's wingmen, the Dark Lord of the Sith anticipated his opponent's move through the Force and eventually got a clear shot at Biggs, killing Luke's childhood friend from Tatooine and leaving Luke without any assistance in the trench.

Xwings trenchrun

A pair of X-wings during a subsequent attack runs.

Vader and his wingmen then sped down the trench after Luke, as Luke neared the exhaust port. At this critical moment, Luke heard the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi telling him to "Use the Force" and "Let go", prompting Luke to deactivate his targeting computer. The Rebel technicians on Yavin 4 questioned this decision, but Luke reassured them that everything was all right. Vader, recognizing that the Force was strong with Luke, had by this time gotten near enough to get a partial weapon lock on his X-Wing, and took a potentially fatal shot. However, the blast only grazed R2, rendering him inoperative for the remainder of the mission but causing no apparent direct damage to Luke's fighter. He also drove off X2 by ordering the turrets to target the clone pilot.

At the same moment, the Death Star completed its orbit of the planet Yavin and came into range of the moon that was home to the Rebel base. The Death Star began procedures to fire its superlaser on Yavin 4.

Vader again got Luke in his sights, but just as he unleashed a volley of laser fire on Luke, the TIE squadron was surprised by an attack from above, which destroyed one of Vader's wingmen. It was the Millennium Falcon, piloted by Han Solo and Chewbacca. Vader's other wingman reflexively veered off course in surprise, nicking Vader's TIE and then crashing into the wall of the trench. As a result of the glancing collision, Vader's fighter spun out of control into space.


Luke's proton torpedoes penetrating the Death Star's exhaust port.

His pursuers gone, Luke was then clear to fire his proton torpedoes at the exhaust port, and he scored a direct hit. The surviving Rebel ships fled the Death Star in the seconds before the chain reaction reached the central core of the massive space station, destroying it in a glittering fireball.


Some time after the battle, the run was ported into a simulation. One version allowed the pilot to fly with a new B-wing in order to compare its efficiency against the classic X-wing.

Behind the scenesEdit


Screenshot from the game Star Wars: X-Wing.

"Congratulations, Lord Vader. The Rebels have been completely routed!"
"It is a great day for the Empire"
―An Imperial and Darth Vader in the alternate history version of the Battle of Yavin in Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader[src]

In many video games, particularly the Rogue Squadron trilogy, the player has to avoid many obstacles and make several turns when flying in the Death Star's trench. The schematics/layout of the Death Star show no objects or turns in the trench, and the appearance of the trench in video games is deemed as non-canon game mechanics. In Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader, one of the bonus missions is an alternate history scenario where the player flies as Darth Vader and defends the trench from the Rebel squadrons.

In Star Wars: Rebel Assault, Blue Squadron takes a part in the Trench Run and their process parallels the action of the Red Squadron as shown in the movie: Merrick Simms hits the torpedoes but misses, just like Garven Dreis; Ru Murleen is hit and pulls out like Wedge Antilles, and Jake Farrell, just like Han Solo, shows up saving Rookie One's life, allowing him to destroy the Death Star instead of Luke Skywalker. In December 2006 Leland Chee commented on the Message Boards that Rookie One's trench run was non-continuity.[1] However, it is unclear whether this is merely the outcome or the entire trench run and it remains possible that he did attempt a failed trench run.

In the novelization of A New Hope, the X-wing squadron in the Battle of Yavin is referred to as Blue Squadron, and the Y-wing squadron is referred to as Red Squadron. The name and color was changed during filming as it was realized that the use of bluescreen matte technology for the motion-control miniatures photography made the use of blue impossible, as it would show up as transparent in the finished film.


Expert Handling X-wing MG by David Nash

An X-wing chased by TIE fighters in the Death Star Trench

Non-canonical appearancesEdit


See alsoEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

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