Named for its unique double-layered wings, or S-foils, this ship is one of the most versatile weapons in the Rebel Alliance. The X-wing provides a near perfect balance in speed, maneuverability, and defensive shields, making this the fighter of choice for many Rebel pilots, except when the mission profile disallows it. In combat, its S-foils are opened to give it greater maneuverability. These S-foils are closed during normal flight, so it can fly faster while still pulling off advance aerobatics such as rolls. The X-wing is formidably armed, with high-powered blaster cannons in its wing tips, plus proton torpedo launchers on its main space-frame. With its reinforced titanium alloy hull and high-powered shield generators, the X-wing can take a barrage of minor hits and still keep flying.
The X-wing is as much of an icon of the Rebellion
as its official symbol, as well as a reflection of the Rebellion itself.
Like most Rebels who flew them, the X-wing was originally of Imperial
origin. Incom had been designing the X-wing for use by the Imperial Navy. However, the entire Incom design staff defected to the Rebellion, along with all extant prototypes and design data. Along with infuriating the Empire, it provided the Rebellion with a top-notch starfighter capable of defeating any fighter in space on its own terms. This, combined with high-quality training and refined tactics developed around Rebel fighters' strengths, allowed Rebels to fight and prevail against overwhelming odds.
The X-wing was based on the older Z-95 Headhunter, combined with design elements from the ARC-170. It retained the Z-95's general layout, but featured quad lasers, four engines, a flat-plane canopy., and an on-board astromech droid for in-flight astrogation and coordination of repairs. The spaceframe is generally more angular, and is able to hold a higher number of warheads when compared to the Z-95. Shielding is greatly increased as well. The resulting design is very well-balanced and rugged, with no glaring weaknesses for enemies to capitalize on.
The X-wing's multi-mission capability made it ideal for Alliance use. Since they didn't have the resources to develop diverse, specialized craft, the early Rebels preferred fighters with multi-role capabilities. This reduced production costs, training, and allowed interoperability between different units within the Rebellion. The X-wing's well-rounded attributes found it well suited in this light. Combined with the older Y-wings
already in use with the Alliance, the X-wing allowed the Starfighter Corps to accomplish any mission tasked out to it.
The X-wing was a high quality design that required the pilot to balance its respective systems and fight at the same time. To this end, an R-series astromech sits behind the pilot to assist with these tasks, considerably freeing up the pilot's mental resources.
Rebel tactics capitalized on the X-wing's outstanding abilities. Rebel pilots almost always found themselves vastly outnumbered. However, the Imperial Navy fielded large numbers of fighters at the expense of both build quality and pilot training. Most TIE pilots were given a bare minimum of training before being thrown into battle, relying instead on overwhelming swarm tactics to bring down foes.
The Rebels countered this by closely coordinated teamwork. While TIEs were generally faster and more agile than X-wings, they didn't have a large enough advantage to capitalize on. X-wing pilots coordinated their flights to provide overlapping laser and shield coverage, ensuring mutual survivability and allowing a small flight of well-trained pilots to hold off and defeat vastly superior numbers of TIEs. Thus, the use of the X-wing mirrored Rebel tactics, in general: smaller numbers of well-trained individuals against large numbers of lesser-trained forces deployed en masse.
Due to its flexibility, the X-wing is a wise choice for pilots who's mission goals are unknown, or may change mid-mission. In fact, an X-wing is so well-suited to space combat, in general, that one can never go completely wrong electing to fly it. It is fast and agile enough to dogfight other fighters effectively, and has enough firepower to make short work of an opponent's shields and armor. TIEs, especially, with their light hulls and lack of shielding, were especially prone to disintegrating from a well-timed shot from the X-wing's quad lasers
This firepower, combined with respectable shielding and a rugged hull, also allowed the X-wing to perform well as an anti-starship platform when more specialized Y-wings and B-wings
were not available. It could carry six proton torpedoes, which was enough to cripple larger ships, especially when fired from formation.
The only drawback to the X-wing was its lack of ion cannon, which would have allowed it to disable, rather than destroy, enemy craft. Thus, Y-wings or B-wings had to be deployed for any capture operation, until the advent of ion pulse torpedoes which could be loaded into any warhead launcher. Another possibility, although only an option for some of the best pilots, was to use the X-wing's lasers to target individual components of larger ships such as engines, weapons, and hyperdrives to "manually" disable the target.
Of note, a couple of Death Stars
also felt the impact of torpedoes fired from X-wings. In the Battle of Yavin
, Luke Skywalker
famously dropped a pair down the first Death Star's exhaust port, at great expense to the Empire. At Endor
, Wedge Antilles
had to fly his X-wing into the second Death Star, where his torpedo attack, combined with concussion missiles from the Millenium Falcon
flown by Lando Calrissian
, caused yet another chain reaction. The Empire had not yet learned that attacking weak points can cause massive damage
Although most closely associated with the Rebellion during the Galactic Civil War, the X-wing served well after this time. Variants flew with the New Republic
and the later Galactic Alliance. Specialized versions included an unarmed reconnaissance craft, tandem two-seat trainer, uprated XJ version first used by Luke's new Jedi Order, and a specialized black-painted "Stealth X."