The coolest part of a new Star Wars film? For me, its the spaceships. As a Star Wars fan, I understand people in the 1950s looking at cars as symbols of freedom and opportunity. I feel that way about starfighters and the imagination. Where is it going? What will it fight? Will it survive? The are the vessels that transport our heroes to doom and gloom and glory and gratification. Sure, they look great but they mean something more than that too. That’s why as difficult as it is to describe the ships of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in their conceptual, if not final forms, I can’t help but want to describe them and discuss them. The Tri-wing designs are especially inspired and fun.
The “Tri” is for “triangle.” The various concepts of this ship experimented with using triangle shapes to build a starfighter in the tradition of the great rebel fighters we saw in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. I believe all the designs are by Fausto De Martini and while some are more successful than overs, Fausto De Martini is kicking serious ass in designing Star Wars spaceships for The Force Awakens. I try to refrain from too much criticism of concepts as that isn’t fair to critique artistic experiments. But I don’t think the artists will mind when we let them know when they’re really being awesome and Fausto De Martini is probably about to become one of your favorite Star Wars artists, at least for a lot of you. I know he’s winning me over.
The blue Tri-wing fighter is from late September of 2013. The fighter is primarily silver with blue paint on the tips of the wings and along the cockpit. If you’re looking at it from the rear, its a hollowed-out triangle frame. Each point of the triangle has a rectangle engine and then a fin extending from each of the three engines. The fuselage is out in front of the triangle frame and kinds of looks like a giant fin with a little port hole for the pilot to see out of with a laser turret off the to the side. Its really abstract up close but from far away the shape makes sense. Its a complicated design that looks really good but is not exactly intuitive at a glance. It appears the sides of the fuselage also have two thrusters but it isn’t exactly clear if they’re engines or exhaust vents.
The red Tri-wing fighter is even more abstract. I believe Star Wars 7 News has written about this piece before. The cockpit reminds me of the cockpit from the helicopter Wild Bill piloted in the vintage G.I. Joe cartoon. The fighter is the same grey/white body but the fins and the engines have red trim. There is an engine on top of the fuselage, underneath it, and to the left of it. That’s what makes it a “tri” or have a triangle shape. The rear fin extends past the engine is very “A-wing on its side” in shape, if that makes sense. Its like a giant ship rudder almost. The top and bottom of the fin has two laser guns. On the side of the cockpit where there is not an engine, there is a tiny wing with a gun in its place. So on the right side of the canopy, a tiny wing, on the left side an engine, on the top an engine, and the bottom an engine. Interestingly, the front of the nose has a bumper on it with a fin that extends downward.
The final design is my favorite of the Tri-wing fighters. This one is very much shaped like an airplane. It has a body with a fin in the rear, two wings, with two X-wing engines below the cockpit. The wings have hollowed out circles on the ends with guns on the ends. The guns can rotate around the circle and for more precise targeting. This is the only design that has an Artoo unit for the Tri-wing I’ve seen, if memory serves correct. The wing span is like an elongated triangle pointing towards the rear of the ship. This ship has yellow trim. Interestingly, there is a second production painting of the Tri-wing just described. Two ships fly side by side, one with red trim and one with yellow trim. This makes me think the design for this fighter was finalized. However, the design is from May 2013 and the blue Tri-wing first described was from September of 2013. So 4 months later or so the artist went back to the drawing board, literally.
Strangely, another ship from December of 2013 (I think its really hard to see the date on this one) appears to have taken this design and added a curved wing to it and fins like that of the Jedi Starfighters from Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. It makes me hope the design was bumped out of being a Tri-fighter and just changed into being a different type of fighter not beholden to the “Tri” concept.
Who knows if this ship will turn up in the film. Each and every ship design is really cool looking. I can confidently say the ships for Star Wars: The Force Awakens are stellar designs and I don’t see how they can disappoint us on that front in anyway. If we see more than upgraded X-wings on screen, what they have planned is looking like a home run. I think we will see lots of ships in the new film though and I look forward to it. I absolutely loved the designs during the prequel era that showed the galaxy making ships that were crafted by artisans. Now its really fun to see ships that came after the industrialized and mass produced imperial era of Star Wars and see where its gone.
This stuff is picking up exactly where Star Wars: Return of the Jedi left off.