Why the Rebellion Would Have Lost the Battle of Yavin
*Originally published on my older blog at Digital Brawler
It’s really no secret that I love me some Star Wars. No matter what mood I’m in, if someone suggested sitting and watching the trilogy back to back I would be down in a heartbeat. It’s no surprise then that, after years upon years of repeat viewings, I’ve started to dissect and really think about some of the most trivial, meaningless aspects of the saga. Now, when I do this I’m in no way detracting from my viewing experience; I’d say I’m enhancing the experience because I get to view this stuff in a whole new light.
So work was going slow the other night and I decided to boot up A New Hope on the netbook and get some viewing in after everything was running to kill time, and for some reason the Battle of Yavin sequence started to bug me. It wasn’t a feeling that was killing the movie, but just something wasnagging at the back of my mind the whole battle. Right around when Han showed up and pimped in to save the day it hit me: there is no logical reason the Rebellion should have won that fight. Granted, I realize that trying to inject logic into a fantasy/sci-fi movie is sort of a losing battle and I also realize that it’s Hollywood and at that point in the saga people needed a happy ending, but my whole reasoning boils down to the military strategies of both sides. Based on this, I’ve come up with a few reasons the Rebellion would have never won in an actual military battle. Hit the jump to see the list!
1. The Rebellion clearly failed to acknowledge a change in battle conditions and modify their plan of attack.
Alright, so we’re in the Battle of Yavin, and the Rebellion begins its first attack run on the exhaust port. Now, I assume that before going into battle they came up with the plan to start at the far, far end of the shaft presumably marked as an entry point in the blueprints. But upon arrival they clearly should have noticed that there is nothing whatsoever stopping them from dropping in MUCH closer to the exhaust port, especially after locking the port into their targeting computers. You’d think any squad leader on the field out there would assess that situation and say “hey boys, we can fly down this long, long, long shaft where we have very little space to maneuver out of the way of gunfire, or we can speed above 3/4th the way then drop in, align target, and make the shot.” You can’t even argue that the turbo lasers made that impossible, as they specifically state that the x-wings are too small to hit. Had someone had the foresight to realize it was an open-air shaft, Vader wouldn’t have nearly enough time to get into position to shoot them down. Which brings me to Rebellions next strategic failure…
2. The Rebellion had the perfect opportunity to take out Vader in one stroke.
This sort of fits with the above mark, but I think it deserves its own mark. As far as I can tell there were three sets of fighters in the attack run: Gold Leader and his two escorts went in for the first run, Red Leader and his two circled above, and Luke/Wedge/Biggs drew fire from the towers. Gold Leader got owned by Vader and his two escorts, which realistically would have happened because no one knew they were coming. But where the Rebellion failed to act involves the second run. Now they know that there are fighters in position to shoot them down in the shaft, and a squad commander is still alive. Why in the NAME OF THE FORCE didn’t Red Leader order Luke and Co. to swoop in behind Vader and his escorts as soon as they dropped in to take out Red Leader’s group? The whole theory of Vader’s attack plan was that they make easy targets in that little shaft, and no one took notice that this made Vader equally vulnerable (save for Han, which could be expected seeing as how the man is a pimp.) It had already been established at this point that Wedge is a fantastic shot after he saved Luke’s arse earlier, just send his crew in to blow Vader away from behind.
3. Rather than trust advanced technology, the Rebellion’s last hope listened to a ghost.
So it all comes down to Luke. He’s the Rebellion’s last hope at taking down the Death Star. Thank the Force he has a highly advanced targeting computer that can pinpoint the sha—what’s that? A ghost told you to use the Force to guide the missiles into the exhaust port?
Alright, I can see the good idea here. Guarantee a shot by having a strong Force-user manipulate the proton energy. Here’s the problem: Luke learned about the Force what, 24 hours prior with one training session? He doesn’t have the training nor the skill to guarantee an accurate outcome with the torpedo, and choosing to act on that anyway instead of using his computer is simply selfish and stupid. I think he just wanted the bloody bragging rights.
Now, the main reason the Rebellion never should have won the Battle of Yavin doesn’t even have anything to do with Rebel stupidity at all: the Empire made one critical, grave error that no tactician would have made.
4. The Empire utterly failed to pick a proper point to drop the Death Star.
Alright. So the Empire has found out where the Rebel base is hidden. They’ve jumped into lightspeed with the Death Star and started chilling the champagne. They make their calculations and decide to exit hyperspace…behind a moon. Oh well, we’ll just orbit around it really, really slowly until we have a clear shot at the base. Flawless plan, gents.
Let me get this straight. You have a laser that BLOWS UP AN ENTIRE F***ING PLANET. Everything on it. Every part of it.. Remember Alderaan? YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR LASER DOES.
Why the didn’t they just drop out of lightspeed PAST Yavin, or to the SIDE of Yavin, and take the shot? They state that they’re rotating to face the base and get it in range. That’s completely unnecessary: the laser blows up the whole planet. You can hit it anywhere, and that base is going to be taken out.
Let’s say they could only drop out of lightspeed where they did. Fine. You know what? Just blow up the moon in your way then! The Empire is perfectly willing to take out an innocent planet to accomplish their goals, I just cannot see them sitting in a control saying “hmm there’s this moon in our way. We better go around it.” When they’re that determined to get the Rebels as fast as possible, they wouldn’t go around the moon, they’d take it out and call it collateral damage. Also, that’s a smarter move anyway as it would take out the entire strike force en route to the Death Star, and the force of the explosion would probably wipe out Yavin as well.
It honestly boggles my mind that these are the same people that orchestrated an immense coup that successfully seized control of an entire government AND wiped out the entire Jedi Order.
I’m not going to pretend that this entire blog post doesn’t expose me as a nerd of facepalm-worthy calibur. But at least I have the knowledge that maybe someone will go ahead and re-watch A New Hope with the information I’ve spelled out above, and maybe be able to watch it in a new light and get more enjoyment out of that final sequence. That’s the best way I know to keep loving the stuff you love: try to find a way to view it with fresh eyes, keep it from getting stale. Whatever, that’s all my ranting for now. If any other uber-geeks want to debate Star Wars military strategies with me I’d love to do so in the comments or via Twitter.