My fellow ETE writer and friend across the pond, Ben Crofts, recently wrote a fantastic article praising the Empire’s iconic and menacing Star Destroyers. The Star Destroyer certainly is famous and its place in the opening scene of A New Hope has forever secured its place in cinematic history, but there is a lovelier belle at the ball. She has curves where it counts and it is the best damned looking warship in the Original Trilogy. Who is this lovely lady, you ask?
The Mon Calamari Star Cruiser.
Move over, Star Destroyer, ’cause this gal can catch more second glances than a Twi’lek dancer in Jabba’s palace. No longer are Rebel forces stuck going into battle in rusty old blockade runners or secondhand frigates. They need not be self-conscious of their 20 year old Y-wings or repurposed Separatist ships. Now, for the first time, they have a capital ship capable of going toe to toe with the Empire’s Star Destroyers.
Surely, you say to yourself, Nick must be speaking in jest. No friends, I am being honest. The Mon Cal cruiser is the bee’s knees. Just look at the two primary exemplars of their class, the cylindrical Home One and the winged Liberty. With her graceful lines, bluish hull, and powerful curves, Home One and her sister ships served the Alliance well and helped deliver the knockout blow that put down Vader’s Super Star Destroyer at Endor. The Liberty and her sexy, carefree winged hull form was
designed, so I am told by retired Mon Cal engineers, to lull Imperials into a false sense of security, only to fall prey to her deadly wiles. So scared was the Emperor of these winged wonders that he took a break from taunting Luke to tell the Death Star’s commanders to take her out, lest his forces surrender immediately!
Alright, I have had my fun at the expense of those boring Kuati wedge ships. Backbone of the Alliance Navy and pride of the Mon Calamari, the Mon Cal cruiser is the culmination, from a visual standpoint, of all the progress and growth that the Rebellion made from its early victory at Yavin to the climactic space battle over the forest moon of Endor. When fans were introduced to the Rebels in ANH, they had a handful of snubfighters to throw against the Empire’s mighty Death Star. By the end of The Empire Strikes Back, the Rebel Fleet is depicted as collection of transports, smaller craft, and a Rebel cruiser converted into a Medical Frigate. After the loss of Hoth, the last shot we see of the Rebellion is a ragtag bunch of freedom fighters hiding at the edge of the galaxy. All seemed lost.
Enter Return of the Jedi and the best damned fleet shot in the entire movie. Fans, just getting over learning that Leia is Luke’s sister and listening to Obi-wan warn Like about the powers of the Empire, are treated to an awe-inspiring and majestic shot.
The Rebel Fleet, led by the impressive bulk of Home One, flagship of Admiral Ackbar. As the massive Star Cruiser glides across the screen from left to right, tiny X-wings dart across the screen, while other assorted Rebel warships flank the admiral’s cruiser. For the first time in three movies, the Rebels are shown to have the firepower needed to tackle the Imperial fleet head on. They will have their work cut out for them, they will suffer some significant losses, but ultimately the Rebels and their Star Cruisers will beat the Empire’s best and go on to lead the charge in liberating the galaxy.
Ultimately, the question of whether the Mon Cal cruiser is better or worse than the Star Destroyer is a discussion that Fleet Junkies around the world have debated (and no doubt will continue to) for decades. Some will agree with me, others disagree, and yet others will say that the curvy cruisers and their wedge shaped opponents are actually like peas & carrots, best when served together.
Well, I like carrots. Wait, or is it peas? Crap, did I leave my dinner on the stove?
One thing is certain. When Episode VII comes out, I can guarantee you that one of the many awesome ships we see introduced will be the successors to the Mon Cal cruiser. And who knows, maybe even one of those wedge ships too…