There are SO MANY super awesome off-road vehicles I could talk about from this universe, from a devastating fighter to an airport shuttle service, and so many more, I’m sure, that are included in the expanded universe, of which I am totally unaware. As for this post, I’ll stick to the movie universe, for the most part. And that said, I’m going to stick mostly to IV, V, and VI, because … well … because. I know that there’s the pod racing in Phantom Menace, so maybe, if we have time after covering one of my fave battles (Hoth), we can go back and talk about tiny Anakin and his pod racing. No promises.
So, Hoth. I really like Hoth. There’s something about the appearance of those walkers that gives me goosebumps every time. And the urgency of the sequence is so intense! I know what’s going to happen, I know that that first transport is going to get away, but I still find myself breathing a sigh of relief when it’s announced that it has. That’s an indication of some damn good re-watch value, folks. And, since we’re talking about off-road vehicles, let’s take a look at those AT-ATs. Not that you could somehow not look at them, considering they’re a whopping 22.5 metres tall.
Along with the TIE fighter and the star destroyer, the AT-AT is an iconic piece of the Empire’s very impressive military equipment, and the fact that any of those Rebel pilots were brave-enough to hop in those snowspeeders and face them head on at Hoth is beyond me. And then to discover that the lasers on the snowspeeders weren’t strong-enough to affect the armour on the AT-ATs! Nightmare! The consensus seems to be that the armour could stand up to the blaster bolts, but couldn’t hold its own against proton torpedos. And snowspeeders don’t have proton torpedos, so tough bananas for the rebels on this one.
So, in order to defend Echo Base long-enough to get everyone out of there, the Rebels have to come up with some other way of taking down the walkers. Luckily, we have Luke Skywalker on the case. Once he discovers that the speeders’ weapons will be no use against the walkers’ armour, he suggested that they use the tow cables on the speeders to trip the walkers up, causing them to fall over and crash. And then explode. Which made it even greater.
The snowspeeders themselves were originally designed for industrial cargo handling, but were modified by the Rebels for combat and patrol missions. Whereas the back-facing position had originally been used by a cargo manager, it was modified to be a gunner’s position. Before being used on Hoth, the T-47s had been used by the Rebels on other planets with less-severe conditions, and had to be modified further to survive the harsh cold of Hoth by adding heaters and de-frosters and such thing. Fun fact, they also had swamp speeders and sand speeders, just in case they needed to be speedy in swamps or sand. Pretty ballin’ little vehicles, if you ask me.