Update (June 2, 2016): Yep, the U-wing is not a fighter. See the leaked pic of the Lego version here.
A couple of weeks ago, we brought you the controversial news that the security droid from the Rogue One leak is actually named K-2SO, not K-250.
It’s actually a combination gunship / troop transport, like the old LAAT gunship of the Clone Wars!
First, here’s the leak again from Rogue One: The Official Visual Story Guide:
Looks like a sleek T-47 snowspeeder married to a pair of scissors right?
What most people don’t realize is, they’ve actually seen this craft way before, in the concept images of Rogue One!
That’s the U-wing. Notice how much larger it is than an X-wing or Y-wing? It hides a big belly which might be a troop compartment.
Don’t believe us? Here’s a clearer shot with the hatchway open:
Actually the answer was right in the leak. While we gawked at the pretty colored photos, the bulging troop compartment in the diagram could be easily missed:
If that’s indeed the troop section, I hope those aren’t massive windows at the front. There’s a reason why real-world armored personnel carriers like the Bradley and M113 are windowless: they envelope the passengers in an armored cocoon so they reach the battlefield unharmed and combat-ready.
In fact, nearly all APCs are windowless boxes — only the driver gets an outside view out of necessity. Any windows in the troop compartment are limited to gunslits and firing ports.
Could Jyn Erso be staring out of one such window in the trailer?
Here’s some leaked set photos from TMZ. Those distinctive engines look familiar, and the ship seems larger than an X-wing:
It could even be the crashed ship in the portion of the trailer where
Admiral Fancycloak Director Krennic strides through the water. Look at the distinctive windows, engine placement and lack of S-foils..
To summarize what we learned so far:
- The U-wing is the Rebellion’s equivalent of the Republic LAAT, being a combination gunship and troop transport.
- Disney was right: parts of the Rogue One leak are incorrect. The U-wing is misleadingly identified as a “Rebel starfighter”.
- Lucasfilm doesn’t have to build full-size props. In this case, they mocked up the crashed engines of the U-wing, while the body and wreckage will probably be added in post-production. If there’s a cockpit or troop compartment mockup, it’s inside the closed doors of Pinewood Studios.
- Between this and the new AT-ACT, we can expect large playsets (or at least impressive Titanium ships) come Force Friday!
So if the Rebels had U-wings, why didn’t we see them in the original trilogy? Maybe they existed off-screen. After all, the Death Star trench run didn’t call for gunships, and the evacuation of Hoth couldn’t have depended on U-wings alone (that’s what the Rebel transports were for).
Disney seems to be rectifying this by quietly inserting dropship references in new books set in the Rebellion era. For instance, the novelization of the video game Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company, mentions Rebel dropships several times. That dropship could be the U-wing.
By the way, those leaked set photos were taken in September 2015, three months before the screening of The Force Awakens. So the U-wing may have been in physical, mocked up existence for far longer than everyone knew!
Stay tuned for more in-depth coverage of the Rogue One leak. Meanwhile, check out this mind-boggling insight about Poe Dameron and The Force Awakens.