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Exclusive: Star Wars' TIE Fighter manual decodes Empire and First Order secrets

By Josh Weiss
TIE Fighters A New Hope

Wherever the Empire or First Order spread their nefarious reaches across the galaxy, you can be sure of one thing: TIE Fighters, lots and lots of TIE Fighters. The name, of course, is an acronym for "twin ion engines."

These speedy starfighters, first introduced in 1977's A New Hope, have been the bane of rebel and resistance combatants' existences for over four decades. After all these years, the screeching TIE Fighters will receive a deep dive in a brand-new Owners' Workshop Manual from Insight Editions and Lucasfilm. You may recall a similar publication for the Millennium Falcon released last year. All three authors — Ryder Windham, Chris Reiff, and Chris Trevas — have all returned for this one, but Reiff is here to assure you that this book is extremely different from what's come before.

Star Wars: Tie Fighter: Owners' Workshop Manual

"With as many variations of the TIE platform that have appeared in the movies and TV shows, this book was considerably different from the Falcon book," he exclusively tells SYFY WIRE. "We had to start with planning out a way to cover all the variations of the ships and still be able to cover very specific details such as how the ion engines work. (for which I drew inspiration from real NASA concept and prototype engines)."

Exploring the fighter's conception from the early days of the Empire all the way to the updated re-designs done by the First Order, this Owners' Manual (aided by Joe Johnston's original sketches for reference) is packed with valuable secrets and explanations about the iconic Star Wars universe. Below, you'll find a few of the juiciest tidbits we learned from the book, which was delivered to us at the cost of many Bothan lives. You'll also be treated to a pair of exclusive interior pages, which just sweeten the pot of Klatooine paddy frogs.


Even before DJ taught Finn and Rose about the Sisyphean galactic weapons industry in The Last Jedi, established companies were already vying for military contracts from the highest bidder. Once the Clone Wars were over — the Jedi gone and the Empire in control — Raith Sienar's Sienar Fleet Systems went from manufacturing military shuttles and landing crafts for the Republic Navy to manufacturing the same things for the Imperial Navy and Army.

In an effort to quell resistance throughout the galaxy. Grand Moff Tarkin "commissioned Sienar to create "a line of single-pilot, short range starfighters for the Navy." In addition, he asked that they be fast, efficient, and easy to build. This request led, of course, to the TIE Fighter.


Another one of Tarkin's requirements for the TIE Fighter was that it be "energy efficient" and greatly "maneuverable." To help achieve both ends, Sienar did not originally design this starfighter with a hyperdrive or deflector shields. This is why TIEs are so easy to destroy by Rebel and Resistance X-Wings. Moreover, Emperor Palpatine approved these glaring Achilles' heels, as he felt that if a pilot knew they were flying an unshielded vessel, they would be all the more driven to accomplish their "mission goals."

Star Wars: TIE Fighter: Owners’ Workshop Manual exclusive page


Why do TIE Fighters make that unique "screaming" sound during aerial dogfights? We now have a definite answer: Emperor Palpatine wanted them to intimidate the Empire's enemies by letting out "a noise akin to a screech from a bird of prey." This specification was laid out to Raith Sienar in a memo from Tarkin who added, "The noise will make [our enemies] freeze behind the triggers and controls of their own weapons. The noise will be the last sound they hear before the starfighter opens fire."


Kylo Ren (also known as Ben Solo) had the good fortune to be the son of Han Solo and the nephew of Luke Skywalker. Not only was Kylo strong with the Force, he also inherited his father and uncle's excellent piloting skills. After joining up with the First Order, Ren served as a test pilot for an all-new type of starfighter, the TIE silencer.

Looking to previous TIE iterations for inspiration, the silencer (aka the "TIE vendetta space superiority fighter" or simply the "TIE/vn") does have deflector shields and a hyperdrive. It also excels in the categories of "energy conversion, power storage, and experimental stealth gear." Kylo's feedback after the prototype test flight proved invaluable to the technicians at Raith's company, which had, after so many years, evolved into Sienar-Jaemus Fleet Systems

Star Wars: TIE Fighter: Owners’ Workshop Manual exclusive page


You can see this in the page above, but the book does include some nifty tactics for TIE Fighter pilots squaring off against enemy X-Wings. The "Reverse Throttle Hop" is a favorite of the First Order; a move meant to slow a hostile pilot down in their tracks. When an enemy has been destroyed, however, TIE instructors emphasize the fatal mistake of a temporary victory bringing down one's guard. To quote a former Imperial pilot by the name of Han Solo, "Don't get cocky!"


Like airplanes on our planet, every TIE Fighter comes equipped with a "flight data recorder," a black box-like device that "contains complete records of a craft's range, top speed, shield array, weapons, payload, performance parameters, and recent history." If a ship crashes or is destroyed, the recorder (located beneath the pilot's seat) can be recovered from some of the most extreme conditions and fill in the gaps of what went wrong and why.

The Star Wars: TIE Fighter: Owners’ Workshop Manual goes on sale Tuesday, May 28. You can pre-order a copy right here. Deflector shields and hyperdrive sold separately.

"We always work hard to ensure that we integrate elements from as many previous books and media as we can," Reiff adds. "Hopefully in addition to all the new content we've created and the minutiae we explore, fans will find little call-backs and gems from other creators as they explore this book."