Luke’s ship may have an uncanny way of always ending up underwater, but a full-scale X-Wing Starfighter straight from Poe Dameron’s corner of the Star Wars galaxy won’t be suffering the same fate. Late next year, one of the most iconic pieces of the Lucasfilm universe will go on display near the Albert Einstein Planetarium at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
Smithsonian Magazine revealed earlier this month that the X-Wing, a full-size prop used in 2019’s The Rise of Skywalker, is currently being outfitted for its public debut inside a hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. Lucasfilm (via ILM) is lending the Smithsonian the swoopy Rebel ship as part of a long-term arrangement that eventually will see the X-Wing hanging from the ceiling at the National Air and Space Museum.
Fans who’ve always craved an up-close appreciation of the X-Wing’s true proportions won’t be disappointed when the ship goes on display. Smithsonian reports the prop’s wingspan at 37 feet, though this particular X-Wing represents the Resistance’s later-generation T-70 series, which features a dedicated engine on each of its X-foil wings that splits into separate hemispheres when the wings expand into attack formation. Luke’s original Death Star-defeating model, by contrast, was “only” a T-65B.
Star Wars fans will be able to view the X-Wing’s restoration process over the next year in Virginia, though it’ll take a keen eye to spot intentional battle damage and the pedestrian bumps and scrapes from the mega-craft’s shipment and reassembly. “This is a battle-scarred X-Wing fighter,” explained Margaret Weitekamp, the museum’s space history chair, in the report. “We want to distinguish between any scratches that occurred during shipping versus something that was built into the vehicle.
“I was on the floor looking at it and I pointed out a place where it looked like it had what pilots would call ‘hangar rash.’ That’s where you get scrape marks on the side of aircraft when they are moved around. I pointed it out to the conservator, who had a big smile and said, ‘No, that’s simulated. It’s part of the detail by the artist!’”
With this Rise of Skywalker-vintage X-Wing, Star Wars slots right alongside fellow sci-fi pop culture touchstone Star Trek, whose original studio model of the Starship Enterprise — long on Smithsonian display — is currently undergoing a restoration of its own. If the Smithsonian’s taking requests, though, here’s hoping that a full-sized Star Wars TIE fighter might someday swoop down onto the National Mall to join its space compatriots… for display purposes only, of course.