Global geekdom is experiencing complicated and confusing sensations in their collective bathing suit areas thanks to tonight’s release of the second trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. My job, of course, is to scour the trailer for interesting vehicle or droid-related information, and, boy, does it look like there’s something good. Something X-Wing good.
In case you’ve yet to see the trailer, you can check out my copy, as long as you give it back when you’re done:
There’s a lot going on in there, but the big thing I want to focus on happens at 1:39. Here’s a still frame of what I’m looking at:
See that big engine bell-housing? In a matter of fractional seconds it ignites and gets obscured by the blinding exhaust plasma, so you may have missed it:
What we appear to be looking at there is the rear of a T-70 X-Wing fighter, the kind we saw so many of in The Force Awakens. In that movie, we’ve never seen anything like a large, central engine on an X-Wing, and we’ve never seen anything like it on any previous X-Wing, like the T-65s that populated the three original movies from way back in 1977.
I’ve checked Wookiepedia entries on the T-70 X-Wings, all kinds of blueprints online, and pictures of mind-achingly-detailed models and I’ve yet to find any reference to a huge central engine in any of them. So what’s going on?
I guess there’s two options here: one is that the X-Wing seen here has been specially modified with the big-ass engine for some reason that’s likely important to the plot, somehow, or these engines are somehow retractable, and have been there all along, but we’ve never had an opportunity to see them in action.
That really means the writers or GFX people just decided they wanted a big, central engine and made up a way for it to be retractable into the body of the X-Wings for continuity’s sake, of course.
So, let’s say the engine has always been a part of the T-70 X-Wing, and our poor timing has not afforded us a chance to see it yet. Okay. Apologies to all the blueprint and model makers, but, you know, these things happen. Now we have to ask what this engine is for?
Since it’s never been seen in the space or atmospheric dogfight sequences seen in the movies, it’s likely it’s not used for that sort of thing at all. X-Wings have always been capable of the faster-than-light travel the Star Wars universe calls “going to hyperspace,” where stars elongate into lines and vast distances are covered in trivial amounts of time.
The mechanism that accomplishes this physics-rending travel is known as a hyperdrive, and I’ll admit I’m very unclear about the phyction-physics behind such machines. Perhaps this engine is related to the X-Wing’s hyperdrive?
I can’t recall exactly if I’ve seen an X-Wing go into hyperdrive before, but I know I’ve never seen it sprout a huge, central engine. So, maybe I’ve just never seen a T-70 engage a hyperdrive from the rear, and this big engine bell is how that’s done.
There is a ring-like assembly at the center of the T-70's rear hexagonal-shaped whatever back there, and perhaps that’s the center of this retractable engine. I’m still confused about how the mechanics of those (fuel? coolant?) pipes that go up and over the rear hexagonal bezel to connect to the main body of the fighter would work if retracted, but hopefully that’s something we’ll see onscreen.
The engine assembly sort of looks like it’s strapped on, almost like the retrorocket package used on America’s earliest spacecraft, the Mercury:
I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. If there actually is a huge, retractable central engine for the X-Wings, that would be the biggest development in our knowledge of X-Wing design since we saw the T-70s in The Force Awakens a couple years ago. You may wish to take some time to prepare your loved ones for the impact of such a realization before the movie is officially released.
Regardless, this reveal of a new, interesting vehicular detail is certainly fun, and, I think, a good bit better than the goofily-menacing gorilla-like new AT-AT walkers, which even have windows designed to make them look comically mean:
They’re the bad guys, I get it.
I was hoping for more new droids in this trailer, but I’m pretty happy with a secret engine. I can’t be greedy.