|Revell Darth Vader's TIE Fighter in 1/72|
The engine nozzles are seen as glowing red circular areas and are visible only from directly behind the ship. Not all ships in this series literally fit the "TIE" name. Some have different numbers of engines. Lord Vader's custom fighter, for instance, has four ion engines and should rightly be called a "QIE": "Quadruple Ion Engine". Other vessels, like the TIE Defender, with its three-fold symmetry, have different numbers. (Ships with quadruple engine nozzles might actually share one engine per nozzle in the ship's interior, but the lack of space in the hull globe makes this seem unlikely; and the symmetry of the three-fold fighters appears to be too fundamental for a split engine/nozzle explanation.) The engines of the TIE scout, bomber, boarding craft and transport are difficult to locate and count using presently-available images. Counting the engines of different models is an interesting exercise which may tell us about the propulsive capabilities of the various craft.
TIE fighters have enormous accelerative capabilities for their size. They can effortlessly make orbit from the surface of a habitable world, which implies that their onboard energy sources are much greater than 6x107 joules per kilogram of the ship's mass. This is the bare minimum needed to reach escape velocity from the surface of an Earth-like world. The same feat involving a planet of Bespin's size would require more than nine times as much energy. The fleet of star destroyers in Return of the Jedi moved into its attack position with a nett deceleration magnitude of at least 4000g [Earth gravity]. Starfighters are considerably faster. An Imperator-class star destroyer can marginally outrun the Millennium Falcon in linear sublight acceleration, and most TIE models are significantly faster than the Falcon. Therefore most TIEs are capable of straight-line accelerations and decelerations on the order of at least thousands of g, no less than some tens of thousands of m/s².
Devices called inertial dampers are employed to prevent these accelerations from destroying the pilot and instruments. This is a commonplace use of artificial gravity technology, which applies a force to the ship's interior, varying to exactly counterbalance the inertial forces caused by external acceleration and manoeuvres. Inertial dampers have practical limitations. Sometimes a force is too violent or sudden for the compensators to adjust and counterbalance, leaving a potentially deadly residual force. The safety limits of inertial integrity may be one of the chief determining factors of starfighter performance. Because starfighters are subject to worse accelerations than commercial vessels, they should be fitted with a higher grade of inertial dampers. Nonetheless, many pilots turn down their dampers slightly, so that they experience a tiny fraction of the true acceleration. This aids a pilot's intuitive physical sense of his craft's motion.
Some, if not all, TIEs possess repulsorlift generators for movement close to a planetary surface. This is particularly useful for unaided emergency landings. Normally, TIE fighters are berthed and manipulated using docking bay tractor beams in the mothership or base. Most combat TIEs lack any kind of landing gear; the preferred docking position is hanging from a specialised rack with gantries to provide access for pilots and service crew. In some comics and novels evidence suggests that the wings can actually bear the weight of an unpowered fighter, but this might simply be a case of leaving the repulsorlifts active while parked. The heavy TIE transport ships rely entirely on a set of landing pads because of its enormous weight, and the wings are deliberately raised so that they can never touch ground.
Most TIE combat ships lack hyperdrives. This mass-reduction adds to sublight flight performance, and it is not a serious tactical or strategic restriction. Since the Imperial forces can send enormous warships or surface garrisons virtually anywhere in the galaxy, there was no shortage of potential motherships or bases for short-range fighter missions.
The "customisation" of Vader's personal TIE might actually extend no further than its provision of shields (This is a distinctive feature; most TIE fighters are unshielded and rely on superior piloting skill and tactical advantage). Alternatively, the modification might involve the partial removal of shields or targeting systems, since Vader's excellent piloting skills are augmented by his mastery of the Force. Perhaps the speed or the power of the weapons have been enhanced. Perhaps the customisation involves life-support in the cockpit; Vader's fighter might optionally provide him with an environment similar to that created in his hyperbaric meditation chambers.
In any case, this fighter is significantly faster and more manoeuvrable than its mass would suggest. Four thruster nozzles are placed in two pairs above and below the extended tail of the fighter. This section, containing a shield and hyperdrive units, blocks the usual cockpit rear viewport. Therefore a realistic holographic viewscreen is mounted behind pilot seat to mimic the rear window found in ordinary TIE starfighters. Judging by cockpit interior details, the main hatch is still at the rear of the ship, but the mechanism by which it opens must be more complex than for TIEs with a simple unadorned hull pod.
The wing pylons are thicker than usual,
and there are large holes in their front faces.
Through these gaps, a set of curved pipes can be seen.
The pipes run in the same general direction,
from the main hull towards the wings.
These probably carry outbound coolant.
The partial exposure of these pylon pipes to space may be a
to further improve the removal of excess heat.
The long-range TIE Scouts also possessed fully functional hyperdrives,
for obvious reasons.
Behind the scenes
TIE fighter design was first established in a concept model by
Colin Cantwell. The simplified model defined the TIE's most distinctive
features: its ball cockpit and twin hexagonal wings. Subsequent
sketches built up the TIE's form. Limitations in visual effects
technology at the time dictated that Cantwell's blue color scheme be
replaced with a more bluescreen-friendly gray. As the classic trilogy
progressed, the TIEs regained a bit of their blue hue, although use of
that color was fairly muted.
The distinctive scream of a TIE fighter's engines came from sound designer Ben Burtt mixing the sound of cars streaking by on a rain-slicked highway and the trumpeting cry of an elephant.
Although literature attests that TIEs lack such pilot-friendly features as ejection seats, LucasArts' popular TIE fighter simulator game of 1995 showed that at least some Imperial units retrofitted the life saving devices into the craft. After all, it wouldn't do to have players die after every botched mission.
||- Revell 06724|
- Light Gray: Gunze Aqueous Gray FS26440 (H-325).
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