Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is bringing moviegoers back to that familiar era when the Rebellion was battling the Empire in a galaxy far, far away. There will be a lot of familiar sights, from the Rebel base on Yavin 4 to Darth Aloysius Vader himself (full disclosure, I'm not 100% certain that's his actual middle name), but this Anthology spinoff is also adding some new elements to the canon. One of those additions is the U-Wing starfigher, but much like how K-2SO is inspired by other Imperial droids, the U-Wing takes some design cues from other ships.
First up on EW's breakdown of the U-Wing's influences is the Jedi Interceptor, the ships that Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi piloted in Revenge of the Sith. These ships were used a few decades before the Galactic Civil War kicked off, and the U-wing has since since adopted the same "forward-facing wing design," looking like a tuning fork.
Next is the Y-wing, the bombers seen throughout the Original Trilogy. The U-wing has taken that rectangular cockpit design for itself, though it definitely looks a lot sleeker than the Y-wing, the old, decommissioned ships the Rebellion stole from the Empire.
Finally, there's the classic X-Wing, which has lent its engine design to the U-wing, i.e. the long tube shape.
Here's what Rogue One executive producer and visual-effects supervisor John Knoll said about the similarities between these two particular ships:
Our conceit is that the U-wing came from the same factory that was manufacturing X-wings. It's just like if you look at cars from one [automaker], you see design themes carried across multiple different product lines.
Like the Jedi interceptor and X-wing, the U-wing can also swing its wings into different positions. When they're outward, the U-wing can "maneuver in atmospheric settings," and when retracted, it can travel through hyperspace more easily. The U-wing also doubles as a troop transport, making it one of the more versatile Star Wars ships we've seen. It can be used as an attack vessel out in space or quickly drop soldiers off in the middle of a heated battle. Let's hope the Rebellion has enough of those stored away for a rainy day.
Taking place shortly before A New Hope, Rogue One will follow a team of Rebels sent to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire's nearly-operational gigantic battle station. While much of the action will take place on the ground, there will definitely be a decent amount of starfighter action, which includes seeing the U-wing's full potential.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will be released on December 16.