This blog is in reaction to some shit that went down in this thread.
What was supposed to be a simple discussion about the yield of the Death Star’s superlaser turned into an ugly argument about inconsistent portrayals of turbolaser firepower.
The thread was closed. And rightfully so. Because it derailed badly, with parties on both sides behaving badly.
I’m making this blog in an effort to explain away some of the inconsistencies and “anti-feats” of turbolaser firepower in the Canon, and also to explain why the underwhelming turbolaser bombardment in Zero Hour should not be taken as a good indicator of the true destructive capabilities of Star Wars warships.
What will be covered:
- The unimpressive bombardment in Zero Hour.
- Lore inaccurate portrayals.
- The “missing” Acclamator main batteries.
- Some confusion regarding this blast
- What is the point of a Death Star if...
- Other notable feats for starfighter and warship weapons.
- Arguments about the Canon.
- Statements from Lucasfilm employees.
The unimpressive bombardment in Zero Hour
You can just look up “Thrawn orders orbital bombardment of Atollon” or “Thrawn orders orbital bombardment of Chopper Base” over on YouTube. You can find several uploads of the scene, which has become rather infamous in the Star Wars community and the sci-fi community in general. It is sometimes used as an absolute indicator of the true destructive capabilities of Star Wars capital ships by many people, especially casual fans who are unfamiliar with the rest of the extended lore.
Note: I am in no way directing any ill will towards them with that last statement.
Now, while I can understand doubts about the infamous Gigaton level figures quoted for the turbolasers in reference books and a couple of old Legends novels, it always peeves me to see people using the Zero Hour bombardment scene to underestimate Star Wars capital ships as a whole without taking context or other lore into consideration.
It is a fact in Star Wars that directed energy weapons have variable power settings; from the smallest holdout blaster to the most powerful capital ship cannons to the Death Star’s planet-busting superlaser. Below are some notable examples that show variable power settings on Star Wars directed energy weapons.
Luke Skywalker (just after A New Hope and with little to no grasp of his Force powers) makes sure his DL-44 blaster pistol is on the highest power setting during a mission:
I pulled out my blaster and checked for perhaps the fifth time that it was dialed up to its maximum power, and rose from my squatting position, pressing my back against the wall of the tunnel.
~ Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi
Hera Syndulla turns her Blurrg-1120 holdout blaster pistols up to the highest power setting and threatens Count Denetrius Vidian:
Vidian started to claw his way up the pile of wreckage toward her. "You should have tried to run me down. You know your blasters won't hurt me."
"No, but this might." Hera turned and aimed each one at a different tall viewport. "These viewports aren't magnetically shielded, and these blasters are set on full power. I can decompress this whole compartment. If you make a move on my friends, or try to give the detonation command, you'll have a whole new address!"
~ Star Wars: A New Dawn
Iden Versio and a Dreamer terrorist head out to get some target practise against innocent boulders:
A quick ride in a speeder took them to an open area with scattered boulders and the occasional lone tree. Some of the boulders obviously had been part of much larger ones at one time, and the black scoring on them told Iden that this was a popular site for target practice. Iden took the blaster that Dahna handed her. It was an older model but well maintained, and it could kill just as efficiently as a newer one.
“You’re letting me shoot. Thanks,” Iden said. Both women knew that there was a chance Iden would simply use the blaster on Dahna, and Iden appreciated the trust. “Now I just need to get Staven to let me pilot.”
“You sound like Gid,” Dahna said, casually flipping off the safety of her own blaster. “Never saw a young man so in love with the sky. Staven’s taken quite a shine to him.”
Iden was pleased that Staven had finally agreed to test Gideon’s piloting skills. While she was better than her friend, she knew Gideon was superb. They were TIE-fighter pilots: They had to be. She knew Gideon must miss being at the controls as much as she did, and she was glad he was getting the chance to fly again.
“Watch my pattern and duplicate it,” Dahna said. Casually, her blaster on minimum power so as not to reduce her targets to rubble, the Twi’lek took aim and fired seven times in what seemed like a random pattern, even whirling around after the fourth blast to shoot at boulders that were behind them. Iden watched like a shirrhawk. It felt good to drop into that place of laserlike focus. To not think about a stormtrooper being beaten to death for protecting a warehouse, or gigantic ratlike creatures devouring his remains. To not worry about letting some damning truth slip accidentally. She liked her world when it was just target, weapon, and her.
~ Star Wars: Battlefront II: Inferno Squad
In order to test out a theory of his and to provide a distraction for his TIE Defenders, Thrawn orders the turbolaser gunners of the Chimaera, an Imperial I-class star destroyer and Thrawn’s flagship, to provide low-powered covering fire:
Two areas on the moon’s rim shatter, sending dense clouds of dust and rock into the paths of the approaching Defenders.
“Turbolasers: Aim above and below the moon,” Thrawn said. “Low power; continuous fire.”
~ Star Wars: Thrawn: Alliances
We see from the Inferno Squad example that blaster pistols and carbines on the lowest setting can only leave scorch marks on boulders. However, on higher settings they can outright blast them apart and reduce them to rubble. We see this many times during The Clone Wars and Rebels animated series, various Canon comics and novels, and even in the films themselves we see Han’s heavy blaster pistol blasting apart large chunks of permacrete. And we see thanks to that little excerpt from Thrawn: Alliances that turbolasers also have variable settings.
I would also like to point out that the power settings appear to vary by quite a few orders of magnitude.
Leaving a mere scorch mark on a solid surface wouldn’t take much energy. I imagine it’s not even in the Kilojoule range. However, blaster pistols and rifles on the highest settings have feats showcasing yields per shot of tens and even hundreds of Megajoules. That is a difference in power settings of several orders of Magnitude.
This applies to the Death Star’s superlaser as well. On the single reactor ignition setting, the yield is in the range of hundreds of Petatons, which falls under the High 6-A tier (this will be discussed in depth later). However, a full powered shot has been calculated as being in the High 5-A tier, which is several orders of magnitude more powerful.
So handheld blasters and planet killing superlasers have variable power settings that can vary the yield per shot by several orders of magnitude. This should logically mean that turbolasers also have such greatly variable power settings.
Energy loss with range
We know thanks to the novels Twilight Company and Thrawn that turbolaser bolts lose energy with range and when moving through dense mediums such as planetary atmospheres.
Refer the below excerpt from the 2017 Thrawn novel:
"I'm sure he appreciated your earlier restraint," Eli said, frowning as the patterns of Nightswan's earlier challenges suddenly became clear. "Still, Star Destroyers are pretty tough ships. The island also has only one turbolaser, and it's firing through atmosphere. He may wiggle out yet."
~ Star Wars: Thrawn
Star Wars: The Last Jedi and its novelization also showed us that turbolaser bolts lose energy with distance even in space; turbolaser bolts after travelling hundreds or thousands of kilometres in space are just about powerful enough to take out a defenceless frigate and mostly ineffective against capital grade deflector shielding.
Earlier in the episode Zero Hour, Tarkin commands Thrawn to capture the leaders of the rebel Phoenix Cell alive; most likely because he wanted to put them in a show trial and then publicly execute them (something we know he likes to do, thanks to the Tarkin novel).
We know from the novels Tarkin and Catalyst and Thrawn, the film Rogue One, and from Darth Vader Annual 2 that absolutely no one messes with Tarkin, not even Darth Vader. Thrawn was going to follow his orders, because he knew better than to mess with him.
It’d be difficult to capture the leaders of the Phoenix Cell alive if a metro-sized area around their base was reduced to molten glass. How would you get your walkers past that molten (and highly radioactive) mess? And what if you destroyed the base and the Phoenix Cell outright, thus potentially pissing off the third most powerful - and third most ruthless - individual in the Galactic Empire?
We know thanks to Thrawn and Thrawn: Alliances that good old Mitth'raw'nuruodo likes to troll people. The guy trolled Darth Vader and came out of it alive! We also know, thanks to Thrawn: Alliances, that he likes to “test” his enemies’ mentality and mettle.
Thrawn had little to gain - and a lot to lose - from a full powered orbital bombardment of Atollon. All he seemingly wanted to do was to send Phoenix Cell a message: We have the power to completely obliterate you pests without even having to put troops on the ground; so just surrender.
I would also like to point out that devastating full powered orbital bombardments are completely out of character for Thrawn. He did order a bombardment of Lothal’s Capital City. However, this did seem odd for him, and may hopefully be explained in the upcoming novel Thrawn: Treason.
Lore inaccurate portrayals
I love both The Clone Wars and Rebels animated series. I think both are good shows that told good stories with great characters. I also think that people need to stop judging them so harshly.
However, one major issue I have with both of these series is their lore-inaccurate portrayal of Star Wars capital ships.
Now why would I say this? Below are some examples.
During the Battle of Kamino in the episode Arc Trooper (The Clone Wars, Season 3, Episode 2) there is a brief scene where we see a Venator-class star destroyer firing at a distant Munificent-class star frigate with her trench guns. Those are point defence cannons and should mostly be ineffective at such extreme ranges. I don’t really know how such weapons would be used in real life warfare. But in Star Wars? It makes little sense. Using all batteries to fire against an enemy capital ship in point blank broadside exchanges (as we see in Revenge of the Sith) is one thing. But against an enemy capital ship hundreds of kilometres or farther away, where those guns are going to be quite ineffective due to distance and capital grade deflector screens? That makes little sense from an in-universe lore perspective.
During the Battle of Lola Sayu in the episode Citadel Rescue (The Clone Wars, Season 3, Episode 20) we see a Venator-class star destroyer using her main heavy turbolaser batteries for point defence against incoming Hyena-class bombers and even Droid Tri-fighters. This makes no sense whatsoever from an in-universe lore perspective. We know thanks to the film A New Hope and the novel From a Certain Point of View that even the smaller and newer XX-9 heavy turbolaser turret has problems tracking and effectively fending off T-65B X-wings. The Venator’s main batteries are designed for pummeling enemy capital ships and obliterating cities. They are capable of leaving a planet’s surface scarred with bombardment craters visible from orbit and can bring down kilometre tall escarpments. They should be pretty much useless at tracking something like a Hyena-class bomber or Tri-fighter, which are at least as or even more nimble than the T-65B X-wing starfighter.
In the Star Wars Rebels episodes Secret Cargo (Rebels, Season 3, Episode 18) and Rebel Assault (Rebels, Season 4, Episode 9) we see upgraded Imperial I-class star destroyers using their main octuple barbette batteries for point defence against Y-wings and even X-wings. These turrets are larger and more powerful than the XX-9 model, and are designed primarily for anti-capital use and for wasting cities. They should be even more useless than the XX-9 batteries against even Y-wings, never mind X-wings. I would also like to point out that, as per reference books authored by Pablo Hidalgo himself, we know that Imperial I-class star destroyers are equipped with as many as a hundred gun batteries: a mix of various turbolasers and even several point defence cannons. Yet the Rebels team chose to animate the ISDs using only their most powerful anti-capital ship batteries in a role they were not meant for, completely ignoring lore set in stone by one of the highest ranking members of the Lucasfilm Story Group. From what I understand, this was due to budget and time constraints; the Rebels animation team had to work fast with limited assets. Hell, they had to re-use the same biped models for multiple imperial and rebel no-name grunts throughout all four seasons. So one can’t really be mad at them.
Size of the turbolaser bolts
Another thing that simply does not make sense in the Zero Hour bombardment scene is the size of the turbolaser bolts. They seem to be at most only a few metres long and as wide as a human body.
These bolts came from 50 metre wide cannon batteries whose barrels are dozens of metres long and wide enough for a vehicle to drive through. We see in The Last Jedi film and Issue 17 of the Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith comic series that these bolts can be massive - the size of large buildings.
The “missing” Acclamator main batteries
One of the things that was brought up in the thread was that the Acclamator-class assault ships’ main quad turbolaser batteries appear to be missing in most of their appearances in The Clone Wars animated series.
So what is going on here?
The answer is simple and two-fold:
1. Retractable turrets.
2. Animation constraints.
The port and starboard side dual turbolaser turrets of both the Venator-class and Arquitens-class warships can be retracted into the hull. We know this thanks to reference books, The Clone Wars, and the comic adaptation of the 2017 Thrawn novel.
In Escape from Kadavo (The Clone Wars, Season 4, Episode 13) Plo Koon shows up at Kadavo with a task force of Venators, Pelta frigates, and an Arquitens-class light cruiser. As the light cruiser enters Kadavo’s atmosphere, you can see that her port and starboard side turbolaser turrets are retracted.
In the fourth issue of the comic adaptation of the 2017 Thrawn novel we see the Thunder Wasp, an Imperial navy Arquitens-class light cruiser under the command of Thrawn, approach the planet Cyphar with her port and starboard side dual turbolaser turrets retracted. Later on in the same issue, we see these turrets activated and used to vaporize some mineral deposits that were being used to manufacture Spice, a potent and highly illegal narcotic in the Star Wars galaxy.
So retractable turrets is the first explanation for the seeming lack of quad turbolaser turrets on the Acclamators seen throughout The Clone Wars.
Now for the second.
These turrets are quite small in relation to the rest of the vessel. I imagine it’d be difficult to spot small building to building sized cannons on a warship the size of a small town. It’s quite possible that the animation team outright left them out of their Acclamator models to save time and manpower in animating them.
And this is not a problem unique to The Clone Wars.
Star Wars Rebels usually shows Imperial I-class star destroyers with only their main 50 metre wide octuple barbette batteries, but seemingly no other weapon emplacements. However, we know thanks to various other Star Wars media that they have several dozen additional turbolaser turrets and even dedicated point defence cannons.
One more thing
We know thanks to two Canon reference books - Ultimate Star Wars and Star Wars Encyclopedia of Starfighters and Other Vehicles - that Acclamators do indeed have quad turbolaser turrets, heavy laser cannons, and missile launchers.
Furthermore, in the fantastic novel Star Wars: Alphabet Squadron, we actually see two of the main characters - Yrica Quell and IT-O - walk past one of the turbolaser batteries of the Lodestar, an Acclamator-class assault ship and New Republic General Hera Syndulla’s new flagship.
Past a reinforced viewport, a turbolaser battery extended from the Lodestar’s hull, and beyond the barrels of the cannons the shrouded orb of Pandem Nai spanned the horizon.
~ Star Wars: Alphabet Squadron
Yes, Acclamators do have quad turbolaser turrets. Furthermore, the ship class is referred to as a heavy cruiser in the Catalyst novel, and it is referred to as a battleship in the Alphabet Squadron novel. The fact that the Acclamator-class has such tags, within the context of Star Wars, means that its turbolasers are truly powerful - the kind meant to carry out devastating orbital bombardments of planetary surfaces.
Some confusion regarding:
This blast from the comic series Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith.
I have seen people claiming that this blast is comparable to the Death Star single reactor ignition shots seen in the film Rogue One. This has led to two camps of arguers:
1. If Imperial-class star destroyers are capable of destruction comparable to a Death Star single reactor ignition shot with only a few shots of their most powerful cannons, why even use a Death Star single reactor shot? What makes it so special?
2. The comic likely exaggerated itself. That feat must be an outlier.
The first point will be addressed in this section. The second will be addressed later.
How powerful is a single reactor ignition shot from the Death Star?
Some people on the OBD have pegged the yield of the Death Star’s single reactor ignition shots in the film Rogue One to be in the single digit Petaton range.
However, I would like to point out that what we see in the film is not representative of the true destruction unleashed on Jedha and Scarif. The films do not show us the blast completely encircling the surfaces of Jedha and Scarif, and they do not show us the final consequences.
In the Ashes of Jedha arc of the main Star Wars comic series, we see that the single reactor ignition shot at Jedha did this:
The Death Star’s single reactor ignition shot at Jedha is stated to have punched down into the planet’s mantle at the spot where Jedha city once stood. Furthermore, we can clearly see in the Ashes of Jedha arc (Star Wars, Issue 38) that debris was sent up into orbit around the moon and most of the surface is left devastated; the surface is noted to be still unstable and still in the process of dying; the mantle is ruptured, there are magma seas across the moon, and poisonous gases keep venting into the atmosphere. That single reactor ignition shot was clearly in the High 6-A tier.
In the novel From a Certain Point of View, it is stated by General Cassio Tagge that the Death Star destroyed half the planet Scarif. I think it’s reasonable to assume that he meant that half the surface had been destroyed, and not half of the entire planet.
In the novel Alphabet Squadron, the Death Star’s single reactor ignition shot at Scarif is said to have boiled away the planet’s seas and burned away its surface.
Jyn Erso had died on that mission. Legend had it that she’d sent the last transmission to the Rebel fleet - the Death Star plans themselves - moments before the battle station’s weaponry had boiled the planet’s seas and burned away its surface. Jyn had been a martyr. She had been a hero.
~ Star Wars: Alphabet Squadron
I know that the novel states this to be a “legend”. However, I would like to point out that the effects detailed here, which would require firepower in the range of hundreds of Petatons at least, is very consistent with what we observe at Jedha.
This is the surface destruction formula that has become a new standard of sorts on this wikia for explosion calculations:
W = R^3*[(27136*P + 8649)^(1/2)/13568 - 93/13568]^2
The official diameter of Jedha is 11263 km. This would mean a circumference of 35398 km. Using half that - 17699 km - as blast radius and using ‘P’ value of 1.37895 bar, we get a yield estimate of 445 Petatons.
And that is a low ball. You can see where the superlaser shot punched down into the mantle, and it launched chunks of the moon out into orbit. The actual yield could even be in the single digit Exaton range. However, I don’t have the expertise needed to make a calculation for that.
I tried the above using Scarif’s parameters as well. It has an official diameter of 9112 km. This would mean a circumference of 28637.7 km. Using the above formula, yield required to devastate it’s surface would be around 236 Petatons.
The single reactor ignition shot of the Death Star should have a yield in the range of at least hundreds of Petatons, probably even in the single digit Exatons. That is far into the High 6-A tier.
How powerful is that Mon Cala blast, then?
I have made an accepted calculation blog for that using some methods.
That blast is at the very least baseline High 6-C (around 114 Gigatons) even as a low ball. And if you highball it, the yield is still only baseline Low 6-B (around 1.104 Teratons).
This would put the per shot yield in the range of 38 to 368 Gigatons.
This blast is nowhere close to the yield of the Death Star’s single reactor ignition shots. The latter is literally a million times as powerful. In order to unleash those kinds of energies, a fleet of Imperial-class star destroyers would have to keep firing all batteries for who-knows-how-long.
What is the point of a Death Star if...
...a fleet of star destroyers could achieve the same results with a sustained bombardment operation, such as a Base Delta Zero?
I see this question tossed around a lot on YouTube and other forums. It really makes me roll my eyes.
I’m going to ask you a question, and I want you to think hard.
What is the point - in real life - of nuclear bombs if a squadron of heavy bombers and/or a fleet of battleships could achieve comparable levels of town/city-wide devastation with hours to days of sustained bombardment using MOABs, conventional cruise missiles, and those gigantic battleship cannons?
Now do you see how silly the above question seems?
The Death Star is to the Star Wars galaxy what nuclear weapons are to us real life humans in the early 21st Century. The prospect of quick single blow destruction of an entire planet’s surface - or even the entire planet itself - is far more terrifying than the prospect of a protracted bombardment campaign, which still leaves enough time for a portion of a planetary population to escape. This is similar to how - in real life - a protracted bombing campaign by heavy bombers is far less terrifying than the prospect of having a nuke dropped on you and finishing your town/city in one quick blow.
And, as we saw during the liberation of Kashyyyk, a Base Delta Zero operation can be halted mid-way. Furthermore, unlike with a Base Delta Zero operation, the Death Star won’t leave behind a home that can be recolonized, as even a single reactor ignition shot can leave the planetary body damaged beyond all repair; there is no terraforming technology in Star Wars that can save Jedha’s still dying and ultimately doomed surface.
Other notable feats for starfighter and capital ship weapons
One of the reasons that the orbital bombardment of Atollon bugs me is this: Starfighter laser cannons have superior destructive feats in the films, comics, novels, and even within The Clone Wars and Rebels animated series.
TIE fighters often get vaporized
Even if you disregard the feats which put starfighter grade laser cannons in the Kiloton range, there is no denying that they are indeed quite powerful.
Starfighters and other light craft often end up vaporized in battles. Refer this blog for more information.
TIE fighters are among the most unfortunate victims. A single well placed shot from a starfighter grade laser cannon can outright vaporize them; as we see in A New Hope, Star Wars Rebels, From a Certain Point of View, and various other works.
I once made a blog on the energy needed to vaporize the central eye of a TIE fighter and it was accepted. The result was 78.4 Gigajoules or 18.74 tons of TNT equivalent. That is 1.7 times the yield of one of the most powerful non-nuclear bombs in the US military’s arsenal. And it is much greater than the power of the blasts unleashed on Atollon’s surface by the Zero Hour orbital bombardment.
The laser cannons of the Slave I have a feat for which an accepted calc (from ChaosTheory123, who is a well known calc’er) puts them in the 7-C tier (link to the calc is on the profile).
Even if you disregard his calc, you have to recognize that the Slave I’s feat of blasting apart asteroids as large as herself is quite impressive when compared to the Atollon bombardment. The Slave I is 21.5 metres tall in flight mode, which is as tall as a seven storey building. If the Slave I were to be unleashed on a human city, single shots from her laser cannons would blow apart seven story tall buildings and also send fragments of these buildings flying out at very high velocities. This is already far more impressive than what was seen during the Atollon bombardment, and would require yields approaching 8-A on our tier list.
In Issue 38 of the main Star Wars comic series, a LAAT/le vaporizes what looks like a small building sized rock formation with her laser cannons. There is an accepted calc which puts the feat in the Low 7-C tier. Even if you reject vaporization, there is no denying that this feat is far more impressive than the Zero Hour bombardment.
The Tie Line of starfighters have many feats in Canon that are more impressive than the Atollon bombardment.
In Issue 4 of the comic series Han Solo - Imperial Cadet, we see a TIE/LN (piloted by Han) and three other TIEs blast the base of a large skyscraper with their L-s1 laser cannons. The eight shots seemingly obliterate the bottom few floors of the skyscraper and cause it to collapse.
Furthermore, being starfighter grade laser cannons, a single well placed shot on the highest setting from the laser cannons of the standard TIE/LN (which are noted multiple times to be less powerful than the KX-series lasers cannons of the X-wing and Y-wing line) should be more than capable of vaporizing the central eye of other TIEs. They should thus have yields of at the very least 78.4 Gigajoules. However, there is the matter of the Low 7-C feat for the laser cannons of the LAAT/le gunship, a police vehicle which is noted to be less well armed and powerful overall than military gunships on the Star Wars Databank. It makes sense, via power-scaling, that the TIE/LN’s L-s1 laser cannons are at least as powerful.
In the film Solo: A Star Wars Story, a TIE Brute violently blasts apart a spherical asteroid that looked to be roughly 100 metres across (during the chase in the Akkadese Maelstrom) with what looked like just one shot. Violent fragmentation of that asteroid would have required Kiloton level yields (about 8.6 Kilotons). However, the actual yield of the shot is likely to be much greater, as the bolts consist of superheated plasma; a lot of their energy should go into superheating and melting and vaporizing shit, not just into concussive blasts.
I have made a blog collecting various feats for Star Wars capital ships:
Some of the most notable include:
- A trio of ISDs destroying an orbital shipyard, a structure which should be the size of a town or city, with just a few turbolaser shots (and note that they did not use their main heavy turbolasers).
- The Catalyst novel depicts an ISD bombarding the planet Samovar and the destruction is visible to an observer in a ship thousands of kilometres away in orbit. The same novel also shows that Venator-class star destroyers can leave a planet scarred with bombardment craters visible from orbit and bring down kilometre high escarpments with their turbolasers.
- The Chimaera, the very ship we see carrying out the orbital bombardment of Atollon in Zero Hour, causing an ocean to “seethe” and unleash tsunami scale events with her turbolasers. If the firepower she displayed in Zero Hour was her true upper limit, the tsunami feat would have been impossible. In the same novel, Arquitens-class light cruisers are also noted to be capable of unleashing explosions on a planet’s surface which are visible from orbit; something that is actually depicted in Issue 5 of the comic adaptation. In the same novel, Admiral Carlou Gendling threatens to lay waste to the surface of Umbara with the Imperial I-class star destroyer Foremost, something that would take forever to accomplish with the kind of firepower displayed in Zero Hour.
- An Imperial II-class star destroyer seemingly vaporizing half a mountain with a single shot; a feat which would require firepower of at the very least hundreds of Megatons even if you assume that it was a small mountain. And keep in mind that this feat wasn’t even performed with her most powerful cannons.
- The Resurgent-class star destroyer Finalizer destroying a cliff range and also a city with single shots. And note that the latter was reduced to a “black smudge” visible from orbit. This heavily implies that the “smudge” is fairly large and that the city was most likely slagged or vaporized. ISDs are noted to have outright melted cities into “steaming sludge” before, so it’s nothing new.
- The Sovereign and two other Imperial I-class star destroyers obliterating most of the cities in the northern hemisphere of the planet Mon Cala, killing billions of innocent Mon Calamari and Quarren citizens. And keep in mind that this was done in the time it took Darth Vader and Ferren Barr to settle a lightsaber duel, which means it wasn’t a long bombardment campaign. If the firepower displayed by the Chimaera in Zero Hour represents the true upper limit of ISD firepower, what the Sovereign and the other two ISDs did here would take years to accomplish. I would also like to point out that we have an image seemingly showing us how much of the northern hemisphere was devastated.
- Three Imperial-class star destroyers - Dominion, Vitiator, Neutralizer - are ordered to carry out an orbital bombardment of Kashyyyk. Grand Moff Lozen Tolruck uploads orders to all three ships authorizing an all out bombardment that is to leave nothing alive on the planet’s surface. If the firepower displayed by the Chimaera in Zero Hour represents the true upper limit of ISD firepower, such a bombardment would take god-knows-how-many-years. Furthermore, their bombardment simply would not have caused the planet of Kashyyyk to “quake and rumble” and go into “tectonic spasms” as was detailed in the novel Aftermath: Life Debt.
- In the comic Age of Republic: General Grievous, we see a Providence-class dreadnought outright vaporize a Jedi temple with a single volley. Keep in mind that it takes energy equivalent to a few Kilotons to vaporize a small building, such as a small one-storey family house. This temple was a large castle sized structure. Furthermore, the Providence in the scene didn’t appear to make use of her main quad turbolaser batteries, instead using mostly dual laser cannons and seemingly the weaker turbolasers.
- In Issue 67 of the main Star Wars comic, the ISD Tributum destroys a large mountain sized castle of Queen Trios of Shu-Torun with just two bombs dropped from orbit. I imagine it would take some nuke level yields to obliterate a castle the size of a large town or small city. Also, it should be noted that the Tributum was part of a production oversight and supply fleet which was noted - in a previous issue - to not really be equipped for combat. And I would like to point out that heavy turbolasers are a star destroyer’s most powerful weapons. So there is no way shots from heavy turbolasers should be any less powerful than the bombs which the Tributum dropped on Trios’s castle. Furthermore, this is actually consistent with one thing from the Tarkin novel: The main spaceport of the planet Murkhana was noted to be covered in bomb craters the size of Lucrehulk-class core ship maintenance pits (which would be around 700 metres across and 350 metres deep at the very least).
- In the Alphabet Squadron novel, the Imperial I-class star destroyer Pursuer attacks a mining colony and reduces it to a smouldering crater in just a few minutes. And she was heavily damaged at the time; with very low reactor outputs, meaning that her directed energy weapons might not have been operating at peak output. In the same novel Yrica Quell, who once served aboard the Pursuer and is now a New Republic squadron leader, also recounts the Pursuer’s carrying out of orbital bombardments which scoured entire worlds.
There are handheld blaster feats on this level
Yes. There are feats from handheld blasters on the level of the Zero Hour turbolaser bombardment shots.
Take a look at this:
That is a Zygerrian blaster rifle, which is standard issue for soldiers of the Zygerrian Slave Empire. And (given its size) it isn't even a heavy blaster rifle but a blaster carbine.
I ask you this: Does it make sense for 50 metre wide cannon batteries designed to destroy cities and town-sized capital ships to have as much destructive power as a 1 metre long standard issue infantry rifle?
No, it does not make sense! And that feat was animated by the very same people responsible for the entirety of The Clone Wars and Rebels.
I would also like to once again point out that there are other feats (all in the 9-A tier) for handheld heavy blaster pistols and blaster rifles on the level of the Zero Hour turbolaser bombardment shots.
Arguments about the Canon
Someone in the previous thread said something along the lines of “The orbital bombardment in Zero Hour is Canon” and also things like “the comics and novels exaggerate themselves”.
Of course, it wasn’t in those exact words, but that is the basic gist.
Look, the new Canon isn’t like Legends. There are no separate tiers of Canon. It is all one cohesive Canon, one overall story in the same fictional universe. And it’s not like the old EU days, where Lucasfilm merely approved a certain expanded universe work without really looking into it all (which is why the old EU had so many inconsistencies and contradictions). A piece of work in this new EU not only needs Lucasfilm’s approval, but has to stay true to their guidelines and notes; and there is literally a set of guidelines and notes; one missing note is what led to General Davits Draven of the Alliance to Restore the Republic being declared alive as of The Empire Strikes Back in The Rebel Files even though he died in the main Star Wars comic just months after the Battle of Yavin.
The point is: The Lucasfilm story group not only approved of the novels and comics, but also vetted them carefully, making sure they stayed true to the overall lore.
There are a plethora of impressive feats in the novels and comics for starfighter and warship weapons. And, like it or not, they are 100% Canon. The orbital bombardment in Zero Hour is Canon. Well, so are all of the feats in this blog.
There will be inconsistencies in feats here and there. That is to be expected in a fictional universe where you have literally dozens or more people contributing content. However, you have to think about how ISDs showing real life WMD level yields is a consistency across many books and comics by many different authors, and all of which have been vetted by the Story Group. That means something. It means that this kind of thing isn’t just something that can be dismissed as mere “author fiat” on one individual author’s part.
The orbital bombardment in Zero Hour is indeed unimpressive. However, it can be explained away with in-universe lore such as power settings on directed energy weapons, situational context, mindsets and motivations of the characters involved, etc. It can also be dismissed as a low-end outlier that shouldn’t be taken seriously, because it is one of just a few low-end inconsistent “anti-feats” of orbital bombardment that is actually outnumbered by other high-end feats that range from the Megaton to even the Gigaton level. Yes, it is indeed the Zero Hour bombardment that I believe is inconsistent with the rest of the Canon lore, not the other way around.
Don’t get me wrong. I dislike Star Wars wank as well. I vehemently disagree with heavy turbolaser and capital grade warhead yield estimates of double digit or more Teratons via some crazy backward scaling. And I vehemently disagree with assertions that a task force of ISDs could slag a planet’s entire crust in under an hour. But I think it would be unfair to just ignore all the good feats just because they seem inconsistent with one or two hilariously underwhelming low-end outliers which can be explained away using other lore and case-by-case context.
~ X ~
I did actually want to say more. For example: I had a long-ass point to make about how Star Wars directed energy weapons are highly focused and often use up energy melting/vaporizing stuff, meaning that explosion sizes are not proper indicators of the true yields per shot (they may be vastly higher than what is indicated by an explosion). But I'm tired and I believe that people are smart enough to infer this on their own on reading about the melting/vaporizing stuff.
Statements from Lucasfilm employees
Matt Martin, a member of the Lucasfilm Story Group, was asked by one of our own members on Twitter about the Zero Hour bombardment. He chalked it more up to plot, not just animation constraints.
Story needs more than budget, I'd say. If they wanted huge explosions they could have done so.
~ Matt Martin, Lucasfilm Story Group creative executive
This means that the unimpressive bombardment in Zero Hour can indeed be chalked up to Plot-Induced Stupidity, not just animation constraints.