RANKS

STAR WARS


Rebel Alliance Insignia


 

 


Methodology

As with the insignia of the armed forces of the Galactic Empire, the uniforms and insignia of the Rebel Alliance must indicate the status of commissioned and non-commissioned members in an unambiguous fashion. This implies that for each self-coherent rebel faction there must exist a simple visual scheme for reading the geometric and colour cues of the insignia which translates into a single measure of seniority. The artists who designed the costumes for the films might not have considered such a system in detail, but it is the task of this document to consider the simplest possible ad hocscheme which is consistent with all of the known examples and with realistic naval and military nomenclature.

The non-uniform nature of the Rebel Alliance complicates this project. Unlike the Galactic Empire, which was static, resource-rich and tightly-regulated on a galactic scale, the rebels literally consist of an alliance of many insurgent forces which arose from isolated local resistance movements, and whose philosophies and equipment vary markedly. The overall Alliance composition and structure changed significantly during the years of Galactic Civil War, and it would be unsurprising if these changes were reflected in the uniforms of the rebel armed forces. Therefore it becomes important to carefully distinguish between apparent inconsistencies of factional or temporal origin, and those which must be taken as constraining tests for theories of the underlying order of insignia.

Different rebel factions used different uniforms and insignia schemes. This document focuses mainly on the Alderaanian human faction sponsored by the Organa royal family and led by generals such as Jan Dodonna and Carlist Rieekan. This is the rebel group which bore the brunt of the Battles of Yavin and Hoth. The Alderaanian forces were more formal and regimented than most rebel groups, since they inherited their uniforms and traditions directly from the local armed security forces of the Alderaan system and sector. In contrast, those grass-roots rebel groups arising from radical underground political organisations would have little or nothing in the way of formalised regalia and military structure.

Whatever rules are theorised to govern the interpretation of the insignia of a particular rebel faction, they should satisfy some basic, axiomatic requirements. The system of interpretation must indicate an unambiguous status level for any given insignia configuration. The insignia must preserve and reflect the equivalence of ranks and ratings of different services which are equal in status. The rules of interpretation should be simple and obvious to the eye.

NOTES:

  1. John Mollo, the artist chiefly responsible for the military costumes of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, is also reputed to be an expert military historian. Therefore his work is likely to be at least partly systematic. Sadly we may never know whether he had a fully comprehensive insignia system, since the only known surviving evidence is the handful of examples seen on film.
  2. The supposed pacifism of Alderaan has been greatly exaggerated. The idea seems to be based on a protest made by Princess Leia immediately before the planet was destroyed. She proved willing to lie in order to save her world (eg. about the rebel presence on Dantooine) and Lord Vader later confirmed that Alderaan’s defences were as strong as any Core world (A New Hope novelisation). The Princess’ adoptive father was a leader in the Clone Wars, and the troops and officers aboard Tantive IV were obviously Alderaanian. As shown in The Paradise Snare, the culture of Alderaan is no less militaristic than most real nations of Europe or the Antipodes. Even if there were no armed forces on Alderaan’s surface, the government would still require significant naval and military power to defend its sector against piracy and crime. General Rieekan was the commander of those forces in Alderaan’s solar system.

Acknowledgements

Special thanks are due to, in alphabetic order:

  • Robert Brown for observational verification of example insignia; for general and specific discussion, particularly regarding the real-world rank conventions. Several images.
  • Elwyn Chow for formatting suggestions and proof-reading.
  • Mathew Clayson for information about the composition of the parts of the rank plaques, in extrinsic, real-world terms.
  • Ryan Comer for advice on the fine distinction between a midshipman and an ensign.
  • Paul Finch for pointing out the rebel pilot sleeve insignia.
  • Justin Gann for the Ackbar reference from X-Wing: Alliance.
  • Frank Gerratana for advice regarding American variations of rank terminology; for a reminder about the rebel pilot cylinders; for the Tigran Jamiro image.
  • Sean Murphy noted Luke Skywalker’s generalship in The Essential Chronology.
  • Alan Petty Jr for correction regarding Skywalker’s comlink-button badges.
  • Jayden Smith for pictures and information about the high-ranking army officers in Mysteries of the Sith; for pictures and analysis of the insignia shown in X-Wing: Alliance.
  • Nathan Thompson for suggesting that the shoulder patches may be like a ”medal board”.
  • Anthony Tully for general and specific discussion.
  • Sindre Williamson Aarsbog for a reminder about the rebel pilot cylinders.


Officer Plaques

Officers of the Alderaanian faction of the Rebel Alliance often wear a rank indicator plaque on the upper right chest area. These plaques consist of a pattern of blue and red dots arranged on a square or rectangular metal plate. The plate is sized according to the area spanned by the dots.

Unfortunately only five distinct plaque designs are known from the canon. They are listed below, along with interpolated plaques for intermediate ranks. It is difficult to make confident inferences or discern useful regularities from such a small sample. Nevertheless the following tentative observations may be important:

  • Lower ranks have a number of dots which is less than or equal to the plaques of higher ranks. A lower rank never has more dots than a high rank.
  • Number of dots is not sufficient in itself to distinguish ranks, since a Major is lower than a Commander (eg. Derlin compared with Skywalker on Hoth).
  • Two known Generals (Dodonna and Rieekan) have the same plaque configuration.
  • Some plaques with equal numbers of dots are worn such that the dots are in different orientations.
  • Some plaques with equal numbers of dots have different configurations of dot colours.
  • All else being equal, blue must be superior to red, because Wing Commander Luke Skywalker is incrementally senior to Major Bren Derlin.

Observations


B.B
.B.
B.B
  • ”Captain” Colton Antilles
    The captain of Tantive IV and a friend and aide to Princess Leia Organa. He might actually have held a different (probably higher) naval or military rank, but any officer who commands a particular starship is traditionally addressed as ”Captain” regardless of his actual rank.

    * * * * *

    ”Captain” Antilles meets Lord Vader. [movie screenshots; Topps widevision]


  • [General?] Bob Hudsol
    Decipher’s SWCCG labels this officer a mere Commander. In comparison with Luke Skywalker at Hoth, The number of dots on Hudsol’s plaque during the Battle of Yavin seems to refute the Decipher interpretation. In STAR WARS Holiday Special Luke Skywalker addressed him as a General. It seems likely that he was also a General of some kind during the Yavin conflict.Hudsol seemed less active at Yaving than Dodonna, but his badge colour hints that ranks higher. Perhaps rank is not the cause of his deference; perhaps the Yavin theatre was under Dodonna’s command, with Hudsol a visitor. Perhaps Hudsol was in a branch of service (eg. ground forces or intelligence) which was irrelevant to the assault on the Death Star.

    * * * * * *

    General Bob Hudsol standing behind a protocol droid at a ceremony in the one of the Massassi temples of Yavin IV; examining the Yavin IV war room tactical display [SWCCG card; Topps widevision card; movie].



R.R
.B.
R.R
  • ”Commander” Vanden Willard
    Officer who met Princess Leia in the hangar deck of the Yavin base immediately after her return from the Death Star. The Princess verbally addressed him as ”Commander”. The number of dots suggests a rank closer to a general’s seniority; We must assume that the Princess means ”commander” in the sense of being the most senior army officer present.

    * *

    Vanden Willard, commander-in-chief of the rebel forces at Yavin IV, according to the SWCCG card. One of the five dots of his rank plaque is blue, which distinguishes him as marginally superior to General Jan Dodonna. Willard therefore must actually be a kind of general, one increment higher than Dodonna’s rank.



R.R
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R.R

This is one of the few unambiguous officer plaques seen. The correlation of a higher number of dots and high rank of these men is one of the most important pieces of evidence indicating that these plaques really are indicators of rank.

  • General Jan Dodonna
    Tactician who discovered the vulnerability of the Death Star and coordinated the Battle of Yavin. Former star destroyer captain in the navy of the Old Republic.*

    General Dodonna supervising the Battle of Yavin from the rebel war room, [his SWCCG card].

  • General Carlist Rieekan
    Commander of the forces of the Alderaan system, left to watch helplessly as the planet was destroyed. Commander of Echo Base Hoth.**

    General Carlist Rieekan grimly oversaw the evacuation of Hoth.


.B.
B.B
  • Commander Luke Skywalker
    Wing Commander Luke Skywalker led the starfighter squadrons attached to the Hoth Base, including the famous Rogue Squadron. He also volunteered for wilderness scout duty for the base’s ground forces.*

    Commander Skywalker wore his 3-blue rank plaque with the double-dot row at the bottom, the reverse of Major Derlin’s badge orientation.


R.R
.R.
  • Major Bren Derlin
    Officer in charge of Hoth base security and operations.*

    Major Derlin inside the Echo Base hangar, according to the SWCCG card. His rank plaque has three red dots arranged with two in a bottom row and the remainder above and between them.

  • [anonymous major in Echo Base command centre]*

    A major in the Hoth command centre listening to Han Solo’s report of the Imperial probe droid.


Mysteries of the Sith

Two other examples of officers with this style of rank plaque have been seen in the computer game Mysteries of the Sith. Their uniforms seem to be derived from those of the Alderaanian rebels, although the setting of the game is many years after the establishment of the New Republic (about eleven years after A New Hope).

One officer wore a general’s five red dots, which is identical to the insignia of Generals Dodonna and Rieekan. His status is unambiguous, and he addresses the other officer as his superior.

The senior officer has a square badge with a total of nine red dots. This must represent a rank vastly higher than any previously seen in the rebel and New Republic forces (except for chiefs of staff like Ackbar, who is probably the equivalent of a Grand Admiral). Although this man must be some kind of a grand marshal or grand general, he defers to Kyle Katarn. This does not necessarily mean that Katarn holds a higher military rank, because his status as a Jedi knight may entitle him to respect and deference from all military personnel. Katarn in turn addressd the officer as ”commander”, which obviously isn’t his literal rank (because a ”commander” is merely a mid-ranking naval officer), and probably just refers to his role as the commander of the New Republic facility.

* *

The 5-dot and 9-dot generals shown in Mysteries of the Sith.



Flawed Interpretations

The Rebel Alliance Sourcebook speculates that the colour of the dots indicates the branch of service, with blue designating navy and red designating army. However the existence of plaques combining both colours makes this theory difficult to defend. The only way to save the theory would be if individuals can simultaneously have separate levels of advancement as officers in navy and army. This seems unlikely. The limited size of the plaques does not allow enough space for dots to indicate arbitrarily high dual-service ranks.

A second problem with the colour/service theory is that it only permits five distinct officer ranks in each branch of service. In any realistic military force there must be at least ten levels of officer seniority. Therefore plaques with mixed-colour combinations are required for the insignia system to distinguish Alliance officers properly. We should proceed on the understanding that red and blue dots do not have exactly equivalent values, and are not service-specific.

The array of plaques detailed in the RPG-based references is not self-consistent, since it shows a naval captain being junior to a naval commander. However if we discard the erroneous assumption that dot colour indicates branch of service then the 2-blue ”captain” badge works perfectly as an army captain plaque, which equates to a naval lieutenant or starfighter flight lieutenant.

If they are taken literally, The Rebel Alliance Sourcebook and Decipher’s SWCCG are in conflict with each other. The partial system shown in the RPG reference implies that the moustached officer named Bob Hudsol should be an Admiral, the naval equivalent of a General. The card game declares him to be a ”Commander”. In fact, he can only be a ”commander” in the sense of being a commanding officer in the army, since he is addressed as a General in STAR WARS Holiday Special.

The STAR WARS Customisable Card Game is not literally self-consistent in its portrayal of the Alderaanian rebel officer plaques, since it supposes that Bob Hudsol (at Battle of Yavin) and Luke Skywalker (at Battle of Hoth) are both ”Commanders”. Both have all-blue plaques; Hudsol has five dots and Skywalker has only three. If they accumulation of blue dots has any meaning then Hudsol (at Yavin) must clearly be senior to Skywalker (at Hoth). The solution is that Hudsol is actually a very highly-ranked officer in the Alliance army or military intelligence; he is a ”commander” only in the sense of being the highest officer present in his particular branch of service. On the other hand, Skywalker was literally a Wing Commander.

Solution

A realistic system for the interpretation of the insignia of officers in the Alderaan-sponsored faction of the Rebel Alliance must: describe the significance of the distinction of blue and red dots; and state what are the substantive characteristics of the plaques. It seems likely that the differences of badge orientation (ie. between Commander Skywalker and Major Derlin) are non-substantive, having no consequence for the quantitative seniority level indicated by the plaque. At most, badge orientation probably indicates the branches of service. In the simplest possible theories, only the number of dots of each colour matters, and the dots’ arrangement on the plaque follows merely aesthetic rules.

If red and blue dots are treated as having different values, like the three different thicknesses of sleeve-stripes of terrestrial naval officers, then blue must be the most valuable. Comparison with the relative seniority levels on Earth (for Major and Commander) indicates that a blue must be worth at least 1.2 times a red. If all 4-dot plaques are inferior to the lowest 5-dot plaque then a blue must be worth less than 1.25 times a red.

The badges for ranks up to commander are logically determined by movie observations, the limited plaque combinations with small numbers of dots, and the number of rank levels which must be covered.

At the most senior levels there are more potential distinct plaques than actual ranks. Therefore at least some intermediate-rank plaques are not often allocated to real officers. There is some arbitrariness in the assignment of plaques to these senior ranks, since some intermediate plaques must be chosen for disuse. To keep the ranks of Hudsol, Dodonna and Rieekan down to realistic levels, it is desirable to omit at least two potential plaques each in the 4-dot and 5-dot ranges. For the conjectural rank system below I have chosen a special symmetry principle for mixed-colour plaques: if the total number of dots is odd then the number of blues is odd; if the total number of dots is even then the number of blues is even.


B.B
.B.
B.B
  • High Admiral | Surface Marshal | High Marshal ?


R.R
.B.
B.B
  • Fleet Admiral | High General | Force Marshal


R.R
.B.
R.R
  • Admiral | General | Chief Marshal


R.R
.R.
R.R
  • Vice-Admiral | Lt.General | Marshal


B..
.B.
B.B
  • Rear-Admiral | Major-General | Vice-Marshal


R..
.B.
B.R
  • Commodore | Brigadier | Commodore


R.R
.R.
..R
  • Captain | Colonel | Group Captain


.B.
B.B
  • Commander | Lt.Colonel | Wing Commander


R.R
.R.
  • Lt.Commander | Major | Squadron Leader


B.
.B
  • Lieutenant | Captain [Army] | Flight Lieutenant


R.
.R
  • Sub-Lieutenant | Lieutenant [Army] | Flying Officer


..
.B
  • Acting Sub-Lieutenant | 2nd Lieutenant | Pilot Officer


..
.R
  • Midshipman/Ensign | – | –

 


Shoulder Patches

Most personnel stationed at Echo Base Hoth who went outdoors bore a coloured grid patch at the right shoulder. The standard-sized grid had three columns and three rows. The grid cells are slightly elongated in the horizontal direction, and each is filled in a solid colour. The colours observed to date include red, blue, black and what appears to be a neutral white (the same colour as the base fabric).

The meanings of these patches are unknown at this time. The sample of known patch configurations is presently too small for detailed and comprehensive deductions to made. The colour patterns clearly encode some kind of information because not all individuals have the same patch. The patches are not an individual personal identification, since all trench infantry and gunners wore identical patterns. Since many of the trench personnel were of different ranks, it seems unlikely that the patches indicate seniority directly. One possibility is that the patches indicate the wearer’s type of service and/or his military unit. Alternatively, the patches may act as something like a medal board indicating the numbers of tours of duty performed by the wearer. If so then there would have to be at least three or four types of duty, corresponding to the different patch columns and colours.

Every known soldier or officer in the Hoth trenches had the same pattern:

---
-B-
R--

* * *

Soldiers and infantry sub-officers of the Hoth trenches. Each of them has the same shoulder patch cell pattern. Echo Base gunners bore the same shoulder patch too.

One individual, who presumably is of medium or high rank, has also been photographed in the Hoth trenches. [Images below are from STAR WARS: The Action Figure Archive and a screen captured fromTESB.] The man has a distinctive bushy moustache, which means that he could be Major Derlin. Interestingly he has far more blue squares in the middle column than red squares in the left column. This may indicate exceptional combat rating.

-B-
-B-
RB-

* *

Possibly Major Derlin, his shoulder patch differs from the majority of the trench personnel.

Commander Luke Skywalker wore a different pattern. This is the only other pattern confirmed to date. A greater number of the cells are coloured, which may indicate either Skywalker’s middle-ranking officer status or his qualification for more diverse fields of duty. It is interesting that the colours of the three columns are consistent with the infantry patch. It is likely that all possible patch configurations have only red or neutral in the left column, blue or neutral in the middle column, and black or neutral in the right column.

RBK
RB-
R--

*

Commander Luke Skywalker astride a tauntaun on volunteer perimeter patrol.

Some base personnel have a different range of colours on their shoulder patches. Romas Navander [who is named in a SWCCG card] has a patch with three red units in the left column, one orange unit at the bottom of the middle column, and no colours in the right column. The person seated to his left has a similar patch but with only on red unit in the left column. The lowest unit of the middle column is difficult to see, but it looks orange. A hangar crewman servicing Luke Skywalker’s X-wing has one red in the left column and one orange in the middle column. The presence of orange in the middle column is apparently related to technical competency, whereas blue in the middle column indicates a combat role.

R--
R--
RO-

*

Romas Navander has a distinctive shoulder patch.

---
---
RO-

*

The console operator to the left of Navander has a shoulder patch that is similar but has fewer coloured units.

---
---
RO-

*

A hangar service crewman has coloured squares at the bottom of the left and middle columns. [Behind the Magic]


Comlink Squares

Hoth personnel usually wore a gadget which looks like a communications device, attached to the outer vest on the left side of the chest. It was worn by Luke Skywalker on both his pilot and outdoor uniforms. While most of the surface of this device is clearly electronic and functional, there is also a horizontal row of four square buttons which seem to serve a decorative purpose. STAR WARS Technical Journal v.3 identifies them as a piece of rank insignia. The squares seem superficially similar to the squares on Imperial officer rank plaques, though their interpretation is almost certainly different. (The superficial similarity simply means that humans in the Palpatine Era have a fondness for insignia consisting of simple coloured geometric shapes.)

Colour configurations vary, but the total number of squares is always four. Non-commissioned personnel have red and grey squares. Officers have red and blue squares.

The three officer insignia studied to date are all different. Interpretation is necessarily tentative and speculative, due to the small observation set. The problem is complicated by the fact that we only know the formal rank of one of the examples: Luke Skywalker, who was a [Wing] Commander. Princess Leia had a high status within the Alliance, but it is unclear whether her political and diplomatic station translates into a military rank higher or lower than that of Skywalker. Solo did not even possess an honorary commission at the time of the Battle of Hoth; his insignia was probably only informally lent in order to give him clearance to enter certain Echo Base facilities. His insignia probably ranks him lower than Skywalker, but there is no way to be certain. The deck officer of Echo Base, named Tigran Jamiro in the SWCCG, is of unknown rank but at least the two leftmost squares are readable; the right squares are unclear but appear to be blue.

BRBB
  • Tigran Jamiro
    *

BRRR
  • Commander Luke Skywalker [tauntaun patrol]
    * *

BRRB
  • Commander Luke Skywalker [starfighter pilot]
    * *

BRBR
  • Princess Leia Organa
    * *

RBRR
  • Han Solo
    *

Unfortunately, General Rieekan does not wear one of these devices. Otherwise he would be expected to have a different square pattern which would unambiguously be the highest one on Hoth. If he wore one, we would easily deduce what colour combination has the highest value. Rieekan’s uniform was different from those which were suited to outdoor use; he might have worn a different costume with comlink insignia attached if he went outside the base.

There exists one publicity photograph of Skywalker predating his wampa encounter, in which he has the same pattern of squares as Princess Leia. This may be an error or it may indicate subsequent promotion, with the Princess remaining at the lower rank. The fact that his shoulder patch in this picture differs from the one he wore in The Empire Strikes Back hints that it is just a costuming error, and should be completely dismissed.

All examples of non-commissioned insignia examined so far belong to soldiers or gunners in the Hoth trenches. They have three grey squares on the left, and only one red square on the right. The red button is separated from the grey buttons by small gap. Below the gap there is a circular disk with a diameter almost twice the height of a single button. This knob is not present on the officer badges.

Grey squares are probably characteristic of non-commissioned status. They may be place-keepers filling button sites which are never filled with a colour on non-commissioned uniforms. Otherwise they may be part of a coloured code in red+grey in analogy to the officers’ blue+red. If all badges have at least one square of each of the two colours then the distinction between officer and non-commissioned insignia would be clear.

---R
  • Gunners & soldiers
    * *

The two most important characteristics of these insignia are the constant number of squares, and the fact that different colours can be placed in any mix (rather than being grouped in same-colour blocks as in Imperial rank plaques). These traits hint that the colour patterns might represent four-digit binary numbers. For instance, officer badges might use blue and red to represent the digits 1 and 0 respectively; while non-commissioned badges would use red and grey correspondingly.

This system would allow for sixteen different ranks of officers, and sixteen more for non-commissioned levels. The lowest officer rank would be treated as one unit higher than the highest non-commissioned rank insignia. If the patterns for 15 and 0 are discarded so that no badge is monochromatic then there are still fourteen levels, which is quite sufficient to cover a realistic scale of military seniority.

The fact that the ordinary soldier’s lone coloured square is in the rightmost position indicates that the binary denominations increase from right to left, as with Earthly transcription of binary numbers. Combining this with the conjectural colour code chosen above, Skywalker’s seniority level would be 9, Princess Leia would be 10 and Solo would be 4. The ordinary soldiers whose insignia have been recorded to date would be 1 on the non-commissioned scale, making them privates and gunners.

extrinsic note: According to M.Clayson,

”the dots and bars that were used for the rebel and Empire rank plaques… are colored lense covers for instrument lights. I was able to compare them to photos of an original that was displayed at the Star Wars event in Denver this year. …the grey plate on the Hoth uniforms is the same as the wrist patch on the X-wing and TIE pilots, just a different paint scheme. It’s a vacuum formed panel the in the later films was all grey.”

Sleeve Insignia

The rebel pilots stationed on Hoth and Yavin 4 bore another piece of insignia. On the left sleeve of the flightsuit, just above the rim of the glove, there is a coloured patch that is very similar to the comlink-like badges described above. The coloured square markings at the top of this item are almost exactly the same size and shape as the buttons on the rebel comlink-style insignia and the Imperial officer rank plaques.

The picture of Luke Skywalker in STAR WARS The Visual Dictionary shows this feature clearly, and labels the overall object as ”safe passage documents for downed pilots.” In this example the coloured pattern matches that of the ordinary troopers in the Hoth trenches, which makes sense because Skywalker was only a new recruit at this point in the war.

*

The left arm of Luke Skywalker’s uniform at the time of the Battle of Yavin. The rank marking is on the ”safe passage documents”.



Shoulder Cylinders

Rebel starfighter pilots often carry gadgets resembling a version of the Imperial rank cylinders. They are worn in a pocket on the left shoulder of the orange flightsuit. They are similar to the unusual kind of cylinder carried by Admiral Motti, resembling sparkplugs more closely than a pen or tyre-gauge. Since the technicians and ordinary crewmen of the Imperial navy wear similar devices in an arm-pocket of their overalls, it seems possible that these objects have a common function as an electronic or mechanical tool. The precise purpose is unknown. Whether the number of cylinders also serves as a mark of rank is unknown at this time.


Other Insignia

Rebel officers participating in the Battle of Endor and the briefing preceding it wore uniforms and insignia completely different from those of the Alderaan-sponsored rebels involved with the Battles of Yavin and Hoth. Beige trousers and tunic were most common, and shirt colour seems to have varied depending on service: fleet officers (eg. Ackbar and his bridge staff) wore white or beige; pilots (eg.Calrissian) wore beige; and army officers (eg. Madine) wore blue shirts.

A dull grey rank plaque, with indistinguishable features, was worn on the left or right side of the chest for males and females respectively. Other grey adornments were sometimes seen on the shirt collar. The lack of obviously distinctive detail on these insignia makes them impossible to interpret at this time.

Indeed it is entirely possible that they’re only readable in light visible to some of the non-human rebels, such as the Mon Calamari. The rebel style of dress in Return of the Jedi does seem to be heavily Calamarian-influenced, and this may reflect the aliens’ growing dominance of the Alliance, which may be happening by default after the decimation of the Alderaanian humans on Hoth.


X-Wing: Alliance

The flight simulation computer game X-Wing: Alliance rewards player progress with promotions as shown by representations of embroidered insignia. These patterns are similar to the canonical insignia of the Alderaanian rebels, with some important exceptions. Most noticeably, there is a complete absence of blue dots, and some of the dots are smaller than others. Perhaps this can be regarded as a modification for the sake of colour-blind individuals, or members of species that have their colour sensitivities in different ranges of the spectrum. The numbers of dots are consistent with the scheme of the ”domino”-style rank plaques described above, except that the ”lieutenant” insignia is unaccountably reduced from two dots to one.

The rank titles used by the game show more consistency than in previous flight simulation games, but unfortunately there is still a bizarre mixing of navy, army and air force terminology. The bottom three levels are equal to standard air force rank terms (though the reason for distinguishing between a ”recruit” and a ”flight cadet” is not obvious). Then there are three army officer ranks from ”junior [second] lieutenant” to ”captain.” This brings about a serious inconsistency, because the army lieutenant ranks are respectively equal and junior to ”flight officer”, not senior. After this brief span of army ranks, the game jumps to the naval ranks of ”lieutenant commander” and ”commander”; this inter-service jump does at least preserve the order of seniority. Then the scale ends with an army ”general” rank, without any of the intermediate ranks (eg. colonels, brigadiers and lower generals in the army; group captain, commodore and lower marshals in the air force terms; or captain, commodore and lower admirals in the navy).

*

Pilot officer dress uniform, as portrayed in the game X-Wing Alliance.


* * * * * * * * *

The shoulder dot insignia of X-Wing: Alliance in descending order of rank.



Implicit Ranks

Because of their lack of obvious insignia, it is difficult to determine the ranks of some of the rebel characters shown in the movies. Some of the interesting characters of the movies and the spin-off literature have ranks that can be constrained or determined approximately by judging their implicit status (in interactions with other characters).

Admiral Ackbar: Considering the scope of his command in Return of the Jedi, he must have been at approximately the rank of Fleet Admiral. (He is described at this rank in the game X-Wing: Alliance.) The total number of Mon Calamari warships existing before the Battle of Endor would imply a higher rank of admiral, if all of those ships were active at once. Later [eg. by the time of Before the Storm] when the New Republic was consolidated over most of the galaxy, he was the ultimate commander of a naval organisation which was necessarily as strong as the Imperial Starfleet and the starfleet of the Old Republic (serving the same function, with equivalent hardware, either by direct inheritance of the ships of the predecessor governments or by replacement). At that time Ackbar must have been the equivalent of a Grand Admiral at least.

Luke Skywalker: It seems very odd that many of the post-ROTJ novels refer to Skywalker as a Wing Commander, the rank that he held in TESB, whereas Solo and Calrissian (who were competent to a merely mortal level) were generals. The best way to explain his lack of promotion would be if he resigned his commission after TESB, perhaps to concentrate on Jedi pursuits. The Essential Chronologyindicates that Skywalker was a general at one point after Endor, but resigned six months later. In Episode I, the Thrawn novels, Tales of the Jedi and Champions of the Force it appears that the Jedi are traditionally regarded as mediators above ordinary law and rank. (Eg. Kyp Durron sentenced by Master Skywalker because the Galactic Senate was not qualified to judge his crimes.) In this sense the entire Rebel Alliance would probably have been subject to Luke’s Jedi guideance, whenever he offered it.

Biggs Darklighter: Red Leader was squadron leader for the X-wings at the Battle of Yavin (by definition), and several other pilots in the squadron appear more experienced than Biggs. Therefore Darklighter was probably a Flying Officer or Pilot Officer.

Wedge Antilles: Similar rank to Biggs Darklighter in ANH. According to the literature he was promoted to Wing Commander upon Skywalker’s resignation at the end of TESB. According to The Jedi Academy Sourcebook he switched to the army of the New Republic around the time of Dark Empire, and took a general’s commission. His specific level of ”general” is uncertain, but years later, inSpectre of the Past and Vision of the Future he was junior to Garm Bel Iblis, who was also a ”general”. Allowing for some promotions, Wedge was probably a Lieutenant General (or not much lower) by that time.

Han Solo: Seems to have resigned his commission several times throughout the post-ROTJ novels. It is not certain what kind of general he was at any given time. In ROTJ he was junior to General Madine, who was probably junior to Admiral Ackbar and therefore no higher than literal General rank. Solo couldn’t have been higher than a Lieutenant General in ROTJ, and considering his freshness in command and the active nature of his Endor mission, he was probably at the bottom end of the scale of generals: probably a Major General or Brigadier General (if we follow American practice and append ”General” to a brigadier’s title).

Lando Calrissian: The considerations applying to him are much the same as those for Solo. They probably were at equal rank in ROTJ, although their promotions might have diverged if Calrissian spent less time in service after the Battle of Endor. At Endor he was above Wing Commander Wedge Antilles, but all ranks of general satisfy this constraint.


References

  • Ambush at Corellia, Roger MacBride Allen, Bantam.
  • The Art of STAR WARS Galaxy Volume Two, Topps.
  • Australian Protocol & Procedures, 2nd ed., Sir Asher Joel, Angus & Robertson Publishers.
  • Collins Australian Pocket English Dictionary, W.A.Krebs & G.A.Wilkes, Collins.
  • Cracken’s Threat Dossier, Drew Campbell et al., West End Games.
  • Hoth Rebel Soldier, Kenner.
  • The Imperial Sourcebook, Greg Gordon et al., West End Games.
  • Mysteries of the Sith, LucasArts.
  • The Paradise Snare, A.C.Crispin, Bantam.
  • The Rebel Alliance Sourcebook, , West End Games.
  • STAR WARS IV: A New Hope, George Lucas et al., Lucasfilm Ltd.
  • STAR WARS V: The Empire Strikes Back, George Lucas et al., Lucasfilm Ltd.
  • STAR WARS V: The Empire Strikes Back, Donald F. Glut, Del Rey.
  • STAR WARS: The Action Figure Archive, ed. Stephen J. Sansweet with Josh Ling, Chronicle Books.
  • STAR WARS Customisable Card Game, Decipher Inc.
  • STAR WARS The Essential Chronology, Kevin J. Anderson & Daniel Wallace, Del Rey.
  • STAR WARS Holiday Special, Lucasfilm Ltd.
  • STAR WARS Technical Journal, volume 3, Shane Johnson, Starlog Communications International Inc.
  • STAR WARS Trilogy Sourcebook, Special Edition, David Avallone et al., West End Games.
  • STAR WARS Widevision Cards, Topps.
  • STAR WARS The Visual Dictionary, David West Reynolds, DK Publishing
  • Titles and Forms of Address – A guide to their correct use, 15th edn, A. and C. Black Ltd.
  • X-Wing: Alliance, LucasArts.

Return to STAR WARS Technical Commentaries.
Return to Curtis Saxton home page.


Original content is © copyright Curtis Saxton 2000.
Online since 16 November 1997.
Last updated 13 January 2000.

This page was constructed and is maintained by Curtis Saxton.
This page is neither affiliated with nor endorsed by Lucasfilm Ltd.
Images included in or linked from this page are copyright Lucasfilm Ltd. and are used here under Fair Usage terms of copyright law.
This site is kindly hosted by TheForce.net.

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