This Week’s Word Is “Starfighter.”
Love technical specs? Love diagrams? Love TIE fighters? Then the TIE Fighter Owners’ Workshop Manual is just for you! This book would make an excellent Father’s Day gift, and there’s still just about time to grab one before the day arrives. For more inspiration do check out GeekDad’s Father’s Day Gift Guide, which this book really should have been part of, if only I’d been bright enough to include it!
Despite my being about as practical as a chocolate fireguard, I have always been fascinated by Haynes Owner’s Workshop manuals. Being a child of the 70s and 80s, when people actually maintained their own cars, Haynes manuals were all over the place during my formative years. In the UK, these manuals were for exotic sounding rust buckets like the “Austin Allegro” and “Hillman Imp.”
There was something about Haynes manuals cutaway diagrams and technical specifications that fascinated my geeky information and numbers obsessed mind. The format appealed but the subject matter didn’t. I’m not sure who at Haynes made the decision to break away from motor vehicles, but whoever thought of this simple sidestep was a genius.
Step up Haynes “Lifestyle” manuals. Books that take the appeal of the Haynes manual and apply it to other areas of life. Manuals now exist for subjects as diverse as Babies, Retirement, and Roman soldiers. There’s a slew of books about military vehicles, trains, including the Flying Scotsman, and favorite science fiction vehicles too. The sidestep into sci-fi was a particularly smart move, as what geek doesn’t like to obsess over their favorite vehicles? Whether it be the Falcon, Ecto 1, or Thunderbirds, Haynes has it. Adding to their Star Wars range this year, Haynes (with Insight Editions in the US) has brought out the TIE Fighter Owners’ Workshop Manual.
What is the TIE Fighter Owners’ Workshop Manual?
The TIE Fighter Owner’s Workshop Manual details the form and function of this iconic Star Wars dogfighter.
After a brief preamble about ships that came before and the TIE fighter’s designer, the book gets down to the nitty-gritty of the “TIE/in Space Superiority Starfighter.” or “The one from the first film,” as I like to think of it.
This is the first time in the book we’re treated to a Haynes style annotated diagram. The diagram has lots of information, such as length, width, and height, along with the engine type, armaments, and escape craft. After the diagram, there are multiple views from various different angles, a discussion of its “solar-collector wings,” complete with wing cutaway, and a detailed overview of the cockpit, flight controls, and targeting computer (“I have you now.”).
After that, the book goes through a similar process for all of the types of TIE fighter from across the Star Wars franchise. Whilst we don’t get multiple aspect drawings for every single variation, we do get the classic line diagram for each and a host of pictures and stills from across the films and TV shows.
After the initial look at the TIE/in Space Superiority Starfighter, the book is split into 4 more sections. 2 that detail spaceships and a further two that look at TIE fighters more generally.
The Starfighter Series.
This chapter details the following:
- TIE/rb Heavy Starfighter (AKA the Brute).
- TIE/sa Bomber. There is something ponderous and brutal about this fighter. I love seeing it appear on screen.
- TIE Boarding Craft.
- TIE Command Shuttle.
- TIE Advanced v1.
- TIE Advanced X1. Possibly my favorite TIE. I drew countless pictures of Darth Vader’s TIE Fighter as a child. Absolutely none of them as good as the diagrams in this book.
- TIE/mg Mining Guild. From the sublime to the ridiculous. The closest the TIE Fighter comes to jumping the shark.
- TIE Interceptor. I have these models for X-Wing the game. They’re possibly even cooler than the Vader’s fighter. Just don’t tell him I said that.
- TIE/d Defender.
- TIE/d Defender Elite. The TIE defenders. 3 Wings are better than 2, right? Loved how scary these were in Star Wars Rebels. Not in A New Hope due to budget cuts.
- TIE Striker.
- TIE Reaper Attack Lander. The Striker and Reaper. Featured in Rogue One and products of Tarkin’s fink-tank. Proof that even the Grand Moff had his eyes on toy sales.
- Gozanti-Class Cruiser. A ship that can carry TIE Fighters or AT-DPs. What’s not to like?
First Order TIE Fighters:
- TIE/fo Space Superiority Fighter. This has several pages dedicated to it, as it’s the main TIE fighter from The Force Awakens. This enables readers to see all the differences in technology from A New Hope to The Force Awakens.
- TIE/sf Space Superiority Fighter. The one with the go-faster red stripe that Poe and Finn steal in The Force Awaken. “sf” is special forces.
- Kylo Ren’s TIE Silencer.
Weapons & Defensive Systems:
- Laser Cannons.
- Protons Torpedo Launcher, Torpedos, & Bombs.
- Ejector Seat.
- Flight Data Recorder.
The Pilots, Training, And Gear:
- Training Academies.
- Simulator Pods.
- Combat Tactics.
- Hangar racks. “Look at the size of that thing.” Where “thing” equals a TIE Fighter hanging wardrobe.
- Maintenance and Technical Support
- The Pilot Flight Suit. Saving the best till last? Possibly. There are few better outfits in the entire film franchise than that of the TIE Fighter pilot. Here the Empire and First Order suits are detailed.
- Finally, there’s a size comparison chart that compares not only the size of the various TIE incarnations, but also measures them up against different Imperial and First Order craft.
Why read the TIE Fighter Owners’ Workshop Manual?
Much as I loved X-Wings as a child, my favorite Star Wars ship has always been the TIE Fighter. Is it the shape, the noise it made, or the cool black pilot outfits? I’m not sure, but few things say Star Wars like the TIE Fighter and that’s why this book is so great.
Reading this workshop manual makes you realize just how far the Star Wars franchise has come since A New Hope. The emotional investment creators and fans of the series have made, to take things like the TIE fighter and drill down into how it came about, what it was made of, and exactly how its components all work and interact. This book is the product of countless man-hours of creation.
If you’re cynical, you might also be tempted to suggest this workshop manual is a testament to the creative energies film companies are prepared to expend in order to sell a few extra million units of toys. But Lucasfilm and Disney do things with such care and attention to detail, it’s hard not to love the results.
The additional information contained in the last two chapters of the book makes it even more interesting. Even though each TIE variants is different, the book would be a little samey if it was just about the fighters. The extra information about TIE armaments and training drills add great depth to the book, as does the section on combat maneuvers. Want to know the difference between a countervail and throttle hop? You’ll learn with the TIE Fighters Owner’s Workshop Manual.
If you love Star Wars, Tie Fighters, and technical drawings then this book is absolutely for you. Even if you only love two out of those three, the book is fascinating. It contains everything you might want to know about TIE fighters and their evolution throughout the Star Wars franchise.
If you’d like to pick up a copy of the Tie Fighter Owners’ Workshop Manual, you can do so here, in the US and here, in the UK.
If you enjoyed this review, check out my other Word Wednesday reviews, here.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to write this review.