Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been obsessed with Star Destroyers. From the very opening of 1977’s “Star Wars” (Episode IV: A New Hope) – that moment when this behemoth of a starship engulfs the entire screen, completely dwarfing the outgunned Rebel blockade runner, my imagination was completely caught in it’s tractor beam. Maybe it’s the simplicity of it’s gray triangular visage, or the sheer scale and firepower of these massive imperial battle ships. We’ve seen A LOT of different Star Destroyers in the Star Wars movies since that first space battle above Tatooine, so this is my breakdown of every (on screen) Star Destroyer…
Republic-Era Acclamator-Class Military Transport (Clone Wars)
First appearing at the end of “Star Wars – Episode II: Attack of the Clones”, these Republic proto-Star Destroyers were used to transport Clone Troopers to the battlefield throughout the Clone Wars.
(Note: Although “Star Wars – Episode I: The Phantom Menace” doesn’t feature a Star Destroyer per say, Darth Maul’s ‘Scimitar’ could be seen as sort of a proto-Star Destroyer with it’s distinctive triangular shape)
Republic-Era Venator Class Star Destroyer (Clone Wars)
These early Republic-era Star Destroyers first showed up in “Star Wars – Episode III: Revenge of the Sith”, but were featured throughout “The Clone Wars” animated series as well, just like their Acclamator-class predecessors. These ships were heavily armed, but slightly less oppressive than their later Imperial counterparts.
Cantwell-Class Arrestor Cruiser (Andor)
The latest alternative Star Destroyer design appeared prominently on the Disney Plus series, “Andor”, the “Rogue One” prequel – S1E11 to be exact. (I’m being told it also briefly appeared in “Solo”.) The Arrestor is a patrol ship designed with an extra powerful tractor beam to lure in cargo ships for inspection. The interesting thing about this design is that it’s based on the original Star Destroyer concept art by Colin Cantwell, which was created way back in 1974!
Interdictor-Class Heavy Cruiser (Rebels)
There are A LOT of variations on the Imperial Star Destroyer (especially when you get into the comics and books), but one of the most common ones featured in “Star Wars: Rebels” was the Interdictor-Class Heavy Cruiser, which also has a lot of variations throughout the series.
Imperial Star Destroyer (A New Hope)
This design was featured heavily throughout the original trilogy (aka the “Holy Trilogy”), but also showed up in “Solo” and “Rogue One”, which both take place before “A New Hope”. Nothing quite comes close to the classic, the original, the Imperial Star Destroyer. Not only one of the coolest ship designs in the entire franchise, the Star Destroyer might be one of the most iconic starships in all of science fiction. It’s a relatively simple design from a distance, it’s silhouette is evocative of the triangular ship from the old “Asteroids” arcade game, but the attention to detail on those original ship models really gave you a sense of both scale and realism. It’s off white / gray color scheme reinforced a feeling of dread, along with it’s harsh angular architecture reminiscent of Soviet Russia, or a soulless corporate entity bent on conquering the galaxy. It’s effective and there’s a reason that it’s been copied to death a dozen times over!
(Note: The first Star Destroyer we see at the opening of Episode IV is called ‘The Devastator’)
Super Star Destroyer – Executor Class Dreadnought (The Empire Strikes Back)
When I was growing up, this was hands down, my favorite ship in anything ever. ‘The Executor’ – Darth Vader’s Imperial Flagship is one badass mofo. This ‘Super Star Destroyer’ of course first shows up in “The Empire Strikes Back” (and is later destroyed in “Return of the Jedi” during the Battle of Endor – unceremoniously crashing into the second Death Star). The design is pretty incredible, it takes everything cool about the original Star Destroyer and then adds steroids. It’s massive, sleek, and intimidating as all hell. I think part of what makes this one stand out so much is the way it’s first revealed to the audience – we see a fleet of Imperial Star Destroyers being eclipsed in the shadow of something huuuuuge. The previous movie already did a great job establishing just how big a Star Destroyer was, so to then see those dwarfed by something far bigger and beefier was really awe inspiring!
Arquitens-Class Imperial Light Cruiser (The Mandalorian)
Although this isn’t technically a Star Destroyer according to Wookieepedia, the Arquitens-Class Light Cruiser is basically a smaller, stealthier Star Destroyer. Featured heavily towards the end of “The Mandalorian” – Season 2, this was Moff Gideon’s personal command ship.
Eclipse Class – Dreadnought (Dark Empire – Comics)
Even though this one has yet to be featured canonically on screen, I figured this one should at least deserved a mention. Emperor Palpatine’s flagship first appeared in the pages of “Star Wars: Dark Empire” from Darkhorse Comics (in the 90’s). At around 10 miles long, the sheer size of this one was only dwarfed by the Death Star itself! Seriously, this thing was absurd.
Resurgent Class – First Order Star Destroyer (The Force Awakens)
I honestly think this is one of the cooler starship designs since the original Star Wars movies. First debuting in “Star Wars – Episode VII: The Force Awakens” as Kylo Ren’s base of operations, the First Order Star Destroyers are similar to the Imperial era designs, but really build on that aesthetic, making it even sleeker and more sinister looking!
(Note: Kylo Ren’s Star Destroyer is called ‘The Finalizer’)
First Order Siege Dreadnought: Mandator IV (The Last Jedi)
This triangular nightmare of a battleship laid waste to the Resistance base on D’Qar at the opening of “The Last Jedi”. This craft was an OP monstrosity of armor and guns. It was thankfully destroyed by Paige Tico, with the help of Poe Damaron, during the battle.
First Order Mega-Class Dreadnought: The Supremacy (The Last Jedi)
Supreme Leader Snoke’s capitol ship is perhaps the biggest starship outside of the Death Star(s)! In “The Last Jedi”, the ship served as the First Order’s mobile HQ. Unlike Vader’s Super Star Destroyer, which was elongated like a spear, this ship has an insane 60 kilometer wing span! Intimidating doesn’t even cover it, seeing one of these would be like coming face to face with the Grim Reaper. Luckily, it was destroyed by Resistance leader, Vice Admiral Holdo, in one of the coolest sequences in the franchise – when she used her ship as a hyperspace projectile!
Sith Eternal Star Destroyers (The Rise of Skywalker)
While “Star Wars – Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker” is far from the best Star Wars film, it does give us some really interesting new designs with Emperor Palpatine’s “Final Order” fleet of Xyston-class Star Destroyers on Exegol, the ancient Sith planet in the unknown regions. These Sith Star Destroyers are modeled closely after the original Imperial design, but modified with darker colors and red war paint – each equipped with an axial super-laser capable of destroying entire planets, so they’re basically compact, triangular shaped Death Stars!? Awesome.
Honorable Mentions: Although Darth Maul’s Sith Infiltrator, and the Jedi Starfighter both have some striking design similarities, they aren’t technically Star Destroyers, so didn’t quite make the list. What’s your favorite Star Destroyer? If I missed any, let me know in the comments below!
For more starship talk, check out Podcasters Assemble – Season 2 (Star Wars), 2 Young 4 This Trek, and my Top 10 “Sexiest” Nacelles (Star Trek Starships)!
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