+++ DISCLAIMER +++
Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!
The TIE/LN starfighter, or TIE/line starfighter, simply known as the TIE Fighter or T/F, was the standard Imperial starfighter seen in massive numbers throughout most of the Galactic Civil War and onward.
The TIE Fighter was manufactured by Sienar Fleet Systems and led to several upgraded TIE models such as TIE/sa bomber, TIE/IN interceptor, TIE/D Defender, TIE/D automated starfighter, and many more.
The original TIEs were designed to attack in large numbers, overwhelming the enemy craft. The Imperials used so many that they came to be considered symbols of the Empire and its might. They were also very cheap to produce, reflecting the Imperial philosophy of quantity over quality.
However, a disadvantage of the fighter was its lack of deflector shields. In combat, pilots had to rely on the TIE/LN’s maneuverability to avoid damage. The cockpit did incorporate crash webbing, a repulsorlift antigravity field, and a high-g shock seat to help protect the pilot, however these did next to nothing to help protect against enemy blaster fire.
Due to the lack of life-support systems, each TIE pilot had a fully sealed flight suit superior to their Rebel counterparts. The absence of a hyperdrive also rendered the light fighter totally dependent on carrier ships when deployed in enemy systems. TIE/LNs also lacked landing gear, another mass-reducing measure. While the ships were structurally capable of "sitting" on their wings, they were not designed to land or disembark their pilots without special support. On Imperial ships, TIEs were launched from racks in the hangar bays.
The high success rate of more advanced Rebel starfighters against standard Imperial TIE Fighters resulted in a mounting cost of replacing destroyed fighters and their pilots. That, combined with the realization that the inclusion of a hyperdrive would allow the fleet to be more flexible, caused the Imperial Navy to rethink its doctrine of using swarms of cheap craft instead of fewer high-quality ones, leading to the introduction of the TIE Advanced x1 and its successor, the TIE Avenger. The following TIE/D Defender as well as the heavy TIE Escort Fighter (or TIE/E) were touted as the next "logical advance" of the TIE Series—representing a shift in starfighter design from previous, expendable TIE models towards fast, well armed and protected designs, capable of hyperspace travel and long-term crew teams which gained experience and capabilities over time.
The TIE/E Escort, was a high-performance TIE Series starfighter developed for the Imperial Navy by Sienar Fleet Systems and it was introduced into service shortly before the Battle of Endor. It was a much heavier counterpart to the agile and TIE/D fighter, and more of an attack ship or even a light bomber than a true dogfighter. Its role were independent long range operations, and in order to reduce the work load and boost morale a crew of two was introduced (a pilot and a dedicated weapon systems officer/WSO). The primary duty profile included attack and escort task, but also reconnoiter missions. The TIE/E shared the general layout with the contemporary TIE/D fighter, but the cockpit section as well as the central power unit were much bigger, and the ship was considerably heavier.
The crew enjoyed – compared with previous TIE fighter designs – a spacious and now fully pressurized cockpit, so that no pressurized suits had to be worn anymore. The crew members sat in tandem under a large, clear canopy. The pilot in front had a very good field of view, while the WSO sat behind him, in a higher, staggered position with only a limited field of view. Both work stations had separate entries, though, and places could not be switched in flight: the pilot mounted the cockpit through a hatch on port side, while the WSO entered the rear compartment through a roof hatch.
In a departure from the design of previous TIE models, instead of two parallel wings to either side of the pilot module, the TIE Escort had three quadanium steel solar array wings mounted symmetrically around an aft section, which contained an I-s4d solar ionization reactor to store and convert solar energy collected from the wing panels. The inclusion of a third wing provided additional solar power to increase the ship’s range and the ship’s energy management system was designed to allow weapons and shields to be charged with minimum loss of power to the propulsion system.
Although it was based on the standard twin ion engine design, the TIE/E’s propulsion system was upgraded to the entirely new, powerful P-sz9.8 triple ion engine. This allowed the TIE/E a maximum acceleration of 4,220 G or 21 MGLT/s and a top speed of 144 MGLT, or 1,680 km/h in an atmosphere — almost 40 percent faster than a former standard TIE Fighter. With tractor beam recharge power (see below) redirected to the engines, the top speed could be increased to 180 MGLT in a dash.
In addition to the main thrusters located in the aft section, the TIE Escort’s triple wing design allowed for three arrays of maneuvering jets and it featured an advanced F-s5x flight avionics system to process the pilot’s instructions. Production models received a class 2, ND9 hyperdrive motivator, modified from the version developed for the TIE Avenger. The TIE/E also carried a Sienar N-s6 Navcon navigation computer with a ten-jump memory.
Special equipment included a small tractor beam projector, originally developed for the TIE Avenger, which could be easily fitted to the voluminous TIE Escort. Models produced by Ysanne Isard’s production facility regularly carried such tractor beams and the technology found other uses, such as towing other damaged starfighters until they could achieve the required velocity to enter hyperspace. The tractor beam had limited range and could only be used for a short time before stopping to recharge, but it added new tactics, too. For instance, the beam allowed the TIE/E crews to temporarily inhibit the mobility of enemy fighters, making it easier to target them with the ship’s other weapon systems, or prevent enemies from clear shots.
The TIE Escort’s weapons systems were primarily designed to engage bigger ships and armored or shielded targets, like armed freighters frequently used by the Alliance. Thanks to its complex weapon and sensor suite, it could also engage multiple enemy fighters at once. The sensors also allowed an effective attack of ground targets, so that atmospheric bombing was a potential mission for the TIE/E, too.
The TIE Escort Fighter carried a formidable array of weaponry in two modular weapon bays that were mounted alongside the lower cabin. In standard configuration, the TIE/E had two L-s9.3 laser cannons and two NK-3 ion cannons. The laser and ion cannons could be set to fire separately or, if concentrated power was required, to fire-linked in either pairs or as a quartet.
The ship also featured two M-g-2 general-purpose warhead launchers, each of which could be equipped with a standard load of three proton torpedoes or four concussion missiles. Depending on the mission profile, the ship could be fitted with alternative warheads such as proton rockets, proton bombs, or magnetic pulse warheads.
Additionally, external stores could be carried under the fuselage, which included a conformal sensor pallet for reconnaissance missions or a cargo bay with a capacity for 500 kg (1.100 lb).
The ship’s defenses were provided by a pair of forward and rear projecting Novaldex deflector shield generators—another advantage over former standard TIE models. The shields were designed to recharge more rapidly than in previous Imperial fighters and were nearly as powerful as those found on capital ships, so that the TIE/E could engage other ships head-on with a very high survivability. The fighters were not equipped with particle shields, though, relying on the reinforced titanium hull to absorb impacts from matter. Its hull and wings were among the strongest of any TIE series Starfighter yet.
The advanced starfighter attracted the attention of several other factions, and the Empire struggled to prevent the spread of the technology. The ship’s high cost, together with political factors, kept it from achieving widespread use in the Empire, though, and units were assigned only to the most elite crews.
The TIE/E played a central role in the Empire’s campaign against rogue Grand Admiral Demetrius Zaarin, and mixed Defender and Escort units participated in several other battles, including the Battle of Endor. The TIE Escort continued to see limited use by the Imperial Remnant up to at least 44 ABY, and was involved in numerous conflicts, including the Yuuzhan Vong War..
The kit and its assembly:
Another group build contribution, this time to the Science Fiction GB at whatifmodelers.com during summer 2017. Originally, this one started as an attempt to build a vintage MPC TIE Interceptor kit which I had bought and half-heartedly started to build probably 20 years ago. But I did not have the right mojo (probably, The Force was not strong enough…?), so the kit ended up in a dark corner and some parts were donated to other projects.
The sun collectors were still intact, though, and in the meantime I had the idea of reviving the kit’s remains, and convert it into (what I thought was) a fictional TIE Fighter variant with three solar panels. For this plan I got myself another TIE Interceptor kit, and stashed it away, too. Mojo was still missing, though.
Well, then came the SF GB and I took it as an occasion to finally tackle the build. But when I prepared for the build I found out that my intended design (over the years) more or less actually existed in the Star Wars universe: the TIE/D Defender! I could have built it with the parts and hand and some improvisation, but the design similarity bugged me. Well, instead of a poor copy of something that was more or less clearly defined, I rather decided to create something more individual, yet plausible, from the parts at hand.
The model was to stay a TIE design, though, in order to use as much donor material from the MPC kits as possible. Doing some legwork, I settled for a heavy fighter – bigger than the TIE Interceptor and the TIE/D fighter, a two-seater.
Working out the basic concept and layout took some time and evolved gradually. The creative spark for the TIE/E eventually came through a Revell “Obi Wan’s Jedi Starfighter” snap fit kit in my pile – actually a prize from a former GB participation at phoxim.de (Thanks a lot, Wolfgang!), and rather a toy than a true model kit.
The Jedi Fighter was in so far handy as it carries some TIE Fighter design traits, like the pilot capsule and the characteristic spider web windscreen. Anyway, it’s 1:32, much bigger than the TIE Interceptor’s roundabout 1:50 scale – but knowing that I’d never build the Jedi Starfighter OOB I used it as a donor bank, and from this starting point things started to evolve gradually.
Work started with the cockpit section, taken from the Jedi Starfighter kit. The two TIE Interceptor cockpit tubs were then mounted inside, staggered, and the gaps to the walls filled with putty. A pretty messy task, and once the shapes had been carved out some triangular tiles were added to the surfaces – a detail I found depicted in SW screenshots and some TIE Fighter models.
Another issue became the crew – even though I had two MPC TIE Interceptors and, theorectically, two pilot figures, only one of them could be found and the second crewman had to be improvised. I normally do not build 1:48 scale things, but I was lucky (and happy) to find an SF driver figure, left over from a small Dougram hoovercraft kit (from Takara, as a Revell “Robotech” reboxing). This driver is a tad bigger than the 1:50 TIE pilot, but I went with it because I did not want to invest money and time in alternatives. In order to justify the size difference I decided to paint the Dougram driver as a Chiss, based on the expanded SW universe (with blue skin and hair, and glowing red eyes). Not certain if this makes sense during the Battle of Endor timeframe, but it adds some color to the project – and the cockpit would not be visible in much detail since it would be finished fully closed.
Reason behind the closed canopy is basically the poor fit of the clear part. OOB, this is intended as an action toy – but also the canopy’s considerable size in 1:50 would prevent its original opening mechanism.
Additional braces on the rel. large window panels were created with self-adhesive tape and later painted over.
The rear fuselage section and the solar panel pylons were scratched. The reactor behind the cockpit section is actually a plastic adapter for water hoses, found in a local DIY market. It was slightly modified, attached to the cockpit “egg” and both parts blended with putty. The tail opening was closed with a hatch from the OOB TIE Interceptor – an incidental but perfect match in size and style.
The three pylons are also lucky finds: actually, these are SF wargaming/tabletop props and would normally be low walls or barriers, made from resin. For my build, they were more or less halved and trimmed. Tilted by 90°, they are attached to the hull with iron wire stabilizers, and later blended to the hull with putty, too.
Once the cockpit was done, things moved more swiftly. The surface of the hull was decorated with many small bits and pieces, including thin styrene sheet and profiles, steel and iron wire in various strengths, and there are even 1:72 tank tracks hidden somewhere, as well as protective caps from syringes (main guns and under the rear fuselage). It’s amazing how much stuff you can add to such a model – but IMHO it’s vital in order to create some structure and to emulate the (early) Star Wars look.
Painting and markings:
The less spectacular part of the project, even though still a lot of work because of the sheer size of the model’s surface. Since the whole thing is fictional, I tried to stay true to the Imperial designs from Episode IV-VI and gave the TIE/E a simple, all-light grey livery. All basic painting was done with rattle cans.
Work started with a basic coat of grey primer. On top of that, an initial coat of RAL 7036 Platingrau was added, esp. to the lower surfaces and recesses, for a rough shading effect. Then, the actual overall tone, RAL 7047, called “Telegrau 4”, one of Deutsche Telekom’s corporate tones, was added – mostly sprayed from abone and the sides onto the model. Fuselage and panels were painted separately, overall assembly was one of the final steps.
The solar panels were to stand out from the grey rest of the model, and I painted them with Revell Acrylic “Iron Metallic” (91) first, and later applied a rather rich wash with black ink , making sure the color settled well into the many small cells. The effect is pretty good, and the contrast was slightly enhanced through a dry-brushing treatment.
Only a few legible stencils were added all around the hull (most from the scrap box or from mecha sheets), the Galactic Empire Seal were inkjet-printed at home, as well as some tactical markings on the flanks, puzzled together from single digits in "Aurebash", one of the Imperial SW languages/fonts.
For some variety and color highlights, dozens of small, round and colorful markings were die-punched from silver, yellow, orange, red and blue decal sheet and were placed all over the hull – together with the large panels they blur into the the overall appearance, though. The hatches received thin red linings, also made from generic decals strips.
The cockpit interior was a bit challenging, though. Good TIE Fighter cockpit interior pictures are hard to find, but they suggest a dark grey tone. More confusingly, the MPC instructions call for a “Dark Green” cockpit? Well, I did not like the all-grey option, since the spaceship is already monochrome grey on the outside.
As a compromise I eventually used Tamiya XF-65 "Field Grey". The interior recieved a black ink in and dry-brushing treatment, and some instruments ansd screens were created with black decal material and glossy black paint; some neon paint was used for sci-fi-esque conmtraol lamps everywhere – I did not pay too much intention on the interior, since the cockpit would stay closed, and the thick clear material blurs everything inside.
Following this rationale, the crew was also painted in arather minimal fashion – both wear a dark grey uniform, only the Chiss pilot stands aout with his light blue skin and the flourescent red eyes.
After an overall black ink wash the model received a dry brusing treatment with FS 36492 and FS 36495, for a weathered and battle-worn look. After all, the "Vehement" would not survive the Ballte of Endor, but who knows what became of TIE/E "801"’s mixed crew…?
Finally, the kit was sealed with matt acrylic varnish, and some final cosmetic corrections made.
The display is a DIY creation, too, made from a 6×6" piece of wood, it’s edges covered with edgebonder, a steel wire as holder, and finally the display was paited with semi-matt black acrylic paint from the rattle can.
A complex build, and the TIE/E more or less evolved along the way, with only the overall layout in mind. Work took a month, but I think it was worth the effort. This fantasy creation looks pretty plausible and blends well into the vast canonical TIE Fighter family – and I am happy that I finally could finish this mummy project, including the surplus Jedi Starfighter kit which now also find a very good use!
An epic one, and far outside my standard comfort zone. But a wothwhile build!
Tagged: , mpc , tie , defender , escort , fighter , interceptor , star , wars , sw , endor , battle , two , seater , chiss , pilot , tandem , heavy , sienar , imperial , empire , sith , ral , grey , fictional , kitbashing , modellbau , whif , what-if , non-canonical , tri , three , dizzyfugu , science , fiction , group , build , whatifmodelers