Rebel transport- the galactic workhorse


This underrated vessel seems to be a common workhorse for the outer regions of the STARWARS galaxy.

The "official" sources have had subtle variations in their interpretations of these utilitarian vessels.
The WEG Sourcebooks (2nd edition and SpecialEdition) seem to infer that they are an exclusively Rebel vessel, built by "Rebel Yards".
Shane Johnson's StarWars Technical Journal reports that the rebels have obtained a very view of these vessels, inferring that they are a common "neutral" design, but have heavily modified them, equipping them with armor plating and many extra sensor arrays. The Technical Journal names the Bearing Lifter and the Quantum Storm as two of the Rebel Hoth transports - naming Quantum Storm as the one we see fleeing under cover of Ion-Cannon fire. The WEG Sourcebooks name this same vessel as the Bright Hope. The WEG Sourcebooks have also given the vessel a manufacturer, the Gallofree Yards.

A transport unloading in Mos Eisley

The new CGI footage in ANH:SE throws doubt on both these interpretations. The fact that a Transport is seen sitting in the open in MosEisley being unloaded by Asp-Droids during an Imperial Interdiction strongly suggests that the design in neither exclusively "Rebel", nor particularly rare. Also, the appearance of this vessel whilst brief and distant, seems to show no significant differences from the Hoth vessels. The "armor" seems to be exactly the same, and there does not seem to be any significantly more or less of the "sensors, navigation and communications systems" referred to as special Rebel add-ons by the Technical Journal.

The English edition of the StarWars Chronicles which usually follows WEG & the Technical Journal to the letter, also maintains that the bridge structure is a "detector shield array" and that the "extra" armor is to assist in evading Imperial detection. It further supports the myth of the transports chunky selection of electronic counter measures.

The Essential Guide

Bill Smith's Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels (EGVV), published in 1996, has reached an interesting compromise over this vessel.

He lists the "nodule" feature as being a command pod AND a deflector shield generator! - a neat way of avoiding the "LA-continuity-police" that seem to patrol STARWARS products forcing everyone to follow WEG's mistakes.

The EGVV follows the WEG-Sourcebook 2nd Ed. sketch (which MAY be an early Joe Johnston - but I cannot confirm as it's uncredited) in putting the loading ramp about halfway up the ship. Given the EGVV was written before the Special Editions, this is most fair - and the indication of the ramp being at the aft in MosEisley was quite vague in any event. I have no argument with the idea that the ship may have MULTIPLE ramps! Perhaps it is even designed to operate something like a Roll-On-Roll-Off vessel, with a continuous load-unload path allowing for faster turnaround.

EGVV does indicate that the landing gear can retract - this doesn't seem to be the case. That is, the gear is always "down and visible" though of course it CAN extend a little further than it seems to sit in-flight.

To cover the question of their origin, the EGVV has made another compromise. It states that the Gallofree Yards were a civilian concern, but went broke. Further, the EGVV states that "many" of the remaining vessels found their way into rebel hands. I suspect that this is an overstatement, and that the ships are still common enough that one can land one in MosEisley during an Imperial interdiction without raising undue suspicion!

The EGVV - in keeping "continuity" has of course maintained the story of "stealth" technology. The ships are said to be loaded with sensor and comms gear as their chief defense. The EGVV does NOT specify if this is a feature of those ships the rebels have obtained, or a feature of ALL Gallofree Yards ships!

With regard to the presence of transports in Rebel fleet operations, the EGVV suggests that some ships are converted into fleet fuellers .. a clever idea.

Escape from Hoth

The most dramatic sequence featuring transports was the escape from Hoth of the Rebel forces with minimal starfighter cover. They ran under the cover of extremely accurate ground based ion cannon fire.

The reaction of the Imperial officers leads one to suspect that the capture of such ships under normal circumstances would provide no difficulty whatsoever to the enormous resources and power of an Imperial Star Destroyer! They DID NOT say - "Wow! aren't we lucky to have been able to detect one of these stealth transports before it slipped past us!"

The myth that these vessels are covered with stealth technology is made even more questionable by the fact that this rather crude means of escape was employed. If "Rebel-Built" or "Rebel-adapted" transports were equipped with the stealth armor referred to in the StarWars Chronicles or had the massive arrays of detectors, shields comms etc that the Technical Journal and the WEG Sourcebooks imply, them surely it would have been easier for them to sneak away slowly and on another vector, and almost certainly undetected.

No. The transports used by the Rebel Alliance almost certainly had SOME changes made ... they probably have a few weapons buried in the clatter of their loading and docking equipment, they probably have "rebel" communications gear, they may even have had a little extra armor - BUT the whole point of their using "standard" transports would have been rendered useless if they were noticeably different from the outside! The MosEisley image now confirms this - the "Rebel" transports were essentially IDENTICAL to the "civilian" transports they originally were.



Mr Martyn Griffiths a noted SF Modeller and STARWARS aficionado, has made a "quick and dirty" thumbnail estimate of the transport's length (using sizing of the ILM model as given by the StarWars Chronicles and applying standard model makers scale conventions) as 300~340 feet. This is 91.5m~103m. Both the WEG and Technical Journal sources agree on a size of 90m.

Martyn's latest thoughts:

Therefore: following the scale conventions of ILM model builders, it is possible that the vessel is in fact 330'9" (101m) OR as small as 250' (76.25m).
The WEG size of 295' (90m) is NOT in accord with any known scaling convention - BUT does sit between the limits those conventions imply.

Sketch from 2nd.Ed WEG Sourcebook NOTE: the implied scale from the figures, the central & forward facing loading ramp and the loading crane pincers

If the ship is about this size then the inference is that the "bridge" structure on top is about 5~7m long - quite long enough for a control bridge - high enough to stand a human in comfortably, and the supporting tube about 2m in diameter, quite enough for a ladder or small turbolift.


There can be no doubt whatsoever that the transport is designed to make planetfall.
The vessel is equipped with 4 permanently deployed landing struts and has been seen sitting on the ground on three occasions ...

(1) in the hangars of Hoth base where at least three are seen in a row
(2) on the snow dunes outside of echo base
(3) in the backblocks of MosEisley

There is no doubt that this ship os designed for planetary loading and unloading - though there is no reason why it could not participate on space borne transfers.

It is possible that some of the mechanism protruding through the side of the upper hull plate may consist of grappling and docking facilities for hard vacuum transfer of personnel and pressure sensitive goods.

The Bridge

One of the most significant structures of the transport is the nacelle structure on the dorsal surface towards the aft end. The Technical Journal names this structure as a shield generator - following I suppose the fallacy of interpreting the Star Destroyer bridge globes as such. In this instance I must disagree with Mr Johnson's interpretation on FOUR grounds:

  1. The "civilian" transport at MosEisley has the same structure - though to be fair Mr Johnson didn't have this information at the time.

  2. Shield generators are NOT been confirmed to be external features of ANY STARWARS vessel.

  3. A "common sense" design paradigm for civilian freighters would happily see the placement of a bridge in a high, clear viewing position such as this, to facilitate better docking and such ... it is quite clear from the images that there is no room for a command bridge at the bow of the vessel which consists of little more than the "beak" of the armored shell and the leading edge of some cargo modules.

  4. The Structure has what appears to be a rather clearly defined front window!

I believe that this structure is a bridge, accessed by a 2m wide ladder tube, and readily seating 4 or more persons in comfort. The fact that the vessel is entered from a loading ramp extending from the main hull suggests that there are pressurised crew-accessable areas within the hull. I propose that the crews quarters are located there.

It maybe that the external command bridge is not the only command location, and perhaps it is only used for delicate maneuvers. As a pedestrian cargo ship however, I suspect that "combat safety" is not high in its design specs!

It is interesting to note that there are similarly mounted "bridge-like" structures on some MonCalamari cruisers! This and the curving organic lines of the transport have led me to suspect that there may be some common point of origin for these designs.

Exoskeletal Armor

I'm afraid I must depart a little from the Technical Journal on the matter of armor. The images of the transport in MosEisley clearly show that the vessels as they appear on Hoth are typical of them in regular civilian life. The large curving plates of external hull are not "added" armor, but the actual hull of the vessel.

There is a common theme running through many, particularly Joe Johnston designed, vessels - that of EXOSKELETAL ARMOR. The Imperial "dagger" ships, this transport, the rebel frigate, the Millennium Falcon and others all display the same tendency. These ships have strong external plating AS THEIR PRIME STRUCTURAL BASIS.

In the case of the transport it is clear from the image below that the armor plates, or "skins" as Johnston called them, ARE the ship, and that the bulk of the matter seen between them is a mere agglomeration of cargo modules of "various shapes and sizes"

Fleet Operations

No-one pretends that the transport is a warship, even if it IS souped up with armor and stealth suites. So what the blazes were so many of them doing at the Battle of Endor?

There is a suggestion in the ROTJ novel that at least some of them were loaded with explosives and used as large self propelled bombs against Imperial Capital ships. This is an old and reliable strategy that has precedents in Sir Frances Drake's fireships that assisted in defeating the Spanish Armarda, and even earlier.

I for one would prefer to have seen the Super Star Destroyer Executor brought down by repeated detonation of these fire ships against its enormous 18km long hull. This would have been a far more believable and spectacular solution that the rather silly expedient of ramming an old dodge convertible through the window!


The true versatility of the transport ship lies in its modular carrying capacity. The vessel is able to carry a large number of cargo modules between the plates of its exoskeleton. Many of these are somewhat standard in size and shape, but the ship is clearly capable of being adapted to a number of loads. It is known that during the Rebel escape from Hoth these ships carried both equipment AND personnel. The normal crew space within these vessels is probably quite modest, but they can doubtless be equipped with pressurised modules which can serve for perishable goods as well as passengers.

The final model showed no evidence of the pincer crane shown in the early sketch from the WEG 2nd edition Sourcebook. The structure of the underside and the brief glimpse of the vessel in MosEisley also seem to suggest that the entry ramp now extends rearwards from between the engines, rather than forwards from amidships.

The EGVV follows the WEG-Sourcebook 2nd Ed. sketch (which MAY be an early Joe Johnston - but I cannot confirm as it's uncredited) in putting the loading ramp about halfway up the ship. Given the EGVV was written before the Special Editions, this is most fair - and the indication of the ramp being at the aft in MosEisley was quite vague in any event. I have no argument with the idea that the ship may have MULTIPLE ramps! Perhaps it is even designed to operate something like a Roll-On-Roll-Off vessel, with a continuous load-unload path allowing for faster turnaround.

RAG-TAG Transport Variant

Mr Martyn Griffiths reminded me of a particular "rag-tag" ship seen in the closing moments of The Empire Strikes Back and pointed out to me that this ship seemed to have been rendered in the comic adaption of Steve Perry's Shadows of the Empire.

Below I have a scanned image of the rag-tag vessel, taken from the StarWars Chronicles next to the comic book ship.
As you can see, the artists Kilian Plunkett and John Nadeau have drawn the ship as though it were a Gallofree Yards transport with large fin structures ventral and dorsal. This isn't an unreasonable attempt, and I must applaud the all too rare efforts of comic artists to incorporate true canon rather than apocrypha.

However, the more detailed image of the real vessel shows that its main hull is nothing like a Gallofree Yards transport.

Unfortunately, the comic artists are in error with their details. This doesn't really detract from the comic however, which is a well drawn adaption, and one of the better STARWARS comics of recent years. (Perhaps second only to the European-drawn adaption of Tim Zahn's work).

Ship Statistics from WestEndGames

WestEndGames RolePlaying rules offer the following stats for the "Rebel Transport".
The sizing they give of 90m is within acceptable limits as discussed above.
The name however is odd .. "Gallofree" .. are these things built by TimeLords?

The Weapons of this vessel are listed for the Rebel converted "Bright Hope" only
... the WEG figures for generic Gallofree Yards transports have no weapons at all.

Craft: Gallofree Yards Transport
Type: Medium Transport
Scale: Capital
Length: 90m
Skill: Space transport: Gallofree Yards transport
Crew: 6, gunners: 1, skeleton 3/+10
Crew Skill: Astrogation 4D, space transports 4D, starship gunnery 3D+1, starship shields 3D
Cargo Capacity: 19,000 metric tons
Consumable: 6 months
Cost: 350,000 (new), 125,000 (used)
Hyperdrive Multiplier: x4
Space: 2
Atmosphere: 225, 650 kmh
Hull: 2D
Shields: 1D

Weapons: 4 Twin Laser Cannons (fire linked)