Star Wars: The Top 20 Coolest Spaceships

The Lists Megan Crouse John Saavedra
1/15/2016 at 7:40AM

There are plenty of cool space ships in the Star Wars universe. Here are our favorites!

What would Star Wars be without the many cool space ships that populate its universe? From starfighters to military cruisers and worn hunks of junk that separate Star Wars from the chrome aesthetic of countless other sci-fi stories, this vast armada is a true marvel of cinema and the science fiction genre. 

Since the release of A New Hope in 1977, we've seen plenty of awesome ships on screen, on book covers, and in comic book panels. Who can forget the first time he/she laid eyes on an X-Wing as it prepared to attack the Death Star? Or the Millennium Falcon, as it made its escape from Tatooine? You can't possibly forget the cry of a TIE fighter once you've heard it. 

We love so many of these ships that we've decided to list our favorites in no kind of particular order. We're not ranking them. We just want to appreciate one of the best aspects of Star Wars. Oh, and we're looking at both Legends and new canon ships. Because continuity doesn't really matter in this case. That said, we'll warn you now that you won't see the Death Star or Starkiller Base on this list. One's a space station and the other is an ice planet. Not the same thing. That's not to say they're not the coolest things ever, though!

Let's get on with it:

X-Wing

First Appearance: A New Hope

As the starship battles in A New Hope were modeled after real-world dogfights, X-Wings fit the role of the quick, darting fighter planes that fought in them. Their maneuverability and the split wings that match the X in their name make them one of the coolest starship designs in Star Wars, utilized by the heroes of both the Original Trilogy and The Force Awakens. Poe Dameron’s black-and-orange T-70 is the evolution of the classic T-65, with the same sharp ferocity. The X-Wing is the ship of heroes, and it looks the part.

Jedi Starfighter

First Appearance: Attack of the Clones

The next in the roster of heroes’ ships is the Aethersprite-class light interceptor, more commonly known as the Jedi starfighter and popularized by Anakin and Obi-Wan in the Prequels. With their bright colors and talkative astromech droids, these ships contributed to the characters of the Jedi and looked pretty cool while they were doing it, especially twisting around in the beautiful Battle of Coruscant at the beginning of Revenge of the Sith. Like the Jedi, the Aethersprites are agile and quick—and didn’t fare very well in Order 66.

Lambda-class T-4a Shuttle

First Appearance: Return of the Jedi

While the TIE fighter is the iconic Imperial ship, with its screeching noise, the Lambda-class shuttles were iconic Imperial vessels in their own right. In weird contrast to the Mon Calamari cruisers used by the Rebellion, the Lambdas have an organic symmetry to them, like a spiny underwater fish. The Sentinel-class shuttle is very similar in shape, but was developed slightly earlier, and this is the ship you're more likely to see on Star Wars Rebels than in the movies. Both the Empire and Darth Vader use the Lambda shuttles to travel between Imperial capital ships and the Death Star.

N-1 Naboo Starfighter

First Appearance: The Phantom Menace

Like the Sequel Trilogy, the Prequels brought more color to the starfighters of the galaxy, enabled by more advanced technology and symbolic of a galaxy that hadn't yet fallen into the Dark Times. The bright yellow, needle-tipped Naboo fighters serve the same role as the X-Wings in the Original Trilogy, as the front line fighters of the Naboo force. They were used by the local Naboo Royal Security Forces, but were more than capable of taking out a Trade Federation droid control ship.

Ebon Hawk

First Appearance: Knights of the Old Republic (Game)

While the Ebon Hawk shares some of its flattened UFO shape with the Millennium Falcon, its role as the literal flagship of the Knights of the Old Republic games matches the Falcon in another key way too: the ship becomes almost like a character in its own right. Both Darth Revan and the Jedi Exile used this ship on their journeys across the galaxy. The player spends hours there getting to know the crew and preparing for the war either for or against the Sith. Formerly the weapon of a crime lord, Ebon Hawk is put through its paces too, with turret guns powerful enough to tear apart Sith starfighters.

Scimitar Sith Infiltrator

First Appearance: The Phantom Menace

Darth Maul’s starship didn’t get a lot of screen time, but its black paint and folded wings give it the attitude of a stooping bird of prey, adding to the Sith Lord’s fearsome appearance in The Phantom Menace. The Scimitar got some more screen time in the Star Wars comics, where it was recently the site of one of Lando Calrissian’s adventurous heists. Something else we never see in the film is the ship’s stealth capabilities, which might have allowed it to get in and out of the blockade over Naboo. The curved wings are reminiscent of later TIE fighters.

Interdictor Star Destroyer

First Appearance: Rebels

The Interdictor Star Destroyer was the next step in Imperial technology on Star Wars Rebels. While packing the punch of a Star Destroyer, it can also force ships out of hyperspace using its gravity well generators. The Interdictor changed the way the Rebel fleet had to think about their movements. Although it’s still basically impossible to detect where exactly a ship is from hyperspace, with Interdictors in use in a blockade, the Imperials didn’t have to—they could just tug out any ship that approached them, and then bring the Star Destroyer’s armament into play. In Legends, the Interdictor was its own class of Star Destroyer. Things seem to be progressing slightly differently—or at least at a different rate—in the new canon, with experimental gravity well projectors affixed to an existing Star Destroyer in Rebels.

Solar Sailer

First Appearance: Attack of the Clones

Count Dooku and Asajj Ventress both use these elegant ships on their solo journeys across the galaxy. Dooku's solar sailer makes for a colorful, unexpected visual in the Prequels, as it unfurls its reflective sail. These ships had to be small, because of the way they operated. Solar sailers used lasers and tachyon streams pushing against the sail to propel themselves. Also because of this, the sails had to be enormous in order to enable the vessel to go into hyperspace, making this kind of ship rare and difficult to produce. Their unique look sets them apart from anything else ever seen in Star Wars, though, and gives Ventress and Dooku a lot of style points.

Clawcraft

First Appearance: Specter of the Past

Speaking of unique, one of the most unusual-looking starfighters in Star Wars doesn’t appear in the movies at all. The Chiss clawcraft that appeared in the Expanded Universe looked like it sounded—swept-forward struts gave it the appearance of clawed hands partially closed, all stemming from a spherical cockpit. These ships aren’t completely alien, though. The symmetrical design lacking aerodynamic wings looks similar to the TIE fighter, but perhaps more wild, suitable for a militaristic alien culture. Chiss pilots—and the human Jagged Fel, who was born and raised in Chiss space—were critical during the Yuuzhan Vong wars that played out in The New Jedi Order book seres, and could hold their own against either X-Wings or the Yuuzhan Vong’s living ships.

Zonama Sekotan Shuttle

First Appearance: The New Jedi Order series

Speaking of living ships, some of the fastest ships in the galaxy came from a living planet. The New Jedi Order series was full of all kinds of biological weirdness, starting with the Yuuzhan Vong’s bioengineered technology. The living planet Zonama Sekot is like an inverse reflection of these villains, and so it has its own living weapons—ones that can be sculpted into ships that create a psychic connection to their pilots. Obi-Wan and Anakin got to know Zonama Sekot during the Prequel era as well, before the planet disappeared for decades, taking its technology with it.

- Megan Crouse

Millennium Falcon

First Appearance: A New Hope

Don't panic—we didn't forget the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy! I'd say this is the most iconic starship in all of Star Wars. At the center of the entire Original Trilogy (and it makes a look-and-you'll-miss-it cameo in the Prequels, too!), the Falcon rightfully became one of the standout icons of the early Force Awakens promotional campaign, alongside Kylo Ren's lightsaber. The Falcon spans much of the film saga, and if you delve into the Expanded Universe, it has quite the history of names, paint jobs, and owners. Most famously, Lando Calrissian lost the ship to Han Solo in a card game. And while you'll sometimes wonder why so many people cherish this "garbage" ship, as Rey so eloquently puts it in the latest Star Wars adventure, you can always assume the Falcon still has some surprises left in her sweet heart, including secret storage compartments underneath the floor panels and twin AG-2G quad laser cannons that more than make up for the ship's very moody hyperdrive.

Outrider

First Appearance: Shadows of the Empire

Corellian smuggler Dash Rendar is clearly supposed to be a stand-in for Han Solo while he's still frozen in carbonite in the Shadows of the Empire multimedia event from the 90s. And the Outrider does the same for the Millennium Falcon, down to the familiar cockpit design. The ship was designed by Doug Chiang, who later worked on designs for the Prequels and The Force Awakens. While the Outrider is very similar to the Falcon, it stands out for being an iconic ship for one specific story, something that doesn't happen often in Star Wars, which has often put our favorite Corellian freighter at the center of its adventures. The Outrider was later edited into a shot of the special edition of A New Hope.

Super Star Destroyer

First Appearance: The Empire Strikes Back

You absolutely remember Darth Vader's flagship, Executor, from The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The ship that hunted Luke Skywalker and the Rebellion was the same one that later crashed into the Death Star II's surface during the Battle of Endor. It's quite poetic that it's a Rebel A-Wing—one of the fleet's smaller fighters—that ultimately deals the killing blow. Still, the Super Star Destroyer (or Executor-class Star Dreadnought) is a sight to see, as it overshadows the Star Destroyers that once loomed over our heads in the opening scene of A New Hope. Surprisingly, the Executor had a pretty short lifespan of almost four years before its ultimate destruction. Another Super Star Destroyer, Ravager, became the Empire's prized possession in Aftermath, before it was also destroyed in the Battle of Jakku. It's the same fallen Star Destroyer we see in The Force Awakens!

Sun Crusher

First Appearance: Jedi Search

While it's not much larger than a starship, the Sun Crusher is one of the most devastating superweapons ever created, capable of turning a star into a supernova and destroying entire star systems. And it's nearly invincible due to Quantum-crystalline armor, which could repel any laser blasts and withstand any collision. This little ship ripped through the bridge of a Star Destroyer and even withstood a superlaser blast from a prototype Death Star! Good thing the Empire never quite got a chance to use this ship against the Rebellion...

Outbound Flight

First Appearance: Survivor's Quest

Outbound Flight wasn't as much one ship as it was a combination of six Dreadnaught-class heavy cruisers connected by a central fuselage. While the design is cool enough, the ship's purpose is even more captivating: to venture into the Unknown Regions of the galaxy and search for extragalactic life. Yes, this was basically Star Wars' own version of the Starship Enterprise, even if it was ultimately fated for a doomed expedition. This ship makes appearances or is mentioned in much of writer Timothy Zahn's Star Wars work.

TIE Fighter

First Appearance: A New Hope

Few can forget the cry of a TIE fighter, as it zooms over their heads or right at them at dangerous speeds. Although it is absolutely the Empire's most expendable starship, it is also its most iconic. The original TIE fighters from A New Hope were white in color, while the ones in Empire and Jedi were a bit grayer, with blue-ish hues. The signature shriek of the fighter was created by combining an elephant's scream with the sound of a car driving on a wet road. 

Kylo Ren's Upsilon-class Command Shuttle

First Appearance: The Force Awakens

We don't actually see Kylo Ren's command shuttle in much of the action in The Force Awakens, even though it comes equipped with twin laser cannons. But when it does come down for a landing, like a hawk descending on its prey, it is one of the coolest sights in the entire film. It's foldable wings puts the Upsilon-class shuttle in the same family as the Lambda, which is higher up on this list. The winning characteristic of the ship is just how menacing it looks. It basically personifies Kylo Ren's vicious brand of evil. 

Hammerhead-class Cruiser

First Appearance: Knights of the Old Republic (Game)

The Knights of the Old Republic series is responsible for many of the best ships in Star Wars. This Hammerhead-class Republic cruiser is the second of three on this list. Both the Endar Spire and Harbinger are key ships in the games, tied to the ongoing war between the Republic and the Sith. Few who have played the games can forget running through the hallways of a doomed Endar Spire, as it gave in to the Sith assault. Or the approaching Harbinger, the ship piloted by Darth Sion, a Sith hell-bent on hunting you down once and for all. For me, my all-time favorite Hammerhead moment is when a bunch of them team up to take down the Star Forge at the end of the first game. So good. This ship is set to make its first new canon appearance in Star Wars Rebels episode "A Princess in Lothal."

Slave I

First Appearance: The Empire Strikes Back

For the first few years of its popularity, we didn't even see the Slave I in battle, and we wouldn't see what this ship could really do on screen until Attack of the Clones. Like its bounty hunter pilot, the ship is outfitted with several weapons, including laser cannons, seismic charges, and projectile launchers. Make no mistake about it, though, this ship is most famous for being Boba Fett's chosen mode of transportation. And its unique design also helps it stand out.

The Ravager

First Appearance: Knights of the Old Republic II

The Ravager is awesome because it's barely able to hold itself together at all, but is still one of the most threatening ships in Star Wars. This Centurion-class battleship was used by the Republic during the Mandalorian Wars, which took place before the events of Knights of the Old Republic. For all intents and purposes, Ravager was left a carcass in the aftermath of the Battle of Malachor V. Yet it was Sith Lord Darth Nihilus who willed it to fly again by using the Dark Side to power it and hold the ship together. With Ravager, Nihilus traveled around the galaxy, with the help of zombie Force slave pilots, feeding on the life energy of unsuspecting planets. It is one of KotOR II's scarier settings.

- John Saavedra