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Hi, everybody. For those who want to know who is talking to them about the Star Wars universe, I’ll tell you a little about myself and my Star Wars journey. My first contact with Star Wars was when I was about age 6, back in 1977 when the Star Wars series made its debut to cinema audiences with Star Wars: Episode IV, A New Hope. Back then, of course, it was simply known as Star Wars.
When you consider what special effects technology was available in the 1970s, George Lucas had accomplished the impossible and thereby had no peers. When VHS tapes became a thing, I watched Star Wars, again and again, more than any other movie since, about 30 times. I was also around when Ronald Reagan initiated the Star Wars defense initiative against the USSR, and I was able to watch the Berlin Wall eventually fall.
I never had the privilege of being in the late Joseph Campbell’s class, but he did teach at my undergrad Sarah Lawrence College. Campbell, one of the world’s leading mythology experts and inventor of the monomyth, identified Star Wars as a mythology tailor-made for challenges unique to modern times. So when people are dismissive of Star Wars and other sci-fi/fantasy/adventure works as simply entertainment, I don’t need to stand on my own authority to counter that opinion, and you don’t need to either.
There are plenty of experts like Campbell that make a case for the relevance of Star Wars and other mythology to understanding the human condition. Now that we know who I am and why Star Wars matters, let’s talk about the Venator-class Star Destroyer!
Introduction to the Venator-class Star Destroyer
The Venator-class Star Destroyer also called the Jedi cruiser, saw a lot of action during the Clone Wars. It had been used throughout the Galactic Republic era and, to some extent, during the Galactic Empire/civil war.
Known for its distinctive wedge shape, the Venator-class Star Destroyer can be classified as part of a line of cruiser-classed Star Destroyers within both the Galactic Republic and the Imperial navies. It has also been referred to as the Republic cruiser, Republic attack cruiser, or the Republic Star Destroyer.
The Venator was a multi-purpose ship class in that it could function both as a carrier for starfighters having dogfights in outer space and as a combatant in ship-to-ship battle. It could also serve as a troop carrier, cargo ship, and supply and replenishment ship. There were two types of Venator, Venator I-class and Venator II-class.
As a Star Destroyer cruiser, the Venator had the assortment of features that one would expect from a Galactic Republic vessel: main features, hanger space, bridges, engines, landing capabilities, starfighter complements, reactor systems, and hyperdrive systems.
Between their weapons and their complement of starfighters and ground attack craft, the Venators had all of the offensive capability one would expect from a Star Destroyer. Their ability to carry cargo, food, and thousands of extra people demonstrated their utility for humanitarian and other non-combat-related missions.
|Manufacturer||Kuat Drive Yards|
|Cargo capacity||7,000 metric tons|
|Food supply||Two standard years|
As one can see simply by examining the table above, the cruisers of the Galactic Republic were large and with great capacity, and the Venators were no exception. They would normally require a crew of up to 7,400, which included officers, pilots, and ship maintenance personnel, while having room for an additional 2,000 troops, often clone troops. It could also hold 7,000 metric tons of cargo, not including a food supply for all personnel mentioned that would be good for two standard years.
During the early period of the Clone Wars, the Venator-class Star Destroyer featured a wide array of hangar space.
The Venator-Class Star Destroyer had a ½-kilometer passage in the bow with starship bays on each side. There were large doors at the top of the ship for easy access.
An array of hyperspace transport rings at the front of the passage in the bow of the cruiser. These hyperspace transport rings were useful for teleporting various starfighters that were not equipped with their hyperdrives.
In the rear of the passage were docking doors in the floor. These doors in the floor could also be used for troops or walkers to exit the ship directly. Walkers include all manner of armored cavalry land vehicles such as the iconic AT-AT from Star Wars: Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back.
The stern of the ship had a command station above the docking doors. Further behind the command station were two independent docking bays on the left and right sides of the cruiser. These docking bays were protected by blast doors.
The Venator-class Star Destroyer contained two bridges. The bridge on the right side, starboard, was the primary command center, and the bridge on the left side, port, was for coordinating starfighter operations.
The large windows, elevated from the body of the ship, offered a panoramic view of battles and operations. Behind the windows were two sunken pits and a raised catwalk in between.
Behind the catwalk was a holotable between two sets of blast doors. The holotable could be used for communication and projecting holograms of battle maps, ship blueprints, and troop movements. These holotables were first seen by audiences in Star Wars: Episode IV, A New Hope, when the Rebel Alliance was planning their historic assault on the Deathstar.
|Weapon||# /Venator||Weapon features and details|
|DBY-827 heavy turbolaser turrets||8 on the dorsal side||4 on either side of the bridge|
|AV-7 Anti-vehicle Artillery Cannon||Many||Long rows on either side|
|Proton torpedo launchers, heavy||6|
|Tractor beam projectors, heavy||4|
|Beam weapons||Varies||Attached to ventral docking bay|
|Point-defense laser canons||52 minimum||Anti-starfighter|
|Swivelling double-barrelled turret||1 minimum||Type of point-defense laser cannon|
|Medium dual turbolasers||2 sets||Along hull trench, 1/side|
The Venator’s assortment of weapons was quite formidable. The four most popular have a more detailed description below.
DBY-827s were the main firepower for the ship. These double-barreled turrets were charged by a large power capacitor and employed tracking sensors. The turrets could rotate within three seconds.
They had two different firing modes, alternating between barrels and both barrels firing simultaneously. These outer space artillery pieces had seven different blast intensities to adjust to different circumstances. These guns were capable of both planetary bombardment and inter-ship combat.
AV-7 Anti-Vehicle Artillery Cannon
AV-7 Anti-vehicle Artillery Cannon was a type of self-propelled artillery cannon complete with repulsorlift feet and four metal legs. It could be operated by a single person using the gunnery controls on the side of the general assembly. It was also known as the AV-7 mobile gun, the clone artillery gun, and the heavy cannon. It could be fired from a Venator-class vessel or removed from the vessel to be transported and used on planet surfaces. Its ammunition was plasma-based.
For ship-to-ship combat, these guns could be used for broadside attacks as they lined up on each side of the Venator.
Proton Torpedo Launchers
Proton torpedo launchers were used to launch proton torpedoes. Luke Skywalker used proton torpedos to destroy the Deathstar in Star Wars: Episode IV, A New Hope. Each torpedo was armed with a proton warhead that would detonate on impact, releasing clouds of high-velocity proton particles in a focused explosion. This ordinance was also very maneuverable and capable of making 90-degree turns during its flight path.
Medium Dual Turbolasers
Medium dual turbolasers operated on the same principles as DBY-827s and even individual small arms like blaster pistols and blaster rifles. They converted high-energy gas into plasma bolts.
The medium dual turbolasers, however, operated on a much larger scale, and heavy turbolasers could even feed the entire reactor output into their beams.
The starboard and port sides of each Venator had four to five ion thrust engines towards the stern of the ship. These engines came in three distinct sizes and consisted of multiple chambers and rings.
The engines were propelled by a reaction from a pulse combined with reactor core rods. The engines could also be controlled individually from the command bridge. There was also auxiliary power available if any of the engines failed. There was some danger from the ion engines if an individual were to get too close to them without protective gear.
The Venator was best suited to specialized landing strips when landing on planets. However, it did have retrorockets for atmospheric landings when necessary.
|Craft||Max. #/Venator||Craft features and details|
|Alpha-3 Nimbus-class V-wing starfighters||192||Good in tight spaces|
|Eta-2 Actis-class light interceptors||192||Ion cannons|
|Aggressive ReConnaissance-170 starfighters||192||hyperdrive|
|V-19 Torrent starfighters||192||Concussion missile launchers|
|BTL-B Y-wing starfighter/bombers||192||Offensive ordinance capability|
|Clone Z-95 Headhunters||192||Customized for clone pilots|
|Low Altitude Assault Transport||40|
|Modular components for planetary garrisons||Varies|
|All-Terrain Tactical Enforcer/ground vehicles||24|
Alpha-3 Nimbus-class Starfighter
The Alpha-3 Nimbus-class starfighter was known for its wedge shape and V-wing configuration.
The top speed for the Alpha-3 was 52,000 km/hour, and there is no hyperdrive. It is, however, armed with twin laser cannons and an astromech droid.
Eta-2 Actis-class Light Interceptor
The Eta-2 Actis-class light interceptor, at 5.47 meters in length, was also highly maneuverable though not nearly as fast as the V-wing.
The top speed for the Eta-2 was 1,500 km/hour. It was equipped with ion engines and an astromech droid. It was armed with 2 laser cannons and 2 ion cannons.
Unlike V-wings, however, the presence of ion cannons, a new technology at the time, allowed it to stun other craft with electrical disruptions. Etas were used during the final days of the Clone Wars and were used personally by Jedi knights Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker.
Aggressive ReConnaissance-170 Starfighter
The Aggressive ReConnaissance-170 starfighter, aka the ARC-170, was considered to be the cutting edge of heavy-duty starfighter technology at the time of the Clone Wars. Eventually, however, it was replaced by the TIE-fighters seen in Star Wars: A New Hope but was used as a model for the T-65B X-wing starfighter.
At a length of 12.71 meters, the ARC-170 was equipped with deflector shields and a hyperdrive. Its 3-person crew consisted of a pilot, co-pilot, and tail-gunner plus an astromech droid. It was armed with a proton torpedo launcher, 2 laser cannons on the outer wings, and twin blaster cannons for the tail-gunner.
V-19 Torrent Starfighter
The V-19 Torrent starfighter, aka the V-19 Torrent Interceptor, was a predecessor to the Alpha-3 Nimbus-class starfighter above. It would eventually be replaced by the ARC-170.
The V-19 was armed with 2 wingtip-mounted laser cannons and 2 hull-mounted concussion missile launchers. There were no shield generators, but it had thick armor and a domed cockpit for a better view.
BTL-B Y-Wing Starfighter/Bomber
The BTL-B Y-wing starfighter/bomber was the first in the BTL-series Y-wing line and was deployed during the Clone Wars by the Republic Navy. Although discarded by the Galactic Empire after the Clone Wars, the Rebel Alliance used its successor, the BTL-A4 Y-wing assault starfighter/bomber, during the Galactic Civil War.
The BTL-B Y-wing was equipped with 2 ion jet engines with a fuel recycling system, a hyperdrive, armor plating, and a shield generator.
Its 2-person crew consisted of a pilot and tail-gunner (the latter in a rotating bubble-turret) plus an astromech droid.
It was armed with 2 laser cannons, 2 ion cannons, and 2 MG7 proton torpedo launchers, each with a six-round magazine. It also carried various ordinance: proton torpedoes, proton bombs, cluster missiles, concussion missiles, and 1 electron-proton bomb.
Clone Z-95 Headhunter
The clone Z-95 Headhunter, aka the clone Z-95 starfighter or Headhunter starfighter, was used during the latter part of the Clone Wars. It was designed specifically for clone pilots.
At 16.74 x 18.13 meters in dimensions, it was armed with KX5 laser cannons and proton torpedo launchers with 8 proton torpedoes.
The Venator’s main reactor was a dome in the center of the ship, under the bridge tower. Reactant pumps, ducts, and cylindrical annihilation reactant silos were situated in front of the main reactor. At maximum power, the main reactor could consume 40,000 tons of fuel per second.
A smaller subsidiary reactor could be found in the left-wing of the cruiser and was surrounded by a collection of power cells.
There was also a system of shafts, walkways, and control stations for the reactors that were suspended over a chasm. The ship could become inoperable if these vital systems were damaged.
Every Venator had at least two hyperdrives, a class 1.0 main hyperdrive and a class 15 backup hyperdrive. One hyperdrive generator was in the aftmost fin that divided the ion drive thrusters. Fore of the generator was the main inertial compressor, with the stern power feeding to the fore of that.
The hyperdrive room had a structure similar to the reactor compartments in that it had a system of walkways suspending consoles over a chasm.
History of the Venator
Battle of Chistophsis
In order to break a blockade over the planet Chistophsis, Jedi General Anakin Skywalker led half a dozen ships to engage a fleet of 30 Separatist warships. Three of Skywalker’s ships, including the Resolute, his flagship, were Venator-class Star Destroyers. The other three were Pelta-class frigates and were later reinforced by Jedi General Obi-Wan Kenobi aboard another Venator, the Negotiator.
Despite being severely outnumbered, Skywalker managed to engage the Separatist flagship Invincible and destroy it. After being joined by three more Venator-class Star Destroyers led by Master Yoda, the Republic fleet managed to break the blockade on Christophsis.
Battle of Teth
A Republic Venator engaged a Separatist Munificent in a duel over the planet of Teth and was victorious.
Battle of Ryloth
Venator-class ships bore the brunt of the fighting at the costly Battle of Ryloth; the Separatist Subjugator-class heavy cruiser, the Malevolence, had a secret weapon that had managed to destroy two Venator-class Star Destroyers near the Outer Rim world of Ryloth before the Jedi Council had even known of its existence.
The Hunt for the Malevolence
Jedi General Plo Koon led the hunt for both the Malevolence and the secret weapon with a fleet of three Venator-class Star Destroyers, including his flagship, the Triumphant. The secret weapon turned out to be two mega-ion cannons. This was a new technology that was capable of disabling ship systems and leaving vessels defenseless.
General Grievous commanded the Malevolence and disabled all three Venators with his two mega-ion cannons before destroying them with his turnbolasers. Plo Koon, however, was able to survive and escape with some of his clone crew and reveal the true nature of the Malevolence’s secret weapon.
With this knowledge, General Skywalker was able to lead a squadron of Y-wing starfighters, Shadow Squadron, to disable both the Malevolence’s ion cannons and hyperdrive. General Kenobi led three more Venator-class to further damage the Malevolence and win the engagement. Ultimately, the Malevolence was destroyed by Skywalker and the other Jedi through trickery.
Battle of Bothawui
Again, Skywalker engaged Grievous. Skywalker led a fleet of three Venator-class ships, including the Resolute, and Grievous led six Munificent-class Star Frigates, this time without the Malevolence.
Skywalker and his Venators managed to destroy half of Grievous’s fleet, including the Munificent flagship, forcing Grievous to retreat in a starfighter.
The Final Engagements Over Ryloth
Again, Skywalker led his three Venators to engage the Separatist’s blockade over Ryloth. This engagement resulted in Skywalker’s fleet fighting four Munificents supported by several squadrons of vulture droids. Skywalker lost the battle and had to jump through hyperspace, but not before one of his Venators, the Redeemer, had been destroyed.
Skywalker returned to Ryloth with his remaining two Venators, the Resolute and the Defender. In order to break the blockade in time to help the inhabitants of Ryloth, Skywalker was forced to come up with a daring plan.
After transferring all of the Defender crew off the vessel and onto the Resolute, Skywalker piloted the Defender by himself to make a kamikaze attack on the Droid Control Ship. Skywalker was able to destroy both ships before bailing in an escape pod by ramming the Defender into the Droid Control Ship. This finally broke the blockade and ended the Battle of Ryloth.
Battle of Coruscant
Due to the fact that the bulk of the Republic forces was fighting campaigns in the Outer Rim of the galaxy, the Core Worlds were left with only minor defenses, the Coruscant Home Defense Fleet. When the Separatists led an attack on Coruscant, the capital of the Galactic Republic, they expected to meet little resistance.
General Grievous led a fleet of over 1,000 Separatist starships against Coruscant. He crushed the Coruscant Home Defense Fleet and captured the Republic’s Chancellor.
Jedi Generals Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker led the Open Circle Armada to rescue the Chancellor. The Jedi were ultimately successful. The Chancellor was rescued, a third of the Confederacy of Independent Systems Navy was destroyed, and General Grievous was soon killed after the battle by Obi-Wan Kenobi. Between the Open Circle Armada and the Coruscant Home Defense Fleet, over 1,000 Venator-class ships were involved in the Battle of Coruscant.
Question: What’s the difference between the Venator Class-1 and the Venator Class-2?
Answer: The Venator Class-2 was a successor to the Venator Class-1. The most significant difference was that Venator Class-2 Star Destroyer had reduced its armament of medium dual turbolaser cannon from 2 cannons to 1 cannon.
Question: What succeeded the Venator?
Answer: After the Clone Wars, the Venator was succeeded by the iconic Imperial Star Destroyer seen in Star Wars: Episodes IV-VI.
Question: Was a Venator seen in the opening fight that Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn had in Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace?
Answer: This has been a point of confusion because the Venator has often been referred to as a Republic cruiser. In the opening scene of Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace, Quai Gon Jinn, and Obi-Wan Kenobi are aboard a Republic cruiser, but it is a Consular-class cruiser. Named the Radiant VII, the two Jedi knights used this vessel for a diplomatic mission with the Trade Federation, but the Federation attempted to assassinate them with droids.
Question: Was a Venator the ship commanded by Captain Antilles in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope?
Answer: No. Captain Antilles commanded the Tantive IV, a CR90 corvette, before being boarded by Imperial stormtroopers and strangled by Darth Vader. (One could argue that Antilles had managed to get under Vader’s skin since the Sith skipped his trademark force-choke in favor of going old school).
In fact, audiences did not have the pleasure of viewing a Venator on the big screen until Star Wars: Episode III, Revenge of the Sith.
Question: Is a Venator more powerful than a frigate?
Answer: Yes. Before the advent of the Imperial Star Destroyer, the Venator was one of the most powerful ships around. It was bigger and more powerful than most other ship classifications: corvettes, frigates, and other types of cruisers.
Question: What is more powerful than a Star Destroyer?
Answer: The only ship classification above a Star Destroyer is a battle cruiser/Super Star Destroyer, like Darth Vader’s flagship, the Executor, an Executor-class Star Dreadnought.
Question: When was a Venator seen in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith?
Answer: A Venator can be seen in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith at the Battle Over Coruscant scene.
It is true that the Venator did not win all of its engagements. The Trade Federation enjoyed a numerical advantage with their Munificent-class vessels and their vulture droid starfighters in many of the engagements. Yet, despite that, the Venators often held their own and even became victorious.
The Malevolence was another matter, but that was basically the equivalent of a Super Star Destroyer or battle cruiser. Furthermore, the Venators that got wiped out had been the victims of a surprise attack and previously unknown weapons. It would have been like a US or UK battleship encountering a submarine without even knowing what a submarine was. Once the Jedi knew that the Malevolence was using ion cannons, however, they were able to adapt and overcome through the use of Venators acting in conjunction with starfighters.
During the Clone Wars and the final days of the Galactic Republic, the Venator was the premier Star Destroyer and one of the most powerful vessels in the galaxy. The truth is the Venator was a success for the task it had been used for, winning the Clone Wars. It was, after all, not the Clone Wars that made the Republic fall but the intrigue behind it. Unfortunately, Venators were not designed to take on Sith lords, especially those that were elected officials within the government that had commissioned the building of Venators in the first place.
What’s unfortunate was not that the Venators weren’t good enough. What’s unfortunate is that Venator technology, when in the hands of the Galactic Empire, paved the way for even more deadly vessels like Imperial Star Destroyers and the infamous Deathstar.
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