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In the opening scene of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, we see Rebel fighters dressed in those blue/black uniforms. Now I get why this is done from a storytelling perspective so we can immediately tell the good guys from the bad guys. But is there an in-universe explanation for the difference?

For instance Leia initially claims they are on a diplomatic mission. They’re almost hiding in plain site as it were. Which stands to reason the uniforms of her soldiers means they would have been “official” soldiers (if this was indeed a diplomatic mission). The ship (a Corellian CR90 corvette) was also something used by both factions was it not?

So later on when we view the rebel base on one of Yavin’s moon, all the rebel soldiers are wearing the same uniform. Is there anything that explains why this is? When I thought about this, my initial theory would be that perhaps they were all from Alderaan. It stands to reason the troopers on Leia’s ship would have been from her own planet and that a larger proportion of them would have joined the rebellion since her adopted “father” (Bail Organa) was sympathetic to the Jedis and the Rebellion.

But it would be difficult to think that the rebels would go “Oh hey, you’re joining us cool, wear this blue uniform so that we recognise you and the Empire will as well.”

Is this ever officially explained?

  • Awsome question! Wookiepedia (of COURSE without citation) claims they were Alderaanian soldiers on Tantive, let's see if novelization helps in any way – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 24 '15 at 14:54
  • The ship (a Corellian corvette I believe) was also something used by both factions was it not? in legends canon, both sides used Corellian Corvettes. Not sure this is represented in current canon though. – enderland Dec 24 '15 at 15:20
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    Oh wow, opening the film with Vader walking into a hallway full of blaster fire from Alderaanean troopers really discounts the absolutist interpretation of Leia's "Alderaan has no weapons" claim. I read a (definitely not cannon) YA book once that was A New Hope from Leia's point of view which said weapons were outlawed on Alderaan and had this flashback (during the torture scene) to Leia testing her pain tolerance as a little girl by holding ice cubes because she had no access to real weapons. – dunraven Dec 24 '15 at 16:08
  • (BTW that Leia pain tolerance thing is definitely from the Star Wars Journal Series: Captive of Evil, which I think even my 12-year-old self didn't think was a very good read...) – dunraven Dec 24 '15 at 18:56
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  1. UPDATE: I don't have any visual proof that this is accurate, but the Essential Guide to Warfare (EU/Legends canon) says:

    While the Alliance had no standard uniform for its troopers, it did manage to outfit many of them in helmets and uniforms reminiscent of those worn by Planetary Security Forces ground troops in the final decades of the Republic.

    Imperial propaganda noted that that these uniforms were the same as those worn by Alderaan defense troops, and that was true - but such uniforms had been worn by better-funded Planetary Security Forces across the Core, Colonies and Inner Rim.

    When the Empire took over the Planetary Security Forces, a glut of such uniforms and equipment became available...

    The irony that the Empire had effectively outfitted many Rebel irregulars ...

    At the very least, Telos SF had similar helmets.

    And here we see (Clone Wars, so Disney Canon) Alderaan Security Forces member:

    enter image description here


  1. Even leaving aside that wonderful retcon above, it really didn't matter story-wise!

    George Lucas and Alan Dean Forsters ANH novelization very explicitly hint that everyone - both Vader/Empire, and the Tantive VI occupants - knew that it was a Rebel ship and diplomatic cover was basically BS on this mission.

    They won’t trust the word of rebel-owned machines that we don’t know anything of value. (C-3PO)

    ...

    “Where is the data you intercepted?” Vader rumbled dangerously. “What have you done with the information tapes?”

    ...

    “Senator Leia Organa,” Vader rumbled softly, though strongly enough to override her protests. His pleasure at finding her was evident in the way he savored every syllable.
    “Don’t play games with me, Your Highness,” he continued ominously. “You aren’t on any mercy mission this time. You passed directly through a restricted system, ignoring numerous warnings and completely disregarding orders to turn about—until it no longer mattered.”
    The huge metal skull dipped close. “I know that several transmissions were beamed to this vessel by spies within that system”

    This means that there wasn't really any point in dressing up Rebel troopers in a way to camouflage their belongings - if they were caught, they would all be dead because of their mission anyway.

    A small band of armed humans suddenly appeared, rifles held at the ready. Their expressions were as worry-wrinkled as their uniforms, and they carried about them the aura of men prepared to die.

  • Great answer, so it sounds like it was really a uniform of the Rebels and the reason they wear it on the ship is because there was no point in hiding. This is probably further backed up by the fact that they prepare to attack the invading storm troopers rather than plead their innocence – TommyBs Dec 24 '15 at 15:28
  • @TommyBs - please see the update. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 24 '15 at 15:53
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This is what Wookieepedia has to say on the subject:

Canon

Unable to finance a standard uniform for the entire army, the Alliance devised a standard look for troopers to identify themselves and improve unit cohesion and morale. Troopers on the Tantive IV wore blue shirts, black combat vests, grey trousers and black calf length boots, along with a white helmet with a visor above the forehead. This uniform also appeared at outposts such as Base One, while a variant was utilized by support crew on Yavin 4, with a similar white helmet design but instead wearing a light brown jumpsuit instead of combat vest and shirt. Officers on the Tantive IV also wore a similar uniform to their trooper counterpart, but instead sported a light brown jacket, shirt and pants along with a brown belt. Those in the Rebel Honor Guard wore dark green, buttoned down jackets with pockets and matching pants and black boots, but had a similar helmet to troopers serving aboard the Tantive IV.

Legends

Rebel troopers of various units spread across the galaxy were often equipped with uniforms bearing a striking resemblance to the uniforms of the Alderaanian armed forces. Alliance sympathizers within the Alderaanian government helped fund, train and equip many militant groups outside the Alderaan system. The unadmitted military support of the Alliance was to such an extent that it helped shape the look of Rebel troopers for years to come. Even after the Destruction of Alderaan in 0 BBY, and perhaps because of it, many Rebel units began showing up in uniforms greatly inspired by the former Alderaanian armed forces. Much of the uniforms and equipment came from the Galactic Republic's Planetary Security Forces.

http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Rebel_troopers

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    Please note that most of this isn't canon as far as motivation. It's merely a description of what Wookiepedia readers saw on screen, not some canon rules. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 24 '15 at 14:54
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    What are the sources that Wookiepedia gives? Are those descriptions from a novel? – Matthew Barclay Feb 8 '18 at 14:49
  • @MatthewBarclay - good call - I think this was one of my first answers on the site and could definitely use some polishing. I'll circle back around and see whats up – NKCampbell Feb 8 '18 at 14:54

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