7

In “The Force Awakens,” the Millenium Falcon seems to withstand impacts that would crush a normal Earth machine.

First, when Rey steals it and has trouble getting it to take off, it rams into the ground at high speed. Then when Han crash lands it on the Starkiller base decelerating from light speed (!), smashes through the forest, slamming into the ground and violently skidding to a stop against the rocks in front of a cliff.

What the heck is the Falcon’s hull and structure made of that it can withstand this force? Or is there some kind of forcefield cushioning it?

  • 6
    Maybe Abramsimium? – zipquincy Dec 28 '15 at 17:30
  • 1
    According to Robot Chicken, aluminum "what in the hell is an aluminum falcon?" – Broklynite Dec 28 '15 at 17:52
  • 3
    Almost certainly adamantium. Must be. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 28 '15 at 18:30
  • 2
    You're all wrong. It's unobtanium, and you can't obtain it unless you kill a glowing tree. Beware the natives – Kai Qing Feb 3 '16 at 16:06
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There is a (perhaps) bewilderingly authoritative answer available! Oddly enough it is not very detailed in purely metallurgical terms, but it seems to offer all the general history and background anyone could want.

Haynes Publishing is a rather splendid British company that has specialised, since 1960, in detailed maintenance manuals for road vehicles. In recent years it has also extended to a few more or less whimsical publications, including the Millennium Falcon (Modified YT-1300 Corellian Freighter) Owner’s Workshop Manual (Haynes Publishing, Yeovil [Somerset, UK] and Newbury Park [CA, USA], 2011).

The book's first and most prominent publication announcement is ‘© 2011 LUCASFILM LTD. & TM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. USED UNDER AUTHORIZATION’. Lucasfilm’s specifically credited personnel are JW Rinzler (Executive Editor), Troy Alders (Art Director), Leland Chee (Keeper of the Holocron) and Carol Roeder (Director of Publishing). The (American) creators of the book itself are Ryder Wyndham (author) and Chris Reiff and Chris Trevas (illustrators), all alumni of many (at some stage) official SW texts across various media.

On the OP’s specific topic, we find that the YT-1300 is generally a very resilient and hard-wearing model, available from the Corellian Engineering Corporation (CEC) factory in innumerable custom-tweaked configurations, but all robustly armoured as standard (p16). The majority have cockpits with external line of sight, thanks to large transparisteel windows (pp6, 16). Some, however, are fully armoured: ‘CEC also offered options for a completely armoured ship with an “embedded” cockpit, located under a heavily shielded hull, without any windows or viewports.’ (p14)

With the general principle of durable armour thus established, the closest we come to specific metallurgical detail is a sectional diagram of the Millenium Falcon’s very own hull composition (p85). Here we find that the ship’s basic surface is defined by a grid-like reinforced frame (of unspecified composition). Upon that is mounted a layer of durasteel plate, in closely-fitting sections bonded by duralloy welds. A few mismatched plates seem to be fitted, perhaps as part of the proprietors’ active policy of keeping this particular ship looking as shabby as possible:

Han Solo does not bother to conceal the hammered-out dents, durasteel-patched breaches, or epoxatal-filled cracks, and he leaves most of the rust as is. [...] Han Solo and Chewbacca know that pirates, thieves, and Imperial Customs agents are less attracted to a ship that looks as if she’s ready for the scrapyard. (p84)

Another pertinent feature of this specific vessel (diagram again, p85) is an outer layer of ‘military-grade armour’, with distinctive interlocking edges:

Solo and Chewbacca have fused and welded sheets of scavenged duralloy plating over most of the vital areas of the hull, providing warship-grade protection for its engines and crew compartments. Much of the plating came from the Imperial derelict Liquidator, a Neutron Star-class bulk cruiser that was a casualty of the Battle of Nar Shaddaar.

With all that said, the manual (pp80–81) also makes quite a lot of the ship’s shielding capabilities:

Deflector shields are projected just a few molecules underneath hull plating, but different power settings and configurations can extend a shield farther away from the hull. [Ships of this size] have multiple deflector shield generators dedicated to different areas.

[...]

Particle shielding repels solid objects such as space debris and high-velocity projectiles. Because particle shielding completely surrounds a ship, it must be temporarily turned off before a ship can fire its own missile, launch an escape pod, or receive a shuttlecraft.

Ray shielding, also known as energy shielding, protects against stellar and magnetic radiation, lasers, blasters, and other energy beams. Ray shielding does not stop solid matter.

[...]

Han Solo refuses to discuss details, but rumour has it that he ‘acquired’ several military-grade deflector shield generators from the Imperial maintenance facilities on Myomar.

Depending on what might be SW canon this week, then, one possible answer to this question is that the Falcon is made of durasteel and transparisteel, including military-grade armour, with duralloy welds and patches, oddments of epoxatal (overall with major or minor areas of something that routinely rusts), all built on a substructure that is in some sense reinforced.

Another might be that this physical structure is all well and good but would still have been instant toast in many of the Falcon’s specific experiences (including physical impact) were it not for the particle shielding, even if (as the manual states, p81), this (ahem) civilian ship ‘can endure such abuse for limited duration only, as the ship’s engines are not designed to provide the incredible power necessary to run military-grade shields continuously’.

A third could be that the Millennium Falcon’s... ummm... developed armour-and-deflectors capability means that for confrontational or simple impact purposes it is effectively composed of Imperial warship.

Maybe the Corellian shipyards have an advertising slogan along the lines of, ‘Even a Stormrooper couldn’t total one of ours.’

  • 1
    One moment the shield in standard configuration is a few molecules UNDER the plating? oO. On another note this also nicely explains why the other transport exploded from just 2-3 tie blaster hits while the falcon shook them off without much of a hassle or visible damage (aside from 1 critical hit that got solved later on) – Thomas Dec 29 '15 at 7:32
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    Naturally I wondered the same thing, so I checked carefully and the word is definitely ‘underneath’. Of course this might be a pure and simple textual cockup (with the intention of meaning something like ‘beyond’... but then the meaurement of ‘a few molecules’ wouldn't make any very useful sense. (And this shouldn't be a problem of translateable units, which I also wondered about, since various ships’ top speeds are given in both kph and mph, e.g. pp7, 9, 11, 13.) – Captain Cranium Dec 29 '15 at 10:28
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    Or perhaps it means ‘under’ as in protecting the underside, at a wafer-thin distance. Not very convincing, but maybe. Or just possibly for some (‘spatiodynamic’?) purpose it makes sense for the shield by default to be projected near-as-dammit but not quite beyond the physical surface. – Captain Cranium Dec 29 '15 at 10:28
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    I suppose that that might be how the hull acquires the many patches of ‘carbon scoring’ that are also given in the diagram I mentioned, but which I didn’t include in my structural notes: perhaps the micrometric surface layer of the plating gets trivially blasted, but the shield deflects everything from all of the real substance. It’d be a sort of space-military dermabrasion. – Captain Cranium Dec 29 '15 at 10:29
  • @Thomas: I forgot to peg these as responses to your comment... – Captain Cranium Dec 29 '15 at 10:30
3

Metal? I kid, of course.

Possible alloys used:

Titanium was a hard metal often used as defensive plating on war engines. - Titanium

Duranium was a tough metal used in military-grade plating. It was stronger than titanium but less resilient than impervium. - Duranium

Ceramisteel was a material used in vehicle hull construction. - Ceramisteel

These pages don't offer a lot in terms of proof, nor can I find a specific reference to what the Falcon is made of.

The Millennium Falcon does have a Deflector Shield which provides some protection from physical and energy attacks.

HAN (to Chewie)
We're coming up on the sentry ships.
Hold 'em off!
Angle the deflector shields while I charge up the main guns!

However, as I recall in the Force Awakens, Rey is attempting to get the shields online while she is crashing about learning to fly. This suggestions that the Falcon has significant structural integrity, because as you mentioned, it does withstand several major collisions before she gets the hang of flying and is able to activate the shield.

  • Although the collisions mostly are against structures that are light there......and seemingly composed of just melded together junk (at least my impression) so I would say that a ship that survives a few hits by tie fighters without deflectors up should be able to destroy that junk without a hull breach. – Thomas Dec 28 '15 at 18:05
  • @Thomas the Falcon is also just a "hunk of junk" that happens to fly. – Jack B Nimble Dec 28 '15 at 18:49
  • I know but it stil looks more stable than that one structure of building^^ – Thomas Dec 29 '15 at 7:27

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