In Star Wars: A New Hope, at beginning of the attack on the Death Star, we see the pilots of Red Squadron check in.

Luke reports in as "Red Five", however we also hear Ten, Seven, Three, Six, Nine, Two, and Eleven.

My assumption is that since Luke literally just joined the Rebllion, he would be the newest member of the squad and given the lowest (highest? largest?) number.

Is there any explanation on why Luke is "Red Five"?

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    Maybe he was just the first to join them after the previous Red 5 had died in a dog fight.. – Andrew Thompson Aug 20 '16 at 12:39
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    Because L is the 12th letter of the alphabet used on our planet. Later-numbered people showed up lower on an alphabetical list. Or a list based on horoscope data. Or a list based on his ranking from last night's poker game. Could be anything. All that said, I like Paulie_D's answer better (currently the only official answer provided), but it might be that any answer is unprovable speculation. – TOOGAM Aug 20 '16 at 14:46
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  • @DVK-in-exile Thanks, I'd already found that great question (thank you Google) and mentioned it in my answer...admittedly at the bottom. – Paulie_D Aug 20 '16 at 19:52
  • @Paulie_D - oups, didn't notice, sorry. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Aug 21 '16 at 17:30

From the Wookiepedia

Red Five was the call sign for the fifth member of Red Squadron. After the Rebel pilot Luke Skywalker who flew as Red Five during the Battle of Yavin destroyed the first Death Star, the name became synonymous with the actual X-wing fighter he flew

In many air forces, the designation is based on the craft's position in the formation rather than any specific rank or experience level.

As mentioned by Pete Becker the designation may also be based on the craft/pilot's role in the mission.

Either could apply in this case although the former seems most likely.

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As cross posted in AviationExchange

Tactical call signs change with each flight, and may or may not have any real significance to the event being flown

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    To underscore the final quote: tactical call signs are based on the role, not on the person. For example, my Ham radio call sign is NU9W, but when I'm working as net control for the Hilly Hundred my call is "net control", as is whoever else fills in in that position. – Pete Becker Aug 20 '16 at 16:06
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    Similar to, e.g. the CAPCOM role at NASA mission control. – Zac Crites Aug 22 '16 at 2:57
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    And now that Rogue One has come out, we see that Red Five was killed in the last battle, leaving an opening for a farmboy to join in. – Thunderforge Dec 18 '16 at 7:00
  • True but that's doesn't really answer what Red Five meant. But it's a nice little easter egg – Paulie_D Dec 18 '16 at 7:41
  • @Thunderforge After finally seeing Rogue One, I am sure why you or some else did not post that as the answer. Paulie D's answer gives a perfect out-of-universe reasoning to back up the the in-universe reason that the "Red-5" position or call sign was available. – Skooba Jan 30 '17 at 14:04

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