In Rogue One, we see a Hammerhead Corvette used to ram

a disabled Star Destroyer, pushing it through another Star Destroyer and into a shield-gate

Are these ships designed for ramming? I assume so as

their thrusters seem to be extremely powerful for their size, given how quickly they accelerate the Star Destroyer, and the front of the ship takes very little damage on impact compared to the Star Destroyer

And as a corollary: if so, why are they not better equipped? We see the officers on the bridge shout 'Hold onto something!' just before impact; surely they should be strapped into seats like fighter pilots, or given inertial dampening?

  • Hold up: theses things accelerate to lightspeed in the blink of an eye. Kinetic energy is .5*mass*(velocity^2). Moving something 100 times your size a few hundred miles per hour is the same as moving something your own size a few thousand miles per hour -- which they do, all the time.
    – user40790
    Dec 20 '16 at 16:56
  • 2
    @Terriblefan - They don’t accelerate to lightspeed, actually. That’s not how hyperspace works. It’s a separate dimension in which ships are traveling at sub-light speeds, more or less.
    – Adamant
    Dec 20 '16 at 16:58
  • @Adamant Not now, Adamant; you're ruining the flow.
    – user40790
    Dec 20 '16 at 16:59
  • I rather assumed they were like tugboats - designed not for ramming, but certainly for shoving large things around. Dec 22 '16 at 15:58

There's very little information on the Hammerhead corvette in canon; apart from Rogue One, the only appearance of that model was in a single episode of Star Wars Rebels.

That being said, there's no indication that they are specifically designed for ramming other ships; their article in the Databank notes that they are quite sturdy and powerful vessels, but that's about it:

[T]he Hammerhead Corvette is a powerful transport. While not flashy, this starship has a strong body, forceful engines, and heavy weaponry

The Rogue One novelization helps to explain (or dispute, as the case may be) some of your observations:

  • Although the Databank notes that Hammerheads have powerful engines, the Lightmaker was also being pulled by Scarif's gravity, helping it accelerate faster:

    The Lightmaker picked up speed as it approached the fray, pulled by Scarif’s gravity as it pushed with its engines toward the disabled Destroyer.

    Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - Official Novelization Chapter 20

  • Despite your observation that the Hammerhead was only lightly damaged, the novelization indicates that it was rather extensively damaged, both before and after the collision:

    He had chosen the Hammerhead Lightmaker and its captain, Kado Oquoné, to implement his vision. Oquoné's ship had been badly damaged after being flanked by the twin Destroyers, and had since withdrawn from the field of fire to guard the line of retreat. For these reasons it would serve Raddus’s purpose.


    Raddus watched the Lightmaker descend like a spear into the mass of the disabled behemoth. Metal sheared and crumpled, and Raddus feared for a moment that Oquoné's velocity had been too great — that the Lightmaker would be dashed to nothingness and the most delicate part of the plan, still to come, had failed. Yet the Destroyer absorbed the impact and began to tumble away, its frame marred but intact.

    Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - Official Novelization Chapter 20

  • That's helpful. I'll have to pick up the novelization some time. d
    – Dan W
    Dec 21 '16 at 14:40
  • Gah, comment posted too early and I can't edit it. - I'm not convinced about Scarif's gravity pulling the Lightmaker down - I'd assume the shield gate was in orbit, or it'd require a massive constant power expenditure to keep it up. The Lightmaker would therefore also be in orbit, and gravity wouldn't make a difference. But how gravity and orbits work is commonly ignored in fiction; perhaps gravity works differently in Lucas' universe ... :P But the assumption about gravity in the book - even if wrong - helps answer my question. Thankyou!
    – Dan W
    Dec 21 '16 at 14:45
  • @DanW I'm a computer scientist, not an actual scientist, but my understanding of physics is that gravity doesn't stop affecting you as you get higher up; stable orbit is as much about horizontal speed than about altitude. if the Lightmaker was going straight down, then the force of gravity from Scarif would increase (quadratically?) the closer they got to the planet Dec 21 '16 at 14:48

According to the Databank, they do have some features that are good for ramming:

Receiving its name thanks to a time-honored design that stretches back centuries, the Hammerhead Corvette is a powerful transport. While not flashy, this starship has a strong body, forceful engines, and heavy weaponry; Princess Leia Organa once delivered a trio of Hammerhead Corvettes to the Phoenix Squadron rebels on Lothal, adding some much-needed craft to the rebel fleet.

However, I can’t find any evidence that they are designed with ramming in mind. The ships are based on the previous (Legends) Hammerhead-Class Cruiser, and I also can’t find any evidence that those ships were frequently used to ram. It seems to just be a cool design.

  • Thanks, that's helpful. If they weren't used to ram in the EU either, that suggests it's not common or intended use.
    – Dan W
    Dec 21 '16 at 14:47

When watching Rogue One, I notice that upon impact the Hammerhead's hull plates seem to flex inward,as if they are designed to absorb the impact.

  • Welcome to the site! This is a very light answer and would perhaps have been better suited to a comment. Although this seems like a fair observation and perhaps the basis of an answer, we tend to like our answers to be fleshed out and, ideally, backed up with references here. This is unlike, say, a forum, or chat room, where people are of course free to chip into a conversation with as much or as little detail as they like. We don't really have conversations here, we have questions with full answers (hopefully). Have you had a little read of the tour?
    – Au101
    Dec 28 '16 at 1:30

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.