I watched 'The Phantom Menace' and one of the main things I don't understand is how Anakin Skywalker managed to get into the hangar of the Droid Control Ship.

There were a lot of pilots trying to get in, but they couldn't get past the defences, so why didn't they just go in the same route that Skywalker did? Were the defences not working there?

  • kind of a callback (or foreshadowing....) of a New Hope where "a small, one-man fighter should be able to penetrate the defensive systems"
    – NKCampbell
    Mar 20, 2017 at 15:56
  • @NKCampbell I understand that, but is he not in the same kind of ship as all the other fighters, meaning that they equally could have tried that, using most of them as a decoy and sending one in to do what Anakin accidentally did? And weren't the other fighters fought off by the defences anyway, so why wasn't Skywalker? Thanks for the response. Mar 20, 2017 at 16:03
  • The "Vote of No Confidence" could probably be a separate question, but this is because Chancellor Valorum was already unpopular and had a track record of being unable to solve disputes and problems throughout the Republic. Many of these failings were because of the secret workings of Palpatine, who was setting up a situation wherein he could be elected chancellor Mar 20, 2017 at 16:24

6 Answers 6


If you look closely, you can see two squadrons of droids leaving the hangar (one each side of the entrance) as Anakin's out-of-control fighter enters the hangar.

The shields were down for that reason. Once inside the hangar he uses his special podracing piloting skills to avoid crashing until he lands. He was the only human that could pilot a podracer, so probably a normal pilot would have crashed inside the ship.

enter image description here

  • 2
    Could it also be that there was simply no effective shield? e.g. rather than the shield being down.
    – Valorum
    Nov 14, 2017 at 23:21

This answer is more speculative than I'd like it to be, so if someone answers with more references I can delete this. Anyway, it seems to me like there are a few explanations for this:

1 - The Naboo pilots were inexperienced It seems to me like the Naboo Royal Space Fighter Corps wasn't really designed or trained for large-scale warfare. Naboo fell almost immediately to the Trade Federation, and until the Clone Wars it seems like the Republic didn't have or need a standing army, so based on this evidence it seems like Naboo's pilots were never expected to take on capital ships. Thus, a tactic like 'fly through the hangar to the reactor and blow it up from the inside' just never occurred to them, because they've never actually fought a ship that had a hangar.

2 - The hangar isn't always open. I'd guess that most of the time, the ship's shields are going to be covering the hangar, preventing ships from entering and/or leaving. So maybe Anakin just got lucky and flew through just as a droid ship was entering/leaving, and the other pilots didn't think they'd have a chance of pulling that off intentionally.

3 - No one knew what the inside of the ship looked like. Like I said, Naboo fell almost immediately to the Trade Federation, and it seems like no one was prepared for the invasion. So there's a good chance that the pilots involved in the battle were seeing the droid control ship for the first time. And while they might've been able to detect critical systems from their outside view, they'd have no way of seeing the inside of the ship until they actually got inside. For all they knew they'd fly right into a wall milliseconds after entering the hangar (and really, who would design a ship that lets the enemy fly straight through to the reactor?).

From all of this, it seems to me like the other pilots were defaulting to "shoot the outside, hopefully we can break through the shields eventually" while Anakin happened to accidentally do a bunch of things that should have killed him but ended up working in his favor. Kinda like pretty much everything Jar-jar did in the ground battle.


In-Universe: Anakin just jammed controls seemingly randomly (perhaps guided by the force, there is no direct evidence to that, but where the Chosen One is involved, it is reasonable to imply it), and turned on autopilot guiding him to the ship. Again, possibly due to strong force influence he could avoid enemy fire and defenses.

Out-of-universe: Yes, it is a re-make of "a small, one-man fighter should be able to penetrate the defensive systems" idea, kinda 'Easter egg' for the fans of the original trilogy.

  • Thanks. I mean I understand that element of it, but I guess I am just wondering how he managed to evade the defences? Surely there should have been no entry to the ship that wasn't well guarded and shielded, and why were the other pilots not aware of this way in? Mar 20, 2017 at 16:05
  • Use the Force, Luke! - this phrase explains it all over again. Edited the answer.
    – TimSparrow
    Mar 20, 2017 at 16:08
  • Thanks @TimSparrow that does make sense. This kind of vagueness in the film is why I don't really like it that much. Mar 20, 2017 at 16:10
  • Films are vague, books usually are more precise ;-)
    – TimSparrow
    Mar 20, 2017 at 16:13
  • 5
    That's not how the Force works!?! Mar 20, 2017 at 16:18

This is addressed in the (canon) Star Wars: Battles That Changed the Galaxy factbook. In brief, the hangar is normally shielded to prevent intrusion, with the shields being lowered in order to allow the egress of their own droid-controlled fighters. Anakin's lightning-fast attack run surprised the 'traffic control' droids who were supposed to be preventing precisely this sort of attack.

Rapid Infiltration: In a flash, a single Naboo starfighter rocketed through the crescent-shaped hangar of the droid control ship, catching traffic control crews off guard. They were unable to report the situation to the command bridge in time

enter image description here

This is backed up by an answer from Pablo Hidalgo from Star Wars Insider #61

Q. In Episode 1, during the final space battle Ric Olie said the the shields of the Trade Federation ship were too strong and they couldn't break through. How did Anakin fly right in with no problems? It appears that there were no shields at all, considering the ease at which he flew into the hangar.

PH: There are two standard types of defensive shields used in Star Wars. Energy shields (sometimes called ray shields) resist blasters and energy attacks. Particle shields deflect solid projectiles (concussion and proton warheads), Many combat ships carry both types of shields, but they don't necessarily wrap around the same parts of a vessel, Particle shields work in both directions — they not only prevent potentially dangerous things from passing through, but they also prevent things from leaving. The Rebels on Hoth had to lower their deflector shield to allow their transports to leave. Similarly, a hangar bay will have to drop any overlapping particle shield to allow a vessel to land or launch.

At the rate the Droid Control Ships was spitting out droid starfighters, it looks like Anakin caught the Trade Federation with its shields down.

Interestingly, a second (Legends) alternative is provided by the Battle for Naboo video game. Your player character, Gavin Sykes is tasked with destroying the tractor beams and shield generator that prevent enemy vessels from getting into the hold. Once that's done, Anakin then flies into the droid control ship and detonates it from the inside.


By accident.

During the battle, his ship is shot, and he loses control. He then crashes into the hanger bay, weaves his way past several carriers and blast doors trying not to hit them, and finds himself deep inside the Control Ship.

Image of Interior Blast Doors inside the Control Ship as Anakin flies through them

The other pilots were trying to blow the ship up from the outside, and were unable to penetrate the deflector shields with their attacks. Threading a small fighter through narrow twists and turns (i.e. completely the opposite environment to open space, which they were trained for - but a perfect match for a pod racing course) was so absurd an idea that it simply never occurred to them.


For a purely in-movie explanation, however much everyone wants to shy away from this answer, it really is just the Force. It's the entire premise of the franchise. Not to mention, it's setup early in the film.

Anakin is 9 and at this point he's already building sentient AI and vehicles that travel over 500 mph. He's an accomplished engineer even by Star Wars standards. We're told rather repeatedly that he's more than just a normal child, even accounting for his Force ability. (He's a literal virgin birth.)

In addition, Qui-Gon instructs him to "Feel. Don't think. Use your instincts." Which harkens back to Obi-Wan's instructions to Luke to "let go your conscious self, and act on instinct." It's a fundamental premise of the Force and one drilled in by Jedi Masters to use your instincts and let the Force guide you. Your reflexes will seem faster because you can literally see events before they happen. Having just recently followed Qui-Gon's advice to great success and, you know, being 9, it's not a stretch to say he followed his instincts here. It's also no stretch to say he's going to foreshadow the skilled pilot we know he grows up to be.

This is also the explanation for why none of the pilots would even attempt to fly into the hangar bay. What would an ordinary pilot even do there, besides crash? We were explicitly told that Anakin was the only human who had the reflexes to handle pod racing. And flying inside a ship that small would be suicide for a typical pilot, which is why they're all surprised to see one flying out of the exploding vessel. When it was said at various times their shields couldn't be penetrated, they meant nothing could shoot through it. Nobody was expecting someone to fly a precision course through the vessel and torpedo their power core. (And we had just been shown that Gungan shielding only prevented energy, not matter, from getting through. This would make sense for the Trade Federation Battleship as well, since we saw Droid Fighters leaving the hangar bays while under attack.)

So in short, Anakin could do things nobody else could because of the Force and his extra special connection to it. It's literally his entire premise.

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