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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 '17 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. – Jacob Lee-Hart Mar 20 '17 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 – Gandalf'sFISTS Mar 20 '17 at 16:24
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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? – Jacob Lee-Hart Mar 20 '17 at 16:05
  • Use the Force, Luke! - this phrase explains it all over again. Edited the answer. – TimSparrow Mar 20 '17 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. – Jacob Lee-Hart Mar 20 '17 at 16:10
  • Films are vague, books usually are more precise ;-) – TimSparrow Mar 20 '17 at 16:13
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    That's not how the Force works!?! – ThePopMachine Mar 20 '17 at 16:18
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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.

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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.

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  • Could it also be that there was simply no effective shield? e.g. rather than the shield being down. – Valorum Nov 14 '17 at 23:21

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