Once the Rebel fleet showed at Endor there was no need for stealth operations.

Soon after arriving, the Rebels discover the stealth mission was not successful and begin a battle over the moon of Endor.

Why did the Rebels not use their ships to attack the shield generator?

Looking a the hologram displayed on Home One, the shield only covers Death Star II, not the moon. Furthermore, the shield generator's location on the Moon would not be hard to find as it had to be within the proximity of Death Star II and stood well above the tree line. It seems that even a few X-wings, B-wings or Y-Wings could have made short work of the Tower.

One possible answer is that the Tower was also protected by a shield. Okay, but they would not even attempt to bomb it?

Perhaps the location of the strike team was unclear and they did not want to risk the lives of the Strike team. If this was the case, why did they not target the tower or the dish to disable the shield projector unit?

  • 2
    Space is big, and the Rebel fleet was massively outnumbered. I'd say it's a fair assumption that they just couldn't make it to the moon without getting picked off. Commented May 16, 2017 at 20:19
  • 15
    From memory the shield generator shields both the Death Star and the planet itself. That's why Han & co. in the shuttle have to request passage through the shield so that they can land on the planet.
    – Tim
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 20:34
  • 1
    @Tim, At first, that is what I thought as well. I thought the shield was more like Scarif. However, the image shown on Home One clearly shows the shield only protects Death Star II (possibly the Generator/Projector as well).
    – Josafoot
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 21:11
  • 2
    Why wasn't the shield generator on the Second Death Star?
    – EvilSnack
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 21:20
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    @EvilSnack: to convince the rebels that an attack is possible. Did you forget that the whole setup was a trap, intended to lure the rebels to make a try?
    – Holger
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 8:48

5 Answers 5


Based on the graphic we saw earlier in the film, the shield appears to also cover the Endor Shield Generator Station. This would make an aerial bombardment of the moon as ineffective as an attack on the Death Star itself.


At best you might be able to devastate the jungle a few dozens of miles away, killing the indigenous, but leaving the station unharmed.

You may also wish to note that the film's official novelisation states that the Endor Moon has its own planetary shield, also projected from the Shield Station.

At the center of the briefing room was a large, circular light-table, projected above which a holographic image of the unfinished Imperial Death Star hovered beside the Moon of Endor, whose scintillating protective deflector shield encompassed them both.

Return of the Jedi - Official Novelisation

  • 13
    Just bombard it with Ewoks. Oh, wait... Commented May 16, 2017 at 19:21
  • 1
    I thought that the shield get's projected from the large dish and that was the source of the "base" of the shield. I do find it hard to believe that the shield projector does not have its own shield generator. I could not find any information on that here: starwars.wikia.com/wiki/SLD-26_planetary_shield_generator/Canon
    – Josafoot
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 19:28
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    @RichS - The shield generators on Hoth prevented precisely the sort of attack you're describing.
    – Valorum
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 19:52
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    @RobertF The Tydirium (the shuttle carrying the strike team) passes through the shield in space (that's what the code clearance scene was all about). The strike team then lands within the shield, no need to pass through it on the ground. Commented May 16, 2017 at 21:40
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    @BradleyDotNET Ah that's right. I gather the shuttle flew down the "tube" inside the planetary shield that connects to the moon's surface.
    – RobertF
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 13:54

Its shield also protects it

While the old novelizations aren’t precisely canon, the new Disney canon novelizations make this clear. We even see the Rebel commanders discussing that this is why they can’t attack it directly:

But now General Madine is outlining the plan for getting rid of the Death Star’s defenses.

The shield generator is, of course, protected by its own shield. Even if we could get our starfighters close enough, they’d have little chance of knocking it out. However, the moon itself is covered by a thick forest. Perfect for a stealth mission.”

Beware the Power of the Dark Side!

As such, the shield generator is just as protected as the Death Star.

  • An excellent and fully canon answer. You have my +1!
    – Valorum
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 7:21
  • A static target that can't move of its own and you can predict exactly where it is a week out. Sounds like a perfect target for a relativistic collision.
    – Joshua
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 18:03
  • @Joshua - SW doesn't have relativitic collisions. At least not the way you think. Not that the shield doesn't protect against ships, either.
    – Adamant
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 18:48
  • @Adamant The kind of firepower capital ships exchange in the Star Wars universe is in the "relativistic collision" scale anyway; and we're told that a planetary shield can withstand the bombardment of a significant portion of the imperial Star Destroyer fleet. First with Alderaan's presumably top-grade shield; second with likely a far less capable shield on Hoth (though also a much smaller attacking fleet). Capital ships survive hours of balanced fighting; it's probably safe to assume you'd need a lot more to break a planetary shield. Even if they had the firepower, they didn't have the time
    – Luaan
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 8:50

Two reasons:

There was a shield covering the moon, too.

When Han and Chewbacca take the stolen shuttle to Endor, they must first get clearance to land from Vader's Super Star Destroyer, using a stolen code. Note that they don't just ask for clearance, but also shield deactivation. From the script:

HAN Shuttle Tydirium requesting deactivation of the deflector shield.

CONTROLLER (over radio) Shuttle Tydirium, transmit the clearance code for shield passage.

and then when the code finally clears:

HAN They're not goin' for it, Chewie.

CONTROLLER (filtered) Shuttle Tydirium, deactivation of the shield will commence immediately. Follow your present course.

In the movie, it's easy to assume they're talking only about the shield projected around the Death Star, and the need for deactivation is as much to avoid suspicion, since they intend to land a short distance away from the installation and the Death Star shield is the main focus of the plot. My understanding is the novelization makes the distinction clearer, though I haven't actually read it.

There was (at least) a Super Star Destroyer to deal with

Vader's command ship was there to guard the construction. The Rebel fleet would have had it's hands full just with that one ship. They didn't know about the additional fleet waiting for the trap, but if they had that would have only made things worse. The only reason they were able to win is the Emperor wanted to play his little game with the Death Star laser, and ordered the fleet ships not to attack. This gave the Rebel fleet the opportunity to bring down a few enemy ships, including the command ship. An enemy force that was actively engaged with them would have been enough to prevent or least significantly hinder a bombardment.


There are enough examples in the games such as Rebellion and Empire at War, which show orbital bombardment is useless against planetary shields. This is also the case in Empire Strikes Back, where the shield generator needed to be taken down before the Empire's attack could begin. In the case of ESB, we have to assume this isn't a full planetary shield but only covered the Rebel base, as evidenced by the Empire landing ground troops outside the perimeter and then moving them under the shield. The Decipher Customizable Card game explains this in detail: it wasn't a full planetary shield (it only extended to the "Ice Plains" 5th marker) but was still powerful enough to be immune to bombardment.

Taken from the Advanced Rulebook:

The Hoth: Main Power Generators site produces an energy shield which is “strong enough to withstand any bombardment.” This shield protects much of Hoth for the Light Side by preventing many forms of Dark Side deployment and movement; however, the Dark Side may deploy or land beyond the shield and “march in” to Echo Base. When the Main Power Generators site is face up on table, the energy shield covers all Echo Base sites and the first three marker sites. If the 5th marker is on table, the shield will reach the 4th marker, and if the 6th is on table it will reach the 5th marker. The shield will never extend beyond the 5th marker. At shielded sites, the Dark Side may not:

  • deploy vehicles, starships or characters (not even spies) unless specifically allowed to deploy to shielded sites;

  • take off, land, shuttle, docking bay transit, perform a Bombing Run, or use abilities that relocate cards (e.g., Elis Helrot, Chief Bast); or

  • add power to battles as a result of starships controlling the system (e.g., from the Hoth system location, a Victory-Class Star Destroyer or Fear Will Keep Them In Line).

The energy shield does not protect the Light Side from a ground assault “underneath the shield.” At shielded sites, the Dark Side may

  • move vehicles and characters from site to site;

  • deploy and use creatures, weapons, Effects, and other cards normally; and

  • perform any actions not otherwise prohibited by these rules.

The energy shield does not restrict the Light Side in any way (because conceptually the Rebels can activate and deactivate the shield to allow their own forces to pass). When the energy shield is not active, both sides can deploy and move to Hoth normally. See Locations - Battlegrounds, Ch. 9.

So, whilst there's no canon/in-universe reference I'm aware of explicitly stating that the Endor base was shielded, I think it's a fair assumption that they had a shield around the facility; it's almost implied by the need for the rebels to land out in the forest, beyond the edge of such a shield.

As to why the base commanders weren't immediately put on alert when the rebel shuttle landed out in the forest beyond the shield instead of at the landing platform patrolled by the AT-AT is probably a topic for another question.

  • After playing so much of it way back in high school, it always makes me happy to see SW:CCG references. Commented May 17, 2017 at 15:54
  • Why they weren't put on alert? How do you know they weren't? It was a trap. The whole thing was a setup by the Empire to destroy all the rebels with one decisive strike. They presented a target too juicy for the Rebellion to ignore, leaked the information and waited. Capture the ground team too early, and the rebel fleet will retreat (or not come in the first place). The commanders were well prepared for the ground assault - don't forget that the ground team was captured almost as soon as they started attack on the compound. And then the deus-ex-machine came to the rescue...
    – Luaan
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 8:54

They could bombard Endor's moon around the area of the shield generator with atomic bombs or blaster rays to turn the rock around and under the shield generator into molten lava. Thus the shield generator would gradually melt and eventually stop working.

So why send a team to infiltrate why not just plan on blasting the surface near the generator once they arrived?

Or why not send one person in the stolen shuttle to land near the generator inside the shield, turn on the timer on a gigaton bomb in the shuttle, and then fly away as fast as he could on a small one man flying machine?

Possibly they didn't want to do that because of the moon's status as a nature sanctuary.

Since the explosion of the Death Star might have wiped out all life on the moon anyway that might seem a foolish hesitation. See Discussions of the Endor holocaust.

  • 4
    The moon is not a nature sanctuary. The Emperor calls it the "sanctuary moon" that because the moon is being used the shield the construction of the death star, not because of anything else. i.e.: it provides sanctuary to the workers constructing the weapon.
    – Tim
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 20:39
  • 3
    A lot of speculation here: The Rebels believe that their knowledge of the Death Star II, the shield generator and the Emperor's location is not known by the Empire. The plan is to destroy the Shield Generators and launch a surprise attack on Death Star II shortly after the shield is destroyed. If they were to Jump to Endor, send bombers and then attack Death Star II, the station would have more times to scramble its defenses, call in reinforcements and possibly execute an all out retreat.
    – Josafoot
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 20:49
  • 3
    It's not as if the Rebels or the Empire is made of "nature lovers".
    – RichS
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 7:11
  • @Tim - I was actually just researching that name a couple days ago. Do you have a source for that information?
    – amflare
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 13:56
  • @amflare - Nope, that was just my understanding of it.
    – Tim
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 20:04

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