3

In the space battle above Scarif, three rebel attack fighters launch ion torpedoes at a Star Destroyer.

The torpedoes completely disabled the Star Destroyer. They knocked out the engines and the disrupted the energy distribution systems within the ship so badly that it could fight or defend itself.

Those same fighters could have fired ion torpedoes into the ring shaped space station that made the planetary force field.

Why didn't the rebels use ion torpedoes to destroy the shield gate?

I prefer answers with quotes from canon sources (screenplay, novelization, or comments by producers).

  • In universe, it probably had stronger shield than SD. Out of universe, whole Imperial star fleet is full of idiots and paper ships so Rebels would have a chance . Dramatic effect of small corvette pushing two huge SD, good for Disney's 10 year old target audience :D – rs.29 Jul 9 '17 at 9:07
  • Talking about a dramatic effect, maybe the Hammerheads could have pushed the entire Shield Gate station down from the orbit! – Essen Jul 9 '17 at 14:26
  • I doubt that the ion torpedoes disabled the Star Destroyer by themselves. The Star Destroyer's shields had probably been weakened by previous attacks, which allowed the Y-Wings to disable it. The movie conveniently only shows the part where it is disabled. The space battle is still happening, even if certain elements are not onscreen. – Hyperdrive enthusiast Jul 16 '17 at 19:07
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A couple reasons.

1) Destroying the shield gate was not the primary objective. In fact, destroying it would not really accomplish anything (except maybe limit the number of TIE fighters in the battle). The Gate didn't project the planetary shield, it merely opened a hole for things to get through the shield (Battle of Scarif). With it gone, there would be nothing to create a hole.1

2) The Star Destroyers were a greater threat. They had both the firepower to fight the Rebel capital ships, and the mobility to chase them down.

Destroying the Gate was just a side effect of pushing a star destroyer through the shield. In terms of efficiency of weapons usage, it made more sense to use the Ion Torpedos against the enemy that was actively trying to kill them.


1 The obvious exception being a couple of star destroyers falling into the shield, or a blast from a Death Star.

  • 2
    Destroying the shield gate was a primary objective. They needed to destroy it so the ground team could transmit the Death Star plans. According to the Star Wars website, the shield gate did generate the shield itself. starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Shield_Gate So shooting the shield gate with ion torpedoes would have an obvious tactic. – RichS Jul 12 '17 at 1:47
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    The wikia is wrong. They needed to blow a hole in the shield itself so the transmissions could get through. Additionally, a planetary shield does not leave the shield generator outside the shield. It is rather easy to deduce that the space station outside the shield is not the generator. Neither the film (as far as I can tell) or the novelization actually say it's the generator, only the gate. If you have a source to the contrary, I will gladly change my answer, but until then I stand by what I said. – amflare Jul 12 '17 at 2:44
  • As far as I know, there's no canon source saying either way. Maybe somebody else will provide a source for this someday. Until then, let's keep this open. I gave you +1 for the answer. – RichS Jul 16 '17 at 22:10
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I believe that the reason is different levels of threat. In a choice between two opponents, who would you attack: a man standing in the background, or a man actively punching you? Unless you are complete whacko, you attack the bigger threat: the man punching you. Same is with the Rebels. If the shield gate isn't attacking, why attack it? The Destroyers present a much bigger threat. That coupled with the fact that Disney needs dramatic effect to lure in viewers, a tiny ship ramming a Destroyer into another looks awesome, therefore it gets screen-time. Finally, the mission was buy time not perform suicide runs against an Imperial space station. That would be a waste of men and material, both of which the Rebels had precious little of, until near the end of the war.

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Scarif is a heavily guarded military base, I don’t think they would use shields that could be penetrated by ion cannons

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