44

At the beginning of The Last Jedi

Poe disobeys orders and leads a successful but costly attack on a dreadnought.

Given that for most of the rest of the film.

The Resistance fleet is just out of range of the First Order's guns

And

The dreadnought seemed to have a super-laser that could overcome this limitation.

Didn't Poe's actions actually allow the Resistance fleet to stay out-of-range?

Obviously eventually it doesn't matter as the fleet is doomed, but he bought them time.

Was this ever acknowledged?

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    The whole setup makes no sense, so why would Poes actions?! – Moo Jan 8 '18 at 23:09
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    I think this is part of the reason I dislike Poe: he's portrayed as reckless and undisciplined, but ultimately extremely talented, and everyone seems to love him. Reality is, though, everyone would hate him because they'd be afraid he'd get them killed. – Jules Jan 9 '18 at 7:57
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    @Jules he's also very demanding - there is utterly no reason for him to be told the intimate details of every single plan the Rebels enact, and yet he decides to throw a paddy and mutiny when he's kept out of the loop. – Moo Jan 9 '18 at 8:29
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    @Moo Except that he is one of the highest ranking officers of the entire Resistance by this point. I believe it was implied that Leia was grooming him to be her replacement. OK I can accept that he might not be told immediately, but when the Resistance is depleted and facing annihilation and they still don't tell him? Ridiculous plot contrivance in my opinion. – Rapscallion Jan 9 '18 at 9:36
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    @Moo Well, he is THE Wing Commander, basically. Look how many people are left in the Resistance (and what's left of the squadrons). A Wing Commander is still a high ranking officer. I think it's an error to compare the handful of desperate Resistance fighters to a full modern military. – Rapscallion Jan 9 '18 at 11:50
20

His actions (may have) saved the Resistance, but probably had no impact on the survival of the fleet.

Notwithstanding that the Dreadnought would probably have also been destroyed along with the rest of the First Order fleet (rendering this entire answer moot), we know from the Last Jedi: Visual Dictionary that the Crait base is reliant on a

"localised bombardment shield"

that was added by the rebels before they abandoned it. This shield presumably is what prevents the First Order from simply destroying the base from the air with whatever remaining ships they have at their disposal.

Since the entire purpose of the dreadnought was to punch through planetary shields. It's highly unlikely that a cheap'n'cheerful base shield that hasn't been run for twenty years (and wasn't worth salvaging during that time) is going to be able to defend against that sort of firepower.

DREADNOUGHT

One of the First Orders largest warships, the Fulminatrix is a Siege Dreadnought that dwarfs General Hux’s flagship, the Finalizer. The Fulminatrix is the latest in the Mandator line, which originated in the decades before the Clone Wars. The Dreadnought’s underside holds massive orbital bombardment cannons that can punch through planetary shields, then rain destruction on enemy worlds.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Incredible Cross-Sections

As to the wider question of whether the range on their main weapon is any greater than that of the other ships in the First Order fleet, there's no special reason to think that it would have had any more effect on the Raddus' shields than the other, largely ineffectual strikes their shields simply shrugged off. In all likelihood the dreadnought would have simply trailed the fleet, then been used in the final conflict had it survived.

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    Good answer, but I'm not sure about the assumption that a planetary shield would be stronger than a base shield automatically. Covering a planet with a force field will require an enormous amount of energy and it seems likely to me that a planetary shield use more for preventing traversing ships than weapons. A smaller and stronger force field could be used on a single base. – Segfault Jan 8 '18 at 23:43
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    @Segfault You make the logical fault of trying to apply fundamental scientific logic to Star Wars. You have an apparently finite light speed, but total disregard for relativity; a death star planet where weather just magically stops at the massive equatorial chasm; a total disregard for relativity; a massive equatorial chasm that doesn't rapidly collapse under hydrostatic pressure; a total disregard for relativity; single-biome planets; wildly unrealistic asteroid fields; and have I mentioned the egregious disregard for relativity? etc. – zibadawa timmy Jan 9 '18 at 10:29
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    @zibadawatimmy Don't forget the disregard for relativity. – Michael Richardson Jan 9 '18 at 14:50
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    No, it's the "from orbit" that equals range. – JPhi1618 Jan 9 '18 at 17:16
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    @Snowman - An object at a thousand miles up that has no orbital motion (basically hanging on anti-gravity suspensors) would experience about 50% of Earth's normal gravity. It would fall like a stone if those suspensors suddenly stopped working. – Valorum Jan 9 '18 at 18:21
11

From a military standpoint, Poe's action is a forced move, best possible action in dire circumstances, but it didn't look like that when it happened.

We know now that the Resistance's fleet is practically already lost. They are low on fuel and have no place to refuel. The First Order could track them (Resistance does not know that, and that is the reason Poe gets reprimanded and punished) They are significantly weaker than the First Order fleet. The chances for any significant reinforcements are almost null. They do, however, possess squadrons of smaller craft (fighters and bombers). The question is what to do with them?

  • Use them like Poe did to deliver one more heavy blow to the enemy, hoping that this sacrifice may gain something for future fights, at least morally.

  • Use them for the evacuation of top brass, like Douglas MacArthur's cowardly escape from the Philippines, leaving troops behind. To the credit of Resistance's leadership (Leia, Ackbar, Holdo) this option is never openly considered. Instead, Holdo chose to sacrifice herself.

  • Find a planetary base and try to hold out. This is supposedly what Leia and Holdo secretly planned when they discovered that the First Order could track them wherever they go. Of course, this plan is useless if the Dreadnought is still around with its powerful weaponry for punching through planetary shields. Therefore, Poe's action would be fully justified in this case.

  • Try to run away from the First Order. This was the original plan of the Resistance's leadership. Since they planned to escape, Poe's attack was just squandering precious forces, so it did look foolhardy. Note that this option becomes unavailable pretty quickly in the movie.

Also note that the Fulminatrix is never depicted as a super-weapon that could destroy both ground forces and enemy ships at very long range. Instead, it is a formidable, but specialized weapon for certain situations (sieges). Poe's attack on it is more revenge for destroying their previous base, since he already decided to use his bombers offensively.

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    "Cowardly escape"? From the very Wikipedia article you linked to it says that MacArthur intended to "share the fate of the garrison" (surrender/death) but was ordered by President Roosevelt to evacuate. – hppp Jan 9 '18 at 20:14
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    @andrewtweber Yeah right, poor fellow :) One of most overrated generals in US history, incompetent and cowardly, but had good relations with media so he was portrayed as some kind of hero. In reality, he was beaten by Japanese army with inferior numbers and equipment, and then abandoned his command like coward. Later, his ineptness was shown once again in Korean war. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… – rs.29 Jan 10 '18 at 5:27
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    Um, yeah, the japanese had better air support, better naval support and better troops. Oh, and McArthur's forces had supply issues. But you go ahead with your narrative. – NotMe Mar 7 '18 at 20:42
5

After they make the jump to hyperspace and the First Order fleet catches up they quickly get out of range of the FO gun's. Since we don't know the effective range of the dreadnought, there are two options:

Assuming the dreadnought has a similar effective range, it would never have been utilized again. The fleet would have stayed out of range while in space, and then there was an energy shield protecting the base at Crait. So it's useless in both cases.

If the dreadnought had a further effective range then the rest of the first fleet, then it could have been utilized to bombard them in the early part of the 'standoff'. Though throughout the film the gap continually grows, so eventually they would have been out of range of the dreadnought as well. But we can't say how much damage would have already been done. But the large cannons on the dreadnought appear to take some time to charge after dropping out of hyperspace, so the Resistance would have a good head start. Especially if the dreadnought doesn't have the energy to both charge the guns, and accelerate much.

It's also worth noting, that even if the dreadnought had a further effective range, that the Resistance could have launched a bombing run at that point as well. Though the First Order may have been better prepared, it would have similar odds of success.

So in all likelihood Poe's actions did not help the Resistance in this case.

  • But once they actually got on the planet, the Dreadnaught could punch through the planet base's shields and wipe it off the map without need of a laser battering ram. Not to mention that a bombing run would have to now fight through Snoke's ship's defenses, and the papercraft bombers couldn't even handle the fleet before that. – Ketura Jan 9 '18 at 17:12
  • There's nothing in canon to say that the Dreadnought could punch through the shields. The entire Imperial fleet couldn't hit the base on Hoth because of a similar shield. And I acknowledged that the bombers would have faced increased resistance, but it would have been similar to the first run. The First Order had ample opportunity to scramble fighters sooner, but didn't. When the fleet dropped out of hyperspace, bombers could have hit as TIEs were being launched again. – theMaestro73 Jan 9 '18 at 18:52
-1

The dreadnought appears to have to charge its cannons after coming out of hyperspace, so if it followed them, that would give them time to attack it - either the way they did in the earlier scenario or maybe just flying under and taking out the cannon. But in the scenario we see earlier in the film, Poe actually puts the Resistance fleet at risk by making them wait for him, because they'll be destroyed by the recharging dreadnought cannons should he fail.

  • 1
    This doesn't really answer the question asked, nor does it offer any evidence to back up the points that you've made – Valorum Apr 29 '18 at 20:00
  • It does answer the question. The OP is implying that if the dreadnought follows the Resistance througn hyperspace, it would immediately destroy them. But it appears the dreadnought's cannons need to be charged/primed. Which means they might have time to attack it in this hypothetical situation. All that matters is that Poe's actions at the beginning were wrong at the time. And the evidence about the dreadnought is in the film. The cannons need to be primed both times they're about to fire on a target, which takes a little bit of time. – Alex May 18 '18 at 1:21
  • None of which answers the question of whether his actions (right or wrong) ultimately resulted in the saving of the fleet. – Valorum May 18 '18 at 6:01
  • Yes, it does. The dreadnought needing to charge its cannons is directly relevant to the question of whether it destroys the fleet once it follows them through hyperspace, and therefore directly relevant to whether or not Poe saved the fleet by destroying the dreadnought first. Since we don't know what would've happened had the dreadnought followed them, we don't know whether Poe actually saved the fleet. – Alex May 19 '18 at 18:56
  • I think you may have misunderstood the OP's question since your answer is all about the Crait base and a bombardment shield etc. He's implying that the dreadnought would have destroyed the Resistance fleet during the space chase, long before they reach the Crait base. That's why he mentions his assumption that the dreadnought could overcome the range between the Resistance and the FO during that chase. – Alex May 19 '18 at 18:59

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