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In Phantom Menace, after R2 repairs Amidala's ship and gets everybody safely through the blockade, they're brought in front of the queen to get a commendation.

From the script:

QUI-GON, OBI-WAN, CAPTAIN PANAKA, and the LITTLE BLUE DROID stand before QUEEN AMIDALA and her THREE HANDMAIDENS, PADME, EIRTAE and RABE.

CAPT. PANAKA : ...An extremely well put together little droid. Without a doubt, it saved the ship, as well as our lives.

AMIDALA : It is to be commended...what is its number?

The LITTLE BLUE DROID lets out a series of bleeps.CAPTAIN PANAKA leans over and scrapes some dirt off of the side of the DROID and reads the number:

CAPT. PANAKA : R2-D2, Your Highness.

But in the next scene we get a close-up of the same side of R2 and no indication of their number is visible.

So how did Panaka know R2's serial number? Is there something he did (besides wipe away some dirt) to reveal it?

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    According to this image (not sure of the canonicity - it's from a published book, but not sure if Legends era or Disney) - the two little rectangles next to the main eye are "Logic Display Units" - it's possible there is a serial number output that CP read. farm5.static.flickr.com/4116/4906184712_5f5b26a3d4_o.jpg – NKCampbell Nov 13 '18 at 18:57
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    Isn't R2-D2 a model number, rather than a serial number? – Clint Eastwood Nov 13 '18 at 19:01
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    The spelling in my illustrated screenplay says "...reads the number...". I've corrected it since the web version appears to be wrong – Valorum Nov 13 '18 at 19:02
  • @ClintEastwood Is it? – DCOPTimDowd Nov 13 '18 at 19:55
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    @ClintEastwood - except no: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/96372/… – NKCampbell Nov 13 '18 at 22:07
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Sometimes serial number and things like that are behind covers. You'll notice in the scene that R2-D2 gives a short response after the Queen asks the question, I figured that was him telling him the number. You can read the scene as him looking, but then after R2-D2 gives it to him verbally he doesn't have to open the cover or anything to find it.

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    Haven’t watched this for a while but are you referring to R2 replying to the queen? I highly doubt that was him saying his serial number, especially as Panama looks at R2 to read it and didn’t just know it. So even if R2 has said his number Panama mustn’t have understood him anyway. – TheLethalCarrot Nov 19 '18 at 22:22
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    FWIW Panama was meant to be Panaka but y’know phones... – TheLethalCarrot Nov 19 '18 at 23:39
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    @TheLethalCarrot FWIW I didn't say anything because I liked it – DCOPTimDowd Nov 20 '18 at 17:38
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It is quite clear if you compare the two pictures with a little thought. In the first picture, R2-D2's front is facing the Queen along with his 'eye' (i.e the red light), while Panaka is looking down over R2-D2's 'right shoulder' (for lack of a better term). In the second picture, Amidala is looking at R2-D2's front, with the 'right shoulder' facing out of the picture - but R2-D2's 'eye' is facing away from Amidala. Therefore the serial number must be written on the bottom rim of the dome on the 'right' side, so in the second picture it is facing directly away from the camera.

ACTUALLY: I just realized that the 'eye' is in fact facing to Amidala's right, so the serial number should be visible if placed as I described. Close, but no cigar - sorry about that.

A possibility: Perhaps the serial number is written on top of the right shoulder - it is quite hard to tell either way in the second picture.

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    If you think part of your answer is irrelavent on further though it would be best to edit that part out. – TheLethalCarrot Nov 13 '18 at 20:17
  • 1. I don't see what you're seeing. The second picture shows the entire area CP is looking at in the first. Somewhat different angle, sure, but all the surface is there, in higher detail to boot. 2. CP's hand is blocking the part you describe in the first picture. The front of the shoulder doesn't seem to matter. – DCOPTimDowd Nov 13 '18 at 21:25

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