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A bit of background: I recently attended JEHES XVI, a Star Wars-themed event organized by HoloRed Sevilla which featured, among a lot of other things, an impressive 2ish-meter-long cardboard model of an Imperial Star Destroyer, which can be briefly seen in this summary video montage:

Partial ISD photo

Now, that model had both a ventral hangar bay big enough to accommodate a CR-90 "blockade runner" Corellian corvette...

Partial ISD photo, underside with CR-90 corvette

...and 4(!) lateral hangar bays, big enough to hold squadrons of TIEs or a YT-2400 freighter:

lateral hangar bay with YT-2400

(Unfortunately I haven't been able to find any publicly-available wide shots of that model showing the position of the lateral hangar bays)

Now, given that I spent quite some hours of my youth playing the 1993 X-wing videogame, I know for certain that ISDs have ventral hangar bays, and not lateral hangar bays. At least, I'm fairly sure that the Imperial I-class, the Imperial-II-class and the Victory-I-class SDs have only ventral hangar bays, according to the information available to me on the Wookieepedia.

So as a good nerd would do, I confronted some of the event staff about that minor detail of Star Wars canon (because, let's face it, we love having that kind of conversation). Their response was that the model is based on canon information indeed, and is modeled off the ISDs from the Battlefront II video game. In particular, the Battlefront II wiki page about ISDs states:

The Imperial Star Destroyer, also known as the Imperator-class Star Destroyer, is an Imperial starship featured in Star Wars: Battlefront II. [...] It features two hangars, one on the starboard side, and one on the port side, although, only the port side one is usable in naval combat.

However, the distinction between Imperial I-class and Imperator-class is fuzzy, because Wookieepedia states:

The Imperial I-class Star Destroyer, also known as the Imperial I-class Destroyer or the Imperator-class Star Destroyer, was an iconic class of warships [...]

Furthermore, I've watched some gameplay footage of both SW:BF1 and SW:BF2 (about scenarios involving a Imperial I-like ISD) and I have failed to see any evidence of lateral hangar bays.

So I'm confused about ISD classes, and which (if any of them) have lateral hangars. This prompts a few closely related questions:

  • Are Imperial I-class and Imperator I-class the same or different?

  • According to canon (and ignoring SW:BF2), are there any ISDs with lateral hangar bays?

  • The (canon or non canon) ISDs with lateral bays, do they have a ventral hangar/cargo bay too, or is that space occupied by something else?

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    I've edited out the question asking about its canon status as it isn't too relevant and is already a separate question (about 1 but I believe it applies to 2 as well). Also see the main question on SW canon. – TheLethalCarrot Nov 27 '19 at 13:31
  • I checked for duplicated questions about ISDs, but I didn't do the same about canon status of SW:BF2 - thanks for that, @TheLethalCarrot! – IvanSanchez Nov 27 '19 at 14:31
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I've done quite a bit of looking around, though it was by no means a completely extensive search, and I believe I've found the answers to your questions.

Are Imperial I-class and Imperator I-class the same or different?

The same, in fact the only real reference I can find for Imperator is the Wookieepedia article you've linked, and that is the Legends article not the canon one.

According to canon (and ignoring SW:BF2), are there any ISDs with lateral hangar bays?

No, at least none that I'm aware of. For some evidence both Star Wars: Incredible Cross Sections (1998) (pictured left below) and Star Wars: Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide (pictured right below) make no note of a lateral hanger bay.

Incredible Cross Sections labelled Star Destroyer RO Visual Guide labelled Star Destroyer
Click images to enlarge.

Note, however, Star Wars: Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide does make mention of a "Port lateral umbilical restocking vestibule" which could cause some confusion as it would allow other ships to dock there to restock, I'd imagine. I'm sure in my looking around I found something with a bit more detail on this but I've managed to forget what that was in.

RO Visual Guide different view of a labelled Star Destroyer
Click image to enlarge.

The (canon or non canon) ISDs with lateral bays, do they have a ventral hangar/cargo bay too, or is that space occupied by something else?

Now as stated above I couldn't find any Imperial Star Destroyers with lateral hangar bays so there's no answer here. However, the Finalizer is a First Order Resurgent class Star Destroyer and it has both lateral and ventral hangar bays. The image below is from Star Wars: The Force Awakens Incredible Cross-Sections where we see it as the main hangar entrance and port and starboard ones too. As you might be aware, we see this in action in The Force Awakens when Poe and Finn escape (I believe).

TFA Visual Dictionary labelled Finalizer
Click image to enlarge.

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    I always thought the "lateral umbilical restocking vestibule" was for docking the Star Destroyer to a larger complex in order to resupply the Star Destroyer, not for docking smaller craft to the Star Destroyer. – DavidW Nov 27 '19 at 17:30
  • @DavidW Well could be either way I suppose. I did read about smaller craft docking into the SD but yeah, lost where. – TheLethalCarrot Nov 27 '19 at 18:38
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I can't immediately find any evidence of ISDs having lateral hangar bays. The Star Wars Encyclopedia talks about ISDs having two main landing bays, (the ventral ones) which isn't really conclusive either way. The Star Destroyer schematics in Complete Cross-Sections and the Star Wars Technical Manual don't show any lateral bays either.

The only ship I can think of with a 'Star Destroyer' designation that roughly fits the description of 'lateral hangar bays' is the Onager-class, where the two hangar bays are on the rear faces of the bow 'prongs' (visible in the picture in the link).

  • See my comment on the question, the Finalizer has lateral hanger bays. – TheLethalCarrot Nov 27 '19 at 13:50

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