To my knowledge, a regular Imperial Star Destroyer is a massive source of firepower and will intimidate most opposition in to not even trying to fight back. As for the few that would try and fight back, they can be stopped by fielding even more Imperial Star Destroyers.

With this, and the fact that Super Star Destroyers are obviously much more expensive to build and maintain than a good number of regular Imperial Star Destroyers, why did The Empire ever bother to build Super Star Destroyers? I can happily make an exception for the Eclipse-class - after all, it was The Emperor's flagship and had an amazing superweapon - but I can't understand anything like the Executor-class, which just appear to be really big ISDs.

  • 38
    What was the point of the Nazi supertank that was too big to actually maneuver on the battlefield? A regime run by a madman doesn't need a point all the time...
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 11:26
  • 48
    How much sense does it make to have manned fighters in the space age? Star Wars runs on drama and the rule of cool. Most of it doesn't make any sense. Which is fine, I love me some Star Wars, but I don't look under the hood. Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 21:55
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    @DarrelHoffman: of course it could move to other systems. Why would you think otherwise? Commented Mar 25, 2020 at 18:22
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    @DarrelHoffman: The second one wasn't finished. The first one had hyperspace engines. They didn't build it at Alderaan. That would rather tip their hand, don't you think? Commented Mar 25, 2020 at 18:51
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    @DarrelHoffman how exactly do you think it got to Alderaan or the rebel base? Tugboat?
    – eps
    Commented Mar 25, 2020 at 19:51

6 Answers 6


The same reason the Empire used inefficient mechs like the AT-AT.

The size is supposed to intimidate them, this is because the Empire no longer faces an organised military enemy like the CIS but instead some smaller bands of rebel forces so conventional warfare would not be the best course of action but instead the focus should be on resistance suppression.

A fleet of Star Destroyers would be more powerful than the Death Star in terms of space warfare or planetary destruction (no need to blow up the actual planet if you can just bombard it to the point it is no longer liveable). But seeing such a massive weapon with such immense firepower would bring fear and terror to the galaxy… downside on the other hand (something Admiral Thrawn warned about in Legends) is that if it gets destroyed it is a MAJOR morale boost towards the enemy.

"Fear will keep them in line... fear of this station" — Tarkin

And the Super Star Destroyers are just an extension of the tactics surrounding the AT-AT's and Death Star. Trying to make the enemy fear you so much they lose hope and give up instead of the extensive measures required to do a galaxy wide hunt on small rebel pockets.

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    @J.Mini Mon Calamari Star Cruiser were able to 1 vs 1 an standard Imperial Star Destroyer....your ultimate weapon would be kinda "meh" if the enemy has the same thing available.
    – A.bakker
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 13:57
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    'Give up' is more like 'don't join with the rebels' than actively surrendering rebels. If you know you will get your entire planet destroyed by a DS then you are much less likely to join the Rebels Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 17:32
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    @Harper-ReinstateMonica a lot of rebel groups were unidentified, which is the reason the empire had trouble with them....they didn't know who was a rebel (or rebel supporter) or not (Princess Leia was able to hide the fact she was a bloody key figure for quite some time). So yea they could basically just walk out of the rebellion.
    – A.bakker
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 17:59
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    @nick012000 They used ground forces for the assault in The Empire strikes back because of that reason. The reason the Empire used AT-At's at all was because of fear tactics... why do i say that? AT-At's suck... they are troop transports that require their soldiers to pretty much jump down a cable to get on the battlefield...they only have frontal weapons compared to the Republic AT-TE which could pretty much fire in any direction. and their legs are much more vulnerable... Mechs are a horrible sci-fi trope seeing standard tanks are much more efficient in combat in pretty much anyway.
    – A.bakker
    Commented Mar 25, 2020 at 5:35
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    Real world example that came to mind: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Char_2C#Operational_history. The French C2 was ineffective and used for propaganda mainly by the French. On the flip side, when faced with capture, the French destroyed them. The Germans then used them as propaganda saying they destroyed them. Real-world example of A.bakker's moral point.
    – notsodev
    Commented Mar 25, 2020 at 14:21

When asking why they "ever bother" to build Super Star Destroyers, do you really mean to ask if this is a rational decision? The answer is clearly, "no." There is nothing they could accomplish with the Super Star Destroyers that couldn't be accomplished with regular Star Destroyers. This is not a rational decision any more that it was a rational decision to build a new Death Star after the first had so spectacularly and publicly failed to defeat the rebels in "A New Hope."

The Empire's military and foreign policy, much like that of any country, is rarely driven by rational decision making. Consider the U.S. and its endless fixation on a handful of foreign policy issues (Russia, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Venezuela, etc.) while blithely ignoring other serious threats. Gigantic ships with ever more powerful weapons are fetishized by the Empire (I won't even get into what that might say about Emperor Palpatine's insecurities) and by its replacement, the New Order. They are justifiable only if you accept the mindset of the Empire.

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    This is a very good answer, and I do not see why people downvoted it. Commented Mar 25, 2020 at 23:27
  1. Psychological factor. For the enemy it will be fear, for a loyalist it will be pride in Imperial engineering, strength of navy which is used to keep the peace.

  2. While Star Wars runs on rule of cool in theory a larger vessel could have more powerful power generators. And that equals: more firepower, faster speed, more powerful tractor beams etc. Basically more of everything for the same amount of money. Possibly.

  3. They were flagships of battle groups. It's always nice for the admiral to have the most powerful ship in the fleet.

  4. More space = more ground troops. You can ditch the cargo ships at least in the beginning of the invasion.

  5. The Empire was clearly obsessed with BIG designs. Some people simply love the concept that big must be better.

  6. Possibly corruption/lobbying. Construction of those ships cost very much. Another lucrative contract for Kuat Drive Yards will be always beneficial for the Kuat elite.


The way I see it, Super Star Destroyers like the Executor are the spacegoing equivalent of a super-battleship like the IJN Yamato crossed with one of the U.S. Navy's supercarriers. They're massive and incredibly powerful ships that can singlehandedly annihilate fleets of lesser ships.

The only reason they're viable at all is the Empire's willingness to shell out enormous amounts of credits to build and maintain them, much like a modern-day aircraft carrier. It's likely that there are more efficient ways to spend money, but their cost is justified in the Emperor's eyes because they can get belligerents to start behaving peacefully just by being in the general area, much like a U.S. carrier battlegroup IRL.


A flippant answer is "Why not?"

A more detailed answer, is that it is an efficient use of resources.

The resources available to the Empire are essentially unlimited with more than 70 million systems under their control. The canon amount of Star Destroyers (25,000?) is ridiculously insignificant in comparison. The military forces of the Empire are completely inadequate to militarily control the Empire.

That comparison not only makes terror weapons an efficient use of resources, but actually the only hope of actually keeping the systems in line. Being able to bounce the Death Star into a rebelling system, instantly reducing its primary population center to an asteroid field, and then bouncing briefly to another system that seemed to have rebellious tendencies, and then to a couple of other nearby worlds "just because", and then bouncing to another sector, just to let everyone know it can show up anywhere.

Imperial Troops are not needed to put down rebellion, if the local governments and populous are going to do it for you under the threat of planetary annihilation.

With the loss of the first Death Star, having the ship yards spit out a few Super Star Destroyers to temporarily serve "terror weapon" role until the next Death Star was online was a useful use of resources.

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    "more than 70 million systems under their control": this is only because scifi writers don't understand scale, logistics or overhead :P I think Asimov understood the pitfalls of a huge centralized galactic empire better than Star Wars...
    – Andres F.
    Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 21:25
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    The star destroyers never were a major force in Legends. They're a strike force, not the mainstay of the Empire's military. They're not the biggest, and they don't have a strength of numbers. I wonder where people go the idea that the Imperial fleet is solely composed of star destroyers - it's as if you looked at carriers in WW2 and concluded that the biggest navies on the planet had only a dozen ships. We don't see much else early in the original trilogy because we're following Darth Vader and his personal flagship - but just look at Return of the Jedi.
    – Luaan
    Commented Mar 27, 2020 at 11:35

It could be useful to have a larger craft up in outer space (not on a planet), where you could store and retrieve resources such as food, fuel, weapons, people on leave, etc for the armies and other space populations (think mini Star-base).

  • That only works if they were built as something other than massive command ships and weapons platforms, and if you can point to any evidence that they were ever intended to be used as such.
    – DavidW
    Commented Mar 27, 2020 at 14:57
  • No evidence, it's just a possibility based on the number of people they're hauling around. Granted, a regular ship could have supplies, but where do they go when they run out of paper towels? It might be the point of the original question, but I'd ask what would be the point of such a large ship if just for weapons? There wouldn't be. Besides, aren't we just making this stuff up anyway? The real answer is "because the writer, wrote them in.."? Movies don't really use paper towels anyway, or TP, or just about anything else.
    – Dan Chase
    Commented Apr 17, 2020 at 18:09
  • My previous comment seemed a little defensive, I'm not sure if they ever published them as being used for anything other than floating weapons..
    – Dan Chase
    Commented Apr 17, 2020 at 18:23

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