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In the film Star Wars: A New Hope (1977), in the background of a scene where dozens of stormtroopers face Han Solo and Chewbacca in the DS1, we can see a TIE fighter that appears to be, from the camera point of view, landed or 'parked' directly on the ground of an empty docking bay. No wires, no racks or other suspension/landing means can be seen near the starfighter.

I found some Ralph McQuarrie concept drawings from his Star Wars Portfolio showing TIE fighters in a big hangar in the Death Star, and I noticed a couple of TIE fighters on top of a kind of horizontal rail or take-off runways. Also, other TIE fighters are hanging from upper racks.

According to Canon TIE fighters lacked landing gear so, during landing operations, they were retrieved using special cycling racks or small tractor beam projectors. Also, while TIE fighters were structurally capable of "sitting" on the bottom of their solar array wing panels (I assume, assisted by using their repulsorlift cyclers in their wing struts), they were not designed to land or disembark their pilots that way, unless absolutely necessary. Thus, how this TIE fighter is landed?

Still image from Star Wars A New Hope

Drawing from Ralph McQuarrie Star Wars Portfolio

EDIT: It looks to me that that particular TIE fighter could have been hovering on top of a rectangular lifting/dropping platform usually depicted in docking bays inside the DS1 and star destroyers as shown in these two pictures of hangar bay 327 and wreckage of the Inflictor in Jakku respectively.

Still picture from Return of the Jedi

Detail of still picture of The Force Awakens

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  • Maybe it was being repaired?
    – Lexible
    Mar 9 at 18:00

1 Answer 1

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TIE Fighters are regularly parked on their 'wings', as can be seen in multiple episodes of Rebels.

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They can be boarded (via the flip hatch in the top) by using a simple and inexpensive repulsor platform or a simple ladder

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The statement that they can't land without support structures seems to be a misquote from the Star Wars: Tie Fighter Owners' Workshop Manual (which I might add is Legends canon) that states;

"Raith Sienar noted that the TIE fighters’ lack of landing gear reduced mass for maximum maneuverability, and also that the fighters were structurally capable of resting on their wings. Navy officials admired the economy of Sienar's designs, and further appreciated how the TIE fighter and its related racking system served to teach Imperial pilots to rely completely on higher authority."

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    All the images look like they are not resting on the wings, but are suspended a feet or two in the air presumably by a repulsor, more likely in the fighters themselves than in the floor.
    – Jan Hudec
    Mar 10 at 8:04
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    @JanHudec - They are in the final pic, but not in the others. I was merely using that to point to the fact that small repulsor pads exist.
    – Valorum
    Mar 10 at 8:07
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    Note that this is also consistent with numerous other media sources, especially old extended universe stuff where there were multiple instances of airfields on planetary surfaces with tie-fighters. The hanging rack approach is generally portrayed as a matter of space efficiency for storage, and possibly time efficiency for rapid deployment (especially on ISDs, with their silly downwards facing main hangars). Mar 10 at 13:48
  • I mean, they're in space, so technically they could just float in there without repulsors. Of course there is gravity inside the ships somehow, presumably some hand-wavy artificial gravity plating or something (since the ships don't appear to be using rotation to simulate gravity). It could be they simply reduce the gravity in the loading docks for just this reason. (In reality, it would noticeably affect the gait of people walking around them, but maybe they didn't want to bother with that in the films because it's expensive and might look silly.) Mar 10 at 14:35
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    @NKCampbell - The shot from Rebels is a nice find because it shows a low-tech way of boarding. I discounted the TIE-Outlander from Mandalorian because it's clearly been modified.
    – Valorum
    Mar 11 at 18:35

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