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I get that they would be aerodynamic in-atmosphere, but so would cigar shaped or pyramidal shaped ones. Is is a rule of cool thing? Preferable to cite some Star Wars reference. Legend/Cannon doesn’t matter, I’ll accept what ever gives a better reason.

Edit: The Star Destroyers in question consist of the following list.

Acclamators, Venators, Imperial I & II, Victory, Super, Xyston (the planet killers, I think), and any others shown on film or in Legends books.

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  • 1
    Same reason single-person fighters can perform aerodynamic maneuvers in vacuum? (I think I've read that the Star Wars universe actually does have some medium that make aerodynamics relevant.)
    – chepner
    May 20 at 22:51
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    If I were designing a star destroyer I would also make it a triangle: it maximises the attack surfaces of the ship in an engagement.
    – Dúthomhas
    May 20 at 22:52
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    I want to point out that Star Destroyers are triangular because they're based on an earlier model of ship (the Venator-class cruiser) that was triangular.
    – Valorum
    May 21 at 6:59
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    Ah, I remember seeing that now. I like the "if it helps you sleep at night" quote :)
    – chepner
    May 21 at 16:28
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    @Valorum-true, but they’re called Venator-class Star Destroyers, are they not? May 21 at 20:19

2 Answers 2

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According to a Legends sourcebook, the design focuses firepower forward, giving the ship the ability to destroy a planet.

A Star Destroyer is named after the idea of a ship that has the power needed to destroy entire star systems, an ominous naming convention that goes back to the days of the Old RepUblic. Any ship that follows the design basics of those early ships (including a combination of massive firepower and a dagger shape to focus that firepower forward) can be a class of Star Destroyer. - Starships of the Galaxy (Emphasis mine)

Interestingly, the wording implies that the triangular design is required in order to be classified as a star destroyer, even though some star destroyer types aren't all that arrowhead-shaped.

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    An excellent find :-)
    – Valorum
    Jun 20 at 20:07
  • @Valorum Thanks! I'm not sure it really makes sense but at least it's official.
    – Rogue Jedi
    Jun 20 at 20:09
  • @RogueJedi It actually does, when you think about the firing arcs of the gun turrets. Guns on each side can fire both forwards or to their respective flank, without being blocked by the guns in front of them.
    – nick012000
    Jun 20 at 20:53
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    @nick012000 I had the same thought - that the sloped design would make it easy to have a huge forward weight of fire, like superfiring gone mad - but if you look at the actual shooting model from the movies, the main guns clearly sit in a straight line on each side that can only effectively fire to that side. I don't know why.
    – Cadence
    Jun 20 at 21:31
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According to the Star Wars: The Official Starships and Vehicles Collection #11, the triangular shape of the Star Destroyer is simply a case of form following function. Early iterations such as the Acclimator-class and Victory-class Star Destroyers had stubby wings that allowed them to fly in-atmosphere, hence their need for streamlining. They were underpowered, which resulted in later models being redesigned with a bigger power core and bigger engines, but stuffed into a shell that was basically identical to the designs that came before it, even though it no longer needed to be streamlined for atmospheric flight.

The Victory I-class Star Destroyers had a unique profile, possessing 'wings' that allowed the craft to manoeuvre in an atmosphere. While this gave the massive starship the option to pursue prey planetside, the underpowered ion engines of the Victory I meant that the pursued were normally long gone by the time the ship got there. This weakness led to the development of the Victory II-class Star Destroyer, but neither ship saw much service before the birth of the Empire.

Basing her work on her father's plans for the Victory II-class, Wessex designed the Imperial I-class Star Destroyer for Kuat Drive Yards. To address the weaknesses of the Victory-class, Lira Wessex replaced the ageing hypermatter annihilation reactors with an SFS l-a2b Solar Ionisation Reactor.

and

Episode II reveals that the triangular shape of the Star Destroyer is drawn from ships from the time of the Old Republic - specifically the Acclimator-class Republic assault ships.

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