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At the end of Star Wars: A New Hope (1977), I noticed one ground tech closing a plastic true union ball valve and disconnecting a plastic flexible corrugated hose from a side port of one of the X-Wings in the vast hangar of the hidden Rebel base in the Massassi temple on Yavin IV, while the Rebel ground crew was loading droids into the sockets and the pilots were rode around on transport scooters to their ships in preparation for the battle.

Still image from Star Wars A New Hope (1977)

Here other still image from the movie and detail showing the hose/valve.

Still image and detail of Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)

There are some tiny letters near the bottom left of the port but illegible. They appear to be Aurebesh, despite the fact that that language did not exist at the time.

Detail of still image from A New Hope

The hose with the valve in question is connected at the other end to a ground crew vehicle. Only the Legends mention the vehicle as Vehicle Maintenance Energizer, which isn't very helpful.

I did research some cross-sections of the X-Wing without success. I also discovered that non-metallic (i.e., PVC) hoses and valves are commonly used in water, chemical processing, and marine applications, among others, but are never used with fuel or other flammable fluids for safety and chemical resistance reasons, predisposing the pipes and valves to damage, leak quickly, and burst, leaving me to wonder what fluid they were pumping.

Here a picture of a standard (out of universe) PVC true union ball valve.

Standard PVC true union valve

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    They weren't pumping anything in, they were pumping it out. You sometimes take long flights in those things, and also, sometimes, when it gets really exciting, the pucker-factor is extremely high, and, well, no pilot likes to talk about it, but accidents happen...
    – davidbak
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 3:11
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    @davidbak ... sometimes, they arent accidents....
    – Moo
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 3:24
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    Obviously that's not plastic, it's special quantium-bonded unobtainium for carrying highly-reactive pure phlebotinum. It just looks like plastic to you because you lack the proper referents.
    – DavidW
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 3:39
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    Please don't read too much into what movie makers do to ceate a deep and wonderful world experience. PVC? That's used by the props team because it's cheap. Fluid? Could be as @davidbak suggests (sewage), or it could be fuel, or coolant, or a lot of things. What I recommend is that you don't fall into the trap of believing there should be an in-world (or, worse, a Real World) explanation for everything you see in a film. A lot of it (maybe most of it) is eye candy - which works... it brought you here to ask, right?
    – JBH
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 4:54

2 Answers 2

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Life support

According to the Canon Rebel Starfighters: Owners' Workshop Manual, the hoses seen in the Rebel base are plugged into the life support recharge ports:

Screenshot of Episode IV: A New Hope, showing a hose plugged into an X-wing

Diagram from Rebel Starfighters: Owners' Workshop Manual, with life support recharge ports highlighted

This comports with the X-wing schematics from the Legends source the Star Wars Technical Journal, which show the life support system as being behind the pilot's seat, and the fueling port at the very back:

Schematic from the Star Wars Technical Journal

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    Now I want to know what "life-support recharge fluid" is - does this imply that the Rebel Alliance have a way of liquifying The Force?
    – Dai
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 22:55
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    Ah yes. Liquid life. Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 23:01
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    @Dai The reasonable conclusion from the hexagon shapes in the cutaway diagram is that the pilot subsists on honeycomb, which must be periodically refilled. Presumably this was one of the changes made to the T-65 X-wing starfighter that resulted in the later T-65Bee.
    – Milo P
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 23:31
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    @JBH Honeycomb... T-65Bee...
    – chepner
    Commented Feb 22, 2023 at 17:29
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    I mean, water. Or maybe a slurry of water and some carbon compounds to make a food supply. Water is a reasonably dense and stable way to transport oxygen (just add energy!), and needed for life.
    – Yakk
    Commented Feb 22, 2023 at 20:05
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The T-65B X-Wings used in the Battle of Yavin were powered by Novaldex 04-Z cryogenic power generators.

These types of starfighters did not require standard fuel to operate like our vehicles do. They were likely putting fresh coolant into the ship for the power generators.

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    There is nothing in the official technical manuals that I have, such as The Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels, about the T-65B having liquid fuel tanks, though they are shown on other ships , so I'd have to agree with you on this one. That pipe does appear to be going into the general location of the power core, so it's most likely intended to be coolant. Given that the person handling it isn't wearing gloves or eye wear, it's probably some form of inert heat transference fluid rather than a supercooled liquid or gas. But that's just speculation. Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 15:42
  • @AaarghZombies The most energy dense non phase-change inert heat transferance fluid currently known is (fancy that) water, at about 4.2 Joule/gram/degree K. They may have conjured up something fancier by then, but, quite likely not. Commented Feb 23, 2023 at 9:33
  • @Russell McMahon, It could simply be liquid ammonia, which is what's often used as a heat transfer fluid in real life. Commented Feb 23, 2023 at 15:22
  • @AaarghZombies I should have mentioned pressure as well :-). Yes. With an adequately strong pipeline and very very very good connectors that do not release ANY fluid at any stage, liquid ammonia is slightly better than wat in the 0-100 C range. You'd not want to have any escape. Pressure is around 800 psi and it's lethal stuff. Useful stats... Commented Feb 24, 2023 at 11:48
  • ... and here Commented Feb 24, 2023 at 11:49

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