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Looking at the most recognizable ones at least, I was wondering why the older starfighters of the Rebel Alliance are called X-Wing, Y-Wing, and the newer ones A-Wing and B-Wing. A logical order would be to name the first model A-Wing and so on.

Is there any system or structure supporting the ship naming scheme, or is this just coincidence/will of Mr. Lucas ? Or is it because you could say the ship's shape corresponds somewhat to those letters (even the B-Wing does, albeit remotely). AFAIK, these four examples do not share one manufacturer, which adds another dimension to the question.

BTW, this question is interestingly related.

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    I always thought it was because of the correspondence between ship and letter shape, though I don't see the (remote) correspondence you do for the B-Wing. Sep 30, 2014 at 13:37
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    The names are based on the shape, but I don't have a reference for that right now.
    – numaroth
    Sep 30, 2014 at 13:38
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    I read somewhere that the B-wing was named the bladewing in early concept art, and later renamed to B-wing to match the others (X, Y and A). Can't find a source to back that up right now though. Sep 30, 2014 at 14:38
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    Funny that the names reference an alphabet that doesn't exist to these characters. George Lucas is a useless idiot. Sep 30, 2014 at 16:14
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    As they said on rifftrax - "Prepare to lock x-foils in 'sell toys' position"
    – Valorum
    Sep 30, 2014 at 16:42

7 Answers 7

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The names are because the shapes of the craft resemble that letter.

When viewed from the front or back, and X-wing looks like the letter X :

X-wing

When viewed from above/below, a Y-wing looks like the letter Y :

Y-wing

When viewed from above/below, and A-wing looks like the letter A :

A-wing

When viewed from the side, a B-wing looks like a lowercase letter b :

B-Wing

The B-Wing comparison is a little more tenuous. Here's how it looks with the letter overlayed:

B-wing with letter

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    I still don't see the "b" from the B-wing but good pictures. Also, your B-wing link points to the A-wing article.
    – Null
    Sep 30, 2014 at 13:58
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    I always thought "T-wing" would be a better name given that it is shaped like a "t".
    – Null
    Sep 30, 2014 at 14:10
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    You may want to mention the E-wing fighter as well, which basically resembled the Z-95 Headhunter in shape - or an X-Wing with the foils closed. From above, it looked like a capital E.
    – Omegacron
    Sep 30, 2014 at 17:43
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    @Null It could be argued that it resembles a "B" just like constellations resemble their shapes/animals. They don't really resemble them, but with some imagination you can easily make that shape from those vertices.
    – TylerH
    Sep 30, 2014 at 17:58
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    It's handy that, in the galaxy far far away, they use the same alphabet as us.
    – Daft
    Dec 9, 2015 at 13:47
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The X-Wing is clearly named after the shape the "wings" have in attack position: an X.

The Y-Wing does form a Y, when looking from above; though clearly less recognizable than the X-Wing.

For the newer ones, though, whoever did the naming lost me.

The A-Wing can be said to ROUGHLY resemble a capital A when seen from above, but the B-Wing really just seems to have needed a name...

If anyone can explain the B-Wing, please do, though.

Oh, see the neat answer with the pictures! But I still have a VERY hard time seeing a "b" on the B-wing!

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B-Wing is short for "Blade Wing", named so for its long sleek blade-like profile. Classed as a Blockade Buster because its maneuverability was terrible for dog fights. Enough firepower to ruin anything and thin enough nothing can hit it.

This is revealed the Star Wars Rebels episode "Wings of the Master". In that episode, the B-Wing prototype was revealed and referred to as the Blade Wing.

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    Welcome to Science Fiction & Fantasy! Please provide a citation for your claim that it is short for "Blade Wing".
    – Null
    Aug 11, 2016 at 17:01
  • @Null I don't want to edit it for the OP but it was part of the new Disney canon (Star Wars Rebels). But here's the citation: starwars.com/databank/b-wing-prototype-blade-wing Aug 11, 2016 at 17:44
  • @psubsee2003 Good find! The source shouldn't be left in a comment, though. You can either post your own answer with the source, or edit the citation into this answer.
    – Null
    Aug 11, 2016 at 17:49
  • @Null I was reluctant to add so much to the OP's answer, but I've proposed the edit. Aug 11, 2016 at 18:00
  • @psubsee2003 Edit approved. Thanks.
    – Null
    Aug 11, 2016 at 18:05
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The B-Wing isn't named after it's appearance. Can't quote sources, but the B-Wing was the personal design of Admiral Ackbar as a new class of lighter, faster bombers to replace the heavy and slow Y-Wing. 'B' stands for 'Bomber', not it's shape.

The other three are indeed named after their appearance.

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    "The name B-wing came from the craft's remote similarity in appearance to the lowercase letter b" - starwars.wikia.com/wiki/A/SF-01_B-wing_starfighter
    – Moogle
    Sep 30, 2014 at 14:49
  • @Moogle I'll have to find the source but the B is the lines formed when the wings go from normal to fighting position. Sep 30, 2014 at 15:40
  • Just posting what I remember from the books. I've read bunches, but it's been years. This was a specific fact that really stood out to me from wherever I read it, and I would still trust that memory over a fansite statement of 'remote similarity in appearance' which to me is obviously wrong. You don't have to trust that memory, though. I'm just giving my two cents. If it was 'i' wing or 't' wing then sure, I'd see it. 'B' or 'b' doesn't make sense. Sep 30, 2014 at 15:48
  • I've saw that on a technical sheet of the B-wing (from the first edition of Star wars D&D like rpg or pc star wars game, one of those) quite a few years back (10+). I still have the books for the RPG, so I'll look into them. It was so clearly apparent why it was called B-wing from that tech sheet I never needed to wonder why again. Sep 30, 2014 at 15:58
  • That's the closest I could find on the internet. It doesn't show up like a B but the lines on the tech sheet started under the rotation axe of the wings to the outside, making the B clear. Sep 30, 2014 at 16:05
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None of the above.

When they were making the movies they did not name the ships. They were all called starfighters. But when it was time to introduce two new fighters, in order to identify the models, they were assigned letters: A and B.

Coincidentally the A fighter actually looks somewhat like a capital A, but the B had no resembling to the letter. They kept the name anyway in the toys release, and later tried to give some explanation like "it's short for blade" or "it looks like a lower case b when it's upside down and you are looking at it with one eye closed".

Truth is it was a cool looking ship which could do cool moves rotating the cockpit, which did not get enough screen time because it wasn't easy to spot on screen with the black sky in the background (some scenes involving b wings were in fact cut in post production).

Also, there is no in-universe explanation to these names, as they use a different alphabet, and X, Y, A, B (and E) do not look like latin letters.

enter image description here

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    I was pretty sure that in the first movie they talked about "X-wings" and "Y-wings" and not just generally "fighters." But your comment about the alphabet not matching is very interesting. :)
    – DavidW
    Jun 19, 2019 at 14:54
  • The alphabet doesn’t necessarily have to match. “X” isn’t just a letter; it’s also an English word meaning “the shape of two crossed diagonal lines.” Presumably Galactic Basic has its own word for the same shape, and the most elegant translation into English is “X.” Jun 19, 2019 at 15:29
  • I'm guessing they don't speak English at all, tbh. Jan 10 at 11:33
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They aren't really all about the shape of the wings matching a letter, especially, as noted, the Star Wars alphabet is different. The B-wing obviously is not a B shape. It is short for "blade wing."

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The B wing assault fighter was designed by a calamarian scientist, not admiral Ackbar! It was called B wing as short for Blade wing because of its sleek profile and its resemblance to a sword when S foils are deployed. You could argue that their universe doesn't have A, B, X and Y in their alphabet so the point is irrelevant......... but if this is the case how does the entire imperial stormtrooper Korps get is designations for TKs like the famous TK421 that was clobbered by luke when they sneaked onto the death star. Bottom line is George Lucas is a clever man and a business man but the simple truth is he made the Star Wars stories up as he went along, He never wrote them all then showed them in wrong order, New Hope was never originally called New hope, it was originally called Blue Harvest, Star Wars was the second name, then when ESB came along he renamed the first one to ANH. Otherwise Leia would never have snogged her brother in ESB even though she says she's "always known" at the end of ROTJ!!

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