A couple of weeks ago my Lego Star Wars X-wing took a tumble off its display shelf. (I suspect a mild earthquake that morning was the culprit.) The X-wing dove off the shelf, bounced hard off the printer, and landed, shattered into major constituent pieces, on the floor near the paper shredder.
The destruction was substantial, although luckily the individual pieces (in particular the rare-if-not-unique clear cockpit canopy) were not damaged. All four wings tore off, and inexplicably the upper left and lower right wings split in two while their equally flimsy counterparts remained intact. The wingtip laser cannons went flying, one landing on a windowsill behind the curtain where it went undiscovered for more than a week. The nose section, which is an independent sub-assembly that snaps onto the main fuselage, split into three major parts; while the aft end of the fuselage evidently took a major shot because it was blasted apart, leaving only the rugged, central gearbox assembly that actuates the “S-foil” motion.
Yet, as I arranged the parts on the coffee table for post-crash analysis, I noticed that the R2 unit stayed nestled in its socket, and the cockpit section held together. In fact, in spite of the considerable disintegration of the X-wing, I got the impression that this could have been a survivable impact, much like a Formula One racer crumples when it hits the wall but leaves its monocoque safely surrounding the driver.
That led me to this strange notion…
Imagine a rebel pilot, during the attack on the Death Star, who for whatever reason—shot down, engine trouble, pilot error, etc.—crashes into the surface of the space station without dying. (Obviously, we’re not talking about Porkins here.) What could that pilot do?
He’s not wearing a pressure suit, so unless he’s carrying some kind of emergency suit he’s stuck in his ship. Even if he can get out, then what?
There were no search-and-rescue ships sent out along with the rebel fleet, just the thirty X- and Y-Wing attack fighters—each a single-seater with no room for a passenger.
His R2 unit might have rocket packs (R2-D2 did in Episode III) but would that be sufficient to launch them far enough away from the impending blast? I doubt it.
Otherwise, the pilot’s only option is to sit and wait for the ground beneath him to explode into oblivion. If any pilots did survive a crash, this is exactly what would have happened, as no pilots survived the battle without flying out of it in their own ships.
What a weird, horrifying thought.