TIE Fighter Size
An analysis from having too much time on my hands
Why it matters?
The TIE Fighter size is probably one of the most fluid in all of Star Wars. This is due to several issues including filming models that had relatively large pilots, while the full-size cockpits made the pilots seem much smaller. Moreover, the official dimensions have also changed over time, from 6.4 meters to 8.99 meters to the current Rogue One size of 7.24 meters.
Likewise, models and toys don't always get the dimensions correct either, sometimes having narrow wings and/or overly small cockpits. On top of all of this, the new TIEs seen in Rebels and The Force Awakens are different.
To the majority of people, this isn't a big deal. Yet, when building models, especially dioramas, it becomes important. Granted a 1/144 TIE is pretty similar to a 1/170 TIE, which is why the F-toys line can fudge the scale for their vehicles look similar. However, it's still worth looking into the various differences and trying to come up with a better way to determine the size.
Studio scale pilot too big?
Now, the studio scale pilot of the TIE Fighters was a 1/24 figure, which led many to believe that these TIEs were 1/24 scale. However, I have several issues with this:
- ILM used the 1/24 figure in the X-wing and Y-wing studio scale models. Now, look at the picture of the models lined up together. If they are all 1/24, then they should be the same size in-universe. But, we know that isn't true (the y-wing is double the length of a TIE Fighter). Also, ILM never said those models were in the same scale.
- You'll notice the pilot is grey and not black, like a TIE pilot. Moreover, you don't really see the pilot figure in the movie, so I don't think ILM meant for them to be representative for the true TIE pilot.
- The pilot seems severely oversized compared to the full-size cockpit. Look at where the pilot's eyeline should come (also where the centerpoint of the camera hits when the camera is looking though the cockpit). The 1/24 pilot would be looking through the outer ring of the cockpit, where as the full-size set pilot and camera are looking just a little above the center octagon.
- Finally, look at the diagram of the Rebels TIE Fighter cockpit. The pilot's eyeline matches that of ANH where the camera hits. This supports the argument that the 1/24 pilot is too big and that the cockpit of a TIE is quite roomy.
The canopy as a baseline
Perhaps the one and only constant feature among all TIE variants is the iconic octagonal canopy. We know that the same parts were crafted for Vader and his wingmates in ANH. We also know that the studio Interceptors and Fighters shared the canopy molds in RotJ. Photos suggest that the Bombers and Fighters in TESB also shared the same canopy.
Yeah, that included a few assumptions on my part, but also consider this. The Empire was all about efficiency and similarity. Using the same canopy on all of their TIE models is akin to countries using the same tank chassis for different roles (often with drastic variations). Even the reference books suggest that the Interceptor used the same cockpit module as the standard TIE, which is why the laser cannon hardpoints are still there below the canopy. So, it's not a huge leap to believe that the Empire would cast one standard canopy to be used on all TIE variants.
So, how big is the canopy? Looking at movie stills, the full-size cockpit sets, and the models, you can see that the canopy is roughly the same height as a human, perhaps a little smaller. I would estimate it to be around 1.6-1.7 meters. Concept art from Rebels showing a Stormtrooper inside a TIE suggests 1.6 meters for the canopy. 1.7 meters seems to match the official sizes best. 1.6 meters matches the Bandai kits the best. It's worth noting that a difference of .1 meters does very little to change the scales of vehicles.
From this, I estimated the following to be the rough sizes using the Bandai and F-toys models (not perfect I know). Now, I no longer use these for scale estimates, but I'll leave them here for those curious.
- TIE Advanced x1 - 6.2 meters
- TIE Fighter - 7.3 meters
- TIE Bomber - 8.3 meters
- TIE Interceptor - 8.8 meters
With the release of Rogue One, the Visual Guide lists the TIE Fighter at 7.24 meters, almost a perfect match of my estimates. Yay me and my geeky boredom.
Here are the latest sizes from the TIE Fighter Owner's Workshop Manual. These are probably the closest canon will get to being accurate. The only one I really have issue with is the TIE Interceptor, but it may very well be that small.
TIE Fighter - 7.24 m
TIE Bomber - 7.8 m
TIE Interceptor - 7.7 m
TIE Advanced x1 - 5.8 m
TIE Defender - 8.8 m
TIE Advanced v1 - 3.2 m
Exceptions to my "canopy" rule
While the canopy size of 1.6 meters works for nearly all TIEs (so far as I can tell), there are a few exceptions.
- TIE Striker - Rogue One made all TIE's have a smaller canopy. Go figure.
- First Order TIEs - These fighters are overall smaller.
How come the tie advanced, a.k.a darth vader tie, be smaller than the regular tie? Could you please check your measurements again? Thank you.
Well, I’m using the canopy as a baseline and comparing that to the Bandai kits, which seem to be the most accurate. If they are 1/72 scale exactly, then the TIE Advanced x1 is indeed shorter than the regular TIE. It’s hard to tell from the Trench Run scene, where the forced perspective skews the sizes. But if the cockpits and canopies are essentially the same size, then Vader’s TIE is smaller.
No reason a new, improved TIE like Vader’s couldn’t be a bit smaller than the standard line fighters; making the ships compact was obviously a goal of the entire TIE Fighter program.
Hiya, don’t know if this will be any use but I’ve already done it for my own benefit trying to figure out how big I should 3D print some ships for Star Wars Legion terrain, so I might as well share. I ripped the 3D files for the TIE/ln, TIE/sa, TIE/int, and TIE Adv. x1 from EA’s Battlefront 2 game files(it’s approved by ILM/the Story Group, so is part of nuCanon), took high res images of the front, right side, and top views, scaled them all relative to each other using your Constant Canopy assumption, and then scaled them all at once in a GIMP image using 1cm = 1m based on the TIE/ln being 7.24m.
The result is a canopy size of about 1.5m, with the lengths of the other three ships coming out as ~6.9m for the bomber, ~5.85m for the Advanced, and ~9.2m for the interceptor. Here’s the cm=m image; https://i.imgur.com/Wyc0uMd.png
So, aye, it really does seem like they just pull some of the scale numbers out of their backside, considering that the ln, int, and advanced all clearly share the same “cockpit ball”, and the bomber’s wings are modified versions of the advanced’s.
Thanks for the measurements. I think they went a little small on the TIE Bomber, but otherwise, they scale out pretty well.
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The discrepancy on the bomber I think comes from sticking strictly to your constant canopy assumption, which I thought was the most sensible approach, but ILM/Lucasfilm evidently don’t agree with me. I picked up the Owner’s Manual and I find it a bit disappointing, since it still leaves things inconsistent – any of the TIEs featured in Rogue One(/ln, /sk, Boarding) use the new 3D model with the smaller canopy(which I really dislike tbh), but the Interceptor, Defender, and the two Advanceds continue to use the classic look for the cockpit ball. While explicitly stating in prose that they’re meant to share the same cockpit ball in common at least once and IIRC twice. And I *think* the writing in the TIE Boarding Craft section is supposed to confirm the Bomber does use a larger canopy, however because the BC uses the teeny-weeny R1 style version it’s not strictly confirmed.
Man, Lucasfilm need to have like a board of obsessive fan editors who’ll go through all these supplementary products and push them for consistency or something.
Agreed. That little canopy from R1 kinda messes things up a bit. At least the TIE Owner’s manual still gives better sizes that what they used to have.
I actually like EC Henry’s youtube video on TIE Sizes. He thinks that the R1 version is just a slightly earlier model, and the ones we see in ANH are a newer model first posted to the Death Star (with their larger canopies).
Ehhh, the issue with that approach is the rest of the book and the other screen appearances of the TIE pre-OT. Aside from the Interceptor & Advanced issue, both Rebels(despite their obviously stylised proportions) and Fallen Order depict classic OT-style canopies years before R1. I normally really like EC Henry’s headcanons but that one is a stretch for me. I’m going to choose to put the TIE/dw(Dinkie Windae) in the same bin as the pointless Shoretrooper armour – Scarif-only wonky experimental nonsense. Some kind of much more instrument-focused concept for flight with the canopy shrunk as a result, but they ended up suffering massive casualties at Scarif well above the expected norm for TIEs so the idea was scrapped – the reason we never saw them before or since is simply that they never actually fought anywhere else.
True. And despite how much I love Rogue 1 and their designs, I did hate the smaller canopy there. I was impressed that they slightly rotated it when they showed the camera from the pilot’s view (like ANH). That was an impressive amount of detail. I did love the Shoretroopers, but you can tell how they were already replaced by the Scouttroopers both in Fallen Order and Rebels.
I like that idea. Scarif (the base they thought was impenetrable), had rejected TIE’s, overly complex TIE Strikers, redundant Shoretroopers, lightly armored AT-ACTs, and NO AT-ST’s at all. It would add to the hubris of the Empire to think they didn’t need anything stronger.
Funny enough, I would even accept the small window for TIE Bombers or Boarders. The smaller window narrowing their field of view with a “focus only on the target and nothing else” mentality would fit the Empire.
Yeah Scarif as combined super-science whacky testbed place and behind-the-lines dumping ground for “eh, it kinda works, but not better enough than what we currently use to actually put it into mass production” solves a few issues. The only one left really would be the Tank Troopers, I’m headcanoning those away as a Special Forces unit from the Armoured Corps rather than Stormtroopers.
To be fair, the TIE Bomber has always been pretty inconsistent. The filming model clearly has a HUEG window as does the patent filing blueprint, but the Essential Guide from the mid 90’s seems to depict a more standard TIE canopy and that’s purportedly based on some concept art, which is supported by Rebels who seemed to love drawing from the old concept art archives to inform their designs for the show and depicted a normal canopy version. Actually talking about the Essential Guide – that does depict a “short” TIE Interceptor compared to the more modern interpretation seen in for ex that Battlefront 2 image I posted; blob:https://imgur.com/fcd0d9b6-3b4a-4854-b3f7-0c90831da813 – so perhaps that or whatever that image derived from is where they’re drawing the scale information from.
What I want to do is get hold of a decent 3d model of the Advanced X1 and see if they’ve scaled the bomber relative to its wings or not. If they’ve at least done that, I can probably get over my dislike for the inconsistent canopy.
Oops, link borked, try this one: https://i.imgur.com/nqRVw3V.png
Well, I’d say that the old Essential Guide showed a rather stubby TIE Interceptor. If you look at the surviving studio scale models, the wings are longer on most of the models they made.
Yeah, a digital TIE Advanced x1 would be neat to have. The Bomber would definitely be larger, but the canopy scaled between the 2 should be relatively the same.
Revisiting the issue here I think I had an epiphany. Contrary to the studio scale TIE fighter VFX model (with the small pilot figure) and the large cockpit studio set, the actual cockpit set blueprint was drafted rather small (as seen in the SW Blueprints book). The way I see the issue now, Lucas wanted to ensure to film the TIE cockpit not as a static box but with visible background movement through the upper cockpit hatch. To accomplish this he would have been either forced to film with a distorting fish-eye lens or…have the studio set carpenters to build an oversized cockpit set. The results in the final film speak for themselves: In those scenes we’d see the pilot and the upper hatch in the back the pilot was positioned as close to the cockpit window as possible. That’s quite the opposite in the scene where Vader hits R2-D2, i.e. Dave Prowse was moved as close to the back of the cockpit set as possible. Conclusion: For “in-universe” applications the TIE cockpit sphere is intended to be rather small. While the black & white studio set images of Vader/Prowse or the TIE pilot actor in the set (shown above) suggest a large cockpit sphere, one should keep in mind that its oversize was a deliberate creation for cinematic purposes That should have little or no relevance for “in-universe” considerations.
Regarding the assets in Rogue One, something that gets overlooked is that it’s an ISB facility, and Krennic is an ISB Director. The Scarif Troopers and the Tank Drivers have very similar helmet shapes, and share most of their body armor. What Kallus wears in Rebels seems to be a stylized variant on it, as well. The Range Troopers in Solo have similar hallmarks, making me think that’s an ISB facility, too. The ISB classically maintained their own, closely-controllable forces separate from the rest of the Imperial military. For instance, until the death of Krennic, we only ever see Death Troopers accompanying ISB personnel, guarding ISB sites, or seconded to high-ranking individuals on missions for the ISB. Things get a bit scattered after the Battle of Yavin, but by the time of The Mandalorian, the only ones we see are under Gideon — who sure has an ISB vibe. Advanced weapons projects? Black science? Fanataical loyalty to the Empire? Yup.
Also, at Scarif, there were PLENTY of TIE/lns deploying from the shieldgate. The Strikers and Reaper were only seen used in atmo, which seems to be what their wing orientation was meant for. It’s a specialized combat usage/environment that we don’t see elsewhere in the OT, so there might have been more protecting other land-based installations. Or they could’ve been strictly ISB, and when they took a double hit at Scarif and Yavin, that might’ve affected what they had, could make, and could field. We don’t see a whole lot about them again until they lock down Imperial Center following the Emperor’s Death.
Regarding the main thrust of the page, brilliant breakdown. I agree the cockpit set was probably built oversized for filming purposes, just as the Falcon was built undersized (that cockpit interior! NO reason for it to be that cramped!). That, the disagreement between viewport orientations and obstructions, conflicting data on the main ingress/egress… even the meaning of the TIE mnemonic. It’s all given me fits for years. As much as I want to dismiss the size of the set, I can’t ignore the posture of ALL the pilots. They’re sitting quite upright, with a bit of room between the tops of their LARGE helmets and the upper canopy. If the rear “hatch” is the intended primary access, they’d need room inside to move around the seat to sit in it. They’d need to sit quite close to the viewport to not have their view obstructed by that greebled panel covering nearly have the viewport’s area. And so on. I think your estimates and the current official sizes are pretty accurate, except for the Interceptor. The Bandai model’s viewport is a LIIIIIITTLE bit smaller than the standard size for the ln and x1. I’ve corrected this with my collection by swapping out the main hull with that of an ln. The wings don’t look undersized, so I’m happy to leave that. I do, however, rotate all the viewports so there isn’t a structural brace right in the middle of the forward view… 😉
Another frustrating bit regarding TIEs: the wing height/front to back length/height proportions for a given model vary quite a bit. Ex: The micro machine TIE Interceptors have skinnier, longer wings while others have shorter taller wings, and some TIE Fighter models have wings that are skinnier front to back and taller, while others are shorter and fatter.
True. TIE Interceptors are probably the worst because of how some companies like to shorten or elongate the wings.
question: what would you say is the length? from the very front tip of a wing to the back tip looking from above the ship?
So yeah, I would agree with the newest canon length of 7.24 meters. That fits with my original estimates of what we see onscreen (at least as best as we can tell).
Anytime you see a measurement for TIE’s length, it’s always wing length since the wings are longer than the hull.
hey, sorry, got another question: i’ve been trying to get the most consistent measurements for all the SW ships… and, i’ve come across blueprints like these: (https://www.the-blueprints.com/blueprints/sciencefiction/star-wars-imperial/2677/view/tie_bomber/)… have you come across these? do you know how accurate these are? so, i’ve tried lining these up to each other, for example the TIE advanced with the TIE fighter and the TIE bomber… and, i just can’t seem to come to a conclusion of which is the best source. because, if the length of darth vader’s TIE advance is supposed to be shorter than the TIE fighter… then these blueprints are off as well. do you know anything about these blueprints…?
Hey man. So yes, I have seen those blueprints. They are from the old Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels and are decent (for instance the Bomber’s bomb chute is in the back, not front). They also aren’t really to scale, but again they aren’t bad. Now, a lot of the size references come from the old West End Games RPG that were all just pretty much made up, such as the TIE’s 6.3 meter length. The 8.99 meters came later, but made it way too big (and is closer to the height, which they may have accidentally swapped). Another issue is that comparing the model sizes screws things up because the filming models were rarely made to scale. Moreover, sizes of ships in Rebels were different that in the movies. Rogue One at least solidified the TIE Fighter’s size because they had to digitally create and scale it.
The latest canon length is the 7.24 meters that you find in the TIE Fighter Owner’s Workshop Manual (which is based on the CGI model in Rogue One), which is a really cool book by the way.
Hope this helps
one more question: according to Starwars.com (https://www.starwars.com/databank/tie-fighter), the TIE fighter’s dimensions are length: 8.99m… and according to wookieepedia (https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/TIE/LN_starfighter) the length is 6.3m. do you have any idea how these 2 sources could be so far off from each other? am i not seeing something…?
Not only does the Rogue One TIE have a smaller canopy, but the wings are bigger as well.
I’ve done extensive research in the despecialized edition of ANH, and assuming the spherical cockpit sections are the same size, Vader’s TIE is indeed about 10% shorter, slightly narrower, and less than half the height of a normal TIE.
A normal TIE could have two of them flying above and below its cockpit and they would be completely shrouded by those huge wings.
It’s really only smaller because of the TIE’s massive wings, the body of the X-1 probably where stuff like the hyperdrive and deflectors are. Plus it has bent wings which make the overall size smaller while keeping the same surface area.
I would definitely agree. The massive wings make the difference here, which is kinda hard to capture on screen without holding physical models. Best!