Allies’ WWII fighter engine used to make droid from “The Mandalorian”
As the year 2019 draws to a close, one cannot cruise along the internet superhighway without seeing something related to Disney’s The Mandalorian.
Telling the tale of a helmet-wearing bounty hunter and the childlike creature known to the internet as “Baby Yoda,” the show has reached critical acclaim for its creativity, production values and vast characters- including one suicide-happy bounty hunter droid named IG-11.
[Spoiler Warning: If you’re easily hung up by spoilers, you should probably go watch the first season before continuing]
Similar in appearance to the IG-88 droid that stood next to Boba Fett and Darth Vader in the original trilogy, IG-11 is a machine with a mission- to capture and/or kill Baby Yoda (much to the audience’s horror).
Fortunately, the titular Mandalorian does not allow IG-11 to succeed, and, after convincing the droid to avoid blowing himself up like a Palestinian suicide bomber, double crosses the robot, shooting him in the head and saving Baby Yoda.
Later in the series, IG-11 is rebuilt and serves as Baby Yoda’s “nanny,” going so far as to neutralize two ex-Imperial Scout Troopers (who have some of the most realistic and hilarious “grunt dialogue” seen on modern TV) who tried to take him.
So what does this have to do with military technology? Quite a lot, actually- and the history of the Star Wars franchise is littered with hidden gems and artifacts from military technology and history, respectively.
Rather lanky and almost skeletal in his basic make-up, IG-11’s body is made up of a variety of parts. The part of interest, however, is his head, which is made from a Rolls-Royce Derwent jet engine combustion chamber.
The Derwent series of engines were a modern marvel when they first came onto the scene in the 1940s and found their way onto the Allied Forces’ only combat-operational jet fighter of the war- the Gloster Meteor.
The Meteor was initially used to counter V-1 “flying bombs,” a crude form of cruise missile developed by Nazi Germany that caused widespread panic in the United Kingdom. Initially sortieing in this “anti-missile” role in the summer of 1944, the Meteors would take out 14 flying bombs by war’s end.
Known for its four 20mm cannons in the nose and twin mid-wing engines, the Meteor took its first flight in 1943 and would serve until 1955. With over 3,947 built, the Meteor would serve in several air forces after the war.
Meteors would later serve in the Korean War, taking heavy losses over the dreaded “MiG Alley,” mostly to ground fire. By conflict’s end, one Meteor squadron had flown 4,836 missions, destroyed six MiG-15s, bombed over 3,500 structures and incapacitated or destroyed some 1,500 vehicles.
Interestingly enough, two Meteors are reported to still be in service with the Martin-Baker company, serving as testbeds for ejection seats.
The Rolls-Royce Derwent would find itself being applied to aircraft of all types from countries all over the world, ranging from Canadian airliners to Soviet-made medium bombers.
Other military items used in Star Wars include Han Solo’s blaster, which was made from a Mauser C96 “Broomhandle” pistol, Stormtrooper rifles made from British Sterling submachine guns and a light blaster in the form of an American-designed Lewis Machine Gun, which saw service with the British in World War I.
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