Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Stock Light Freighter

Ever since I first saw the Milennium Falcon, I wondered as to its internal layout. I have always been obsessed with maps and floorplans and schematics and I was very happy when the first Star Wars Sourcebook (released in '87 or '88, can't remember) had a floorplan for the Falcon. It SEEMED to jive with what we saw in the movies, but not entirely. Then other internal schematics came out in other sources, each of them with a slightly different take on the internal layout and even dimensions of the ship. By this time, my curiosity had gone beyond just the Falcon, I wondered what a true 'stock' version of the YT-1300 might look like. I also wanted to apply some 'logic' to the whole thing. After all, the ship was supposed to be a freighter, but most deck-plans didn't really seem to take this into account. I have posted on this subject before, but have since tinkered a bit more with the design and present that to you now. I have finally come up with a schematic that I think works as the model for a 'stock' YT-1300- straight out of the factory, with no modifications made. The image included shows this layout, please click to embiggen.

Now, the things I was most concerned about in designing this ship were:
a) that it at closely (if not slavishly) resemble what we see in the movies, at least externally and dimension wise.

b) that it seems like it could function as a freight hauler. This means it would need large amounts of space inside for cargo as well as methods of easily moving said cargo onto and off of the ship. In the designs of the ship as they were presented in most sources, cargo space was usually VERY limited. This seems very counter-intuitive to something that was supposed to be a freighter. Furthermore, the means of loading cargo was usually relegated to 'cargo lifts' in the floor- typically large square lifts that (to me at least) didn't seem to jive with what we had seen of the cluttered under-side of the falcon. Simply put, Big, 5x5 meter square lifts just don't seem to be possible with all the landing gear and such underneath the ship.

c) that we figure out what the heck is going on with the escape pods. In some designs, the big circular constructs on the port and starboard side of the ship are designated as escape pods. In others, they are called cargo airlocks/ports. So which is it. And if they AREN'T escape pods... where ARE the escape pods? In Episode IV, upon capturing the Falcon, the Imperials mention that 'several of its escape pods had been jettisoned'. And yet we can clearly see that the port and starboard constructs are still there, so.. again... what's going on?

On more recent maps (released with the d20 Star Wars system), we are shown that the YT-1300 has five escape pods, accessible through hatches in the floor of the aft 'engineering bay'. This leaves me confused in several ways. First of all- why five pods if the standard crew is 2 people? Why are they located in the aft of the ship, about as far away from the cockpit as you could get? how the heck do they even FIT beneath the deck, at the back of the hull where it tapers? It just doesn't seem to make sense.

d) that we eliminate wasted space. Freighters are utilitarian- like a semi-truck in space. The amount of room dedicated to lounges and crew quarters seemed out of place- to say nothing of the fact that the corridor leading to the cockpit was a huge amount of wasted space- as was the central, circular corridor. Space on a freighter is at a premium, if these corridors exist, there should be a reason for them.

Also, why does a ship so small need a dedicated 'engineering bay'. I feel this is just a holdover from Star Trek and doesn't really have a place in a ship this size. I mean, the ship is manned from the cockpit and if you need to repair the engines, well.. you climb into the engines to do so (as shown by Han in Empire Strikes Back, clambering around in the Falcon's guts.

Keeping all of this in consideration, I came up with the following 'solutions':
a) While my map may not completely match up with the exterior diagram of the Falcon, it is close enough for me. It is, however, substantially larger in scale than the 'accepted' dimensions given in most source materials. The length of the ship was given as 26.7 meters. Which would make the whole thing exceedingly tiny- small enough to call into question internal dimensions we see in the movies. Therefore, I made the main 'disc' section of the hull fit this dimension- with a diameter of 26 meters. The total length of my YT-1300 is 34.5 meters. It's height (at the center and not counting any mounted weapons) is 5 meters (though as I continue to work the design, this may increase slightly.

b) You will see that my design includes a LOT of cargo space. It is divided into 8 main 'bays'- one of which (bay 2) is devoted to the cockpit and crew quarters. Four secondary spaces house cargo loading ports, ramps, lifts, etc. Also, all bays are connected internally by 2-meter-wide hatches, thus making moving cargo within the ship a lot easier than most other designs I've seen. Furthermore, with these bays all being the same dimensions, it would be an easy matter to modify the ship with 'modules'- i.e. one bay could be turned into a crew quarters with bunks and lockers for four as well as bathroom/shower facilities and even room for the extra life support machinery/consumables. Other modular bays could likewise exist- a lounge bay, a medical bay, a brig bay, even a vehicle bay (for speeders or speeder-bikes) though the latter could only fit in specific locations- namely in bays 3, 6 and 7, which would have room for a ventral ramp to open up beneath the ship. It has always been a peeve of mine that none of the cargo loading ports on a stock ship (including the forward cargo lift), seem big enough to admit a landspeeder. A vehicle bay gets around this nicely, though space would still only allow a small to medium-sized vehicle to be carried.

c) Since the typical crew on a ship like this is two, the stock version comes with only two escape pods- tiny, one-man pods mounted in the hull near the cockpit- accessible through hatches in the wall of the corridor-tube. For ships that carry more crew/passengers, one or even both of the port and starboard loading ports could be replaced with larger, four-man escape pods.

d) The wasted space of the cockpit corridor is transformed into very basic living quarters for the two-man crew of the ship. There are two bunks, a sink and a toilet that fold down from the walls. The rest of the wall-space is devoted to storage lockers. The central 'ring' corridor of the ship is still, perhaps, a bit of 'wasted' space, but I think we can get around this by saying that it ALSO provides access to the ship's power-core via removable wall panels. In my design I also see a lot of the ship's primary systems being mounted in the space above and below this central ring. Thus, ceiling and floor panels in the corridor turn this whole space into a maintenance accessway.

I also feel that I am justified in eliminating any 'engineering bays'. As mentioned above, a ship this size doesn't need them. If you need to fix the engines, you pull a panel off the wall in bays 4 and 5 or open the door into the hyperdrive compartment.

In any case, I thought I'd share where I was at the moment and ask if anyone has any thoughts or suggestions?


  1. What about the "mandibles" in the stock configuration? They seem underutilized, and not a great place for engineering systems.

  2. I figure the mandibles would contain things that do NOT involve the engineering of the ship. First and foremost, they would house the ship's communication and sensor arrays. In fact, it kind of makes sense to have these mounted on 'booms' away from the hull of the ship. They could also house things like inertial compensators and backup generators and even fuel 'tanks'. I figure they would also house maneuvering thrusters- in fact, if ion drives work as I suggested in a previous post (i.e. generating a 'field' around the ship- not just providing thrust from behind), it would make sense for the mandibles to be part of that system- the leading edge of the ionized 'bubble' surrounding the ship. This would naturally lead to having some kind of shield generator/projector housed in the mandibles as well.