The Haynes Workshop Manuals have certainly moved along since this particular writer last bought one for my beloved old Ford Capri about thirty years ago. In their new incarnation, they cover the fictional vehicles of our beloved genre as well.
One of their latest offerings is the Owner’s Workshop Manual for what is inarguably the most famous weapon of mass destruction in all of science fiction filmdom – the DS-1 Orbital Battle Station, and to our relief, many Bothans did NOT die to bring us this information.
It’s a fascinating book for die-hard Star Wars fans, the authors have painstakingly researched their source material, encyclopaedia, spin-off books, technical manuals and so forth to bring together a wealth of cross referenced material which encompasses not only the original trilogy, but also the prequels and perhaps most importantly The Clone Wars.
Trivia seekers will enjoy the level of minutiae that graces these pages. From the Death Star’s inspiration, the spherical detail of the Trade Federation Battleships, to its early incarnation as The Eye of Palpatine – an armed, travelling weapons platform cunningly disguised as an asteroid, to the Torpedo Spheres and the early prototype.
The bulk of the book covers the DS-1 in loving detail, from highly detailed cutaway drawings, showing the inside of the core reactor, to the small thermal exhaust port, left unshielded, that was to prove the mechanical horror’s ultimate undoing. Details about crew quarters, recreation facilities where (incredibly) the Stormtroopers could hone their shooting skills, tractor beams, TIE fighter hangars, and details of each of the DS-1’s 24 sectors are all here, including schematics of the laser cannons that bristle the ship’s surface level, and a section on the superlaser that obliterated Alderaan.
Naturally, having built and lost a weapon this big and destructive – and lost it, the Empire would proceed to build bigger and better with the awe inspiring Death Star II, which is also given a section in the book. Apart from its size being bigger (a diameter of 160km, against the DS-1’s 120km) with an even bigger superlaser capable of recharging in minutes rather than hours, the main differences were that the thermal port vulnerability was taken care of and it was protected by a planetary shield generator from the moon of Endor.
Star Wars fans will love to examine this book in every minute detail – it’s the ultimate argument solver regarding the Death Star.
DEATH STAR MANUAL: DS-1 ORBITAL BATTLE STATION (OWNERS' WORKSHOP MANUAL) / AUTHOR: RYDER WINDHAM / ARTIST: CHRIS REIFF, CHRIS TREVAS / PUBLISHER: J H HAYNES & CO LTD / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW