Here's proof that Star Wars fighter ships suck flying through a planet's atmosphere

You've probably already guessed that the TIE Fighter would have bad aerodynamics, but the sleeker X-wings aren't much better off.

Aloysius Low Senior Editor
Aloysius Low is a Senior Editor at CNET covering mobile and Asia. Based in Singapore, he loves playing Dota 2 when he can spare the time and is also the owner-minion of two adorable cats.
Aloysius Low

Star Wars fans have long wondered how TIE Fighters actually glide through a planet's atmosphere without crashing into things, and the truth is, they probably shouldn't be able to.

Unlike their agile onscreen portrayal in the movies, such as their attack run in the Bespin clouds or when they chased the Millennium Falcon escaping from Jakku, TIE Fighters have about as much maneuverability in the air as a cube, which is to say, terribly little.

YouTuber EC Henry loaded up 3D models of Star Wars ships into an Autodesk application called Flow Design that can simulate how an aircraft would perform in a virtual wind tunnel. A TIE Fighter sports a drag coefficient of 0.98 (the higher it is, the worse off), while an X-wing has about a 0.45 coefficient. A real life F-4E jet has a mere 0.02 coefficient.

Given that both fighters are meant for space, which lacks an atmosphere to cause all these silly science problems, it's no surprise then that the TIE Fighter and X-wing should perform so badly. Of course, it's a fictional sci-fi fantasy universe, so perhaps it doesn't really matter after all.