Coolest vehicles in the Star Wars universe (pictures)

As we look forward to "The Force Awakens", here are our picks for the best vehicles in the Star Wars universe.

Luke Westaway
Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.
Luke Westaway
1 of 22 Disney/Lucasfilm

Millennium Falcon

It's hard to believe, but we're now a matter of months away from a new "Star Wars" movie. "The Force Awakens" hits screens on 18 December, and unable to contain our excitement, we're compelled to compile our favourite vehicles from the series. We searched our feelings for the most imposing, memorable and inventive Star Wars craft committed to celluloid, so click through to see our shortlist of the vehicles that we believe are the coolest, starting with the franchise's most iconic ship -- the Millennium Falcon.

Han Solo's ship, won from Lando Calrissian in a game of chance, is famously capable of making the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs and traces its design origins back to a hamburger, according to Star Wars creator George Lucas. The Falcon is instrumental in the destruction of both Death Stars, and will make its return in "The Force Awakens," albeit with a new, square-looking satellite dish (the original was destroyed in "Return of the Jedi", don'cha know).

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Imperial Star Destroyer

There's no trace of the hamburger about the Imperial Star Destroyer (or "Imperial cruisers" as Han Solo refers to them in the original 1977 movie). These gargantuan vessels pack all manner of laser cannons and tractor beams, as well as shield generators for defence -- but they can be easily outwitted by hiding behind them and floating slowly off into space like a piece of garbage.

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Okay, they might not be the most practical shape for an ice-planet attack, but the AT-AT is still an imposing war machine. Inspired by a gigantic, long-extinct rhino-like mammal, the AT-AT requires two drivers and is covered in a mean arsenal of blaster weapons and protective armour. Just don't tie its shoelaces together.

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A close relative of the AT-AT, the AT-ST can be seen in the original trilogy stalking the jungles of Endor. A full-sized model was built to film this Ewok-stomping vehicle, which in "The Return of the Jedi" is commandeered by Chewbacca.

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'The Force Awakens' landspeeder

What's this vehicle called? We have no idea -- it's a new kind of landspeeder by the looks of things, spotted in the trailer for The Force Awakens. How big a role it plays in the film remains a mystery, but we love the junkyard aesthetic, the front-heavy, ice-cream-bar design and its desert-devouring speed.

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Anakin's Podracer

Speaking of speed, you'll be hard pressed to find anything that moves faster than Anakin's podracer, built by the 9-year-old prodigy from spare parts.

Bound together by energy beams, podracers are nevertheless basically two jet engines strapped to a chair. As such, only certain species -- or those with a healthy dollop of Force running through their veins -- are equipped to race these dangerous vehicles.

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Imperial Shuttle

Say what you like about the Empire, but they know how to arrive in style. The Imperial Shuttle features graceful folding wings, but is well-armed nonetheless, and is the transport of choice for both Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine.

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The X-Wing may hog the headlines, but at the other end of the alphabet we've got the workmanlike A-Wing fighter. This Rebel craft has pivoting laser cannons, plus a hyperdrive for lengthy space voyages.

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Luke's landspeeder

Luke Skywalker might be from a penniless moisture-farming family, but he still enjoyed a vehicle cooler than any of our poxy Earth automobiles.

Luke ultimately sold his landspeeder to pay Han Solo for passage to Alderaan. In the real world, the speeder's hovering effect was achieved through the use of reflecting materials, and gelatin smeared across part of the camera's lens.

10 of 22 Disney/Lucasfilm

Naboo Royal Starship

Behold the Naboo Royal Starship, responsible for ferrying Queen Amidala across the Galaxy. Bearing more than a passing resemblance to the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird jet, this fictional craft has no weapons, but is smothered in delicious chrome. We bet it's terrible for picking up fingerprints.

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Slave I

He may have suffered an embarrassing fall into the Sarlacc pit, but Boba Fett is -- for many fans -- the embodiment of Star Wars cool. A bounty hunter of such legendary reputation deserves an equally iconic transport, and the Slave I fits the bill.

It might not have the most pleasant name, but Fett's ship impresses with its peculiar design, with its curved spine (at the top of the ship in this image) serving as a front-facing cockpit in flight.

12 of 22 Disney/Lucasfilm

Super Star Destroyer

When a Star Destroyer simply doesn't provide enough menace, there's always the Super Star Destroyer, seen looming in the background here. The model used for the Super Star Destroyer Executor (Vader's swanky personal flagship) in "The Empire Strikes Back" measured 282cm (111 inches) in real life, but in the Star Wars universe canonically covers an imposing 19,000 metres (11.8 miles).

13 of 22 Disney/Lucasfilm

Naboo N1 Starfighter

On a much smaller scale is the Naboo N1 Starfighter, famously piloted by a young Anakin, who accidentally-on-purpose used the N1 to destroy a Droid Control Ship above Naboo.

If you fancy getting up close and personal, you can see the full-size N1 used in the filming of "The Phantom Menace" in the Boston Museum of Science.

14 of 22 Disney/Lucasfilm

Armoured Assault Tank

The Armoured Assault Tank, or AAT (wait, does that mean AT-AT stands for "Assault Tank Assault Tank"?) is that most fearsome of fictional vehicles -- the hover tank. Deployed by the Trade Federation in its battle against the denizens of Naboo, the AAT is operated by four battle droids (hang on -- why not just build the droid AI into the tank?) and could well have led the Droid army to a decisive victory, had Anakin not shut them down remotely in the midst of battle.

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TIE Fighter

Apart from perhaps Doctor Who's TARDIS, no sci-fi vehicle is as capable of instantly calling to mind a sound effect as the TIE Fighter, deployed in fearsome waves by the villainous Empire to stop Rebel pilots in their tracks.

The TIE Fighter's distinctive screaming noise was created by mixing the sounds of an elephant's call with a car driving on wet pavement, while a TIE Fighter model used in the filming of "A New Hope" sold for $350,000 at auction in 2008.

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Republic Cruiser

The Republic Cruiser might be a funny shape, but it was good enough for Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, so it's good enough for us. A more elegant ship for a more civilised age.

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Essentially a really chunky RV, the treaded Sandcrawler is home to the Jawas on Tatooine. According to the Star Wars Extended Universe, these mammoth vehicles started life as mining vessels, but were abandoned by their owners, leaving the Jawas to take up residence in their roomy insides.

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Speeder Bike

From big and bulky to light and nimble -- we couldn't leave out the Speeder Bikes.

The Speeder Bikes, which we still wish were real despite having seen how horribly unsafe they are, are most famous for the chase scene on Endor in "Return of the Jedi". To get those high-speed chase shots, filmmakers walked through the woods wearing steadicams, shooting at 3/4 speed. Having walked a vast distance with the heavy equipment, the resulting footage was sped up, resulting in fly-through shots that were so smooth, they appeared to have been filmed from the front of a speeder itself.

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Darth Maul's Sith Speeder

The speeder bikes used by stormtroopers on Endor are arguably the most iconic bike-format vehicle in the Star Wars canon, but for our money nothing beats Darth Maul's Sith Speeder. Moving at incredible speed, Maul can leap from this speeder while moving at pace, launching himself straight into a lightsaber battle.

There's no windshield on this bad boy, so Maul is presumably vulnerable to getting sand in his face while riding -- that might explain why his eyes are so red.

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The Snowspeeder doesn't get as much screen time as some Star Wars craft, but it has the coolest task to perform in the Battle of Hoth, harpooning and tripping AT-ATs using the ships' tow cables.

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Trade Federation Landing Ship

The Trade Federation Landing Ship is perhaps the most unattractive vehicle in this gallery -- but is packed with AATs, battle droids and MTTs, which are hovering craft that, er, carry even more battle droids.

22 of 22 Disney/Lucasfilm


Finally, there's only one Star Wars vehicle we could appropriately end on -- the legendary X-Wing starfighter.

Originally decked out in blue, limitations in bluescreen photography saw the X-Wings achieve their iconic red markings in the original movies -- though an updated model (seen above) in the Force Awakens trailer suggests that these nimble craft will make an appearance in sultry blue after all.

Whether being used by Luke Skywalker to blow up the first Death Star or lifted out of a swamp by Yoda, every second of screen time that the X-Wing enjoys is a real pleasure.

Is there a Star Wars speeder, fighter or assault vehicle we've missed? Let us know your favourites in the comments, and may the Force be with you all.

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