The Ridiculous Inspiration For Iconic Star Wars Ship

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

While George Lucas gets full credit for creating our favorite galaxy far, far away, getting that first movie off the ground and into space was very much a team effort. Many talented workers created some of the most iconic elements of Star Wars, and one of them was Colin Cantwell. Among other things, he designed the X-Wing starfighter, and decades later, he revealed that its design was inspired by his seeing a dart thrown in a British pub.

Lots Of Stories


This information comes to us courtesy of a Reddit AMA with Cantwell where he was gracious enough to disclose many wild secrets about the making of Star Wars. For example, he dished that the Death Star only had its iconic trench because the two halves of the model had shrunk; he didn’t want to fix it, so he proposed making it into a trench, an idea that George Lucas loved.

However, fans who grew up playing with far too many Star Wars toy ships (yes, that’s us) were far more interested in what the late, great designer had to say about the design of X-Wings and TIE Fighters.

Earlier Designs

star wars rogue squadron

At different points in the AMA, Cantwell offered different insights into the X-Wing design. For example, he mentioned how most of the early vehicles in Star Wars were meant to evoke the designs of the ‘50s (this was likely the influence of Lucas, whose breakout film was the hot-rodding American Graffiti).

An exception to this was the TIE Fighter, which was meant to immediately look like something alien and out-of-place.


However, making the X-Wing evoke the spirit of ‘50s muscle cars would come later in the design process. First, Cantwell had to figure out what the general shape of the vehicle would be.

This was harder than you might think–while Lucas essentially wanted to create World War II-style dogfights in space, Cantwell knew that he couldn’t simply make this sci-fi starfighter look like a decades-old warplane.


In the AMA, he revealed how simple his original X-Wing inspiration really was. “A dart being thrown at a target in a British pub gave me the original concept and then it went forward from there.”

We never really thought about it in these terms before, but Cantwell’s insight helped us see how the front of the X-Wing really does look like a dart…a fitting design, really, for a craft the Rebellion would be throwing at a very specific target on the Death Star, basically the biggest dartboard in the galaxy.

Other Ship Designs

It may seem simple as far as Star Wars trivia goes, but we were pretty jazzed to discover the unexpected origin behind what is arguably the most iconic ship in the Star Wars universe.

Across the various prequels and sequels, other designers have tried to create memorable craft (including the Naboo starfighter that has reappeared in The Mandalorian and the Siege Dreadnaught of The Last Jedi), but none have resonated with fans quite like the X-Wing. When it came to this dart-inspired starfighter, it seems that Cantwell managed to do what the onscreen pilots had so much trouble doing in A New Hope: stay on target.