Thursday, April 28, 2005

Pilot or Gunnery Crew?

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Pilot or gunnery crew? (uncertain):
- long gloves;
- black cloth cap;
- no belt boxes;
- single-breasted jacket;
- white shoulder emblems.
These men may be pilots, gunners or another kind of specialist. It is even possible that they may be a kind of officer rather than non-commissioned personnel. Refer to Imperial Military Uniforms for further discussion. Their uniforms seem identical to those of naval gunners or TIE pilots, except that the helmets and armour are removed and replaced by semi-dress uniform caps. E. Moody reports inspecting one of the uniforms at close range, and reports that they have pilot comlinks on the left sleeve (white, ROTJ; silver ANH).

If it is a semi-dress uniform for pilots then it seems to contradict the representation of the pilot officer deck uniforms in the TIE Fighter computer games and X-Wing comics, which portray olive uniforms similar to those of navy and army officers. Alternatively, this may be a semi-casual uniform for pilots on standby duty, or it may be for support personnel in a related service.

Traffic Operations

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This is part of the opening scene in Return of the Jedi, where three Imperial Naval Troopers are at a computer console directing traffic into the Second Death Star. All three are wearing the typical "cockroach" helmets. The two in back are wearing black jumpsuits with the Imperial emblem on the shoulders, whereas the one in front is wearing a double-breasted tunic (no rank plaque). The man in the double-breasted is the only one who talks during the scene, which compells me to infer that he is of slight seiniority.

Imperials in Blue??

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Some of the Imperials in the scene where the Emperor visits the Second Death Star are wearing uniforms like I've never seen before. It appears they're standing amongst the Imperial Navy people... right alongside the shuttle and adjacent to some Naval Techs/Crewmen.

What's really weird is their uniform is blue, which struck me as very odd. They're wearing shiny black "cockroach" style helmets like the Death Star Troopers', except the backs are rounded off more instead of tapering to a point (they're shaped like the ones that Rebel Technicians wore in ANH). They have black goggles and a black chinstrap. They have very loose-fitting, baggy jumpsuits that are most definitely blue. No belt, no fancy gloves.

On another note, after that I realized that in one of the cutscenes in the TIE Fighter game, when Admiral Zaarin is presenting the new TIE Advanced model to Lord Vader, his uniform also appears to be blue! The picture's kind of messed, but you can see it a lot better in the game. In comparison, his uniform is cut different; blue double-breasted tunic, blue officer's cap, epaulets, cuffs, and a belt; probably with belt boxes. He is back is turned for the whole time so you can't see the front of his uniform.

Here I am sure he is wearing a blue uniform. The colors turned out kind of irregular because I had to manually take a picture of the screen with my digital camera - the game doesn't allow in-game screen captures. You'll notice that Vader has a slight blue tint.

So I got to thinking, being sure to put on my thinking cap of course, maybe the two are related in the same way? For an example; olive seems to be one of the indicative "colors" of the Imperial Navy, the Fleet(s) in particular. The TIE Fighter Pilot's noncombat uniforms are olive as well. This compels a lot of us to believe that the Starfighter Forces are part of the Navy (or at least have a "dotted line" relationship). Well, if we can follow that train of logic, if these weird blue Imperials are wearing blue and appear to be in the Navy, and Zaarin is wearing blue and is obviously in the Navy, then there must be a relationship between the two.
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Let's think some more (put those caps on). The guys in the blue jumpsuits really seem to have the uniforms tailored to function over form. I mean, look at what they're wearing! The fact that they're wearing simple jumpsuits, hardly anything to look at, coupled with the fact that they aren't even spared the commodity of shiny black belts, means that they are obviously engaged in some form of hard labor. They have no gloves, which means that they probably do some fine-tuning type work where gloves would only inhibit your fingers' dexterity. Also, they have helmets. Not only does this mean that they may be in danger of stuff falling on their heads, basically dangerous work conditions, but also that the helmet looks like it hugs their heads pretty snug means that they might be confined to tight working spaces.

Now. In this cutscene when Zaarin is exhibiting the technical advantages of the new TIE model, he's wearing this zany blue tunic. In every other appearance he makes he has the regular grey tunic on.

What gives? Well, I've analyzed everything as best as I could, and the conclusion that I draw from all this is that this whole blue thing is associated with like maybe elite, prototype starfighter work. The nitty gritty worker uniforms would be perfect for assembling and tuning up new TIES, and that would explain why Zaarin was wearing that particular blue uniform for his demonstration.

It's all I can think of, and the more I ponder it the more I like it. I can't think of anything else that would be even feasible. I have found only one mention of this mystery on the internet, and that was at the Star Wars Technical Commentaries.

Enlisted (unclassified)
- Blue-black overalls.
- single-breasted top.
- Black open helmet, cockroach brim absent or not clearly visible.
- Black belt with silver buckle and holster, no utility boxes.
- Long-sleeved black gloves.
- No rank badge or code cylinders.

Images: [Standing at attention, left of Lord Vader.]
These men probably aren't regular naval sailors, guards or technicians, because those uniforms are already identified. They must specialists of some kind, or have mildly dangerous working conditions, otherwise they wouldn't have helmets. They don't work in vacuum, otherwise the helmet would be sealed. Since the next two types of servicemen on this side of the bay are naval (black-capped technicians, then gunners) I tentatively guess that the mysterious men are also in the Navy.


They don't provide much text of value or theorize what these men might be. They describe the uniform as blue-black overalls with a single-breasted top. While I agree with them being blue, bordering dark violet, they can stand alone on their statement that they wear long black gloves. And also, before, I believe I said they wore jumpsuits but that might not be. Since most of the jumpsuits worn by the Imperials are made of a semi-reflective synthetic type material and have huge pockets on the sleeve and pant leg. Since these features are not easily apparent on this blue uniform, I retract that statement and agree that they're actually single-breasted cloth tunics like some black ones worn by other Imps in the same scene. Sorry about that.

At any rate, it's exciting to know about these mysterious uniforms. It really goes to show how rich in detail the Star Wars movies are. Also, the notion that them and Zaarin could be intertwined in some way excites me because it might be a completely new division of the Imperial Navy untapped by EU or anything really. Who knows what might happen? And if someone has any more leads, let me know.