I wasn’t fooled into thinking the Star Wars trench run was along the equatorial trench, but I was fooled anyway

The Internet appears to have awakened to the surprise that the trench run that serves as the climax of the original Star Wars movie doesn't take place along the Death Star's equatorial trench, but rather takes place along a smaller north-south trench.

I have to say that I was not fooled into thinking that it was the equatorial trench. But I was fooled anyway.

Based on the graphics in the briefing sequence, I was led to believe that the attack route was a dive into the Death Star's core. I mean, look at it: The line goes from the north pole straight down to what appears to be the center of the Death Star.

I kept waiting for the fighters to stop putzing around on the surface and make their final dive into the core, but it never happened.

Oh well. I enjoyed the movie anyway.

Comments (9)
  1. lister says:

    I never thought the trench run took place along the equatorial trench. Figured it would be some random trench. The movie showed quite clearly what that equatorial trench was and the trench run looked nothing like that.

  2. Karellen says:

    Really? I recall the graphics in the briefing scene clearly showing a ship dropping a torpedo onto the top of the exhaust port, and then pulling up and flying away. The torpedo either travels down the port into the core, or explodes inside the top of the port and the explosion ripples down the port into the core.

    Still, RotJ has a final dive into the core, so you only had to wait 6 years to eventually see it.

  3. Azarien says:

    I didn’t even know you can think it was the equatorial trench… it quite obviously wasn’t.

  4. Patrick says:

    Does the Death Star even have an equator? It only would have one if it spun along some axis. I don’t remember much spinning going on.

    1. Neil says:

      It has to be able to spin because its superlaser only has a limited arc of fire. For instance, if it’s been attacking the rebel fleet, it would need to rotate 180° in order to destroy the moon of Endor. I don’t know how many axes of spin it’s capable of but at the very least it’s capable of the one necessary to name the equatorial trench.

      1. Karellen says:

        Well, it has to be able to orient itself in any direction in space, necessitating rotation around all 3 dimensions. That doesn’t mean that “it spins” – i.e. has a preferred non-zero angular momentum around a well-defined axis. In fact, if it did spin, the angular momentum would be an impediment to orienting itself in a given direction.

        (Although, this is the Star Wars universe we’re talking about, so “conservation of momentum” and “in space” do not necessarily work the same way as they do in ours ;-)

  5. Muzer says:

    I was half expecting for you to have created that Death Star wireframe using HTML and CSS.

  6. Len Cardinal says:

    Cool links to background material!
    I always thought the trench run was a random trench, rather than the equator. But I also wondered why the Empire would have had heavy cannons facing down the trench. Did they really anticipate enemies slithering through random alleys on the Death Star surface? Cannons everywhere would have been expensive! Maybe the filmmakers added cannons for dramatic effect. 8->

  7. smf says:

    Star Wars is full of inconsistencies, what is more important is whether it was supposed to be the equatorial trench. It looks like a lucky coincidence that the wireframe animation (that we know is wrong) gives a plausible explanation.

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