How Do Star Wars Ships Stack Up Aerodynamically?

EC Henry puts Star Wars ships into a virtual wind tunnel to determine their drag coefficient.
Jessica Miley

YouTube channel Everything in a Wind Tunnel got their hands on AutoDesk Flow Design an impressive piece of software that's basically a virtual wind tunnel. Being a good science nerd Everything in a Wind Tunnel thought the most fun way to play with this new software would be to get some 3D models of the Star Wars ships and see how they performed.

The software can do a bunch of cool things, but the most obvious is to determine an object's drag coefficient. In simple terms, drag coefficient describes how much resistance an object experiences form a fluid.

In this case, that fluid is air. The smaller the number, the lower the resistance. Before we put the Star Wars craft to the test, let’s get some baseline numbers. A cube has a drag coefficient of 1.05, a sphere has 0.47 and a teardrop shape has 0.04.

An X-wing has a drag coefficient of 0.45, something close to a sphere shape. Nothing to dismiss, but certainly not the most streamlined of flying objects. The classic TIE Fighter has a drag coefficient of 0.98, the faster TIE interceptor has a coefficient of 0.78.

Next up is the TIE striker, introduced to the series in Rogue One as a purpose-built ship for atmospheric missions. Its drag coefficient is 0.48, so again something like a sphere. This video is a must-watch for Star Wars fans. It’s really cool to see your favorite ships tested with real science and compared with each other.

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