Andor’s Cool Imperial Cruiser Has a Long Star Wars History

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Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Andor’s relationship to the Easter-egg-ification of Star Wars has been much less about familiar faces showing up and more about the layers and secrets it puts in the background of its world, rooting its grounded story of resistance in a Star Wars background radiation-soaked world. Its latest “Easter egg” is barely that, but it’s still a nice reminder of just how much the series admires Star Wars history.

Image for article titled Andor's Cool Imperial Cruiser Has a Long Star Wars History

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What Is the Imperial Cruiser in Andor Called?

What Is the Imperial Cruiser in Andor Called?

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Screenshot: Lucasfilm

The cruiser that stops Luthen over Segra Milo is a Cantwell-class Arrestor Cruiser. A light cruiser designed by Kuat Drive Yards, aside from its angular shape and thin forward hull, its most unique features are the three tractor beam emitters at the bow, starboard, and port of the ship. This, along with several batteries of both ion and standard laser cannons, helped the Arrestor lock down or reposition fleeing ships, for either disabling with ion weaponry or destroying with its cannons and fighter wings.

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Where Have We Seen the Arrestor Before?

Where Have We Seen the Arrestor Before?

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Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Canonically, the Cantwell-class first officially appeared in Solo: A Star Wars story. In the theatrical cut of the movie, the design features in a hologram recruitment ad for the Imperial Navy, flanked by Star Destroyers and briefly glimpsed when Han is trying to flee capture in the Coronet Spaceport during the film’s opening.

That wasn’t going to be the only time we were meant to see the Arrestor in Solo, however. In early versions of the script, the Millennium Falcon was going to be captured by an Arrestor using its tractor beams, and in deleted scenes from the movie that explain how Han was reassigned from the Carida pilot academy to infantry duty on Mimban, the young Corellian’s TIE Brute wing was stationed aboard a Cantwell-class. But well before Solo, the Arrestor’s design was almost a key part of Star Wars history…

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Where Did the Arrestor Design Come From?

Where Did the Arrestor Design Come From?

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Image: Lucasfilm

The Arrestor design wasn’t actually created for Solo, but adapted from a piece of concept art in the Lucasfilm archives originally made for the first Star Wars movie. One of the early designs for what would become the Star Destroyer that opens A New Hope, it was labelled a “Sith Carrier” accompanied by small, wedge-shaped “Sith Fighters.”

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Why Is It Called a Cantwell-Class?

Why Is It Called a Cantwell-Class?

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Image: Lucasfilm

The Arrestor’s Cantwell-class naming comes from the legendary artist behind that original concept art, Colin Cantwell. Cantwell eventually merged his designs for the wedge fighters and his early cruiser design to create the iconic triangular structure of the Imperial Star Destroyer.

One of the earliest people hired by George Lucas to work on what would become Star Wars, Cantwell’s work fundamentally shaped the basis of starship design in the galaxy far, far away for generations, giving us the X-Wing, Y-Wing, and TIE Fighter designs, as well as the Star Destroyer, the Death Star, the Tantive IV Blockade Runner—itself brought out of an early design for the Millennium Falcon—and even land-based designs like the Jawa Sandcrawler and Luke’s landspeeder. The T-16 Skyhopper model Luke plays with in the movie is one of Cantwell’s own models, a ship designed for a cut racing scene on the desert planet. Cantwell sadly passed away earlier this year, at the age of 90.

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Could We See the Arrestor Again?

Could We See the Arrestor Again?

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Screenshot: Lucasfilm

From what we’ve seen so far, the Arrestor has firmly become part of the rise of the Empire era between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, coming into operation before the early years of Solo’s opening—about seven years after the creation of the Empire—and lasting up to, at the very least, the time of Andor season one, five years before the Battle of Yavin in A New Hope. We’ve yet to see one beyond that time frame, even though its specialization as a disabling ship sets it apart from other Imperial capital ships.

There might be a reason for that, however—we know that eventually the Empire fields a different kind of Support Cruiser to shut down fleeing ships, maybe perhaps even because of how Luthen’s fancy flying in Andor episode 11 proved that tractor beams alone can’t stop ships from fleeing Imperial capture. Chronologically, a year after the events of Andor season one in an episode of Rebels’ second season, “Stealth Strike”, we are introduced to the Interdictor-class cruiser, a new Imperial vessel capable of using gravity well projectors embedded in its hull to pull ships out of, and prevent them from re-entering, hyperspace.

Maybe it was brought into operation to replace the Arrestor? We don’t know for sure, but now that the vessel has been given time to shine, don’t be surprised if we see it crop up again soon.