Walkers are fictional vehicles from the Star Wars universe
that traverse the landscape on mechanical legs. They are used by the Old Republic
and the Galactic Empire for ground assault or transport.
There are a variety of walkers: Star Wars Episode V: The
Empire Strikes Back introduces the All Terrain Armored Transport (AT-AT) and
All Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST), while Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the
Clones, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, and the Star Wars Expanded
Universe feature numerous others. Walker
variants have been merchandised and featured in popular culture.
All Terrain Armored Transport (AT-AT)
The AT-AT is a large, four-legged walker introduced in The
Empire Strikes Back during the Battle of Hoth. An AT-AT also appears in Return
of the Jedi.
Origin and design
Joe Johnston’s original design for the Empire’s war machines
was a giant, multi-wheeled vehicle; this design later became the "Juggernaut"
in West End Games’ roleplaying material, and the design was reworked into the
clone turbo tank for Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Industrial
Light and Magic (ILM) created models ranging from 6 to 50 centimeters in height.
ILM filmed the AT-ATs using stop-motion animation against matte paintings
created by Mike Pangrazio because attempts at compositing miniature footage
against live-action background footage yielded mediocre results. Additionally, ILM
studied elephants to determine the best way to animate the four-legged AT-ATs. Although the stop-motion animation style gave
the AT-ATs a jerky, "staccato-like" effect on film, ILM found this
movement acceptable because of the AT-ATs’ mechanical nature.
Lee Seiler sued Lucasfilm in the mid-1980s, claiming that
the AT-AT infringed on his copyright on what he called a "Garthian Strider",
which he said he created in 1976 or 1977. The case was dismissed with the court
noting that not only did Seiler not produce the supposed drawings at trial, but
that the copyright came one year after The Empire Strikes Back debuted.
Dialog in National Public Radio’s adaptation of The Empire
Strikes Back states that AT-ATs "look like animals"; the character
goes on to describe the vehicles as carrying "extremely heavy armor and
armaments". The AT-AT, designed to favor "fear over function", can
carry five speeder bikes and 40 Imperial stormtroopers. The walkers themselves
carry two blasters and two laser cannons. Manufactured by Kuat Drive Yards, Expanded
Universe sources describe the AT-AT as being either 15 or 22.5 meters tall.
All Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST)
The AT-ST is a two-legged walker introduced in The Empire
Strikes Back and featured extensively in Return of the Jedi. Due to their
design and movement, they are often dubbed "chicken walkers".
Origin and design
The AT-ST model used in The Empire Strikes Back was to have
more screen time; however, one scene depicting a snowspeeder shooting at the AT-ST
model was ruined when the set’s background shifted. For Return of the Jedi, ILM
made the AT-ST design more detailed. Numerous models were created, including a
full-sized AT-ST for on-location shooting. Director Richard Marquand and
producer Robert Watts played the AT-ST operators for the scene in which
Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) and a pair of Ewoks commandeer an AT-ST.
Star Wars guidebooks describe the AT-ST as a "reconnaissance
or defensive vehicle [that] is lightweight and built for speed". Their
agility allows them to defend the slower AT-ATs or support other Imperial
ground forces. They are 8.6 meters tall (although some sources describe them at
seven meters) and seat a pilot and co-pilot. AT-STs are armed with laser
cannons on the "chin" and sides, feet claws for destroying small
defenses and side-mounted concussion missile launchers.
During the Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi, the
protagonists and the local Ewok tribes capture or destroy many AT-STs. In the
Expanded Universe, AT-STs are often featured in Imperial attack forces. Video
games such as Star Wars: Rogue Squadron and Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire
include numerous AT-STs, and they are player-controllable units in several real-time
strategy games. Several walker designs have been influenced by the AT-ST’s
The AT-TE is a six-legged walker that appears in Attack of
the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, and the Clone Wars multimedia campaign.
Origin and design
Conceived by Ryan Church as a predecessor to the AT-AT, the
AT-TE’s animation for Attack of the Clones was supervised by Rob Coleman. Tom
St. Amand, who previously worked on the AT-AT scenes in The Empire Strikes Back,
provided his experience to create a similar appearance for the AT-TE.
AT-TEs are depicted as assault vehicles that appear at the
Battle of Geonosis in Attack of the Clones and in various Clone Wars media. Its
six legs and flexibility reduce its speed but increase its mobility and
stability, and its low speed allows it to walk through energy shields. The
vehicles are armed with laser cannons, a powerful projectile cannon, and heavy
electromagnetic armor.AT-TEs are manufactured by Rothana Heavy Engineering, a
subdivision of Kuat Drive Yards (who manufacture many of the other walkers).
The so-called "spider walker" was developed on Carida
under the orders of the planet’s defacto civil ruler, Ambassador Furgan.
It was first put into action seven years post-Endor
when Furgan sought to abduct one of the infant grandsons of Lord Vader.
Although that mission failed,
the design was disseminated to warlords of the Deep Core.
The MT-AT is intended for operations requiring the traversal of
seriously rugged mountainous terrains.
It is much more dextrous and agile than regular walker classes,
and its eight clawed legs enable it to find a very secure foothold.
The greater number of limbs makes the MT-AT more trip-proof than the AT-AT,
and provides better weight distribution for movement across unstable land.
If the MT-AT has a disadvantage,
it may be that its spindly form
seems more fragile than that of other walkers of a similar mass.
Its chief advantage is the ability to access ordinarily impenetrable positions,
but not necessarily to act as a domineering juggernaut.
This is the only known walker design to mount weapons
anywhere other than the main hull and head.
Each of the legs has a swivelling blaster cannon on the elbow joint.
Aiming these continually moving guns must be a considerable problem,
unless the gunner is aided by the semi-automated systems
that drive the vehicle.
(The gunner is one of only two crewmen who handle the complex machine.)
The larger chin-mounted laser cannons
are intended for defence against flying foes,
which must mean that the head can twist upwards with considerable flexibility.
This lanky bipedal assault walker stands at approximately
twelve metres tall. Compared to the AT-ST, this aggressive, taller machine is
more heavily armoured, has a longer stride, superior gyro systems and better
leg articulation allow a proportionately faster running speed. The head is
almost as large as that of an AT-AT, allowing for a spacious cockpit for the
two crewmen. The large space available at the back of the head might allow for
a significant cargo capacity, a squad of ground troops or expeditionary
passengers, or facilities for the comfort of the crew on prolonged missions. The
foot claws lack the wire-cutting mechanism of an AT-ST. The primary weapon of
this vehicle is a single massive chin-mounted heavy blaster cannon. The fire
arc of the cannon is not wide, so the walker must swivel its head or turn
bodily to face its targets.
Annotations on some copies of the design sketch [from TESB
Sketchbook, intended for Battle of Hoth] indicate that it might have been
operable as a one-man vehicle. However [as comics show] there is plenty of
space at the cockpit console for an extra co-pilot or passenger to sit beside
the necessary crewman. The walker encountered by Princess Leia and Luke
Skywalker in the jungles of an Imperial training planet was manned by one pilot/gunner
trainee and his instructor.
Known deployment includes jungle, forest, glacier terrains; and
the walker existed at least as early as one year post-Yavin. One of these
walkers accidentally encountered Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia on a nameless
world that was used as a training ground for Imperial troops and walker
personnel. Before the Battle of Yavin, the expanding Imperial garrison in Mos
Eisley included some AT-AR walkers; some more of these vehicles were also
represented in the Battle of Hoth [ITW:SWT].
The AT-XT is a bipedal walker used by the Galactic Republic
during the Clone Wars. [Clone
#55-58 comic] Although its acronym supposedly means “All Terrain eXperimental
Transport”, the walker was deployed in appreciable numbers on several of the
Wars’ battlefields, including Jabiim, Rhen Var, Raxus Prime and Thule. The design
remained unchanging during this period. Thus the walker cannot truly be called
an experiment. It is sometimes claimed that AT-XT numbers were small, yet there
isn’t any supportive statistical evidence. (Small compared to what: the
quintillions of Separatist battle droids?)
It has also been claimed (dubiously) that the AT-XT is an
ancestor of the AT-ST. In engineering terms this cannot be true, since there
two designs do not have any significant parts in common. The AT-XT was
certainly designed for the conditions of its era, and not merely as a step
towards an anticipated successor. (The suggestion of a familiar relation
between walkers is nothing more than a metaphor combined with hindsight!) The
vehicles share broad similarities, but there are particular structural and
functional differences that imply sublty different battlefield roles.
The AT-XT can be driven by just one crewman, but the
availability of passenger space is unknown. The armament consists of a double
laser canon under the cockpit, and two grenade launchers on the top of the head.
The launchers are considerably larger than the one on an AT-ST. The most
peculiar feature of the AT-XT (at least some of them) is a deflector shield
resembling those mounted in destroyer droids. This shield can only be activated
briefly. Perhaps the provision of a shield implies that the AT-XT, despite its
small size, is expected to endure barrages of heavier enemies? It appears
better suited to front-line warfare than the typical scout role of an AT-ST.
All-Terrain Anti-Aircraft (AT-AA)
First described in the computer game Force Commander and the
associated online documentation. This appears to be a sturdy sprawl-legged
quadrupedal walker. The wide placement of its legs ought to provide it with
exceptional stability. The head and body appear to be a rigid slab without a
neck. The cockpit has three forward-facing viewports mounted in an armoured
block that is reminiscent of the viewport section of an AT-AT.
However the dominant feature of the walker is a "flak
pod" mounted on a dorsal turret with flexible azimuthal articulation. The
vehicle appears to be designed to counter the harrassment of walker formations
by flying craft and other fast mobile enemies.. The AT-AA is an excellently
plausible addition to the known range of Imperial war machines.
The All Terrain Personal Transport (AT-PT), introduced in
Timothy Zahn’s novel Dark Force Rising, is a two-legged, one-person vehicle
designed for the Old Republic as a "personal weapons platform for ground
soldiers." The AT-PT is equipped with two blaster cannons, a concussion
grenade launcher, and hi-tech sensors. In addition to appearing in Dark Force
Rising, the AT-PT is featured in a number of video games, including the Rogue
Squadron series, Star Wars: Force Commander, and Star Wars: Galactic
The All Terrain Anti-Aircraft (AT-AA), featured in various
Expanded Universe media, is a four-legged anti-aircraft vehicle used by the
Galactic Empire. The All Terrain Advance Raider (AT-AR) appears in Marvel
Comics’ Star Wars series and an All Terrain Experimental Transport (AT-XT) appears
in LucasArts’ Star Wars: The Clone Wars game. DK Publishing’s Attack of the
Clones: Incredible Cross-Sections book mentions an All Terrain Heavy Enforcer.
In addition to the AT-TE, other vehicles were created for
Clone Wars media and depicted as predecessors to the walkers featured in the
original trilogy. One such walker is the two-legged All Terrain Attack Pod (AT-AP),
a variation of the AT-PT, seen in Revenge of the Sith and Clone Wars media. Alex
Jaeger designed the AT-AP per Lucas’ request to "diversify the Clone armor".
The AT-AP features a variety of artillery weapons, a retractable third leg for
stability, and other offensive features.
The All Terrain Open Transport (AT-OT), also seen in Revenge
of the Sith and other sources, is a heavily armored transport whose open design
makes it vulnerable from above. The AT-OT can transport 34 clone troopers. During
the late stages of Revenge of the Sith’s development, it was called the "Clone
Clone troopers mounted on All Terrain Recon Transports (AT-RT)
search for Yoda (Frank Oz) on Kashyyyk in Revenge of the Sith. The AT-RT is
described as a precursor to the AT-ST. A scene cut from Revenge of the Sith
would have shown Yoda distracting clone troopers while Chewbacca removes them
from their AT-RT in a manner similar to how he wrests control of an AT-ST in
Return of the Jedi. AT-RT animators studied AT-STs’ movements to recreate "some
of the original funkiness of movement" that came from the stop-animation
style used in the original trilogy.
released AT-AT and AT-ST toys as part of their Empire Strikes Back line, and
Hasbro released toys based on those molds when the Special Edition trilogy was
distributed. Micro Machines also released AT-AT, AT-ST, and AT-TE toys. Both
Decipher Inc. and Wizards of the Coast published AT-AT and AT-ST cards for
their Star Wars Customizable Card Game and Star Wars Trading Card Game, respectively.
Lego released AT-AT, AT-ST, AT-AP and AT-TE models.