Being a fan of Adywan’s work thus far, I wanted to be of some help too. Among the most common wishes for ROTJ seems to be for more B-Wings, and I would agree. However, that presents a problem with the lack of pilot footage. Well, I stumbled upon something that might help with that.
Almost everyone can agree to the ROTJ space battle as being one of, if not the greatest, space battles ever put to film. The problem though is that it is not nearly as well defined as ANH.
Let me explain.
In ANH it was made clear that Red Group were X-wings and Gold Group were Y-Wings. However, in ROTJ we see pilots clearly flying different ships referred to as being in the same group.
^ Red Two and Red Three in Return Of The Jedi, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I always took it to mean that the battle was so confusing that the dialogue had little connection to what we were seeing. But then again, that may not have been the intention. I recall an interview with Bill George, the guy who built the B-Wing model, where he said that they intended to use it a lot and ended up abandoning it because it was so thin that it didn’t register well with optical compositing. It was intended to be the fighter of Blue Group. Footage of pilots in strange flight suits in helmets never shown in the battle further prove this.
^ Is that guy with the moustache Ray, the Death Star contractor? (original link to image)
Now, for space battle fans like myself, the old game Rebel Assault II: The Hidden Empire is indispensable. And, it has a B-wing. For those who haven’t played it, it’s an arcade modeled game that uses footage of actors using original Lucasfilm props. You would think that it is some of the clearest footage available of many of the helmets and flight suits from the films. Surprisingly, Wookiepedia claims that cockpit sets were never built for the game – just an actor in a chair sitting in front of blue screen. Regardless, they showed the B-Wing cockpit to be largely a series of pipes behind the pilot, and this reminded me of the Y-Wings from ROTJ.
Rebel Assault B-Wing guy compared to ROTJ “I’m hit!” guy (Ekelarc Yong - ‘Gray 3’).
The Y-Wings in ROTJ were just a mess of pipes against a solid wall. However, watching ANH, the Y-Wings looked completely different. They are noticeably roomier and have a series of windows behind them.
Comparing these cockpits to the Y-Wing and B-Wing exteriors, I become convinced that the Y-Wing pilots we see in ROTJ are actually sitting in a B-Wing cockpit. SHOCKER OF ALL SHOCKS! But stop and think about this for a minute. We know that a great many pilot scenes shot for ROTJ were cut out of the movie, and that this was because they got rid of all the B-Wing model shots.
That would mean that there were sets built for all four fighters. Now, considering that these movies were made back to back, that would mean that the X-Wing and Y-Wing cockpits were the same ones used in ANH.
That makes sense as the X-Wings cockpits never changed. That means that the Y-Wings should not have changed either, but as I have shown, they did. Either they used B-Wing cockpit shots for the Y-Wings or they built a completely new Y-Wing set. I go for the former and here is why…
^ “I’m on it”
^ “The guns, they’ve stopped!”
“Watch out, squad at .06.”
“I’m on it Gold Leader.”
There it is, the Y-Wing cockpit; ROTJ on the left, ANH on the right. Notice the pipe on the dashboard and the yellow and red lights on the left. Now, here is what I think happened: I think that the editors, finding that the B-Wing footage was unusable, opted to use what they thought looked good first, and what was logical second. People don’t pay that much attention to the details of action scenes and they probably didn’t think that anyone would notice that the cockpits don’t match up with the model shots. Thirty years has proved them correct. How can anyone blame them for their footage choices? Just look at the ridiculous looking helmets they didn’t use.
The image on the right is from Rebel Assault II.
I would have made the same decision. The proof that they didn’t match the model shots with the cockpits are right in front of you. Even when you entertain the thought that the different fighters could have been in the same group, that doesn’t explain some scenes. Take for instance this woman:
(more info here on ‘Red 3’, A-Wing pilot ‘Sila Kott’ : https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Sila_Kott)
That’s right. That’s a woman.
They dubbed her with a man’s voice. Dubbing was not uncommon because they were all British, but take this into consideration: The scene where we see her goes like this:
Lando (in the Falcon): “Watch yourself, Wedge. Three from above.”
Wedge (in an X-Wing): Red Three, Red Two pull in"
A-Wing Girl (with two TIE Intercepters behind her): “Got it.”
(A-Wing explodes while the Y-Wing shoots down the TIE Interceptors that were chasing it.)
Green Leader (in identical flight suit, helmet, and cockpit): “Three of them coming in, twenty degrees.”
Wedge (in an X-Wing): “Cut to the left, I’ll take the leader.”
Woah! Here we are shown two people in almost identical getup, in the same cockpit, portraying two different types of fighters. The implication is that Green Leader, clearly in a A-Wing cockpit, was flying the Y-Wing. Proof, in my opinion, that the editors weren’t being picky about what went where. I humbly submit to my respective fellow fans, that we never lost the B-Wing pilots – we lost the Y-Wing pilots.
Notice how the side views, like the face views, don’t match up either. Pay close attention to the cockpit itself, such as the piping on the left and the wiring on the right.
Still, it was an awesome battle.
Some have asked to see the Falcon’s gunners during the battle. There is a well-known photo of an older guy in camouflage manning the turret (Airen Cracken), so we know footage exists.
Well, you can see in the film where it was supposed to go.
^ Right here.
“They’re heading for the Medical Frigate.” “Pressure steady.”
You can tell because the sound effect and the laser blasts line up with the turrets from ANH. Later when the Falcon fires in the Death Star, we hear the familiar splat sound associated with Rebel lasers.
P.P.S. I may be the only one who feels this way, but can we have the option of keeping the new musical number in Jabba’s palace? I may be the only one who likes it, but it has always made sense to me that Jabba would have a blues band.