Star Wars and WW2: Weapons

Last week I asked the question: How did World War Two inspire the creators of Star Wars?

Well, it turns out to be quite a long answer, so I have decided to break it down into instalments. Let’s begin with the Weaponology behind the films.

Princess Leia armed with an E-11 Blaster Rifle
Princess Leia armed with an E-11 Blaster Rifle

The “E-11 blaster rifle” – was the imperial weapon of choice and issued to a good number of Stormtroopers (if not all)  and also fell into the hands of a few brave Rebels, most notably Princess Leia. The Weapon is in fact a British made Sterling submachine gun, from WW2 and  those you see in the original films are fully functioning weapons, quite capable of firing live rounds. To aid the actors the guns were loaded with blank ammunition, and were responsible for some of the muzzle flashes you can see on screen. I haven’t noticed myself, but apparently you can even see the spent casings being ejected from the weapons in certain scenes from A New Hope.

Leia's Inspiration? A Female Fighter of WW2 Armed with the Sten Gun, the predecessor of the Stirling Submachine Gun
Leia’s Inspiration? A Female Fighter of WW2 Armed with the Sten Gun, the predecessor of the Stirling Submachine Gun



Apart from a few adaptations the Star Wars weapon is essentially the same weapon wielded by British forces and their allies during World War Two. A weapon which was quickly adopted across the world and favoured by resistance groups and freedom fighters for its simple design and ease of manufacturing. Before Stormtroopers and their rebel opponents made the weapon a star of the screen the Sterling submachine gun and its Sten gun predecessor were synonymous with British spies and paratroopers and their subversive operations across the continent of Europe.

Making Sten Guns WW2
Making Sten Guns WW2

You could conclude that this WW2 weapon is not so much a influence as a quick fix for the props department before the Star Wars saga had the budget it enjoys today, but I would argue that it was a deliberate choice and one which complemented the design, concept and  feel the makers of the films were looking for.

What really made Star Wars different from all other Sci-fi offerings was its subtle, rustic realism; a slightly imperfect carbon-scored world with nuances and back stories galore; which all combined to make it real. Instead of trying to build a weapon out of a prop and ending up with something which resembled a channel changer, they took a real, historic weapon and made a new Imperial blaster out of it. The result was a classic sci-fi collectable!

#starwars  #filmtrivia

Next week: The inspiration behind the Rebel raid upon the First Death Star…

Star Wars and WW2: Weapons

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