Star Wars’ weapons of mass destruction compared
DEATH STAR As seen in A New Hope
Initially planned before the fall of the Republic, the top secret Death Star was already under construction by the time Palpatine declared himself Emperor. Early stages of building took place above Geonosis, whose bug-like population was later wiped out by the Empire to help keep the weapon’s existence classified – a status they managed to maintain for two decades. Galen Erso, Jyn’s dad, was recruited by Imperial officer Orson Krennic because he saw the scientist’s groundbreaking energy research as key to powering the weapon. Its exhaust port was surprisingly vulnerable to attack from Rebel snub fighters.
DEATH STAR II As seen in Return of the Jedi
Because one superweapon is never enough, the Empire built a bigger, more powerful Death Star II. It came with optional extras like a tower at the north pole to house Palpatine’s throne room, and a protective energy shield generated from the nearby Forest Moon of Endor. As well as using it as a display of Imperial strength, the Emperor also intended it be bait for the Rebels, selling misinformation to the Bothan spies about its readiness, and leaving the outside conspicuously unfinished while prioritising making the weapon systems operational. Its reactor core was surprisingly vulnerable to attack from Rebel snub fighters.
STARKILLER BASE As seen in the force awakens
If Imperial fanboys the First Order displayed a slight lack of originality by building their own spherical superweapon, they did at least do it in style – why waste time making your WMD from scratch when you grab an entire planet and hollow it out to turn it into a bespoke superweapon that also doubles as a classy base of operations? Like its predecessor it was protected by an energy shield, but Starkiller Base had the added USPs of being powered by draining a star, and the ability to destroy an entire star system from a distance. Its thermal oscillator was surprisingly vulnerable to attack from Resistance snub fighters.
Diameter 120km Operational from 0 years after Battle of Yavin
Diameter 660km Operational from 34 ABY
Diameter 160km Operational from 4 ABY