Monday, July 10, 2017

Virtual Wings: Corellian Engineering Corporation YT-1300 Light Freighter Pilot Report

Ah, the YT-1300. No other antique hunk of junk has as wide a following, or as much remaining aftermarket support as these relics.

 Of course,the most famous YT-1300, the Millennium Falcon, has a lot to do with that.But even much less modified examples trade at higher values than their intended replacements, as these freight workhorses are gradually retired to museums and private collections. The example I would be flying was one of the latter, a mostly stock example belonging to an Outer Rim located enthusiast.

Visibility. The first thing you notice on entering the cockpit is the total lack of left-side visibility, a consequence of the YT-1300's off center cockpit position. Although the design offers easier cargo loading, and the ability to double as a cargo tug, it definitely causes some maneuvering challenges in close quarters.

The second thing to notice is the size of the cockpit area. Pilot and co-pilot sit side-by-side, with sufficient room behind them for a pair of jump seats ahead of the tunnel leading to the main cabin. Although single-pilot operation is possible, sentients lacking either Wookie-like stature or quad arms would be ill advised to make the attempt.

In flight, the YT-1300 handles better than most other light freighters of similar size. Speed is decent, though not enough to outrun a TIE Bomber or Y-Wing. Heavy shields, a dorsal gun turret, and a single fixed forward laser provide sufficient punch and survivability to dissuade casual piracy. No one will confuse stock or near stock examples with a snubfighter, however, and combat is something that should be avoided when possible.

The offset cockpit is generally not a problem, provided the pilot remembers that the bulk of the craft is off to the left. Total hull loss incidents have occurred, both with the YT-1300 and YT-2400 series, when this has been forgotten. The main effect of the offset is felt during hard, rolling turns. The internal gravity doesn't always keep up with the motion, causing centrifugal forces to push cockpit occupants towards the right side of the pod.

This disconcerting feeling of being shoved in two directions at once was what the B-Wing designers attempted to alleviate with their rotating cockpit design. Having flown both solutions, I find the each equally unpleasant. The YT series at least benefits from simplicity when compared to the B-Wing, but occupants of a YT series cockpit don't tend to be as well restrained as B-Wing pilots either.

For light freighter owner-operators, the choice of the YT-1300 is driven more by image than practicality. There are newer, more reliable ships. There are less expensive classics from the same era that will get the job done. But none of those freighters helped kill two Death Stars, or set a long-standing Kessel Run record.

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