What follows below is the version of the page as it existed on January 6, 2003. I have created these back-ups for the sake of historical accuracy, since my site and its pages will continue to evolve long after StarDestroyer.Net's attempted "attack on [my] credibility" is forgotten.
The non-canon Expanded Universe stories have contained ever-increasing firepower levels for Star Destroyers. In 1989, West End Games published a work called "Scavenger Hunt". Within that work, a Rebel base on planet Dankayo is attacked by three Imperial Star Destroyers:
"... to rendezvous at Dankayo and reduce the tiny
base to molten slag.
before the last of its atmosphere drifted away,
before the dense clouds of atomized topsoil could begin to settle, Imperial transports Elusive and Timely, as well as a
complement of TIE fighters, moved in to perform "mop-up" operations and a through search of Dankayo's now evenly-cratered surface."
-- Scavenger Hunt, p.3
So, what do we have? Three Star Destroyers slag (melt) a base facility, and attack the rest of the surface, leaving it evenly-cratered and without an atmosphere. We do not know the size of Dankayo, so much of that information is useless for gauging firepower. (Not to mention confusing . . . how do you make an atmosphere drift away while simultaneously putting dense clouds of debris into it?)
It is clear, though, that the planet itself was mostly unharmed, considering that a survivor in a "deep planet shelter" of the "tiny base" survived. Transports and TIE fighters moved in to perform "mop-up" operations.
Then, in 1994 and 1995, a mass of new books started to come out, and three of these had planetary attack references. The slagging of a Rebel base in "Scavenger Hunt" suddenly became:
"The Imperial Star Destroyer has enough firepower
to reduce a civilized
world to slag."
-- Imperial Sourcebook
Well, now, that's quite a change! Now we've gone from a three Star Destroyers against a tiny base on a small moon to one against an entire civilized world! Further, just how this is meant is unclear . . . is that the entire surface, or just the traces of civilisation? Also intriguing is the following from the same source, which would seem to contradict the other quote:
"System bombards are used when the Empire would
destroy a world rather than see it fall into Rebel hands."
"System bombard contains an average of 100 ships divided between three bombard squadrons and a light squadron. If an admiral feels that force superiority has done less than a thorough job of removing hostile craft from the system, a system bombard squadron will be augmented with ships from the light squadron."
As per the Sourcebook, the 100 ship fleet may include a few ISDs. And yet, it still takes 100 ships? It seems clear that a lone ISD isn't going to be slagging the entire surface, in that case. Indeed, what it might be expected to do may not be too different from what we're told in The Star Wars Adventure Journal. The SWAJ was a little more modest in its approach, but it has given us the name of the order for a total planetary attack:
"Sir, what about bombardment? Is there a stage
"Blasting a planet from orbit is easy -- you don't need me to tell you how to do that. Limited orbital strikes would occur during the invasion stage. Just hope you are never given a Base Delta Zero order, lieutenant. Ah, yes, another question?"
"Sir, what's the Base Delta Zero order?"
"Base Delta Zero is the Imperial code order to destroy all population centres and resources, including industry, natural resources and cities. All other Imperial codes are subject to change, as you well know, but this code is always the same to prevent any confusion when the order is given. Base Delta Zero is rarely issued. ...."
-- "A World to Conquer"
This makes a little more sense. Three Star Destroyers can fire on and eventually slag a Rebel base facility of unspecified size, so simply destroying the population centers, resources (presumably major ones) and industry (perhaps melting some buildings and such) shouldn't be too much worse, given a sufficient number of Star Destroyers. This view is supported by the Star Wars Technical Journal of 1995, which makes reference to turning a planet's surface into "smoking debris". The problem comes with what is said after that . . . "a matter of hours".
Naturally, caution was thrown to the wind by some Warsies. Suddenly, a Base Delta Zero operation became a single Star Destroyer's act of *melting* the *entire surface* of a world in *a matter of hours*.
So, basically, they decided to pick and choose. They took the name BDZ without bothering to use the Adventure Journal's definition. They took the slagging from "Scavenger Hunt" and the Sourcebook without bothering to acknowledge the targets. They took the entire surface from the Technical Journal, but failed to acknowledge the smoking cinder. And finally, they took the mere hours from the SWTJ without acknowledging the utter lack of slagging involved.
They claimed support for their view in the new "New Jedi Order Sourcebook" of 2002, which claims that a planet was bombarded and all life wiped out in the space of a day. Naturally, the fact that the number of ships involved in this maneuver is not given doesn't even make the Warsies blink.
And so, the legend of the Base Delta Zero maneuver has grown and grown,
until it is now codified as part of the inflated numbers and statements in
the Episode II Incredible Cross Sections, where the idea of slagging an
entire planet's surface in a matter of hours is stated to be the Base
Delta Zero command, making it as good as canon fact to many in spite
of the horrendous inconsistencies.
It is unfortunate that the continuity errors of the Expanded
mixed with the faulty logic and fanciful imaginations of many pro-Wars and
Warsie debaters (some of whom contributed ideas to the author), have found
their way into the otherwise delightful and graphically stunning
Incredible Cross Sections.
page contains Saxton's statements that, contrary to the popular myth,
he did not have the completed film at his disposal. Indeed, it appears
that many of the FX sequences were not complete (and in some cases would
not begin until months later) when the book's deadline arrived. This is,
no doubt, how Saxton arrived at figures for certain weapons that are
hundreds and thousands of times greater than what is observed in the film,
such as Slave I's shots on the landing platform. Other
problems result from Dr. Saxton's colloboration over the years with
pro-Wars and Warsie debaters heavily involved in the Trek vs. Wars
debates. These individuals have no doubt contributed greatly to the
revision of the definition of "Base Delta Zero", as well as Jedi fighter
firepower numbers based on false
assumptions of later fighter firepower.
Finally, there is the fundamental disagreement between Saxton and Lucas as to what Star Wars really is. Saxton feels that it is a "fundamental fact that entire SW saga occurs in the same universe",whereas Lucas has made it abundantly clear that he places the "other world" of the EU in a "parallel universe" to his own. Therefore, Saxton's conclusions which utilize elements of the Expanded Universe are not 'just shy of canon', like Warsies claim, but are in fact based on "interpretation and speculation", to borrow from Cerasi.
(*) It should be noted that anytime anyone takes a skeptical view of the ICS, Warsies take it very personally, and accuse the skeptic of attacking Saxton personally. You can ignore these red herrings . . . the Warsies who make those claims are generally the same ones who use insults and personal attacks to try to win arguments, so the accusations are merely extensions of the fact that they have forgotten the distinction between attacking the argument and attacking the man.
By the way, if you take a Base Delta Zero operation for what it actually is, the destruction of the civilized areas and assets of production of a planet, you'll find a remarkable similarity to something which already existed in Star Trek. Known as General Order 24, this order required a starship to destroy the entire civilized surface of a planet.