These days when someone says “list your favorite Star Wars ships,” you’re more likely to get a list of romantic pairings between two of the characters than actual spaceships. I mean, I can understand this—being a “shipper” myself—but the traditional ships from the Star Wars franchise are really cool, too. The Prequel Trilogy, which spanned from Episode I to Episode III, had some of the best.
Here are some of the coolest ship designs from that era of the Star Wars franchise.
1. The J-Type 327 Nubian Royal Starship (AKA Padme’s “Royal Cruiser”)
Padme’s bullet-shaped transport made its first appearance in Star Wars: Episode I. It’s one of the most iconic ship designs to come out of the entire Prequel Trilogy, and I would venture to say that it’s one of the most memorable designs from the entire franchise itself—right up there with the Millennium Falcon and the X-Wing.
A sleek, silver-shaped rocket that was commissioned by the Theed Engineering Corps, the 327 Nubian was covered head-to-toe in Chromium. Inside, the design of the ship was extremely posh. It could carry the Queen, her full retinue, and her entire closet.
One really interesting thing to note about this ship was that it had no weapons—a bold choice to make in an area of space as dangerous as Star Wars.
2. The Tribubble Bongo (AKA The Gungan Underwater Sub)
This ship—and the scene that surrounded it—fascinated me when I was a kid.
In Star Wars: Episode I, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn, and Jar Jar Binks take an underwater vessel through a series of sunken caves to sneak into Naboo’s capital city. The ship our intrepid explorers take is the Tribubble Bongo–a Gungan submersible.
Overall, they resemble underwater sea creatures, and to move forward the bongos are propelled by repulsorlifts: a type of anti-gravity technology that allows them to hover.
3. The Lucrehulk-Class Battleship (AKA The Trade Federation “Donut Ring”)
Episode I was really amazing when it came to new ship designs, and one of the most memorable was the Lucrehulk-class battleship. They were those big donut rings involved with the blockade over Naboo.
As a capital ship in the Trade Federation’s defense force, the Lucrehulk started off as a cargo hauler. When war broke out, it was modified and upgraded so it could be used as a battleship by both the Trade Federation and the Separatists.
These Lucrehulks were absolutely massive, with two docking bays on either side of the open space in their “donut” rings. While the Lucrehulk could definitely pack a punch, it also had serious design flaws, which became readily apparent during the Battle of Naboo. By flying a small ship through one of the docking bays along the length of the ring, you could reach the central reactor and destroy it.
To compensate for this disastrous weakness, the Trade Federation continued to modify their Lucrehulks with defensive shields.
4. Podracers (All of Them)
Think of podracers like high-tech racing cars: very fast and maneuverable, but also extremely dangerous. When I was a kid and I saw that podracing scene from Star Wars: Episode I, I was immediately enchanted.
No two podracers were exactly alike, as they were usually designed by their owners. The major commonality between them was they usually had a one-man cockpit, along with cable engines in the front.
5. Slave 1 (AKA Jango Fett’s Ship)
Star Wars: Episode II gets maligned by the fans as one of the less-engaging movies in the Prequel Trilogy. No matter what you think about it, however, Episode II did bring us some incredibly cool ship designs. One of those ships was Jango Fett’s fearsome, heavily-armed Slave 1.
Based on a modified Firespray-31 design, Slave 1 was produced by Kuat Drive Yards and armed to the teeth with cannons and seismic charges. Its overall design was especially popular with bounty hunters and fugitives, due to its quick speed and its ability to pack a punch.
6. Geonosian Core Ship
Lastly, one of the most memorable ship designs from the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy was the Geonosian Core ship which was based off a modified Lucrehulk—yes, the same one we talked about earlier.
A huge sphere that looks similar to a Death Star, the Core Ship was almost 700 meters across and launched itself into space using tiny little spindle legs at the bottom of its bulk, not unlike an insect. These ships were a “core” feature during the Battle of Geonosis (pun intended). In the film we saw some of them explore with catastrophic effect.
If there are any ship designs that you love from the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy, let us know in the comment section below! Looking for more information about the Prequels? Read our retrospective review on the 20-year anniversary of Star Wars: Episode I.