Of all the events in the Star Wars saga, the Battle of Hoth is simultaneously one of the most perplexing and mesmerizing things ever created. On the one hand, its sheer scale, technical displays and the conflict in question are things to be held in awe. On the other though, it was a massive tactical blunder by both sides. This would need a whole article unto itself to fully explore, but the short version is that the Rebellion put all its eggs in one basket, while the Empire managed to do little to really ensure the capture of their leaders.
However, there's a question I have heard many, many times recently which is quite interesting: Could the Rebels have won the Battle of Hoth? In short - No. There were too many Imperial forces on and surrounding the planet to truly defend it. Yet, in looking back, there is far more they could have done to ensure that the Empire paid a much higher price for its victory.
As such, the following document is an in-universe look into the tactics and ideas I personally think could have been used to save them, or at least rob the Empire of its true victory on that world.
Echo Base will fall within the day. Despite its defences the Rebellion has neither the
manpower or facilities to prevent a full scale ground invasion by an Imperial assault force, or
prevent the Empire attaining orbital supremacy. Our only solution is to evacuate at full
speed, using our more direct assets to escalate area denial and slow their assault.
We can expect a primarily ground based assault. While the sub-zero temperatures prevent
us from deploying X-Wings in extensive atmospheric engagements, this same issue hinders
the deployment of the Empire’s TIEs. Though limited in number, this will leave atmospheric
dominance uncontested by our T-47 airspeeders. As a result of this, all remaining starfighter
assets will be dedicated to defending the GR-75 transports as they break atmosphere and
make the jump to hyperspace.
Due to the abrupt arrival of the enemy task force within sensor range, we have been given a
short time to prepare for the enemy attack and to further reinforce our defences.
● Defend Echo Base until its personnel have been completely evacuated and all GR-75
transports can be launched.
● Defend the Shield Generator from enemy forces, prevent it being destroyed or
● Defend the Ion Cannon from enemy forces, prevent it being destroyed or rendered
● Defeat or destroy the Imperial task force.
Enemy Task Force Strength (Approximate)
While no exact numbers can be attained on the enemy strength, from the size of the enemy
fleet and typical Imperial responses to our bases we have judged the size and disposition of
the attacking force as follows:
● 5 All Terrain-Armoured Transports
● 12 All Terrain-Scout Transports
● 2 HAVw A6 Juggernaut
● 5,000 Imperial Stormtroopers
We predict that the Stormtroopers deployed will belong to the 501st legion thanks to the
presence of a Super Star Destroyer among the enemy fleet. The presence of AT-AT walkers
will be their greatest asset above all else, as we have little to no conventional weapons
which can directly harm them. Most of the primary armour along the head and main body of
these machines is impervious to blaster fire from both ground and airborne assets, and the
T-47s direct weapons will likely lack the firepower needed to truly harm these vehicles.
By remaining in close proximity to the AT-ATs, the enemy task force will be able to benefit
from an advancing wedge of impervious armour and considerable firepower. While they will
likely remain within close proximity to these machines, the AT-ST and Juggernaut assault
vehicles may advance forwards, to help bring down our forwards lines and deploy troops into
our trenches. This would in turn provide the 501st a means to more rapidly advance directly
into the main hangers and Echo Base itself, using the network to bypass the majority of our
The speed in which this force can advance cannot be underestimated. Despite their
lumbering nature, AT-ATs can maintain a constant momentum and weather firepower which
would fell lesser vehicles, and they can outrun most of our troops on foot.
As a final note, intelligence estimates from the landing pattern of the shuttles and their
positions on our sensors they will likely attack from across Zone 12. The regions either side
of Echo Base are too exposed and too potentially unstable. Even with their all-terrain
capabilities, the walkers would be at risk of stumbling thanks to sustained fire against the
ground surrounding them.
Echo Base Defensive Forces
● Corona Squadron in 9 T-47 airspeeders
● Rogue Squadron in 9 T-47 airspeeders
● 20 DF.9 Turrets
● 14 1.4 FD P-Tower laser cannons
● 2,700 Troopers
In terms of equipment, armour and conventional firepower we are outmatched. Even without
the supporting vehicles, the AT-ATs alone would tear through trench after trench with little
opposition, and the 501st are combat veterans without equal. A number of their soldiers fought in the Clone Wars itself, and their nickname of Vader’s Fist is well deserved.
However, despite this we do have several benefits the Imperials lack: Air dominance, time to
prepare and Echo Base itself.
Without TIE variants to accompany this task force, and without devoted anti-air units, our
T-47s will remain uncontested in the skies. This will allow them to pick off ground targets at
their leisure, and more rapidly respond to breakthroughs in our lines; an aspect which will be
especially beneficial to exploiting the limited maneuverability of the Imperial vehicles.
As for Echo Base’s defenses, while they lack the ability to truly damage heavy armour they
have been expertly planned out. The distance between defensive lines along with their
construction on elevated terrain will allow for each trench to support one another. All four will
be capable of firing on enemy targets as they arrive, and use targeting data from our
foremost lines to home in on enemy targets. Their placement also allows our troops to more
readily fall back and regroup as the Stormtroopers maintain their assault, dragging out and
weakening their relentless advance one line at a time.
Echo Base’s store rooms provide us with a number of assets and munitions which will
greatly assist our troops in defending this territory. Given the rushed nature of the
evacuation, we cannot hope to store everything on the escaping ships, and what little time
we have before the battle will be devoted to adapting and using anything we have on hand
for this conflict. We can predict where the Imperials will strike from, and prepare a number of
traps to hinder their effectiveness. While all involvement of our starfighters will be limited to
covering escaping vessels, their ammunition supplies would be of great use to our troops.
We may not be able to deploy Y-Wing or X-Wing squadrons against the Imperials, but their
proton torpedoes and bombs can still be of use to us.
Given the size and nature of the invasion force, Corona Squadron is to perform a series of
brief recon flights over the nearby areas surrounding Echo Base. While the primary invasion
force has been sighted, and a single massive strike would benefit the Empire, we will not risk
losing this conflict by overlooking a smaller force accessing a secondary entrance. As such,
all rear and secondary access tunnels are to be sealed or rigged for detonation by all
available soldiers. The use of HX2 antipersonnel explosives, LX-1 laser-flechette explosives,
I.M. mines, and similarly small scale anti-infantry weapons have been permitted to block
Mines are also to be deployed along the areas surrounding the outermost trench, with
several high explosive yield variants to be hidden surrounding Echo Station Beta. A number
of LX-4 proton mines (repurposed from starfighter munitions) have been reserved for this
defensive effort, along with several additional proton torpedo warheads from the X-Wing
ammo stocks. Several are to be placed within Echo Station Beta itself, with the others
distributed towards the northern and eastern areas of Zone 12. Echo Station Beta itself is to
be evacuated, and its remaining troops are to be distributed along the secondary trench to
help repel the attack, along with all turrets previously stationed at Beta.
A skeleton force of two hundred troopers is to maintain a presence towards the forwards
primary trench. These will be reinforced by six of our DF.9 Turrets, each positioned at the
Their task will be to slow the initial infantry advance and encourage the Stormtroopers to
remain within close proximity to the walkers rather than advancing forwards. The area of the
trenches highlighted towards the east will also be weakened in preparation for the assault
and left unmanned. Proximity mines left in the walls will be used to detonate and collapse
the area the moment enemy troops attempt to take it. This will allow for a smaller area to
defend, and permit a faster withdrawal to our secondary line of defenses; at the same time it
will ensure that the Stormtroopers will remain far more cautions than usual when it comes to
storming our positions.
The other turrets will be positioned along the following locations, red for DF.9 Turrets and
green for 1.4 FD P-Tower laser cannons:
Telemetry and targeting data from each trench is to be transmitted back to the units behind
them, allowing associated squads on elevated terrain to concentrate their fire on single
targets. The massive concentration of turrets towards the middle of the second trench will,
we hope, slow the Imperial advance along the adjoining passageway. Turrets 7, 8 and 9 in
particular are in a perfect position to bottleneck enemy forces attempting to use that area for
cover; and to save both explosives and prevent our troops being cut off via and accidental
detonation, we will not be mining it. Furthermore, it should force the Imperials to focus their
efforts upon the middle of these lines should they wish to break the strength of our forces.
The remaining distribution of our forces will consist of nine hundred troopers in the second
trench, one thousand one hundred once they are reinforced by those from the first. Seven
hundred and fifty will be given to both the third and fourth defensive lines and one hundred
troopers will remain in reserve within the hanger. This will help defend against possible
secondary incursions into the base from other vectors and reinforce our lines where needed.
As the more exposed Stations far away from the main battle, Echo Station 2-4 and 3-4 will
position and stockpile a number of makeshift Tow-Cable bombs for the T-47s. Constructed
from repurposed proton bombs from our Y-Wings, Captain Bren Derlin informs me that these
were proven to be effective against AT-AT walkers during the Defense of Ralltiir. While that
was against individually deployed targets rather than a massed assault force, the additional
firepower may be enough to even the odds.
The remaining T-47s are to be prepared for immediate launch readiness, while the GR-75
transport Dutyfree undergoes a last minute refitting and is loaded with explosives. As both
will be key to our overall victory, their flight readiness is to be a priority among our
Finally, the v-150 Planet Defender Ion Cannon’s gunnery crew will continuously drill and
prepare for combat until the first transport is ready to launch. Given the sheer scale of the
enemy fleet and the fact we are limited to a single turret, our only method of escaping the
planet will be to force them back for a time. By having the Ion Cannon repeatedly target and
fire upon the inbound Star Destroyers, we can at least maintain a narrow window of
opportunity to dissuade the fleet from entering orbital bombardment ranges.
The first phase of this plan will begin the moment the enemy advances into Zone 12.
Assuming that neither the walkers nor the ground troops they support trigger a proximity
sensor, the moment the enemy task force is fully within the area, all explosives will be
detonated via a radio signal from Echo Station 5-2. This will ultimately destroy Echo Station
Beta along with most of the surrounding area. The blast itself will likely kill a number of
enemy Stormtroopers and a number of their secondary vehicles as well. More importantly
however, it will slow their initial advance. The task force will likely adopt anti-mine field
tactics, either using the larger vehicles to press through without further casualties, or their
walkers themselves will be stalled thanks to the now unstable ground around them.
Following the detonation, both Rogue and Corona Squadron will be launched, with mission
separate mission parameters. Regrouping with any airspeeders which might be maintaining
close patrol about the base, Corona Squadron will begin launching a series of strafing runs
on the smaller Imperial vehicles. Their priority will be to disable and damage the task force’s
escorts before they can reach our lines, as this will limit the Imperials’ anti-air response and
their ability to rapidly storm the first trench. Rogue Squadron will begin their own attack soon
afterwards, after using their tow-cables to collect bombs from Echo Station 2-4 and 3-4 they will concentrate their own attacks on the AT-ATs. By targeting the vehicle’s leg joints or
cockpits, their assault will be directed to either disable or outright destroy a number of
AT-ATs towards the head of the task force.
As both squadrons focus their attacks upon the enemy vehicles, the first trench line will
begin firing upon the enemy from the moment they are within range. They are to concentrate
their efforts upon thinning out the number of attacking squads in the first wave as they
emerge through the shield. The second trench will provide ranged supporting fire, both to
hinder the enemy’s advance and provide supporting fire once the Stormtroopers get within
three hundred meters of the first trench. At this point, all remaining Alliance troopers will
begin retreating along the main adjoining trench between the two defensive lines. This same
trench will then be used to bottleneck advancing Stormtroopers, with the turrets limiting their
ability to advance over the open ground while the adjoining trench will become a killing zone
should they attempt to press forwards through there.
Should the Juggernauts manage to penetrate the shield, all 1.4 FD P-Tower laser cannons
will be directed to concentrate their fire upon the their primary wheels and drive system.
Rogue and Corona Squadron will join them in this effort, and are permitted to use any
means available to them in order to prevent either Juggernaut breaching the second trench.
Should the measures used up to this point be unable to halt the continued attacks by the
task force, and should the AT-ATs begin advancing within the shield, Alliance forces will pull
back to the third trench. The T-47s and turrets will provide cover during this action, focusing
their efforts upon the pursuing troops. Once the majority of the enemy forces in close pursuit
have been eliminated, any unit armed with a blaster cannon is to open fire on the cockpits of
the AT-ATs. This will likely not damage the vehicle in any way, but it has the opportunity of
disrupting their vision, sensors or at the very least preventing them concentrating upon a
single target. This will continue until the AT-ATs reach the central point between the first and
As they close in upon this location, the Dutyfree will be launched and both airborne
squadrons will retreat from the battlefield. Before doing so, they will broadcast targeting and
location based data to the Dutyfree, displaying the positions of each AT-AT. All ground
forces are to take cover and brace themselves for an orbit to surface bombardment grade
The transport will begin its ascent following a pre-programmed flight pattern rigged into its
computer, matching that of the previous transports. However, upon attaining optimal speed it
will begin turning towards the trenches. The ship will enter a steep dive onto the highlighted
target displayed above, and use the data broadcast by our forces to target the middle of the
enemy formation. Between the multiple warheads stored within its hold and the main reactor,
we estimate the explosion upon impact will be large enough to destroy most if not all of the
AT-AT walkers and any forces close by. Even the AT-ATs which endure the blast will be
heavily damaged, and likely vulnerable to concentrated fire from our forces.
Our T-47 squadrons will then be recalled to help press a counter-attack, passing over the
impact site in search of survivors. They will then coordinate their efforts to pin down and
annihilate any remaining troops at long range. Should any AT-ATs remain standing, then
further use of the tow-cable bombs will be used to destroy or disable them, while any
AT-STs or Stormtroopers will be the priority of the remaining turrets.
A force of two thousand troopers will then advance forwards to cut down any Stormtroopers
moving out of the blast crater, and further investigate for any signs of survivors. Should
nothing arise, Rogue Squadron will then make a brief sweep of the surrounding area to
confirm that no other Imperial forces were deployed during the battle to attack Echo Base
from another direction.
If, after one hour, there is no sign of Imperial reinforcements, the ground forces will begin
retreating eight hundred soldiers at a time. The T-47 squadrons will join the first wave, falling
back to their own vehicles before escorting the remaining GR-75 transports past the
blockade. Between the transports which have already departed and emergency drills, we
estimate that Echo Base can be fully evacuated within three hours.
The final measure used before our departure will be to rig the hanger with further mines and
destroy any resources which cannot be taken with us. The last of the troops have been
instructed to wipe all remaining records of Alliance operations and flight plans from the base
computers, and destroy the command center before we depart Hoth for good.
Several key factors and areas could fail while following this plan. Outlined below are a
number of contingencies and secondary plans to help ensure that the Rebellion survives,
even in the face of total disaster.
Phase 1 Contingencies
● Should the Imperial forces arrive before we have fully deployed our forces admit the
trenches, ground troops will be required to only man the second, third and fourth
trenches. Co-ordinating their ranged firepower with strafing runs by Corona
Squadron, they will focus their efforts upon first disabling the Juggernauts, and then
the AT-ST’s to limit the task force’s overall firepower. This will once again leave them
reliant to the AT-ATs for support and working in close proximity to them.
● Should the tow-cable bombs prove to be utterly ineffective at slowing or disabling the
AT-ATs, all T-47 squadrons are to concentrate their efforts upon destroying the
smaller vehicles. The bombs should still be effective against smaller and more lightly
armoured transports, or even troop formations should they be dropped among them.
● Should the 1.4 FD P-Tower laser cannons prove to be completely ineffective against
armoured attack vehicles, they are to focus upon the Stormtroopers instead. Once
again the T-47s will be required to take their place via the use of tow-cable bombs.
● Should the T-47s take exceptionally heavy casualties during initial attack runs, they
will be required to fall back and regroup for a time. Instead, the ground forces in the
trenches will cover the bulk of their work, while any and all damage against the
AT-AT walkers will be left to the Dutyfree’s attack.
● If we lack the explosives to seal off the secondary entrances and exits leading into
Echo Base, an additional two hundred troopers will be diverted to secure these
locations. These will be removed from the fourth and final line of defense, meaning
we will be reliant upon the first three to stop the enemy assault.
● Should the explosives towards the east of the first trench fail to detonate, one of the
forwards turrets will first attempt to do so with repeated cannon blasts. If nothing can
be done, then the troopers will retreat back from that position earlier than planned,
and the trenches will be levelled via a tow-cable bomb.
● Should the explosives surrounding Echo Station Beta and Zone 12 fail to detonate,
each of our squadrons has been supplied with targeting information for the bombs.
They will be launched ahead of time and instructed to target two key areas near
Beta, where the defensive structure’s armour has been specifically weakened. This
will detonate the warheads within, and begin a chain reaction which should trigger
the majority of the weapons.
● Should the Imperials arrive well ahead of time, the initial stages of this plan will be
abandoned. Our troops will instead use the second trench to hinder the initial strikes
from Stormtroopers, and concentrated fire from the turrets will be used to gradually
destroy the first trench, preventing its use as cover for enemy units.
Phase 2 Contingencies
● If the Dutyfree cannot be launched or is somehow destroyed before it can reach its
target, all forces are instead directed to concentrate their efforts upon slowing the
AT-ATs. Any and all units are permitted to use any tactics they deem necessary,
from using the T-47’s tow-cables to entangle the enemy AT-AT’s legs to boarding
actions by infantry units. They are to be halted at all costs.
● If the Dutyfree malfunctions and crashes into our own defenses, all surviving units
are then permitted to withdraw within Echo Base. Transports will then be launched in
groups of three at a time, with Corona and Rogue Squadrons transferring their pilots
to space capable fighters to provide escort. The main entrance is to then be closed
and reinforced by any means necessary, from rubble to damaged ships, turning it
into a choke-point to limit the effectiveness of the 501st’s sheer numbers.
● Should neither the Dutyfree or other forces manage to halt the AT-ATs or inflict any
considerable damage upon other vehicles, the Ion Cannon will then be directed to
fire upon the enemy targets. This will take several minutes to readjust the Cannon for
land based targets and it will leave the escaping transports extremely vulnerable to
spaceborne attacks. As such, it is to be considered a second to last resort when all
other options have been exhausted.
● If the Dutyfree cannot be launched in time due to either engine failures or crew
delays, all forwards ground forces are to withdraw back to the third trench. They are
to hold the enemy there for as long as possible, until the transport can be launched
and its internal guidance system redirected to strike the area between the second
and third trench. If it cannot be readied in time at all, the ground forces are to instead
begin a gradual fighting retreat back inside the hanger, targeting the faster moving
units. Departure of transports is to be doubled, launching multiple vessels at once,
and secondary resources are to be abandoned in favour of loading primary assets
and personnel. The explosives aboard the Dutyfree will be primed to explode and set
to a timer. This will be used to both to destroy the initial wave of Stormtroopers
advancing inside the base, and any records which might allow them to track down
the Rebel fleets.
Images In Listed Order:
Situational Analysis (walkers vs snowspeeders) -
Battlefield Map (Star Wars Trilogy Sourcebook, Special Edition (1997)) -
Enemy Task force Strength (Thundering Herd) -
Echo Base Defensive Forces (Battlefront Promotional Art) -
Pre-Combat Preperations (Star Wars: The Card Game – The Search for Skywalker (Card:
Echo Base)) -
Primary Plan - Phase 1 (Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back) -
Primary Plan - Phase 2 (Star Wars: Behind the Magic) -
Contingencies (hoth_34.jpg) -
"Battle Of Hoth/Legends". Wookieepedia. N.p., 2005. Web. 2 Jan. 2017.
"Defense Of Ralltiir". Wookieepedia. N.p., 2012. Web. 2 Jan. 2017.
"GR-75 Medium Transport/Legends". Wookieepedia. N.p., 2005. Web. 2 Jan. 2017.
Star Wars Trilogy Sourcebook, Special Edition. 1st ed. Honesdale, Pennsylvania: West End
Games, 1997. Print.
"Tow-Cable Bomb". Wookieepedia. N.p., 2012. Web. 2 Jan. 2017.
"LX-4 Proton Mine/Legends". Wookieepedia. N.p., 2007. Web. 2 Jan. 2017.