We know that one of John Berkey's paintings became the foundation for The Deathstar, but his influence might have gone beyond that, into the aptly named B-Wing.

Above, a striking painting by John Berkey, the master of starships, which graced the 1976 hardback and 1978 softcover editions of “The Way Back” by A. Bertram Chandler.

Notice how similar the layout and relative proportions of the wings on the attacking ships in the above painting are to those of the B-Wing starfighters from Return of the Jedi (1983).

The details — which Berkey himself most often abstracts away in his paintings — differ greatly, but it's interesting to note how Berkey’s fighters have a red half-ellipisis as markings on their wings, where the B-Wings in turn have a small red circle.

This could be pure coincidence, but if we also consider that another painting of Berkey’s became the foundation for The Deathstar, and that Berkey’s style might very well have been influential to the more naval look of the original Colin Cantwell Star Destroyer model, or indeed how Lucas went on to hire him to do posters for the films themselves (although he alleged never having seen the films), then perhaps it doesn't seem quite so far fetched after all.

In fact, maybe it would explain why they're called B-Wings.

Furthermore, because of the triangular ‘body’ some of the ships in Berkey’s painting almost look like Luke's Skyhopper, seen partially in Star Wars in the background of the homestead garage, and in the model Luke's playing around with. That design eventually evolved into the Imperial shuttle, also seen in Return of the Jedi, a somehow distinctly Berkian ship, even if it is more angular than he would have painted it.

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Dark Star

Michael Heilemann

Kaluta's Landspeeder

Michael Heilemann