One question we get a lot is: “Where does your website’s name come from?” Most Star Wars fans vaguely recognize the reference, but only the elite remember exactly where the name comes from – the base on Hoth that the rebels escaped from in The Empire Strikes Back.
So here’s a little history…
The famous climax of the original Star Wars movie, A New Hope, saw the Rebels defeat the Death Star at the Battle of Yavin. Yavin was the Rebel Base that Darth Vader had been searching for so desperately.
Despite blowing up the Death Star, the rebels had to flee Yavin following their victory. According to The Illustrated Star Wars Universe, Hoth was suggested as a potential alternative by none-other than Luke Skywalker. Hoth was a remote planet, and surrounded by a natural asteroid belt that would deter larger starships from passing near it.
Located beneath a snowy mountain, Echo Base was practically invisible from space.
In the Star Wars Galaxies Trading Card Game: The Nightsister’s Revenge we learn of the initial Rebel outpost established on Hoth, and how Jedi Knight Rachi Sitra and her Rebel comrades kept its location secret from an Imperial Scouting party. Once approved as the location for the new base, the Alliance Corps of Engineers assigned Major Kem Monnon to build what would soon become Echo Base.
A network of pre-existing ice caves and caverns formed the foundation for Echo Base.
Monnon decided to build the base within a series of caverns once used by smugglers in the region. The smuggler’s base was in the only habitable belt of the planet, and massively simplified the process of creating space for hangers, storage and living space.
Over the course of two years, Monnon completed the base – sandwiched between a north-facing hanger (Hanger 7, where the Millenium Falcon was parked) and a much larger south-facing hanger which is where the Gallofree cruisers and transport ships would land.
The main hanger of Echo Base, where up to 30 Gallofree transports would dock.
In a series of caverns connecting the two hangers, you’d find barracks, living quarters, a command center and a massive, well-appointed medical center.
A squadron of 12 Snowspeeders were relied upon for terrestrial defense.
As it was, Echo Base was located underneath a mountain, and practically invisible to all but close-range scans. It was cramped, cold and uncomfortable living there – but incredibly secure.
Eventually more than 7,500 combat personnel would end up stationed there, in addition to 350 medical personal and over 100 droids.
Hanger 7 was home to over 60 starfighters, and the Millenium Falcon.
Thirty transports and over sixty starfighters were located at the base, but its defense was largely left to twelve terrestrial Snowspeeders and a v-150 Planet Defender ion cannon – capable of disabling ships as big as a Star Destroyer with just a few blasts.
A series of trenches surrounded Echo Base, allowing Troopers to move quickly and easily through the hostile terrain.
Surrounding the base was a network of trenches, and a number of smaller outposts known as ‘Echo Stations.’ These were largely there to ward off the local Wampas – the big, white snow monsters you’ll remember from The Empire Strikes Back – and were regularly patrolled by snowspeeders and Rebel scouts on Tauntauns. A single Rebel fortress and shield generators were some of the only structures visible from the planet’s surface.
A v-150 Planet Defender Ion Cannon was the core of the base’ defensive capability.
Sadly, within just months of the base being established, the events of The Empire Strikes Back occurred; in which Darth Vader located the Rebel base, and it was hastily evacuated during the midst of a heated battle. The Rebels attempted to destroy the base upon departure, by settling the Ion cannon to self-destruct, and through explosive charges laid by Han Solo’s Renegade Squadron, but much of the structure remained intact. In fact, the deserted base would later become a tourist destination on the Star Tours Spacelines (just to remind you that, yes, the ride at Disneyland is considered Star Wars canon).
For a short time, the Rebellion thrived within this remote, frozen enclave.
Now presumably visited only by YouTubers for their urban exploration channels, the spirit of Echo Base lives on through us. We’re the Rebels of the geek culture underworld; embracing all that’s glorious and nerdy, and fighting the forces of cynicism, snark and negativity.