Joe Johnston Millennium Falcon

One of the first major design projects that I was given on A New Hope was to design a new ship for Han Solo. His “Pirate Ship” as it was known in the earliest draft of the script, was already under construction in the model shop. Grant McCune had worked out all the major shapes and assembled plexiglass components over a metal framework. Then the TV series SPACE: 1999 aired, featuring a ship called the “Eagle Transporter.” To a designer they were galaxies apart.

The Eagle had a very NASA vibe to it, with a truss-like framework and modular panels. The Pirate Ship looked like something inspired by Jules Verne in space, but they both were long and relatively narrow with a cockpit at the front and clusters of engines at the rear. George insisted on a different look entirely, something that wouldn’t look like it had been inspired by anything we’d ever seen.

He may have said at some point that it could have the essence of flying saucer.  I’m not sure about the conversation that happened almost forty years ago, but I do remember that it was a situation of “anything goes!” I started with identical upper and lower dish shapes that looked like they had been cut away around the edges to enclose components that had been hot-rodded together. Landing gear bays on the bottom and the com dish on the top helped to break up the symmetry and give it a distinct top and bottom.

I did several sketches with the cockpit centered, just above the loading arms, but I really liked the offset cockpit. It also let me add another asymmetrical tube shape that looked like it housed the corridor to the cockpit. Even though the ship is supposed to be a “spice freighter” I didn’t want the shape to give any indication of its purpose. It’s a big hot rod pure and simple.


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Millennium Falcon T-shirt

Signed Millennium Falcon