OT X-Wing Pilot helmet details


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So, last night at Galaxy's Edge East I got my son one of the Luke OT X-Wing helmets, which I need to repaint because he wants it to be green. I'm trying to find information on the various details and if there's any known meaning to them. Like the "V"s. I've seen they are most likely Kill counters (also seen victory counters) but is there any significance to the Yellow or red circles behind the "V"s? Others would be the circle with lines through it, the green details on Wedge's mohawk, etc. Any info or links to anything would be great? I'm still actively searching but so far not coming up with much, so the information may not even exist but I figure this would be the place to ask.

Looking through images there appear to be 4 ( maybe 5 ) versions.
Yellow with black V (most common)
Red with black V ( Luke's )
Green with black V ( on at least 2 helmets )
Red dot no V

One looks almost like it's black or dk green with yellow V.

Colors could denote type of mission or if damaged on mission, similar to markings on WW2 planes.
Looking at the Vs it almost seemed like the circle denoted what flight group they were earned in, if they are kill/mission counters, or perhaps colors denote what the kill was, yellow is fighters, red capital ships etc.. I mainly didn't know if in all these years any canon information came out stating what the various symbols mean.
I've never seen anything "official" on them.

In WW2 most bombers used yellow for each bombing mission an red meant they took damage, don't remember what green meant.
In some cases red was used to denote 5 missions or on some planes all the markers where red or even black (on NMF)
i agree, i think you have to assume the small decoration circles and v's are mission awards of some kind. there is no reference to what they mean, or the color significance, but i do have an interesting addition to this topic...

General Merrick from Rogue One does have a seven point star on his helmet in place of a mission award, so this may be more significant.
The standard awards are V's with either red, yellow, green circles.

The interesting thing about these markings is that they appear to be the same on both sides for every pilot..
Also, for instance in Luke Skywalkers case, the markings do not change from one movie to the next even after he was involved in blowing up death stars, and taking down at-ats and other missions that took place between the movies.

So this is one aspect that seems like a forgotten detail in the films for all the pilots, even like Wedge or Gold Leader and Red leader from earlier in their careers in Rogue One.
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The 6 pointed star started with TFA.
Quite an an assortment of them in R1 including adding one to Gold Leader.
so was Lukes helmet borrowed and he never got his own? or did he somehow get credit for things he did during his time on Tatooine or during the rescue of Leia? or did they have weeks to prepare and he was actually involved with other missions with the rebels in a smaller ship than the xwing? i just say smaller ship because Red Leader asks him "are you sure you can handle this thing?" before boarding for his death star run.

i don't know. it seems his helmet would be borrowed or a hand-me-down through the whole OT. it could not come from the previous Red Five since he blew up pretty spectacularly.

and yeah! I noticed no less than 8 RO pilots had either black or red stars included in their awards.. could have been for a particular mission or could have been for something like a flying cross or silver star etc. I did notice one pilot had two of them. I never did see Gold Leader with one but that's cool.
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Luke's was just an extra that was laying around like all the plain white / blue phoenix.
They probably had several from diffirent squadrons that they got bulk surplus.
Visually interesting so you can tell the pilots apart.

Those are from R1 not ANH so gold leader was modified for that film.
Que Mel Brooks.
As much as Rogue One is my favourite Star Wars film, and as much as I love the space battle at the end and all the callouts to New Hope they got in there (all the while staying nice and consistent with New Hope's events), the one thing that really annoys me is Red Five blowing up. In New Hope, the call-sign is clearly associated with the fighter - they all have markings for their number - and it was perfectly reasonable that Luke got Red Five because they had more fighters than pilots. This was a real problem during the Battle of Britain and is one of the reasons modern military squadrons often have more pilots than aircraft. It's much easier to fix a broken plane than to wait for injuries to heal, after all, and it's also very possible for a wounded pilot to make it safely home and then die. But all that went out the window when Red Five blew up in R1.

Anyway, rant aside: remember that the markings on the New Hope / Rogue One helmets aren't "rebel" markings, they're the symbology of whatever military those squadrons belonged to before they became Rebels. As early as Return of the Jedi there was an effort to show a wide variety of kit and uniforms in the Rebel Fleet, to tell us that these people came from a wide range of backgrounds and forces, and Rouge One and Rebels built on that. (In my personal head canon, most systems had their own militaries during and just after the Clone Wars and as the Empire slowly clamped down on these local forces, some of them joined the Rebellion. I've always assumed that the forces we see in New Hope were ex-Alderaanian troops. The Kenobi series reinforces that for the ground troops at least.) After the squadrons left whatever military they were part of, they may have decided not to preserve the old traditions. Or they just may not have had the time and resources to do so when they spend the next two years on the run. Or maybe only a particular person or position could award new icons, and no-one with the qualifications joined the Rebellion. Or, heck, maybe the massive casualties in the Death Star attack meant that Wedge and whoever was flying that Y-Wing were the only folks left who even knew what those markings meant!

In any case, I'm personally 100% confident that the markings on Luke's helmet were earned by whoever had that brain bucket before him.

A lot of the markings on the helmets are probably just personal decoration, but the circle with the lines through it appears on a lot of helmets and maybe even on a couple of the X-Wings. (I'm not certain that's canon, though, it might just be secondary art.) Most unofficial sources assume that circle is some sort of squadron marking or national roundel. The model makers for New Hope put a lot of little details on the X-Wings, with many of them showing traces of different livery that got painted over, so likely the circle-and-lines is related to whatever military group the painted over yellow-and-blue livery represented.

As for your son's helmet: unless you're trying to recreate an on-screen helmet, I'd say embrace this as an opportunity to be creative. Heck, you could even use the helmet as a way to memorialise your son's achievements, adding "victory" symbols when he accomplishes something significant like good marks on a test or project, finishing a hobby project, attending an event in-character, or whatever other behaviours you want to encourage!
My biggest argument that the markings have any meaning of accomplishments is that Luke has them on his helmet when he gets them and continues to wear them and as mentioned, they do not change going forward. I would imagine it would be in poor form for one pilot to wear honors they did not earn.

For all we know the Vs are off bottles of a really good ale and pilots peel them off and stick them on their helmets.

I think one of the problems is that there was some thought behind them when they first designed, they had meaning but as the movies went forward, they lost meaning. Sort of like the markings on the wings of the X-Wing.
Someone correct me if I am wrong.

One other thing about rebel pilot helmet markings. When the OT came out, the only place you ever saw the symbol that is now associated with the symbol of the rebellion (the starbird) was on a few of the rebel pilot helmets. At no time during the era of the original release do I remember that this now classic logo being the symbol of the rebellion. You never saw it anywhere except a few flight helmets (it was more prevalent on the helmets seen in The Empire Strikes Back). At the time, you could have just assumed it had no more special significance than maybe a squadron logo or a logo to represent army/navy star fighter forces. In fact, I remember walking into a comic book shop in the late 80s and seeing a starbird pin for sale. I remember thinking it was odd as it was a very subtle and vague Star Wars pin and not something that many would immediately recognize. I don't know this for sure but I think it was probably EU such as Westend Games, Comics, and/or novels that first started associating the starbird logo as a symbol of the rebellion and as a result (the New Republic).
I have seen, in the current and common world of aviation, that when nations get together to do joint training, that many aircrews will trade patches and stickers and such, much like the 501st Legion does when its members get together for large events.
These patches and stickers will end up on helmet bags and helmets for a while, maybe inside the ladder doors or inside the wheel wells of particular aircraft. I think i could see, for the smaller symbols like the winged ball, or the circle with lines, or similar, that these would possibly be the traded emblems of other planets or militaries when getting together to form a rag-tag squadron, or even the entire rebel space force.

I cannot see the typical rebel symbol being from one planet as an adopted logo, unless that planet was Alderaan as kind of a flag to fly behind because of the Death Star destruction, but Leia herself said that Alderaan was peaceful and had no weapons. I dont take this to mean they had absolutely no weapons, but they had possibly only a police force as in the way that Naboo was depicted with a very small police force and possibly a police type of planetary air/space patrol. Even the UK police force only carries a light weapon like a baton. The general police Constable does not carry a firearm. So this could be a model for how George saw Alderaan. Not like the US but more like the UK.

I think the original idea was that Luke and the other pilots helmets seemed to be a consistent element in the rebel flying force. Just as the flght suit, and all the other equipment, which, if you assume the pilots were from all over the galaxy, these elements would have also been somewhat "rag-tag" and suited to each pilot.
A New Hope seemed to portray all the pilots as a unified fighting force with a common structure and leadership and even markings on the x-wings and Y-wings. The only real personalized item would have been the helmet. And even though some of the markings were the same, there were plenty of markings that were different for most of the pilots. And since we also have somewhat of a common color scheme back then, we would have to assume the red and yellow circle V markings were, in fact, awards from the rebellion itself and not from some other place.
Which takes me back to my original point that Lukes helmet did not make sense. Why didnt he just get a new clean one? We saw dozens of pilots in the award ceremony scene with new clean helmets. They were not even shown in the battle or in the briefing room so where did all these new fresh pilots come from? was this weeks later? Was this new blood for the rebellion?

Its all speculative so it really doesn't matter, but i just think the whole helmet thing was a detail that was left out of any thought during the OT and such. But the one thing from A New Hope to Empire that stands out... that Lukes helmet got a whole lot dirtier and did not change other than that even after his triumph over the Death Star and who knows how many other missions between those two battles outside the movies themselves..

great conversation guys.
The rebel logo was something from the EU.
Just like using Hutt as race when originally it was a title = Godfather and Jabba's anchor tattoo was because he was in the merchant marines not a symble of his race or clan.

As for Luke's helmet, it was to tell the actors apart, same as why their faces are exposed.
It looks good on film.
maybe inside the ladder doors or inside the wheel wells of particular aircraft.

FYI: When one squadron puts their squadron decal on other squadron's aircraft/equipment, it is called zapping.

I think that detailing like this was never supposed to be picked apart. Star Wars was probably believed to be a one-off. Although Lucas has some hope to continue the story, I don't think he ever thought it would develop this type of fandom. As a result, the visuals of the movie are designs that revoke a response. In short, form over function.

In the case of the rebel pilot, it was simply taking what Lucas saw in the the real world and adding the Star Wars spin to it. So if you look at such helmets like this...

... We can speculate that the look of helmets may be tied with military or non-military (or both) personal preferences. On a production standpoint, once a symbol was made, they probably made many of them and just placed them a mix of different decals in different locations to make the various custom helmet designs.
As for Luke's helmet, it was to tell the actors apart, same as why their faces are exposed.

Well there is some debate on that. The other story is that the planned face mask that they were going to use (and what the chest box has e was suppose to plug into) was scrapped due to lack of time. However it would strengthen the reason why it was important to have individual designed helmets.

Whatever ideas you guys all have, I can tell you that Red Five's helmet is similar to Luke's (though not exactly the same) I suspect deliberately so.

But it too also has the star symbol on the side:

A lot of the world building in the first movie was put in by the art department, not Lucas. So all the little stories hinted at by the helmet markings and the fighter markings were really created by the art department and model builders. Then, when subsequent films used different art departments, a lot of that story telling got lost because it was never "official." Even little things like the Y-Wings being all greebled up because they'd been "chopped and shopped" by the Rebellion got lost, first by reusing the models in ESB and ROTJ, and then eventually being turned into "the Rebellion stole a bunch of ex-Imperial ships just before they got scrapped" by SW:Rebels.

I agree that it was WEG that turned the "starbird" into the Rebel symbol. WEG did a lot of that sort of thing, taking any little detail they could find and expanding it to epic proportions. And of course, SW:Rebels has canonised the idea that the starbird was widespread across the Rebellion. Well, that works well enough, real-world mass movements tend to have that sort of symbology associated with them.

The Imperial symbol evolved too - if you look closely, in the first movie only Death Star crew wear that symbol. By ESB it had turned into an emblem for the entire Empire. That's one to blame on the new art department or Lucas, though, not any 3rd party or EU stuff.

But anyway - in the first movie, any "standardisation" we see owes more to that movie being about a single Rebel cell that probably mostly came from the same background and sourced its equipment from a small number of ... er, sources.

As for Luke's helmet - I suspect the idea was that it was supposed to be the original Red 5's helmet that Luke was borrowing because it was available. And of course, as noted the Doylist reason for the decorations was to help us recognise Luke. Whereas the symbol blue-on-white were visual code for "this person is cannon fodder." Like a red tunic on Star Trek. (I also have a vague memory of reading an interview where someone said a last minute change meant they had to double the number of helmets in a hurry, and the simple blue-on-white ones come from that. I haven't been able to track that down again though so I might be misremembering.)
The Imperial symbol evolved too - if you look closely, in the first movie only Death Star crew wear that symbol.
the Tie Fighter pilot doesnt count? or the scanning crew? I think the two symbols were supposed to be used for a reason.

I agree that the production prop crews were largely responsible for some little details, but George was always big on story.. so whoever did it, there must have been some kind of idea behind it. And the original story boils down to rebels versus empire. So the story of the helmet symbology probably boils down to having that origin and taken from some real life example.
Whatever ideas you guys all have, I can tell you that Red Five's helmet is similar to Luke's (though not exactly the same) I suspect deliberately so.

But it too also has the star symbol on the side:
yes it does. and it is very similar to the earlier slash later design of Luke.... that takes me to the Rogue One problem. The director. We saw what happened with the next movie he was involved in... so we know there had to be some blunders in this one, and this Red Five issue is one. Both Red Five and his fighter are destroyed. So the whole thought of the hand-me-down fighter and uniform probably meant in the original trilogy, is now a terrible problem in the story to those who take a deeper look.

True, George did not intend for things to get this deep. And the Star Wars story was intended to be short lived. But its not now.. so somewhere in the operation some failures were made causing this.

And the EU, as mentioned earlier, came later, after A New Hope, and in many cases, later than Empire or Jedi. I know the animations and the other side stories were to somewhat rectify some issues, but the Luke issue is still an issue, regardless of who thinks what it should have been. I happened to always be on the side of the hand-me-down idea, but lately since going down the pilot rabbit hole, i have still issues since he would have eventually come up with his own being the figure he was to the rebellion. Unless someone decides to write specifically about it all, and i cannot see that happening, it will remain an opinion and not settled anywhere.

At any rate, i love to create my own designs to use in my helmets.. so the ones used previously dont really matter but for reference and for some ideas. Except for Red Leader... that helmet is a treasure in my opinion. Its a great looking helmet that i want to recreate.

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