The Evolution of Star Wars - AT-AT
By Justin McLaughlin
One of the most famous vehicles appearing in Star Wars, the All Terrain Armored Transport, first appeared in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Episode V’s reveal of the AT-AT was perfect: a distant, thundering noise coming from distant shapes on the horizon, then just a single foot through a Rebel soldier’s binoculars, then a full view of the whole squad of walkers slowly bearing down on Echo Base.
In Episode V, the AT-AT walkers comprise the main force attacking the Rebel base, but at least one AT-ST can be seen in a couple shots. From the Battle of Hoth, we can see that AT-AT walkers are nearly invulnerable to blaster fire and are slow but have a very long range.
Rogue Squadron (the Rebel defenders of Echo Base) managed to take down at least one AT-AT with a harpoon and tow cable, and Luke Skywalker took another AT-AT down single-handedly, but the Imperial attackers (Blizzard Force) eventually captured Echo Base.
One AT-AT appears briefly in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi on the moon of Endor, but this AT-AT does not participate in the battle.
In Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, the precursor to the AT-AT is the AT-TE (All Terrain Tactical Enforcer) is used extensively in the Battle of Geonosis. However, it is vulnerable to missile fire from Hailfire droids, possibly making its armor much weaker than that of the AT-AT.
In Episode III, large wheeled vehicles, called Juggernauts, appear in the Battle of Kashyyyk. According to Wookieepedia, these Juggernauts were also used in the Battle of Hoth, yet they didn’t appear in Episode V. (1)
In the Expanded Universe, illustrations from the Clone Wars conflict of Jabiim show AT-AT models that look similar to the concept art for The Empire Strikes Back. These early-stage AT-AT’s are weaker than the AT-AT’s in Episode V; they get bogged down in Jabiim’s mud, and could be taken down with blaster fire.
AT-AT concept art: