The Z-95 Headhunter is one of the most common fighters in the galaxy despite the fact that the design is older than most starfighter pilots. The starfighter is maneuverable, and its durability is legendary. Headhunters often are found in planetary police forces, and many pirate and outlaw groups use these ships.
The prototype for the Z-95 was Onyx Star, developed at the Bahalian Shipyards. Developed in a cooperative venture between Incom Industries (now the Incom Corporation) and the now-defunct Subpro Corporation before the Clone Wars, the Z-95 is largely recognized as the premiere starfighter of its era, and the forerunner of the Incom/Subpro ARC-170 and the incredibly successful Incom T-65 X-wing starfighter.
The original Z-95 Mark I Headhunter was designed as an atmospheric fighter craft that could be adapted to space travel. Mark
I Headhunters are twin-engined swing-wing craft. The bubble cockpit gives the pilot a clear field of vision. Z-95s typically
have a set of triple blasters on each wing. While the Z-95 Mark I isn't fast enough for space combat, their maneuverability
Countless variant Z-95 models have been built because the ship's technology is well understood, and starship mechanics have no problems modifying the ships. Among the most common variants were the Z-95C4d, a ground support bomber equipped with additional bomb-racks and ordnance hard-points. The Z-95ER was an extended range model, with additional consumable tankages. The Z-95ML was a missile launch platform, with added missile racks and long-range ordnance hard-points. The Z-95XT was a two-person fighter used as a trainer. The Rebel Alliance used the XT as a training vessel as well as for ferrying runs in-system or between ships in the fleet.
These later-era Z-95s had a basic configuration that strongly hinted at the T-65 X-wing that was to soon take the galaxy by storm. A thin, pointed spaceframe rested between two large engine clusters, from which foils extended outward. The tips of the foils typically housed the primary weapons (usually blasters or laser weapons) while the fuselage provided a more stable platform for missile weapons. Later in the production run, the Z-95-AF4 (Assault Fighter 4) featured twin engine clusters that split into a total of four engine thrusters, much like the modern X-wing. They have been refitted with Incom 2a fission engines and armed with two Taim & Bak KX5 laser cannons and a pair of Krupx MG5 concussion-missle launchers. These later Headhunters also had the capability of splitting the foils into attack position, widening the coverage area of the wing-mounted weapons.
Each generation of Z-95 has increased in speed. Compared to today's fighters, Z-95s have low maneuverability. The Mark I, with its aerodynamic styling, offered a greater airspeed-to-space speed ratio than later models.
Z-95s are typically not equipped with hyperdrive engines, though famed Republic (and later Alliance) tactician Adar Tallon developed a variant -- the Z-95t -- which featured a class 3 hyperdrive, and increased maneuverability. Later Z-95s did feature an Incom Gbk-435 hyperdrive motivator, and a Narmox Zr-390 navicomputer system.
The Z-95 Headhunter is notorious for being able to take brutal punishment before falling apart, though as starfighter weapon technology has progressed, Headhunter pilots would rather trust their flying than their armor and shields. Z-95s have respectable armor plating, but their shielding tends to be very light. Near the end of the product line, Z-95s could boast a titanium alloy hull and XoLyyn shielding.
Weapons systems vary among the different models, but most Z-95s are equipped with two wing-mounted triple-blasters, which are fire-linked. Another common weapon systems are a bank of concussion missiles. The dedicated missile platform Z-95s, of course, had increased payloads.
A common model featured twin Taim & Bak KX5 fire-linked laser cannons, and twin Krupx MG5 concussion missile launchers. These weapons are controlled through a Fabritech ANq 2.4 tracking computer and SI 5g8 "Quickscan" vector imaging system. Sensor systems include a Fabritech ANS-5c unit with long-range Phased Tachyon Detection Array #PA-9r and one short range Primary Threat Analysis Grid model #PG-7u.
Z-95s are good choice for defensive missions. Stripped-down Headhunters armed with concussion missles can be used as assault ships. The Rebel Alliance used a number of Z-95 Headhunters for training missions because a pilot familiar with the controls of a Headhunter can quickly adapt to an X-wing or Y-wing. Remote Alliance bases also used Z-95s for defense to supplement Y-wing fighters.
It was known to have participated in the Outer Rim Sieges against the Confederacy of Independent Systems. After the war, the Z-95 would fall into the hands of parties other than the newly-formed Galactic Empire, such as pirates and other underworld groups.
Han Solo flew a Z-95 Mark I when he led the defense of an outlaw-tech base against Corporate Sector Authority fighters. Solo used the Z-95's superior atmospheric capabilities to good advantage against the Authority's sluggish IRD fighters. However, by this period, they were considered obsolete compared to other fighters.
The Rebellion's Tala Squadron used Headhunters in a close air support role. The temporary Alliance covert squadron, Bandit Squadron, also used Z-95s. The m'Yalfor'ac Order in Guiteica was also known to use these by-then obsolete fighters around 2
years after the Battle of Yavin. N'dru Suhlak piloted a Z-95 with an expanded cockpit to carry passengers.
Jaina Solo's first ship, Crystal, was also a Z-95 Headhunter, and Jaden Korr flew a hyperdrive-equipped Headhunter on missions to different worlds such as Bakura and Korriban. Another prominent member of the New Republic to use a Headhunter was Tycho Celchu, during the reforming of Rogue Squadron.