By Lexor Adams and Nicholas Haberling
"Master Sifo-Dyas requested the most powerful army in the galaxy. We have worked with only the best shipbuilders to fulfill that request." - Lama Su
In Star Wars: Attack of the Clones we discover that a large army of elite clone troopers has been created in secret. The premise for this series is: would it be possible for the creation of such a large clone army to be kept secret, given its large cost?
In the first part of the series we came up with an estimate for the number of clones created by the Battle of Geonosis (which is when the clones became public knowledge) and the cost to raise and train these clones. This is only part of the cost of creating a clone army though. These clones all need equipment and transportation to move from one planet to another, land, and fight once they land. The first step to determine the cost of equipping the clones is to determine the number and types of vehicles needed to fully equip them. That’s what we’ll attempt to determine this week.
Unfortunately, the Star Wars canon is not extremely specific regarding a lot of numbers surrounding military units (a problem we mentioned last week regarding the number of clones and 1.2 million units, which we decided to interpret as 1.2 million battalions so the number made sense in terms of the scale of the Star Wars universe). There are no exact numbers given for how many ships made up each clone fleet, how many total ships were built for the clones, and what the makeup of a clone fleet was in terms of classes of ships. So buckle in for a little guesswork and some hyperspace jumps.
Our method hinges on George Lucas stating that elements of Star Wars space battles were inspired by World War II combat. Logically, this makes sense. World War II is the last time there were mass troop movements and landings via ship. Engaging in intergalactic combat requires methods of moving troops across vast distances, the ability to land troops on planets, and the ability to conduct combat in space (similar mission sets to those found in World War II...transporting troops across oceans, landing troops from the ocean, naval battle, and so on).
To get the general idea of a Clone Wars era Star Wars fleet composition, we looked at the number and types of ships in the US Navy following the end of World War II, when ships were at their peak number. We then matched these ships with what seemed most appropriate in the Star Wars Universe to come up with the proportion of each type of ship in a high functioning World War II era Navy. This was relatively straightforward as the equivalents were somewhat easily decided upon based on size and role. The one ship we revised the numbers for was the Venator. The US Navy in World War II included three possible Venator equivalents: battleships, fleet carriers, and escort carriers. The battleships and fleet carriers are straightforward role equivalents for the Venator (battleships were ship to ship, while fleet carriers carried fighters and bombers, similarly the Venator is the capital ship and primary large ship to ship battlecraft in the Clone Fleet and also the primary carrier of fighters). Escort carriers pose a problem because their use in World War II was solely out of haste. Escort carriers were created by converting merchant ships to play a carrier role. They were slower and less well armed than the purpose built fleet carriers. In World War II’s circumstances they made sense; but, for a well prepared military being outfitted in advance there would be no reason to create this type of carrier. With this in mind, we decided to half the number of escort carriers (71 down to 35) and apply this number. We wanted to take into account the need for carriers beyond just the fleet carriers (we couldn’t ignore the role of escort carriers); but, we also wanted to account for the fact purpose built carriers would perform the role of carrier better than a rapid conversion, reducing the need for as many. The 2:1 ratio is, admittedly, arbitrary but it seems in line with the 28 fleet carriers.
Based on this, we came up with the approximate fleet composition ratio of: 86 Venators, 449 Acclamators, 361 Arquitens, 833 Consulars, and 1267 Peltas.
The next step was to determine how this extended to the entire clone fleet. There is some information about the crewing of Clone War ships and the number of vehicles and troops they can carry. We used these estimates to come up with a best guess of how many crew and troops could be carried by each ship. The ability to carry vehicles and the crewing for said vehicles (e.g. 36 ARC-170s, each with a crew of 3, on a Venator means 108 ARC-170 pilots/crew) was incorporated into this, at an assumption of full crewing for each ship and full crewing for all the vehicles each ship could carry. The full calculations can be found in the attached spreadsheet. We carried this out for all the ships in the fleet and then multiplied the troop numbers by the number of ships in the previous “ratio fleet”. This came out to a total number of 10,448,093 troops per "ratio fleet".
Last week we estimated at the beginning of the Battle of Geonosis there were 137,280,000 clones.
137,280,000 clones / 10,448,093 clones in “ratio fleet” = 13 total "ratio fleets"
This means we have to multiply the ship ratio numbers earlier by 13 to fill the fleet at the calculated crewing levels. This lead to final numbers of: 1130 Venators, 5900 Acclamators, 4743 Arquitens, 10945 Consulars, and 16647 Peltas geared for war by the Battle of Geonosis.
The numbers we have come up with for our clone fleets are at a scale not seen in the Star Wars movies or TV shows. While we hope to find answers that feel authentic within the movie’s universe, we are open to the possibility that there are numerical inconsistencies in the canon or that the canon is accurate and the films only show a portion of the entire universe. Given some statements regarding the size of the Star Wars universe it would be impossible to show even a fraction of it in the films. Star Wars follows a small set of characters caught in the midst of galaxy-wide conflict. In our series we could be seeing a larger scale view of the galaxy than can be shown in a few hours on screen.
Next week we’ll begin coming up with cost estimates for the clones’ ships and equipment. If you listen closely you can hear credits falling into the coffers of the InterGalactic Banking Clan.