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Hoth Astromechs

Echo Base on the ice planet of Hoth played a major role in allowing the rebel forces to regroup and continue the fight against the Empire. It was also loaded with astromechs, almost all of which can be seen in the hangar.

This first image is a wideshot showing the location of 5 astromechs. In the lower right, you see an orange R3 unit. Above him, at the back end of the X-Wing, you can see an orange marked R2 unit. Above and to the left of him, you can just make out the black striped dome of an R4 unit that is discussed below. Further back and to the right of the R4 is an R2 unit with yellow dome panels and black leg panels. Even further to the back is a red marked R2 unit.

Next we have a fantastic shot taken at the same time as the first image, but from the back of the X-Wing. You can still see the orange R2 at the back of the X-Wing in the first image in the lower right. The black-striped R4 is much clearer now in the center. Another orange R3 unit is visible to the back right. It appears that it is very similar to the one which is at the front of the X-Wing (now out of frame), but it has distinct differences I will get to below. The yellow & blue/black R2 unit is still mostly blocked in this image, but the red marked R2 unit at the top of the shot is very clear.

A new image of the same droids.

Above is a shot of the furthest back four droids in the two shots wide shots above. The R4 unit is very clear, and is discussed below. Just behind him and two the left we see the top of an R2 unit's dome with yellow panels. This is that droid marked "Yellow R2" in the wide shots. You can just see that it has a black stripe around the base of its dome. You can also see the red R2 unit at the back as well as the orange R3 unit.

The Case of the Orange R3s

Keith K made up this handy graphic and sent it in a while back. Take a look!

One of the most confusing things you encounter when trying to sort out all of the various astromechs found on Hoth is the fact that there are, in fact, three different R3 units with at least some orangish markings. Fortunately one of those is located in the control room, so we can deal with that one later. The other two I will distinguish below.

Not R3-A2 - Top Back Panel Orange

Above you can see the orange R3 unit that is at the front of the X-Wing in the foreground of the first image. It's main distinguishing charateristics are that the only the top panel on its back is painted orange, and that it has only three of the "wedges" on the top of its clear dome painted orange.

Here's a neat top down view of this R3 in position in front of the X-Wing. Thanks to Keith K. for scanning this from an old Empire magazine.

R3-A2 - Bottom Back Panels Orange

Below are images of the orange R3 unit seen in the background of the second image at the top of the page, in the center of the hangar, in front of the Millenium Falcon. It's distinguishing characteristics are that the top panel on its back is not painted orange, but is outlined in black, while all of the lower panels on its back are painted orange.

New pic! Regular contributor Daniel discovered this cool behind-the-scenes image of EV-9D9 and BG-J38 being prepped for filming Return of the Jedi. Of special interest to us is the clear image of the back of an R3 unit!

The only R3s that appeared in ROTJ were the two on the Home One, and this droid does not quite match up with either of those droids. At first glance, it would seem that the dark painted leg and back panels match up best with the orange briefing R3, but note the narrowly painted "frame" of the top back panel, which the hangar shot of the orange Home One droid lacks, and that this droid has two of the bottom back panels painted orange, where the ROTJ droid has only one. The second Home One R3 unit has an all-white leg, which this unit clearly lacks. So the only conclusion is that this droid did *not* appear in Return of the Jedi, but instead is R3-A2(b) *before* being repainted for use in ROTJ.

Below are three last images of the orange R3 units found in the hangar portion of Echobase. The first is almost certainly the second R3 unit pictured above, located, as it is, amongst the bustling throng of rebel troops running around the center of the hangar. The second is the well know image of "R3-A2," which Hasbro made as an action figure. As the figure has all the back panel painted except for the top center one, it is most likely this particular R3. Notice that the dome does not have the R2-style radar "eye," which only appears on prequel R3 units. UPDATE! The third is another picture sent in by Rick from Spain. It was taken taken at a London store in 1980 by Alex Dacrates Howard. The interesting thing is the gray front panel colors! You can't really see the front of any of the orange R3s clearly in the hangar, so it looks like one has all orange panels, and one has grey & orange panels. Which is which?


Here are images of the R4 unit present on Hoth. It's dome markings appear similar to R4-M9's, but are actually very different. First, it has black markings, not green. Second, it is missing R4-M9's front vertical stripes, but does has a broad vertical stripe on its back. Third, while it does have the same two vertical stripes on the front of its dome as R4-M9, if you look carefully, you'll see that it also has a stripe on each side of its dome, which R4-M9 does not have. (If you look closely, you can see that these two stripes do not fully extend to the base of the dome.) Fourth, the stripe on the back of the dome alligns perfectly with the torso's back stripe, and is also the same width, which makes it wider at the base than the other stripes. So while R4-M9 has 3 dome stripes, this R4 unit has in fact 5 dome stripes.


Below are images of the orange paneled R2 unit seen at the back of the X-Wing in the first two hangar shots at the top of the page. It's painted just like R2-D2, but with orange replacing the blue. The last image, with Luke, was found by Keith K. in an old Empire magazine.

Red R2 and Yellow & Black R2 Units

In the picture above you can see the R2 units behind the R4 unit which were pointed out in the photos at the top of the page. This enlargement shows the red R2 unit in the far back rather clearly, while the other R2 unit to the left is mostly blocked. The red unit at the back has dark red markings on its legs, upper torso, and the top of its dome.

Here are four shots of the astrodroid labeled "Yellow R2" in the wideshots at the top of this page. It has yellowish dome markings, black or dark blue leg markings, and a black stripe around the base of the dome. The last is an enlargement of his dome from the third image from the top where you can see it's yellow panels and black stripe at the base most clearly.

Above you can see one more shot of the Red R2 droid from the wide shots above. In this shot it unquestionably looks to be an R2 unit.

Above are two shots of the same scene. If you kind of imagine them edited together, you get a view of that entire side of the hangar. On the far left, you can see the back of the black striped R4 unit, while on the right of the left image, and the left side of the right image, you can see the orange R2 unit being tended to. In the image on the right, you can see someone kneeling next to the orange R3 with the upper back panel painted in.

UPDATE! Droid fan Rachel has kindly sent in this nice black & white image of the Hoth hangar. What is cool about it is that the droids visible in the color images from the final print above seemed to have either moved or been exchanged for something else in this version of the set. The droid on the left looks like the orange R3 unit with the top panel painted white. Notice that it is now in the spot which the black striped R4 occupies in the final print, while in this image, that droid has slid further down to the right! And the orange R2 unit is nowhere to be seen. Interesting stuff. I suppose it should be expected that with all the work to be done preparing for the Imperial assault, all the astrodroids would be buzzing around with lots of work to do!

Control Room R3 Unit

The astromech pictured above has been the source of some controversy. He is, apparently, "R3-Y2," the droid that Hasbro attempted to make in the legendary Entertainment Earth exclusive astromech set. Only "R3-Y2" (pictured at bottom of page) had all of its dome and body panels painted a dark olive green, and looks nothing like this. Presumably, they took the one close up of the dome pictured above, misinterpreted it to be yellow-green, and then extrapolated that color to the droid's entire body. Bad move. As you can see, the yellowish olive color shown in that close-up is not reflective of the droid's true color scheme of yellowish-orange dome markings and vertical front body panel markings, and grey front horizontal control-arm ports and leg panels. Also note that unlike the two R3 units in the hangar itself, this R3 unit has all six dome panels painted and tightly grouped together in an R2-style fashion.

Check out this great photo from the awesome book "The Making of the Empire Strikes Back" by JW Rinzler. It is a b&w image above that shows a great deal more of the back of the control room R3. You can plainly see that the back top panel is painted a dark color, probably the same grey that the front panels and the side of the legs are painted. You can certainly see the difference in tone from the back panel and the dome panels.

UPDATE!! Y-Wing expert and astrodroid fan Sean L. sent in the cool new capture above from a cut scene on the Empire Strikes Back Blu-Ray DVD. It's really wonderful to have this image since it is a full body shot of the droid. It shows our little control-room friend out and about in the icy corridors of Echo Base. Presumably on important droid business, or dodging errant Wampas.

We hope Hasbro goes forward and makes us an accurate version of this astrodroid in all its orange & grey glory soon!

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This R5 unit looks sharp with his black dome and white body. He was released by Hasbro in a Hoth-themed battlepack in 2008. But they made an error by not leaving his left vertical chest panel white. Only the one on his right was black. Asymmetry rules!

Here's a great photo that was published in JW Rinzler's "The Making of the Empire Strikes Back." It shows us R5-M2 in position at the nose of the X-Wing in the foreground of most establishing shots taken in the hangar. You can just make out the Red R2 unit and orange R3 unit in the left side of the image.

Another image Keith K. found in an old Empire magazine.


Guest essay by droid fan Justin!

An important piece of information for the Unified Hoth Astromech Theory is that the hangar is actually one set dressed twice. One dressing is the “snowspeeder staging area,” seen when Han first enters the base, when Zev or another Rogue returns from rescuing Han and Luke, and twice when the snowspeeders are scrambled to fight the walkers (once with Luke, once with another batch of pilots, but no droids are visible in the latter scene anyway). The other dressing is meant to represent a deeper part of the hangar, where the Falcon is berthed, and is the dressing present whenever the Falcon is in the shot. Obviously the Falcon exterior did not move (they just built the needed sets around it), so either the snowspeeder scenes were shot before the Falcon was constructed, or the film crew carefully positioned itself to avoid the part where the Falcon was. The main difference between the two sets is that an X-wing is parked in the middle of the hangar for the Falcon set shots. The “sensorscope” scene is from the entrance of the Falcon set.

Another important piece is that once one of the dressings was up, the crew would have shot everything needed at one time, moving props as needed to give a sense of different time. However, the droids tend to stay in the same places, at most turned around. The scenes where Han talks to a welding Chewie and where Princess Leia addresses the pilots have their astromechs in almost the same places, for example. The best way to tell photos from these two scenes apart is to look for R-3PO: R-3PO crosses Han’s path in front and to the left of the X-wing in the entrance scene, and is wandering along the right side of the hangar in the briefing scene. Also, the R4 is front-on in the entrance scene, and side-on in the briefing scene. For the scenes directly under the Falcon, the droids were removed, as they would have been in the way.

For the snowspeeder set, the R3-A2 prop seems to stay on the near side of the hangar, and the unnamed orange R2 stays in about the same place on the far side, with the striped R4 switching from the left to the right of the far side.


R3-P5 – R3 with all five pie panels on dome colored true yellow, tall skinny panels on front of body yellow, front arms/slot/leg bars blue-grey. Only found in command center.

R3-A2 – R3 with school-bus orange detailing. Alternating pattern of top dome coloration. Tall skinny panels on front of body colored (per photo of R5-M2 with this droid at top), but not in back. Wide upper panel on back colored. Leg bars colored, ankle cylinders white, small colored details on feet. Until a definitive front picture surfaces, this droid can only be distinguished from the unnamed orange R3 by back panel coloration: the unnamed R3 has an uncolored wide upper back panel, but does have the left two panels in the middle back row colored. It is found in two places in Han’s entrance sequence: first, it is the droid on the near side of the hangar with the kneeling person in the snowspeeder set (colored back panel, clear dome); second, it is under the fuselage of the X-wing in the Falcon set. It is also visible by the scaffolding at the end of the “sensorscope” scene (colored back panel, clear dome). There may be two other sightings of it in the snowspeeder set, one each for the snowspeeder fly-in and the first scramble scene. In both cases, it is on the near side of the hangar, where it was when Han entered, except turned around.

Unnamed Orange R3 – Almost identical to R3-A2, except for back color pattern. The well-known prop photo of a school-bus orange R3 cannot be attributed to either at this time, although the set dressing may be helpful. It is best seen in the “first transport is away” scene, and following (visible in the near foreground on the far side of the snowspeeder set as Luke runs by to his fighter). It is also visible on the Falcon set during the briefing scene; soldiers and pilots run behind it. Photos from Han’s entrance on this set show it to be in about the same place, but movie seems to miss it in this scene. Is a mobile prop.

Unnamed Orange R2 – This is essentially an R2 with the R2-D2 color pattern, but with orange substituted for blue, and the following extra panels colored: the saw-door panel on the front, and the wide upper panel and central middle row panel on the back. It is present twice in Han’s entrance sequence: based on panel pattern, its position in later scenes, and the fact things don’t seem to be visible through the dome, it is the orange-colored droid on the far side of the hangar in the snowspeeder set; second, it is under the lower right engine of the X-wing in the Falcon set. It is most clearly visible from the front in the snowspeeder set, present in the near background on the far side of the hangar when Luke is running toward his fighter. It also appears to be in that same place again when the rescue snowspeeder flies by.

Unnamed Striped R4 – This unit is present in both set dressings. It is visible twice during Han’s entrance: first, its back is toward the camera on the far left side of the snowspeeder set, showing its back stripe; second, it faces the camera from under the Falcon, showing it also has a dark horizontal detail on its cone. It shows up again in the rescue speeder fly-by (now on the right side of the far side of the hangar), in the briefing scene (side to us under the Falcon), and in the first scramble scene (same position as fly-by scene).

Unnamed Yellow R2 – This R2 has yellow dome details and dark leg details. It has only been seen on the Falcon set so far, underneath the craft itself. Visible in Han’s entrance scene, the “sensorscope” scene, and the briefing scene, where it is being manhandled by two extras (were they playing with it?).

Unnamed Red R2 – This R2 has the R2-D2 pattern, but with red for blue. Briefly visible in the extreme background of the Falcon set in both Han’s entrance and the briefing scene.

R5-M2 – black-detailed R5, everyone knows and loves by now. Apparently only in one scene, near the nose of the X-wing in the Falcon set after Han dismounts from his tauntaun. Is a mobile prop.


R3-Y2 [if it is not just one of the other R3s colored from black-and-white or poor color images]

Silver/brown R5 {This droid is now identified as being located in briefing scene of ROTJ. - ed}


- R5-M2 Released in 2008 as part of the Hoth Recon battlepack. Click the image to see more photos of the figure at

- R3-A2 Released in 2003 as part of the TRU exclusive Battle of Hoth set. Click the image to see more photos of the figure at

- R3-Y2 Released in 2006 as part of the legendary Entertainment Earth astromech set. Click the image to see more photos of the figure at

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