Regardless if it’s a Cold War or a Clone War, it’s the grunts that take a beating on the ground so getting them in and out of harm’s way – whether by kicking up dust in South East Asia or dropping out of the hanger of an Acclamator-class planetary assault ship – is the job of the aerial troop transport.
Uniquely filling that role in the Star Wars galaxy, the Low Altitude Assault Transport was a highly adaptable utility gunship that took part in the Clone Wars, from start to finish. Following the rise of the Galactic Empire, most LAATs were absorbed into the Imperial Navy (though few ended up in the hands of various resistance organizations).
Most famous of the LAAT family – a small collection of adaptable, lightly armed and armored carriers that included the LAAT/c (designed to transport an AT-TE walker), the hard-dealed Space Gunship, and the LAAT/le (a civilian model used for law enforcement on Coruscant) – was the infantry version.
Known formally as the Low Altitude Assault Transport/infantry – and colloquially as the Republic gunship, Republic attack gunship and assault gunship – the Grand Army of the Republic’s favorite ferry provided transport for ground troops, as well as air-to-ground and air-to-air cover.
Capable of carrying thirty troopers that could be dispersed via two large bay doors, or four speeder bikes that used a rear ramp, they were armed with three anti-personnel laser turrets, two top-mounted missiles, four composite-beam, pin-point laser turrets, and air-to-air missiles on each wing. As the Clone Wars progressed, their crews decorated them with nose art to personalize their aircraft.
Within the LEGO Star Wars universe, the LAAT has been represented in two forms: the infantry and carrier versions. Initially forming part of the Attack of the Clones collection in 2002, the LAAT (with the exception of the recently released 75309 Republic Gunship) has been produced as part of the Clone Wars collection since 2008.
With the five small-scale versions of the Republic Gunship, already covered it’s time to take a look at the System-scale versions.
7163 Republic Gunship
The progenitor of all that followed, the very first 7163 Republic Gunship was released in at the start of April 2002 – a month or so ahead of the worldwide theatrical release of Attack of the Clones. It’s place, along with the other sets that came out as part of the early Attack of the Clones collection, wasn’t made clear from the trailer and fans had to wait until the movie came out to discover what this minivan’s role was.
Typical of the build standard at the time, the LEGO version was boxier than its streamlined source. But that was OK because our expectations weren’t as heightened then as they are today.
The set captured all the necessary detail and features – the angled wings, the harpoon-like twin dorsal missile launchers, side gunner bubbles, swinging side doors giving access to the troop compartment, tandem double-bubble cockpits, and characteristically bulbous nose with chin guns.
Included with the model were five minifigures (two Super Battle Droids, two Clonetroopers, and an un-named Jedi Knight) and a brick-built Destroyer Droid.
Most importantly it had a hidden handle at the rear which could be used to realistically swoosh this tactical transport craft into the heat of battle.
At 22.5 inches (56.7 cm) in length, this 693 piece set was the shortest of the three minifigure-scale Republic gunships released to date.
7676 Republic Attack Gunship
Updated in 2008, the next iteration – 7676 Republic Attack Gunship – was given a more aggressive name, nearly a hundred more parts and two more minifigures, and released as part of the Clone Wars collection which supported the new animated TV series.
At 25.6 inches (65 cm) it was significantly longer than the one that came out six years earlier, and as a nod to the growing mythology of the Republic’s clone army, it came with a sticker sheet that had two different nose art decals that allowed fans to recreate the Lucky Lekku and Crumb Buster gunships.
Included with this new Republic Gunship were five minifigures – four of which were brand new and had face prints based on the cartoonish style of The Clone Wars animated show. On top of these were two brick-built spy probes.
Gone was the swoosh handle, which was replaced by a set of flick missiles, and the side gunner pods were exchanged for a medical healing chamber that was more in keeping with the approach LEGO was taking with the primary focus of The Clone Wars in order to maintain their core company values. In addition, this set came with a speeder bike that could be deployed from the rear ramp.
75021 Republic Gunship
Moving forwarding time to 2013, but jumping backward in the Star Wars timeline to Attack of the Clones, 75021 Republic Gunship reflected the very start of the intra-galactic war that began on Geonosis.
With the piece count lowered to 1004, and at just under 19 inches (48 cm) this model was markedly smaller than the two previous versions. However, the ratio of its length and width more closely matched the stumpiness of the on-screen version.
Re-incorporating the side gunner pods, and keeping the flick missiles and speeder bike, the absence of the nose art stickers was noticeable – but fully explained by the fact that the clone army hadn’t begun to express their individuality as the war progressed.
It did come with seven proper minifigures – five of which – Anakin Skywalker in his padawan robes, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Padme with a torn shirt, a Clone Pilot and a Clone Trooper Captain – and that replicated the action sequence in the Geonosis arena.
Since the release of this last Republic Gunship, there have been no additions to the LAAT/i fleet, marking this as one of the longest gaps between System-scale redesigns – an eight-year hiatus that has left fans and collectors calling out for an update.
What is your favorite Republic gunship, are you satisfied with the new Ultimate Collector Version or did you want to see a minifigure-scale update instead? Share your thoughts and comments below.
Fervent documentarian, effusive AFOL and founding partner, Jeremy manages the daily news content and set reviews.
Having enjoyed playing with LEGO from his earliest years, Jeremy started collecting LEGO Star Wars in 1999 when the theme was first released. He has shared his thoughts and opinions on LEGO via a number of websites – including starwars.com, rebelscum.com and brickset.com – contributed to the LEGO Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary series and served the LEGO Ambassador Network as a Recognised LEGO Fan Media representative.