The Iconic Death Star Trench Battle Was Invented By A Lazy Model Maker
The Meridian Trench that wraps around the Death Star is not only the setting of one of the most thrilling climactic sequences in cinematic history; it's also responsible for a generation of adults who still daydream about unrealistic space dogfights to this day. And it wouldn't have existed at all, had it not been for a single model maker feeling a bit lazy one afternoon in the early 1970s.
To be fair, he was only mimicking the laziness of the Death Star's fictional designer.
Although virtually none of his work appears on film, model maker and spaceship designer to the gods Colin Cantwell was instrumental in the early pre-visualization days of Star Wars. You see, before many of the iconic vessels/future action figures featured in Star Wars found their way to the big screen, Cantwell built concept models for George Lucas to hold in his hands and study, which is a term here meaning "run around the house while making race car noises."
This included an early model of the Death Star, but there was a glaring problem with Cantwell's model: The material Cantwell used to form the Death Star's iconic "that's no moon" shape had a tendency to shrink, which caused the two dome-shaped halves of the model to not quite meet up in the middle, leaving an unsightly gap around its equator.
"Don't shame me. #RealSpaceStations #RealBodies"
Cantwell had previous experience with this precise issue, but in order to fix it, he would have to fill that goddamn seam with putty and sand it smooth, which is something he absolutely did not want to do, because it would take a super long time and there was beer to be drunk. So, he called up George Lucas and suggested that George rewrite the final battle scene in Star Wars to include a thrilling sequence in the giant crack in his model that was totally part of the original design and in no way just a mistake that he didn't feel like fixing.