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A dozen of these modified airspeeders become the Rebel Alliance's last line of defense when Echo Base on Hoth is assaulted by Imperial walkers. Nicknamed "snowspeeders," they delay the Imperial onslaught long enough to let the Alliance leaders escape. Snowspeeders are powered by a pair of repulsorlift drive units and high-powered afterburners. Mechanical braking flaps located above each repulsor engine housing assist in tight maneuvers.

Snowspeeders can go more than 1,000 kilometers per hour, with an effective combat speed of about 600 kilometers per hour. While they lack shields, their compact size and speed make them hard to target. For combat duty, snowspeeders are fitted with heavy armor plating and twin laser cannons. A snowspeeder seats a forward-facing pilot and a gunner who sits with his back to the pilot. Computerized targeting systems allow the gunner to target the forward laser cannons.

Against the heavy armor of the lumbering Imperial AT-ATs, the snowspeeder lasers can cause little damage, and Commander Luke Skywalker must resort to more innovative tactics to delay the invasion of Echo Base.

A rear-mounted harpoon gun with tow cable serves the snowspeeder for cargo sled retrieval and hauling. Luke Skywalker puts this into use against the AT-ATs-or plans to, until his ship is shot down in battle. It is then up to fellow Rogue Squadron pilot Wedge Antilles to try for the first victory of snowspeeder against Imperial walker.