HK Theorem

The HK Theorem, typically known as Han Knew, posits that Han Solo was in fact aware of Bigger Luke's existence. As such, Han Knew exists as a subset of the Canon Luke Hypothesis. HK Theorists hold that the primary evidence of this stems from Han Solo's "rescue" of Luke Skywalker at the end of the trench run. During this scene, at least one of the quad laser turrets fires three shots at one of Darth Vader's TIE Fighter Escorts. It is postulated that it was in fact Bigger Luke manning one of the turret who fired these shots, and not Chewbacca as commonly believed.


Chewbacca's Station

The commonly held belief that it was Chewie manning the quad laser turret during the eponymous rescue scene in A New Hope was first, and possibly only, called into question by Bigger Luke Theorists

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Was it in fact Bigger Luke who was responsible for firing these three galaxy saving shots?

When Han Solo is first seen, the camera does not show whether or not Chewbacca is sitting next to him, as the camera is too far zoomed in on Han to see enough of the cockpit. As such, it is unknown at face value whether Chewie is in fact sitting next to Han prior to the post-Death Star detonation scene where Han Solo states "Great shot kid that was one in a million!". This is the first confirmed instance of Chewie sitting next to Han during this sequence of events. The big question is whether or not Chewbacca was always next to Han Solo.

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The last of the three laser bolts happens at approximately 1 hour, 53 minutes, and 53 seconds into the film. As it is unknown what distance the Falcon was from this frame, the exact time it was fired is unknown, and therefore the last possible timeframe Chewbacca could have been at the quad laser turret cannot be precisely determined, only estimated. It can be assumed however the time is not that far off at worst.

A little over 39 seconds is the minimal time needed for Chewbacca to make it from a quad laser battery - likely the lower one considering the Falcon's presumed orientation to the Death Star - to his seat in the Falcon's cockpit. However, it is unlikely that Chewbacca would have immediately gotten up after firing the last of the three shots. Chewie likely remained at his post for a while after until it was clear a gunner was no longer needed. On the other hand, it is distinctly possible that Chewie was needed in the cockpit for some unknown task, and therefore would have quickly gotten up and made his way to the cockpit after firing the last bolt.

However, throughout the years dedicated Lukers have tried but have been unable to come up with a pressing task requiring Chewie's know-how at the copilot's seat.

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The first confirmed instance of Chewbacca being at his station in the Falcon's cockpit. This happens approximately 1 hour, 54 minutes, and 32 seconds into the film. Therefore, if Chewbacca was indeed at a quad laser station, it can be estimated there was only slightly over 39 seconds of time for him to make it from the quad laser to the cockpit. This is, of course, presuming he got up instantly after firing the third bolt.

How long would it have taken for Chewbacca to go from his quad laser station to his place in the cockpit?

The pressing question of how long it would take for Chewbacca to climb up (or perhaps down) one of the quad laser battery's latters, walk from the center of the falcon and to the cockpit, and take his seat in the co-pilot position requires knowledge of three factors.

  • The layout of the Millenium Falcon
  • A healthy adult wookie's maximum running and walking speed
  • Chewbacca's pace

Unfortunately, only the first factor is known. Whilst many layouts of the Falcon do indeed exist, the other factors remain unknown to this day, as no source material references exist.

Of course, suppositions can be made. It can be assumed that an adult wookie, being much stronger than a human, is probably capable of running faster than a human. Having evolved on the planet Kashyyyk, wookies would have had to deal with many dangerous predators. Despite being arboreal, wookies were good swimmers. This implies at the very least decent leg strength. From all these suppositions we can assume wookies have a higher top running speed than a human - however, it remains a mystery whether chewbacca was running at all. It's possible he wasn't urgently needed at the cockpit.

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The red line indicates the shortest and most concise path from the quad laser batteries to Chewie's co-pilot position in the Falcon's cockpit.

The Millenium Falcon - like all YT-1300 freighters - is 34.75 meters long. The most direct route from the quad laser batteries to the cockpit is an approximately 7.20 meter long walk. From watching the Star Wars trilogy, it is apparent that - unless Chewbacca was adjusting his pace to keep up with his human compatriots - a wookie's average walking speed was quite possibly the same as a human's. Indeed, even if this assumption was incorrect, we could assume chewie was so used to walking with Han Solo that he would default to this pace.

The average human walking speed is 1.4 m/s. This means from the quad laser junction it would take approximately 5 seconds at an average walking pace to reach the cockpit. However, one must take into account the time it takes to climb the ladders to and fro the turret stations.

Analyzing the scene of the Millenium Falcon's combat with the quaternate of TIE Fighters towards the trailing end of A New Hope, it can be deduced that, at a brisk pace, it takes approximately 4 seconds to climb one of the ladders to ether of the quad laser turrets

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It takes approximately 4 seconds at a brisk pace to climb the ladder to and fro the gun stations of the Millenium Falcon. Of interest here is that Luke is taking the lower gunner position. If it was in fact Bigger Luke who fired the game changing volley during the later trench run, then it would also be logical that this is also, in fact, Bigger Luke in this earlier scene as well. As mentioned prior, the Falcon's orientation towards the Death Star logically implies the lower gunner's seat being the optimal position to target Vader's escort formation. Bigger Luke would have had experience in the lower gunner's position if this is in fact him.

All in all, it would take at minimal approximately 9 seconds for Chewbacca to reach the cockpit - and that is merely if he was walking. At first glance, this would seem to nullify the theory that it was in fact Bigger Luke who fired that fateful volley by simply applying Occam's Razor. Most Bigger Luke Theorists carry anti-HK Theorem tendencies for this very reason.

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The full 9 seconds of Chewie's possible journey from a quad laser post to his copilot's position in the cockpit of the Falcon.

However, just because Chewbacca COULD have been in the gunner's chair doesn't mean he WAS. Thematically speaking it is entirely possible Chewbacca was always in his seat.


The Star Wars Holiday Special

Consider the Star Wars Holiday Special which was released November 1978. At around 23 minutes into the special the Falcon, on its way to Kashyyyk - Chewbacca's and by extent the Wookie home planet - comes under attack by Imperial TIE Fighters. During this entire sequence Chewbacca is at the copilots seat with Han Solo whilst at least the lower of the Millenium Falcon's two quad laser batteries is not only firing at but also turning to precisely track and engage the enemy TIEs.

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As one can see from this abridged clip of the battle, Chewbacca is definitely not at any of the quad laser turrets.

Whilst Expanded Universe sources do in fact confirm the quad laser batteries of the Falcon can be fired remotely, said sources also state that this does not include rotating and aiming the guns, as the guns in this scenario would be fired from a fixed forward position in a manner similar to the guns on most fighter craft such as X-Wings and TIE Fighters. Detractors from the HK Theorem also point out that there is no evidence whatsoever that either of the guns on the Millenium Falcon were rotating let alone needed to be rotating during the heroic rescue of Luke during the Trench Run. We don't at all know what trajectory the Falcon followed towards the trench.

Indeed, perhaps the biggest death knell to the HK Theorem is during this exact same clip from the Star Wars Holiday Special that would appear at face value to confirm it: at about 24 and a half minutes in, Han Solo states that he "lost control of the remote cannons". This would appear to confirm not only that they could be controlled remotely as stated in multiple sources, but can in fact be aimed remotely, or perhaps even an AI system can aim the guns - an extremely plausible possibility considering the existence of advanced artificial intelligences in the Star Wars galaxy such as droids.


Broader Implications

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