OK, I said I'd get back to this and I promise I'm trying, haha... I'm just dead tired lately. It was probably a bad idea to even bring up conversations I knew I'd have a hard time participating in like this. I'm trying though...
Well, in the Clone Wars you had two armies that were around the same size, strength, and technology level facing off against each other.
Everything I've read on the Clone Wars indicated to me the Republic's outmanned and outgunned in most cases, but the Clones are developed to be equalizers. For instance, and this is just off the top of my head because i read it just over the weekend when I picked this up, the back of the Clone Commandoes 7-pack from Hasbro indicates that Clones are expected to be the equal of 10 of their enemy... The Republic is also listed at the start of E3 as losing the war somehow too... Not a good sign, but they seem to me to be the true underdog.
I agree though that their gear is comparable... Star Wars sort of establishes a static universe in terms of technology... IE: there are attempts at advancement, but advancement is slow. This isn't like World War 2 for instance where a technology race was on by both sides, and huge advancements are made from war's start to war's end...
The Separatists, especially during the Outer Rim Sieges, were digging in and fortifying their planets with the intent of withstanding Republic attacks. Therefore, Republic strikes turned into sieges spanning several months, like the battle of Saleucami.
The concept of sieges is intriguing... But siege is a tactictal decision, not one of necessity generally. I think for every planet the CIS was dug into, there were perhaps planets the Republic was holding in a similar fashion. It just seems to me that the "front line" was fairly defined as the Outer Rim, sot he struggles were in worlds out there... The CIS changes its tactics much like in WW1 to punch into areas they feel are left vulnerable then, to put pressure on the Republic to pull from front A and move to front B... Siege though wouldn't necessarilly be a limited means of tactical advantage for any group... Thus I feel the Alliance could, and would use siege where necessary. Their issue would be facing overwhelming force, especially the further they push their base(s) into Imperial space. The closer the EMpire would have to support their siege(s)... The further out, the better off the Alliance would be, stretching IMperial supply lines... This would also work to the Alliance's efforts to attack Imperial supply fleets, the further stretched the Navy is.
What I think is happening is that the Alliance is setting up much like the CIS did, along the outer rim, trying to hold that as a "front"... At the same time, they're trying to make incursions toward the core, as deep as they can while maintaining "secrecy", thus bases like Yavin and Hoth come up that serve a purpose for attack more than defense possibly...
When the Empire was in control and fighting the Rebels, they had superior technology and armed forces. To capture most planets, all they really needed to do was march a few AT-ATs in to destroy ground defenses, and send in Storm Troopers and other units to capture the major cities/towns.
My problem with this is that there's nothing that establishes the rebels as having inferior technology or armed forces... Just less of them. Less means the tactics change but victory is acheivable. That's where my idea for the conversation here started really... "Are they 'ragtag' or are they only 'ragtag' by comparison to the Empire?"
So I see it very differently... The Empire only had to march a few AT-AT's into a planet that was lightly held... They'd still take heavy losses if the planet had the right defenses, and if they tried taking a fully fortified system the Empire would have to go to a siege format... If the Empire's forced to siege a planet like MOn Calamari, which let's say for argument is a large, and heavily fortified planet with limited access, the Alliance would be able to hold out... But like I said they're not facing the Empire on terms where they have rocks compared tot he Empire having machine guns... The Empire is facing a formidable, structured, and large army. They just outnumber them tremendously, but they've also got an Empire to maintain so they can't just abandon everywhere to fight anywhere.
Thus weapons like the Death Star are made... Why siege a planet you can simply destroy, or threaten even, to break the siege? If anything, the concept of the Alliance I'm going for/explaining reinforces WHY the Death Star was made. It's the weapon you supposedly can't fight regardless of tactics.
Siege works tot he advantage of the numerically weak... The Death Star would negate that advantage. That doesn't mean the Alliance have ****** weapons to work with, or that they couldn't have held out in a siege otherwise due to a weak military in general. Their strength is a reason to want/have a Death Star really.
Even though the Empire may have had a hard time taking Kashyyk and Mon Calamari, they decimated Rebel bases on Yavin 4 (after the Death Star blew up) and Hoth (Okay, so the Rebels weren't really ready for that one.) If the Empire tried, I believe that they could take over any planet they wanted, either with fear, superior numbers, firepower, and/or technology on their side. Holding a planet, like Kashyyk, is a different story.
Kashyyyk was maybe under martial law since E3's events... They had the invasion set, so perhaps the Wookiee home world was fighting a guerilla war from day 1 really, especially if they fought back after the Clones turned. It's possible, and negates them as an example really... Mon Calamari though really is a different egg. Assuming they didn't have an occupation force of course, they are an ideal example of maybe a MAJOR siege of the Civil War where the EMpire couldn't just waltz in and take over... But as noted, if the Alliance isn't inferior ina nything but numbers, they could've held out on Mon Calamari for an extended time... Especially if Mon Calamari is tactically difficult to get to, distant from the core, etc.
As noted though... technology is stagnant, or so Star Wars seems to be... Numbers are unequal but numbers become less of an issue depending on variables. Firepower seems impossible to determine since it was apparant from the films that the Empire couldn't just walk in an pummel you into submission, so there must be defenses to protect against planetary bombardment on some (maybe not all) planets. The Death Star became much more a necessity it seems to me, than anything.
Regarding the technology issue, if the Empire's technology wasn't superior, would they be building things like Super Star Destroyers, gigantic, Super Lasers capable of destroying large starships and even planets , and Interdictor Cruisers equipped with gravity well generators?
The Death Star is the only "technology" I'll give you on this argument... Otherwise, who is to say a Super Star Destroyer is any more intimidating than a regular one? It, as a ship, is just a larger version of an Imperator... Again this goes to the concept of a stagnant technology advancement concept... A SSD is bigger, has more weaponry, etc., but at the end of the day it's JUST bigger... It's no more capable of destroying a well defended planet than a starfighter would be really. It's impresisve, it adds something to a fleet perhaps, but it's not a real technological "edge" at all. Perhaps SSD's were even developed to free up other ships, make smaller fleets, and aid in needed supplies leaving the core for the outer worlds wehre the fighting goes on... Again supporting the idea the Empire's getting stretched thin.
Interdictor Cruisers aren't an advantage that the Alliance necessarilly does without either... The Interdictor is a form of weaponry, but the Alliance could just as easily make craft or weapons to pull a fleet out of Hyperspace as well. Perhaps they use the same technology to trap Imperial fleets for hit & run missions? Or perhaps they just ignore the idea of Int.Cruisers because it doesn't yield enough benefit even? The Interdictor is in a lot of EU material but is never really looked upon as an advantage to the Empire that keeps the Alliance under their thumb... It's just a known weapon the Alliance has to face and deal with. I'd go so far as to say that it's likely Pirates and unsavory elements such as that, use this technology routinely even.
Now, on the topic of shields and hyperdrives in ships, the Empire used them in some small ships, but like you said, not in fighters. The Empire deployed their TIEs in swarms to overwhelm enemies and use speed and pilot training to defeat enemies. Since no shields were on Imperial fighters, this was most likely due to the cost of added shield generators versus the cost of new pilots and fighters. The shields were probably more expensive. Different strategy and budget issues on the Empire's part, most likely.
I'd actually go against both of you here, haha...
The Empire used the Cygnus "Star Wing" assault Gunboat as well as the SKipray Blastboat long before the battle of Yavin, and both ships featured shields and Hyperdrive... Film proof of longer range fighter types is that the TIE that fires ont he Falcon as it is entering the Alderaan remnants is cited as a "Short Range Fighter" specifically... So the Empire is in use of hyper capable craft before Yavin in their fighter arsenal... They just choose to not use it on all fighter types obviously. Evne the ALliance uses the Z-95 Headhunter though, and it has a hyperdriveless variant for boosts to other systems that would make ideal defensive fighters for a station or starship...
I also have always had some issue with the concept that the Empire's "saving money" by making more, cheaper ships. Superior numbers seem like a tactic in space combat that is applicable, but I think the TIE Fighter, Interceptor, Bomber, and other shieldless fighters in the Empire's aresenal are really just due to the idea of the tactic rather than cost. Ejection seats are a canon aspect of TIE model craft actually, as a pilot is seen ejecting on film, so the desire to save lives is there... I think the lack of shields and life support on TIE craft was less an idea of cost savings and more an idea of advancement speed, fire rate, or perhaps maneuverability. Concepts applied that could save the pilot's life. For instance it's clear that Alliance fighters have a slower rate of fire in the films while TIE's can fire linked at a higher rate, and that may be directly because of the lacking shield system in the ship... It could be something else entirely though, it's just an idea or possible reason.
Like I said, I believe the ALliance is a much more formidable military... I think what we see of them is the sort of "push" they're making to have a much more effective strike base. A forward base that can afford the ALliance deep incursions into Imperial spacelanes of travel, perhaps hitting them where they'd not been hit before... I think that what we saw on Yavin IV and then subsequently on Hoth are these "Large, yet smaller, Alliance assault bases". The Yavin IV base is big, features a large number of personnel and equipment, but it's also easily torn down incase of detection... Hoth was the same concept on a new planet with less defensible ground to work with as well (big open fields? Man that sucks).
I'd forgotten about those other EU sources for Yavin IV, Greg, but they all play out pretty much the same... Personally I'd disevow Battlefront in general because the game is really focused 99% on gameplay and 1% on any cohesive story. The lack of story is what kills most of BF for me, but that's neither here nor there... It still sort of fits with some of the storylines that are established actually, haha.
Anyway though yeah, I think we see on Yavin IV a unique TYPE of base... If we were comparing Mon Calamari and Yavin IV, we'd be comparing apples and oranges really. One set to defend 100%, and build Mon Calamari war vessels day and night... Under constant assault, it's maybe in such a location that access to it is limited for the EMpire (at least currently), and the planet's defenses may require a massive fleet to overcome them. The Empire isn't pushing for that because maybe they're even unaware of how much the planet produces for the Alliance even.
And other similar planets exist... Maybe others in unexplored space are mining, farming, supplying, and giving the Alliance what they need... With the lack of expansion that seems quite plausible really since the Empire's only now looking to control Tatooine and some frontier worlds like that.
It's an interesting concept... A lot of it depends how you simply view the Rebellion though. If you look at it from the EU perspective the Alliance is really massive and only "small" by comparison. They have organized military, multiple large fleets, space stations, safe worlds, etc... They've also got cells of militia or guerillas on various planets. They've got planets that refuse to be subjucated by the Empire all together and result in on-going fronts probably as far in as the core worlds in some cases (though increasingly less "rebellious" worlds the further in you go I'm sure).
If you look at things from the films only though, the Alliance is really what you see... One fleet, one base... not much more than that. Kind of pathetic in size overall. I'd never dug that as a kid, and as I get older I dig it even less, haha.