A Complete History of the Millennium Falcon 

What could have been. (From Kitbashed)
What could have been. (From Kitbashed)

Here’s Michael Heilemann, a Squarespace product designer, on the long history of everyone’s favorite Star Wars spaceship:

The Millennium Falcon underwent a long and arduous number of conceptual iterations before its final iconic shape emerged; the one we now once again see blasting its way across the big screen. In fact it wasn’t even known by its famous name until well into production, having up until then gone under the much mundane moniker: Pirate Ship.

You should read the whole thing. It’s great.

Even better than his piece, Heinemann sprinkled-in a few Ralph Mcquarrie gems:

Heilemann: "This version of the Pirate Ship lacks the cylindrical cross-section behind the cockpit. It's possible that McQuarrie simply forgot to include it, and didn't have time to return to it (after all he didn't have time to return to paint in the surface detail on other Falcon paintings), but given that it is missing from the sketch as well, it could also indicate an in-progress redesign." (From Kitbashed)
Heilemann: "This version of the Pirate Ship lacks the cylindrical cross-section behind the cockpit. It's possible that McQuarrie simply forgot to include it, and didn't have time to return to it (after all he didn't have time to return to paint in the surface detail on other Falcon paintings), but given that it is missing from the sketch as well, it could also indicate an in-progress redesign." (From Kitbashed)
Heilemann: "Here the cross-section is present. Also, note the two prongs jutting out from the mandibles; possibly some sort of canons, but could also play into the notion of the mandibles being where the cargo was supposed to go. This cockpit, by the way is a departure from the Cantwell-originated cockpit of the previous Pirate Ship." (From Kitbashed)
Heilemann: "Here the cross-section is present. Also, note the two prongs jutting out from the mandibles; possibly some sort of canons, but could also play into the notion of the mandibles being where the cargo was supposed to go. This cockpit, by the way is a departure from the Cantwell-originated cockpit of the previous Pirate Ship." (From Kitbashed)
Heilemann: "According to starwars.com, 'Ralph confided that this painting was actually unfinished. He was not intending for the edges of the Millennium falcon to be smooth, but never got around to incorporating the additional details.' As a sidenote, it looks like R2 is leaving, but at the time he didn't roll, he walked! So that is him caught in mid-step, entering the hangar." (From Kitbashed)
Heilemann: "According to starwars.com, 'Ralph confided that this painting was actually unfinished. He was not intending for the edges of the Millennium falcon to be smooth, but never got around to incorporating the additional details.' As a sidenote, it looks like R2 is leaving, but at the time he didn't roll, he walked! So that is him caught in mid-step, entering the hangar." (From Kitbashed)