Starfighters are perhaps the most romantic ships in use throughout the galaxy. The have a simple mission profile: To destroy other starfighters or combat starships. Thus, their utility is limited exclusively to combat and patrol actions. In general, the ships are highly advanced and devastating vehicles, and they were instrumental in the Battles of Yavin and Endor, among thousands of other engagements.
The Rebel Alliance always was waging a war of resources in addition to one of pure combat. Every starfighter and pilot counted, and unlike the Empire, the Alliance didn't have the resources to waste. As a result, Alliance ships such as the X-wing, Y-wing, and B-wing fighters, were much more capable of supporting themselves on longer missions. They were, in general, much more heavily armed and armored, and the shielding was also superior to the original Imperial fighters. Almost all Alliance starfighters were equipped with hyperdrives as the Alliance tactics concentrated on disrupting Imperial shipping rather than trying to control sections of space.