As someone who participated in the design work on the Starfuries,
you're incorrect; the engines are constructed in such a way, on all four
wings, that they can fire with equal strength in any direction: forward,
backward, top and bottom. They demonstrate this capacity repeatedly in
the show. (In particular I suggest you check out "Signs and Portents,"
when Ivanova's squad is recalled; you can get a good close look then.)
The design had nothing to do with X-Wings, which are standard type
wings or airfoils, and one central engine. Steve Burg, our designer,
sat down and with some input from us, said, "What's the most practical
and realistic design for fighters in a zero-g, non-atmospheric
environment?" A four-arm system, with multiple engines on all four arms,
lets you move in any direction, flip, spin and so on, which comes in
handy in a fight. It does things you couldn't do in an atmosphere.
Also, we *have* shown ships decelerating, engines-forward. In the
pilot in particular, the Vorlon ship comes out of the jump gate
backwards, engine leading; it decelerates, then turns around and goes in
the front way.