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Darth Vader's armor: Misc



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Darth Vader's armor
Production information

Life support system[1]/armor[2]

Physical and technical specifications

2.02 meters[3]




Darth Vader's entire body

Usage and history

Darth Vader[6]

"This is not living."
Darth Vader's thoughts on his suit

Darth Vader's armor was a mobile life support system that Darth Vader was forced to wear to compensate for the serious injuries he suffered after his duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi on Mustafar in 19 BBY. It was designed to maintain and protect the young ex-Jedi's charred body while exuding an air of intimidation and control. His suit followed an ancient Sith tradition, in which the warriors of the dark side of the Force would adorn themselves in heavy armor. The suit was constructed using various methods of Sith Alchemy which served to augment Vader's severely diminished physical strength and vitality.

The suit provided a wide variety of life-support systems, the most important among them a complex breathing apparatus, and gave Vader relatively free movement without having to use a hoverchair. It was damaged or broken several times during its use, facilitating upgrades and repairs. The suit was finally irreparably broken by Emperor Palpatine's powerful Force lightning aboard the second Death Star after Vader saved his son, Luke Skywalker, from near death. After Vader's death soon thereafter, the suit was ceremonially burned by Skywalker on the forest moon of Endor in 4 ABY.

The armor encased Vader completely, leaving no burned flesh exposed. Vader slowly learned to live in this kind of isolation and anonymity, finding ways to cope with his situation, though the suit was not made with the peak technology of its day and was uncomfortable to wear. As a way of overcoming its limitations, Vader was forced to change his lightsaber style. Additionally, to escape the armor's claustrophobic nature, Vader had several meditation chambers built, in which he could remove his mask and suit and still survive. However, Vader longed to be less dependent on his armor, and tried at times to function without it, but he labored in vain.



Like traditional Sith armor[7] and formed after the ancient Sith droids,[8] Darth Vader's suit was made to be both intimidating and fearsome.[1] His helmet was conical, black, with a highly polished finish. The front, was carved out to fit around his head and show his "face." This helmet had a raised ridge that ran from between his eyes to the back of his head, where it merged into the[4] durasteel,[9] obsidian,[10] and plasteel[11] of the helmet itself. Two less jagged ridges swept, curving, over the eyes of Vader's mask proper and served to accent them.[4] This helmet locked into the mask.[12]

Blueprint of Vader's armor

The mask itself went halfway around Vader's head. The top of this mask was crowned with a circular interface dotted with an array of square slots around a disc of silver. This disc seemed to serve as an interface between the mask and the helmet. Made of black durasteel, these components were hermetically sealed and connected with a flat backpack that cycled air to Vader's lungs. An implanted enunciator linked to an electronic voice processor enabled Vader's scorched vocal cords to produce speech. Around the unseen part of the mask, the part covered by the helmet, were wires arranged in a design. Also hidden beneath his mask were four grill-like squares of red, accented by ridged crisscrosses of yellow wire. The face of the mask was somewhat exaggerated and angular, with two ridges above his eyes that fit in with those of his helmet. The eyes appeared bulbous. This front part of the mask was of a more highly polished black material than that of the back, being the more flexible of the two. The ridged bridge of the nose seemed lost in the largeness of the eyes, but jutted out in a manner similar to a bare skull. The mask's cheekbones were generally angular, curving slightly to join the nose at its base. The base of the nose offered one of the only hues presented other than black—silver—on the mask. This silver piece was rounded in shape, with a triangular grill growing out from beneath it that served as an air filter,[4] further contributing to its skull-like appearance.[13]

A hermetic[12] collar wrapped around Vader's neck and slanted forwards in the front to meet the mask at the bottom of its triangular grill. The back, which sloped slightly outward at the base of his neck, was studded with metal interfaces. The two sides of the front were edged by two tubes that followed the mask's edge until it reached the base of the triangular grill. At the end of these tubes were two silver studs. On top of the slanted front of this collar were several interfaces, with wires running back from it to the back of the collar. From the sides of the collar came two metal stems capped with a curved fixture. These, when worn, touched the outer corners of Vader's mouth.[4]

Vader's pauldrons and chest armor appeared to be one piece that protected his entire upper torso.[4] The durasteel material[7] was gray in hue with several black vertical stripes. Around the neck of the full-shoulder pauldron was a black chain, and connected to the upper seam of the armor[4] was Vader's black, flowing,[9] nearly floor-length armorweave cape.[7] Coming from beneath the pauldron was a black tabard that was open in the front and reached down to the ground.[4]

Vader wore a ribbed, padded, multi-ply body glove that covered everything below his neck. This flexible, quilted suit was blast-dampening. On his hands he wore black gloves,[4] the right glove being a Mandalorian crushgaunt fitted around one of Lord Kaan's indestructible Sith amulets.[14] Around his entire abdominal area, he wore a plastoid girdle that protected his organic and synthetic internal organs,[7] and on his back, hidden by his cloak, he wore a flat black backpack.[15][6] Over his solar plexus, he wore a chest unit that served to regulate many of the life-support functions of the suit; this had three slots and several rectangular buttons adorning the unusually vulnerable piece of machinery. His belt, which went over his tabard, and also was mostly black, had three metal boxes around the front. The middle one had a silver mechanism adorning it, and the other two were symmetrical blocks decorated with several green, yellow, and gray buttons.[4] Vader's shiny black all-terrain combat boots contained shin armor of durasteel[6] that hinged on the sides of the foot of the boot to allow him to walk.[4]


"He's more machine now than man…"
Obi-Wan Kenobi, speaking of Darth Vader
The inside of Vader's mask

Though the extent of Vader's injuries remained concealed by his foreboding armor, it was known that he required an advanced life-support system to stay alive.[6] This life-support system was integrated into his armor, thus freeing Vader of the limitations inherent in external life-support equipment.[4] Circuitry throughout the suit monitored pulmonary, respiratory, and neural systems[7], and three slot-like dataports located on Vader's chest unit allowed access to collected diagnostic information. Like Stormtrooper armor, the suit was equipped with a sensitive temperature-regulation system, which could be controlled by a function box on his belt. This unit was powerful enough to allow Vader to walk the surface of icy Hoth without any additional protection. Impulse generators lacing the armor provided electrical impulses to stimulate Vader's muscles, providing him with great mobility and strength despite his destroyed muscles and nerves.[6] To amplify this even more, Vader's strength and constitution were boosted by chemicals created with Sith Alchemy. These were provided by the life-support apparatus in his armor, and were constantly injected into him.[2]

Vader's mask was one of the most important pieces of Vader's armor, and was vital to his survival. Without it, he would die unless in the pressurized, controlled atmosphere of one of his specially-made meditation chambers.[6] Inside the mask were many needles that poked into his flesh to interface with him.[16] The pressurized[17] helmet monitored and regulated Vader's body temperature, contained radiators to diffuse heat generated by the suit's electrical systems, and contained a primary environmental sensor that continually evaluated Vader's surroundings for potential hazards. Lenses filter out light that could cause further injury to Vader's damaged corneas and retinas.They also provide infrared and ultraviolet vision, enabling Vader to see clearly in complete darkness. Sensors in the Sith Lord's helmet relay environmental data,which is then displayed as peripheral readouts.[6] When piloting a starship, such as his personal TIE Advanced x1 prototype starfighter, Vader could slide a second layer of eye shields across the mask's eyepieces.[18]

On his belt, Vader wore two small system function boxes: the one on his right featured a temperature regulation system and the one on his left contained a respiratory sensor matrix. The center buckle featured an audio enhancement unit built into the electromagnetic clasp[7][6] of the system status belt.[12] Also included in the belt buckle was an audio-enhancement unit, small tool kit, spare energy cell, and backup comlink.[6]

As the suit doubled as armor, the life-support system was made to be somewhat tough, though the electrical systems themselves were delicate.[17] Vader's armor was built around a plastoid girdle that protected the natural and synthetic internal organs[7] in his abdomen.[12] Though Vader's heart still functioned,[17] his pulse was machine-regulated so that it could not quicken unless directed by the suit.[19] More visible durasteel armor[6] plates covered his shoulders, upper body and shins.[7] His gloves and the padding on his chest and arms consisted of blast-dampening armor,[6] and were made to be impervious to fire[20] and well-protected against explosions,[21] piercing, and poisoning. In addition, his helmet and mask kept light from blinding him.[6][19] When damaged, Vader's pressure suit self-sealed against wounds and burns.[17]

Once sealed, Vader's mask and armored suit could serve as an airtight spacesuit for at least a short time. He relied on an internal oxygen supply when he flew his TIE fighter in the Battle of Yavin,[22] and he had survived surprise exposure to space during assassination attempts by mutinous Imperial officers.[23][24]

Vader's right arm in 0 ABY

Vader's prosthetic limbs and all of the armor's functions were powered by dozens of rechargeable energy cells located throughout the suit that allowed Vader to travel for long stretches without recharging his armor. Even when the energy cells were depleted, he could maintain basic life-support functions through replaceable backup power cells. Typically, however, Vader recharged his suit within a meditation sphere, such as the one located aboard his personal Star Dreadnought, the Executor—although he could access any standard fusion furnace for this purpose.[6]


Because of his injuries, most of Vader's senses were irreparably damaged, and thus were replaced by his armor. The dark hemispherical goggles that covered his eyes filtered out light that might have caused further injury to his damaged corneas and retinas[17] and enhanced his vision;[12] however, in enhanced mode the optical sensors[1] in the half-globes shifted the light toward the red end of the spectrum. Its bulkiness prevented him from seeing the toes of his boots without tilting his head almost ninety degrees.[17] Similarly, the mask's eyes were tinted red as well,[16] this being visible under certain lighting conditions.[25]

Various displays inside Vader's helmet supplied the Sith Lord with a steady stream of data, amplifying his already formidable connection to the Force. His helmet's eye coverings provided infrared and ultraviolet vision, allowing Vader to see clearly even in complete darkness, and dampeners offered limited defense against sonic attacks.[6]

The medical droids had rebuilt the cartilage of his outer ears, but his eardrums, having melted in Mustafar's heat, had been beyond repair. Sound waves had to be transmitted directly to implants in his inner ear.[17] Also, Vader could still smell naturally, but the mask he wore amplified his olfactory senses.[8]

Vader could take food through his mouth, but only when he was inside a hyperbaric chamber, since he had to remove his triangular respiratory vent. It was therefore easier for Vader to receive nourishment through liquids, intravenous and otherwise, and to rely on catheters, collection pouches, and recyclers to deal with liquid and solid waste.[17] Though liquids were preferable, he still had the capacity to chew if he wished,[26] though a nutrient feed provided Vader with all the nourishment he required.[6]


Vader, leaping, using his powerful new legs

What remained of his real limbs ended in bulbs of grafted flesh, inserted into machines that triggered movement through the use of modules that interfaced with his damaged nerve endings.[17] His mechanical appendages provided him with more strength than that of an ordinary man; he could adjust the servodrivers and pistons in his forearms to provide his hands with enough strength to crush nearly anything they could grasp. With the power of his arms alone, he had the ability to lift an adult being off the ground, though he had always been able to do so with the Force, especially in moments of rage.[22] When put to use, his mechanical legs would allow him to leap a considerable distance,[17] and kept his knees fit enough to kneel and rise at a normal rate.[4] His gloves were made with a unique micronized iron that could deflect anything short of a lightsaber blow.[7]

When Vader first had to walk with his new legs, he had to take slow, deliberate, thudding steps. By the time he was accustomed to his new legs, however, he retained the noisy gait, as it "announced" his coming,[8] though he soon walked more naturally. The alloy of Vader's lower legs were enhanced by strips of armor similar to those that filled and gave form to the long glove that Vader had worn over his right-arm prosthesis;[17] these leg prostheses were protected by the greaves of Vader's suit. Vader's boots also adhered to his artificial limbs[12] and the soles could magnetically adhere to bulkheads if Vader wished[24]—during an assassination attempt in which Vader was put into an open airlock, his boots remained planted to the floor while his companions were sucked out of the breach. Later, however, he jumped into the void willingly.[24]


A close-up of Vader's skull and upper spine

Vader's back, specifically his spine, was not whole.[8] Vader at some time had suffered serious spinal injury in the upper neck. However, his injuries on Mustafar did not affect the spine.[1] This forced Vader to wear a thick electrode-studded collar that supported his helmet to safeguard the cybernetic devices that replaced his upper vertebrae.[17] The first few vertebrae of his neck were not natural and their sharp-edged regularity suggests that they were cybernetic replacements. Bone was broken at the second and third vertebrae, and possibly the first and fourth. The spinal cord itself was not broken above the third or fourth vertebra. The severing must have been nearly but not totally complete, as he retained the ability to breathe weakly for at least a few seconds unaided.[4]


(audio) Vader breathing.ogg (info)
Darth Vader's mechanical breathing
Problems listening to the file? See media help.

Vader's helmet was the center of the life-support system. It was fitted with an air pump, which was connected to a flat filter system worn on Vader's back. Together, the backpack and the air pump continuously cycled purified air through Vader's ravaged lungs. A small, back-up air-processing filter was located in his distinctive mouth grill[6], which also doubled as a respiratory intake system.[12] Vader's life-support system also included a chest-worn, computerized control panel unit that regulated his respiratory functions.[7]From this chest panel, a thick cable entered his torso, linking to a breathing apparatus and heartbeat regulator. The ventilator was implanted in his terribly scarred chest, along with tubes that ran directly into his horrifically damaged lungs, and others that entered his very burned throat, so that should the chest plate or belt control panels develop a glitch, he could breathe unassisted air for a limited time out of his not-considerably burned mouth.[17]

A belt-mounted function box housed the respiratory sensor matrix responsible for controlling Vader's breathing.[6] Using it, Vader could easily adjust the controls on his armor to increase or decrease his supply of oxygen.[26]

Vader, having his suit and breathing apparatus installed for the first time

Vader's breathing was machine-regulated,[19] but his pace of breathing quickened during physical exertion and could be overridden by involuntary emotional reactions.[26] The respirator slowed down or sped up in response to changes in his remaining body's functions,[17] but Vader was unable to stop it or hold his breath, nor could he slow it.[1] Vader's breather functioned even while Vader was speaking.[4] However, he must have used some kind of dampener or otherwise tinkered with the suit by 3 ABY, as he was able to surprise Luke Skywalker in a dark passage near the carbon-freezing chamber on Bespin. Vader's ambush was only possible because he could temporarily quiet his loud breathing.[27]

Lord Vader's breather was seriously damaged by Force lightning during his struggle with the Emperor. Although it continued to operate to some extent, the sound of the mechanism was reduced to a strained rasp, implying that the respirator was broken. The labored breathing sound persisted until his final unmasking.[4]

His signature, labored mechanical breathing was the sound of the iron lung Vader was forced to wear.[7] The med droids that had made the suit had inserted the redundant breathing tubes low enough so that, with the aid of an enunciator, his scorched vocal cords could still form sounds and words[17] through a voice synthesizer in the mask.[9] Absent from the enunciator in Vader's mouth grill,[12] which imparted a synthetic bass tone, his own voice was little more than a whisper. Though limited by what the respirator could do, Vader could still make his respirator approximate a laugh or a sigh.[17]

Vader was able to speak even when unmasked shortly before the destruction of the second Death Star. The weakness of his voice was probably partly due to his breathing difficulty and the internal mortal wounds and damage to his cybernetic systems inflicted by the Emperor.[4]



"He lives."
―A medical droid, to Palpatine
Anakin Skywalker's vision of his future self

Shortly before the Battle of Coruscant, Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker were sent to the icy planet of Nelvaan to seek out Grievous. The Nelvaanians hailed Skywalker as "Ghost Hand," and Orvos, the shaman of Rokrul village, sent him on a quest to save their people from a threat that had vanquished all their previous champions. Skywalker agreed, and entered a cave where he experienced visions of a great hunter, who lost his arm in battle. However, he fought back, and continued to slay monsters with a new black, spiky arm. As he slew the monsters, his power grew until it was out of control, the spiky black arm turning into a spiny black labyrinth that encompassed and destroyed everything the warrior held dear. Padmé Amidala's voice was screaming as the sinister black labyrinth of evil that had once been the great warrior's arm turned back upon the source and morphed what remained of the great hunter into an eerie face—the face of Darth Vader, whom Skywalker would soon become.[28]

Not long after his return to Coruscant after the Battle of Coruscant, Skywalker gave in to Palpatine's temptation to turn to the dark side and was dubbed Darth Vader.[1] Darth Sidious commanded his new apprentice to go to the planet of Mustafar and kill the Separatist Council—and supposedly bring peace to the new Galactic Empire. On Mustafar, the corrupted Vader then began his massacre of the Separatist Council. Not long after, Padmé's ship landed outside the bunker, and he ran to meet her. Unbeknownst to her, Kenobi had stowed away on her ship to find Vader, and at that moment appeared from the ship. Kenobi tried to reason with his former pupil, but Vader refused to listen. Vader and Kenobi fought an intense battle throughout the mining complex and down the river of lava outside. The battle ended on the banks of a lava river, where Vader was severely maimed and immobilized by Kenobi's blade, which severed his legs and his left arm.[1]

Palpatine finds Vader's ravaged body.

With his body crippled and his ability to use the Force grievously reduced, Vader tried to claw his way up the bank, using only his remaining prosthetic limb. Shortly after, the heat of the lava ignited Vader's clothing, burning his body severely. He fell onto a slope of volcanic sand, and slid helplessly to the edge of a lava river. When his body ignited due to heat that radiated off the flow, his lungs were scorched by the hot gases he inhaled. As the flames started to subside, Vader kept himself alive with the dark side of the Force,[1] his rage,[2] and his unbreakable will, clawing his way back up the bank with his still intact mechanical arm, struggling against his extreme injuries.[1] His injuries were severe, with the lower half of his body being more extensively affected.[29] His lungs had been irreparably scarred, and were now mostly dead alveoli and constricted passages.[26]

Darth Sidious, newly declared Emperor of the Galactic Empire, soon arrived and snatched what remained of Vader's body from the bank of the lava river, placing him on a medical capsule and willing him to live. He then took Vader back to Coruscant, repairing the damage to Vader's body through intensive cybernetic enhancements[1] with help from arcane Sith healing techniques[15] at the newly renamed Emperor Palpatine Surgical Reconstruction Center. He was repaired and rebuilt over a period of several days[1] by a hyper-sophisticated prototype Ubrikkian DD-13 surgical droid and an enhanced FX-6 medical assistant droid. The Ubrikkian "Galactic Chopper" DD-13 oversaw the installation of his cybernetic implants, prosthetic limbs, and synthetic organs and the FX-6 performed numerous blood transfusions and stabilized the terrible damage done to Vader's eyes, vocal cords, scalp, face, arms, legs, and especially his lungs.[12] Both droids spent much time connecting Vader's severed nerve endings to his new robotic parts.[15]

Life and death

During his first few months of living in the suit, Vader felt trapped by it, but after a short while he had learned to use it for both intimidation and isolation. It allowed him to feel separate from all the beings around him.[30] At times he enjoyed having his black suit, as it gave him a menacing presence that garnered respect and fear. Also because of his suit, Vader felt a kind of kinship with the clone troopers because they, too, were seemingly dependent on their armor, and were almost never seen without it.[8] To compensate for his lack of facial and eye expressions, Vader learned to use simple body language.[20]

Palpatine on at least one occasion threatened to use Force lightning against Vader as a way of showing how much more powerful the Emperor was in comparison and how easy it would be to dispose of him.[17]

Not long after his reconstruction, Vader fought a Jedi named Bol Chatak on Murkhana, and because of Vader having to suddenly readjust his style due to his injuries, the Zabrak managed to injure him before Vader killed her. She had cut Vader's left forearm through the shielding that filled out his glove and had melted some of the artificial ligaments that allowed his hand to pronate. Vader was able to fix some of it himself with a fine-point laser cutter by removing flaps of armorweave fabric that had been fused by the heat to the alloy beneath, and the forearm was later completely repaired at the Emperor Palpatine Surgical Reconstruction center.[17]

A glimpse at some of the mechanisms within Vader's mask, as shown after his fight on Kessel

Vader's right hand was again cut off during his fight at the Conclave on Kessel when he was searching for Kenobi. Through the Force, he picked up the mechanical hand, still grasping a cortosis blade, and used it to kill Koffi Arana. During the ensuing fight, Vader's suit was damaged and torn open at the left shoulder, lower arm, back, and both of his upper legs, yet he did not seem weakened; soon afterwards he could stand and function. When all except Tsui Choi had been killed, the desperate Jedi threw his lightsaber at Vader. As the Sith Lord deflected it back to kill the Jedi, it sliced a bit into his mask, but afterward he seemed to have no trouble breathing.[31]

Later, Darth Vader hired Boba Fett to capture an Imperial named Abal Karda and, more importantly, the box he would be found carrying, not letting the bounty hunter know it was a trap. Vader followed Fett to Maryx Minor and the two engaged in battle over control of the box. Boba Fett shot Darth Vader in the forehead during this duel, but it merely scraped his helmet, not penetrating.[32]

When Vader dueled Galen Marek on board the half-completed first Death Star, Marek managed to cut most of Vader's helmet off his head, and ripping up his shoulder, and other pieces of his armor about half way through the duel. Vader, however, was still perfectly capable of fighting with his armor damaged until Marek won the duel and threw him into the Emperor's chamber.[33]

When an uprising of several Falleen tried to assassinate Vader for what he had done to their homeworld, Xora stabbed Vader in the torso, next to his chest plate. The injury did not seem to faze him in the least. During the same fight, he was shot in the left shoulder, which also did not slow him.[34]

After being forced to crash-land on Vaal after the destruction of the first Death Star, Vader was attacked by several of the native creatures, who ripped his cape, his suit, and his right glove, showing the metallic arm beneath. By this time, Vader had lost his entire right arm.[35]

Aboard the second Death Star, Vader confronted and fought his son, Luke, losing to him when the youth sliced off his right hand. However, seeing what he had done, Luke forfeited the fight, throwing away his lightsaber and refusing to go on. Upon seeing this, Palpatine began to pelt Luke with Force lightning, until his father was so overcome with emotion that he (no longer Darth Vader, but Anakin Skywalker) picked up the Emperor and threw him into a deep pit, getting jolted with intense amounts of Force lightning in the process and short-circuiting his life-support. The lightning that lashed Anakin was of a lethal intensity: the energies that Palpatine had previously used to strike Luke were less powerful, intended merely to cause agony and torment. When Anakin seized him, Palpatine intensified his output, with the intention of finishing Luke. These discharges were absorbed by Anakin rather than his son. The remarkable intensity of these final energetic bursts—exceeding the shocks that had tormented Luke—was evident in the way they heated Anakin's bones enough for them to glow visibly through his flesh and clothing.[4]

After Anakin's death and the subsequent destruction of the second Death Star, the suit was ceremonially burned on a pyre on Endor by Luke.[4]

The glove of Darth Vader

Trioculus watches as MD-5 modifies Vader's glove.

The right glove of his suit remained intact when the Death Star II exploded, having been ensnared within a piece of the wreckage that landed on the watery world of Mon Calamari. This wreckage had been pulled through a wormhole created by the explosion of the hypermatter in the Death Star's core. In 5 ABY, Kadann, a Prophet of the Dark Side, foretold that a new Emperor would soon arise, and on his hand he would wear the glove of Darth Vader. Unlike the left-hand glove, the right glove was made to be indestructible, a symbol of evil that would survive forever. After Luke cut off Darth Vader's right hand in their lightsaber duel, the glove was believed to have been hurled out into space when the Death Star exploded.[5]

When a humanoid mutant named Trioculus tried to gain control of what remained of the Empire, The Prophets of the Dark Side would not allow it because he did not have the glove, so he set out to find it. Though he already had loyalty from many of the Grand Moffs, he sought the glove to quiet any remaining doubts about him. Trioculus was determined to find Vader's glove before any other contender for the throne did, and in doing so win the support of Kadann. He ordered the Moffs to begin a galaxy-wide search for the glove using probe droids, first sending the droids to the forest moon of Endor to scan the area, as that was the place the glove was most likely to rest—if anywhere at all. As faith in Trioculus began to diminish among his supporters, the warlord grew desperate. However, he had a stroke of luck when an Imperial agent, Captain Dunwell, discovered several pieces of the Death Star's debris near the Seascape Mountains, in the Valley of the Giant Oysters on Mon Calamari, one of which had revealed the outline of a glove when scanned.[5]

Trioculus and Bertroff Hissa immediately set out for Mon Calamari, where they were greeted by Dunwell at his Whaladon Processing Center, a poaching operation for the native sentient Whaladon species. In his Whaladon-hunting submarine, Dunwell took Trioculus and Hissa to the site of the wreckage. Secretly followed by Luke Skywalker and Admiral Ackbar in a Calamarian minisub, Trioculus retrieved the glove. When Skywalker and Ackbar's minisub was accidentally captured by one of Dunwell's Whaladon-capturing devices, Skywalker infiltrated the vessel and triggered its self-destruct. Trioculus and Hissa narrowly escaped, the warlord vowing to have his vengeance on Skywalker.[5]

The gauntlet's value as a symbol was of little use to the three-eyed mutant, but its potential for use as a weapon was considered to be incalculable. It was his belief that the glove was actually a mystical relic that provided its wearer with the ability to telekinetically attack others from a distance, as Trioculus was ignorant of the fact that this ability was an aspect of Vader's aptitude with the Force, and had nothing at all to do with his glove—something he later found out. As a result of this discovery, he had his droid, MD-5, outfit the glove with technology that could simulate Vader's Force Choke by making whomever it was pointed at gasp and fall to their knees. After this, their eardrums would explode and their brains would disintegrate. However, he soon abandoned its use after discovering that utilizing it too often resulted in periods of blindness—as well as withering his hand. Trioculus then commanded that his servants create an exact replica of the glove,[5] and he later disposed of it, leaving its whereabouts unknown. However, the Bimm merchant Glah Ubooki later claimed he had recovered it.[36]

Discomfort and limitations

"You are so far less now than what you were, you are more than half machine, you are like a painter gone blind, a composer gone deaf, you can remember where the power was but the power you can touch is only a memory…"
―Darth Vader's thoughts

Having had so much experience with mechanics, Vader was dismayed by the incompetence of the medical droids responsible for his resurrection in Sidious' laboratory on Coruscant. The technology in the suit was already obsolete, having been used to rebuild and create General Grievous decades earlier. While he retained his knowledge of the Jedi arts, he began to feel uncertain about his place in the Force, and while he had taken his first steps toward awakening the power of the dark side, he felt uncertain about his ability to sustain that power.[17] He knew that he was hampered by his injuries, and knew he never could achieve his full potential because of it.[37] At times, Vader wondered if Darth Sidious had purposefully designed the armor to restrict him.[17]

Vader grieves over his choices.

There were many problems with his armor. The synthskin that substituted for what was seared from his bones itched incessantly, and his body needed to be periodically cleansed and scrubbed of necrotic flesh, and the incessant rasp of his breathing interfered with his ability to rest, let alone sleep. In the rare moments it came to him, Vader's sleep was a nightmarish jumble of twisted, recurrent memories that unfolded to excruciating sounds,[17] and when he attempted to rest, his cybernetic limbs strained against his ruined flesh.[38] Sounds registered as if issuing from underwater. Worse, the implanted sensors lacked sufficient discrimination, so that too many ambient sounds were picked up, and their distance and direction were difficult to determine. Sometimes the sensors needled him with feedback, or attached echo or vibrato effects to even the faintest noise.[17]

The pectoral armor that protected the artificial lung weighed him down, as did the electrode-studded collar that supported the oversized helmet, the delicate systems of the mask, and the ragged scars in his hairless head, which owed as much to what he had endured on Mustafar as to attempts at emergency trepanation during the trip back to Coruscant aboard Sidious's shuttle. The weighty cloak and pectoral plating so restricted his movement that he could scarcely lift his arms over his head,[17] though it was possible when he needed to, such as when Boba Fett set off the smoke detonator that nearly blew Vader off the edge of a cliff on Maryx Minor. In order to survive, Vader was forced to hold onto the ledge with his hands above his head.[32] As well, Vader still had the capacity to shrug.[18]

The sleeves of the bodysuit didn't hug the prostheses as they should, and the elbow-length gloves sagged and bunched at his wrists. Only the right arm prosthesis felt natural to him—though it, too, was artificial—probably because he'd used a prosthetic right arm before he became restricted to the armor. The pneumatic mechanisms that supplied articulation and support were sometimes slow to respond.[17] As a result of having artificial arms, Darth Vader could neither conjure Force lightning nor be invulnerable to it.[12]

The monitoring panel beeped frequently and for no reason, the lights seeming to serve only as steady reminders of his vulnerability. His electrical systems were woefully delicate, and he was forced to protect his vital chest panel when dueling.[17] This system was so vulnerable that Antinnis Tremayne was once able to deactivate Vader's entire suit by pressing one button on his chest control plate.[39]

Instead of using durasteel for his leg prosthesis, the medical droids had substituted an inferior alloy, and had failed to inspect the strips that protected the electromotive lines. As a result, the inner lining of the pressurized bodysuit was continually snagging on places where the strips were anchored to knee and ankle joints. Additionally, the tall boots were a poor fit for his artificial feet, whose toes lacked the electrostatic sensitivity of his equally false fingertips. These devices made it even more difficult for him to move with ease, much less with any grace. Raised in the heel, the cumbersome footwear canted him slightly forward, forcing him to move with exaggerated caution lest he stumble or topple over. Worse, they were so heavy that he often felt rooted to the ground, or as if he were moving in high gravity. He even felt that he needed to use the Force to move,[17] though he eventually grew used to it.[8] As a result of his large body and abnormal needs, Vader had to have a custom airspeeder made for him to drive comfortably in.[37]

As of 0 BBY, Vader was given an opportunity to have a new suit built for him. This suit would have been far more advanced, technologically superior, and much more comfortable than his original. However, to be placed into this new suit, Vader would have to have had his prosthetics disconnected and his life support systems temporarily disabled. Since the process was considered far too risky, and most likely would result in his death, the idea was abandoned.[40]

Lightsaber combat

Because of the limitations of his suit, Vader was forced to modify his lightsaber form. At first, Vader's combat techniques were clumsy, and utilized mostly vertical strikes. However, he began to use his height and power to his advantage. At first, Vader lacked a style of his own, and executed his moves stiffly. Being well-practiced, Vader began to use an assortment of lightsaber techniques, and from all techniques of combat, even from the highest, most dangerous levels. To complement this, he used crisp, unpredictable moves. Because of his limitations, Vader was forced to employ a more strategizing take on lightsaber combat, using more precise and economical moves, and utilizing his height and strength to force his opponents back. To compensate for the difficulty of lifting his arms above his head, he had to adapt his lightsaber technique accordingly. Due to the vulnerability of his chest panel, Vader had to customize his style to protect this vital system.[17]

Vader in a combat ready stance

Although he had access to lightsaber resistant cortosis, Vader relied on his own skill with the weapon to protect himself from Jedi attacks.[6] After some personal training, Vader was faster and more agile in dueling, making better use of his power than he had been before.[17] To further sharpen his abilities, he frequently sparred with increasingly newer and better droids, sometimes several at a time.[26]

Vader could still easily deflect blaster bolts with his lightsaber, such as on Murkhana when Climber and the rest of Ion Team tried to escape punishment from Vader by shooting at him.[17]

To make up for his inadequacies, Vader often threw his lightsaber when at a distance, sometimes spinning it swiftly through the Force like a deadly boomerang. He would also, at times, allow his dueling opponent to vent, allowing them to believe that they were driving him back when he was actually letting them wear themselves out before disarming them in one rapid motion. In addition, he used his talents in the Force to throw items at his opponents during his duels.[17][27]

Vader utilized a two-handed grip on his lightsaber,[17] though he could fight with one of either of his hands, as shown when his right hand was cut off during his fight at the Conclave on Kessel.[31] As a stance used while waiting for his opponents to strike, Vader would point his lightsaber towards the ground at an angle, and would take advantage of his blade's position by making lightning-fast underhanded sweeps and vertical strikes. As well, at times he manipulated his blade with just his wrists, not moving his arms.[17]

Meditation chambers

Vader in his meditation chamber

Not long after being ensconced into the suit, Vader began to have moments of claustrophobia and felt a desperate need to emerge from the suit. Because of this, he had several chambers built—meditation pods—in which to do this.[17] He could only remove his mask[7] and rest[26] in a special hyperbaric medical chamber, such as the one on board his Star Dreadnought Executor. Allowing no one to assist him, Vader relied on mechanical devices to remove and replace his helmet and metal breath screen.[7] This pressurized life-support environment of medicated and oxygenated air allowed him to exist unmasked in some comfort.[26] To keep him alive, the surgical theater where he was revived as a cyborg must have had the same pressurized gas mix until his mask was sealed.[16] A small, retractable respirator tube enabled him to survive for a short time with the pod momentarily open.[10] The hyperbaric chamber had motion-sensitive controls[26] and was lifted by servo-lifts.[41] Vader's cape was lifted while in the meditation chamber, and it was mechanically lowered while he was still in the chair.[41]

A meditation chamber existed in Vader's palace in Imperial City[26][42] and in Vader's quarters aboard the Executor. Another meditation chamber was found deep inside Vader's old stronghold on Vjun by Rosh Penin as he searched for sources of dark energy to 'charge' the Scepter of Ragnos, and the room in which the meditation chamber was located ended up as a dueling ground between Rosh Penin and Jaden Korr.[27] There seemed to be a different kind of meditation pod aboard the Mathayus, one that did not shut and one where he only meditated without removing his mask.[43]

Behind the scenes

"He became an icon of evil."
George Lucas

Portrayal and creation

Concept art of Darth Vader's helmet

Darth Vader's armor, worn by David Prowse and Bob Anderson in the original trilogy[27] and by Hayden Christensen in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,[44] was designed by Ralph McQuarrie, who was instructed by George Lucas to sketch a tall and imposing figure, wearing an exotic-looking black armor.[15] Originally, Vader's costume had no helmet—Lucas had visioned that, instead of proper headgear, Vader's face would be covered by "a black silk scarf".[15] However, McQuarrie added a distinctive skull-like helmet for the character when he read the script of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and he became aware of the fact that Vader would have to cross through the cold vacuum of space in order to board the captured Tantive IV at the start of the film.[45] The reasons for Vader wearing the armor, of course, would end up becoming far more complicated.[27]

Many of the original parts of Vader's costume were obtained from a costumer called Berman's & Nathan's. Vader was mocked up from a World War II German Stahlhelm helmet and gas mask, a monk's cloak, a leather undersuit, and a metal breastplate. The suit was constructed by costume designer John Mollo,[15] and it was finished in eleven weeks.[46] For Revenge of the Sith, Costume Props Supervisor Ivo Coveney crafted a new set of armor that served a dual purpose. Not only was it designed to fit Christensen, but it provided an opportunity for the department to correct many of the flaws inherent in the original costume, such as the asymmetrical nature of the mask.[47]

The design of Darth Vader's armor was influenced by the costume worn by The Lightning, a villain in the television series The Fighting Devil Dogs, and the Japanese Samurai masks, but the possible similarities between Vader's armor and the suit worn by Marvel Comics supervillain Doctor Doom have been noted as well.[48]

Vader's iconic breathing noise was created by Ben Burtt breathing through a scuba mask, with a small mic in the scuba regulator.[49] He had originally recorded many different variations of the breathing noise, from raspy and asthmatic to cold and mechanical. While the more mechanized version was chosen, the more raspy noises were used in Return of the Jedi after Vader was fatally injured by Sidious's Force lightning.[50] Originally, Vader was to sound like a walking emergency room, with him clicking and beeping whenever he was on-scene. However, this proved to be too distracting, and it was cut down to just his breathing.[49]

The suit in canon

Vader's chest panels

One of the changes in the canonicity regarding the suit was that, by 4 ABY, Vader's left shoulder was completely artificial,[4] and in 3 ABY, after encountering Luke on Bespin, he had remarked that his right shoulder had healed well. Since a bionic shoulder could not heal, Vader's right shoulder must still have consisted of his original flesh,[25] though earlier on Mimban, Vader's right arm was removed from the shoulder.[51] However, whether this healing Vader spoke of was literal, sarcastic, or metaphorical is not known.[25] Another change was that, for Vader's costume in Episode III, the costume, being completely new, was altered from the original design, though only slightly, to give it a newly machined, freshly created appearance. Several small changes to the neck length and shoulder couplings were intended to give Vader's movements a more mechanical look.[46] One more change over canon is that the chest panel of Darth Vader's attire changed slightly from III to IV,[16][22] and from IV to V and VI.[27][4] The canonical reason for this has not been put forth. As well, the control panel from V and VI bore Hebrew lettering that can be translated as "His deeds will not be forgiven, until he merits."[52]

The suit has been referenced several times in the Expanded Universe, an example being in the Star Wars: Legacy comics, Cade Skywalker is seen to wear a pair of trousers very similar to Vader's as a part of his outfit.[53] As well, in Star Wars: Union, while Mara was trying on wedding dresses, one of the dresses resembled Vader's armor. Leia told the designer the reason Mara turned it down was because "The bride doesn't want to dress like the father of the groom."[54]


Anakin Skywalker's white armor

In Star Wars Infinities: The Empire Strikes Back, during a vision while fighting Yoda, Vader's armor reverts back to one of Ralph McQuarrie's original designs, but is shortly thereafter destroyed by the spirits of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Mace Windu and Qui-Gon Jinn.

In Star Wars Infinities: Return of the Jedi, after returning to the light side of the Force, Anakin Skywalker's armor was recolored white.[55]

In Star Wars: The Force Unleashed: Ultimate Sith Edition Galen Marek as Lord Starkiller wears armor that is based off Vader's during his mission to Hoth.


  • Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 25: Vector, Part 1 (Vision to the Jedi Covenant)
  • Star Wars: Clone Wars – "Chapter 24" (Vision to Anakin Skywalker)
  • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
  • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith comic
  • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (game)
  • Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader
  • Evasive Action: Recruitment
  • Evasive Action: Prey
  • Evasive Action: End Game
  • Coruscant Nights I: Jedi Twilight
  • The Last of the Jedi: Underworld
  • The Last of the Jedi: Death on Naboo
  • The Last of the Jedi: A Tangled Web
  • The Last of the Jedi: Return of the Dark Side
  • The Last of the Jedi: Against the Empire
  • The Hutt Gambit
  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (novel)
  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
  • Star Wars Journal: The Fight for Justice
  • In His Image
  • "A Two-Edged Sword" - Star Wars Insider 85
  • Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (First appearance)
  • Star Wars Galaxies
  • Star Wars Galaxies: The Ruins of Dantooine
  • Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
  • Shadows of the Empire comic
  • Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
  • A Grand Admiral Returns (Mentioned only)
  • Edge of Victory II: Rebirth (Mentioned only)
  • Star Wars Legacy 11: Ghosts, Part 1 (Vision to Cade Skywalker)
  • Star Wars Legacy 28: Vector, Part 9 (Appears in flashback(s))

Short stories



Video games

  • Star Wars: Battlefront
  • Star Wars: Battlefront II
  • Star Wars: Empire at War
  • Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption
  • Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds
  • Star Wars: Lethal Alliance
  • Star Wars: Rebellion
  • Star Wars: TIE Fighter
  • Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi
  • Star Wars: Demolition
  • Star Wars: Yoda Stories
  • Star Wars: The Interactive Video Board Game
  • Star Wars: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (Mentioned only)
  • Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy (Mentioned only)


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Notes and references

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith novelization
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 The Dark Side Sourcebook
  3.  Darth Vader in the Databank
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20 Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 The Glove of Darth Vader
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 6.13 6.14 6.15 6.16 6.17 The New Essential Guide to Weapons and Technology
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 7.12  Darth Vader's Suit in the Databank
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 In His Image
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2  "Star Wars Kids Answer Quest" - Star Wars Kids 6
  10. 10.0 10.1 Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back novelization
  11. Therefore I Am: The Tale of IG-88
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 12.7 12.8 12.9 Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary
  13. Star Wars Galaxies: The Ruins of Dantooine
  14. Evil Never Dies: The Sith Dynasties
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 Star Wars: The Ultimate Visual Guide
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
  17. 17.00 17.01 17.02 17.03 17.04 17.05 17.06 17.07 17.08 17.09 17.10 17.11 17.12 17.13 17.14 17.15 17.16 17.17 17.18 17.19 17.20 17.21 17.22 17.23 17.24 17.25 17.26 17.27 17.28 17.29 17.30 17.31 17.32 Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader
  18. 18.0 18.1 Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope novelization
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi novelization
  20. 20.0 20.1 A Two-Edged Sword
  21. Dark Knight's Devilry
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
  23. Star Wars 52: To Take The Tarkin
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 Star Wars: Empire: Betrayal
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 Shadows of the Empire (comics)
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 26.4 26.5 26.6 26.7 26.8 Shadows of the Empire novel
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 27.4 27.5 Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
  28. Star Wars: Clone Wars – "Chapter 24"
  29. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (comics)
  30. The Last of the Jedi: Return of the Dark Side
  31. 31.0 31.1 Star Wars: Purge
  32. 32.0 32.1 Boba Fett: Enemy of the Empire (TPB)
  33. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (novel)
  34. Star Wars: Empire 19: Target: Vader
  35. Star Wars Empire 14: The Savage Heart
  36. "Glah Ubooki's Strange & Wonderous Imports" - Star Wars Adventure Journal 1
  37. 37.0 37.1 The Last of the Jedi: A Tangled Web
  38. Dark Times: The Path to Nowhere
  39. Evasive Action: Recruitment
  40. Death Star
  41. 41.0 41.1 Classic Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (TPB)
  42. Shadow Stalker
  43. Shadows of the Empire novel
  44. The Chosen One featurette
  45. Empire of Dreams
  46. 46.0 46.1 Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars
  47. The sneak preview BTS look at Episode III included in the OT special addition bonus material
  48. Star Wars: The Men Behind the Mask
  49. 49.0 49.1 Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope audio commentary
  50. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi audio commentary
  51. Splinter of the Mind's Eye
  52. A commentary on the writing on Darth Vader's chest panel (scroll down)
  53. Star Wars: Legacy
  54. Star Wars: Union
  55. Star Wars Infinities: Return of the Jedi 4

This article uses material from the "Darth Vader's armor" article on the Starwars wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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