- "Generation One armor always holds up."
Clone trooper armor, also known as clone armor or Generation One armor, was the armor used by Galactic Republic clone troopers during the Clone Wars. Designed by Kaminoan armorsmiths, clone armor consisted of a set of form-fitting plastoid plates attached to a black body glove. It could withstand impacts, pressure, heat and acrid vapors, yet was vulnerable to a direct laser blast. The armor was also standardized and produced rapidly as the clones were genetically identical soldiers, modeled on a single template—the human bounty hunter Jango Fett.
The first version of clone armor was called Phase I clone trooper armor; improvements were made to the armor's design over the course of the war, creating lighter and stronger plates. Phase I was eventually retired as Phase II clone trooper armor saw widespread distribution through the ranks of the Grand Army of the Republic. By then, a wide array of armor variants were created for specialized troopers, such as the ARC trooper armor of Advanced Recon Commandos, the Katarn-class Commando Armor of clone commandos, and the Clone Dive Armor of clone SCUBA troopers.
With the rise of the Galactic Empire, the new regime mothballed clone trooper armor, replacing it with the stormtrooper armor worn by Imperial stormtroopers. However, some clone veterans continued to wear their old armor years after their service in the Clone Wars, while mercenaries and pirates utilized scavenged armor plates. The legacy of clone armor ultimately outlived the Empire that fell to the New Republic, influencing a new model of armor made for a new generation of stormtroopers by the First Order. This was followed by the crimson armor of the Sith troopers—soldiers of the Sith Eternal cult—which was reminiscent of clone trooper armor, particularly the helmet's T-shaped visor.
Due to the combined influence of Imperial and First Order use, the heritage of clone armor was effectively appropriated by its successors, transforming what civilians once saw as a symbol of honorable defense and galactic salvation into a faceless icon of fascism. Nevertheless, the combined legacy of clone trooper armor and stormtrooper armor made white-armored soldiers one of the galaxy's most enduring symbols of military might.
Clone trooper armor was a set of form-fitting plastoid plates worn over a black body glove. Despite the armor's claustrophobic appearance, the Kaminoan clones found it comfortable and felt secure in its confines, having trained with it from an early age. Though vulnerable to lightsabers and a direct hit from a laser blast, clone armor was impervious to impacts, pressure, heat and acrid vapors. Its quality was such that, by the time Grand Master Yoda arrived on Kamino to take charge of the army, the Grand Army of the Republic was considered the finest military force in the galaxy.
Phase I clone trooper armor was the first iteration in the design of clone armor. Constructed by Kaminoan armorsmiths, Phase I featured a life support system, a tracking device for monitoring troop movements and a display screen, all built within the helmet. The armor's design was also reminiscent of the Mandalorian armor worn by the clone template, the bounty hunter Jango Fett, particularly in the helmet which featured a similar T-shaped visor. The armor could be standardized and produced rapidly due to the fact that clone troopers were genetically identical soldiers. Despite the advantages it offered, Phase I was uncomfortable to wear due to the Kaminoans' unfamiliarity with human ergonomics.
Phase II clone trooper armor was the improved version of its Phase I counterpart, providing clone troopers with better vision as well as armor plates that were both lighter and stronger. The new armor was capable of supporting more specialized equipment, such as an external respirator as the helmet did not feature an internal life support system. It was also more expensive to make, costing 3,000 credits per armor set as opposed to Phase I's 2,000 credits.
Specialized clone armor
The standard clone armor was supplemented by variant forms used by troopers in specialized roles, including pilots and bomb-disposal teams. One frequently used armor variant was the HT-77 Cold Assault Armor, which provided clone cold assault troopers with improved breath filters and insulation for arctic conditions. Insulated armor was also required for hot conditions, as in the case of the clone flametroopers who wore fire-resistant suits while wielding BT X-42 heavy flame projectors.
Advanced Recon Force Scout Troopers, also known as ARF troopers, were outfitted with Phase I ARF armor; designed for stealth and speed, it was a lighter version of the standard Phase I clone armor. Its successor, Phase II ARF armor, served a similar role, consisting of lightweight armor made for the reconnaissance work of clone scout troopers. ARF troopers also possessed a camouflaged version of their Phase II armor, which they utilized in conjunction with All Terrain Reconnaissance Transports.
The gear worn by clone gunners featured helmets with additional noise insulation and reinforced chest armor as safeguards against the intense recoil of the cannons they controlled. Clone ordnance specialists wore armor with bright orange markings, indicating to others the dangerous nature of their role. Apart from this aesthetic distinction, their armor offered no additional protection from explosions. Special ops clone troopers were trained for stealth and detecting enemies at a distance, and were given advanced gear that improved their senses.
Clone trooper pilots considered themselves as a breed apart, having been selected early in their development to learn special skills. Their version of Phase I armor featured additional life-support gear and a helmet with improved sensors. Like rank-and-file clones, the clone pilot "Warthog" wore an updated rig—customized to his liking. As the Clone Wars ground on, pilots received improvements to their gear. Stealth clone pilots wore their own unique armor due to their role in flying experimental starships. By the final days of the war, pilots wore new flight gear, featuring open-faced helmets that offered superior visibility during space battles.
Clone SCUBA troopers were outfitted with Clone Dive Armor for underwater combat. As such, SCUBA gear was lighter than regular armor and featured fins, life-support equipment—providing oxygen to breathe— and propulsion packs. It was also designed to assist SCUBA troopers in their aquatic maneuverability and protected them from the pressure levels of ocean planets such as Mon Cala.
New improvements to the clone trooper armor were often field tested by the independent-minded, highly trained Advanced Recon Commandos, also known as ARC troopers, who were the first to receive new equipment. Their field reports helped researchers improve gear before it was distributed to the rest of the army. Like the standard clone trooper armor, there were two types of ARC trooper armor, beginning with Phase I ARC Trooper Armor. It was a heavier version of the regular kit, particularly the forearms, thighs, and chest plate. Each armor set had an advanced helmet that contained a hardened long-range comlink; a kama that was worn around the waist, providing extra protection to the legs and groin; and a built-in load-bearing harness and survival pack.
Phase II ARC Trooper Armor was the upgraded version that the ARC troopers had switched to in the final battles of the Clone Wars. Having successfully field tested its Phase I predecessor, which served as the basis for the standard Phase II clone trooper armor, ARC troopers received similar gear while retaining the accessories that included additional armor, pauldrons, kamas, and survival packs.
Katarn-class Commando Armor was a specialized set of armor and gear used by clone commandos, who were considered to be among the most respected units in the clone army. A type of heavy and highly sophisticated clone trooper armor, Katarn-class armor included a backpack that contained grenades and sabotage gear.
The Mk I Katarn-class Commando Armor was a variant of the commando armor. Consisting of an environmentally sealed durasteel suit worn over an insulated and breathable, ballistic-fiber bodysuit, the Mk I version was considered one of the most advanced sets of armor ever produced by the Republic Military.
Other units that received their own versions of clone trooper armor included Biker Advanced Recon Commando "BARC troopers," the 21st Nova Corps, and clone paratroopers. BARC troopers wore helmets designed to focus their attention forward, helping them to avoid distractions that could be deadly while traveling at high speed on a BARC speeder. The 21st Nova Corps, also known as Galactic Marines, had filtered visors that protected them from pollutants and other hazards. Clone paratroopers were specially trained for airborne assaults; as such, they wore kamas for additional protection as well as unique helmets shaped like a "beehive."
Clone trooper armor also served as the basis for a non-clone variant, tailor-made for the Jedi Knights who served as the clone troopers' commanding officers. Recognizing the Clone Wars as the new common reality that the Jedi Order faced, Jedi Generals adopted the modified clone armor known as Jedi Commander armor. This set of armor consisted of only the most important pieces in order to avoid hampering the Jedi's lightsaber forms and movement. It was more expensive than the standard-issue clone armor, however, costing 5,000 Republic credits.
Jedi Reconnaissance Armor was a lightweight variant of the Jedi Commander armor. It was created in response to the concerns of their clone troopers, who feared that, despite their generals' connection to the Force, even the most experienced Jedi Master could be felled by the sheer amount of blaster fire on the battlefield. The Jedi, therefore, wore light armor with limited protection against blasters, while still leaving them largely unencumbered in battle or overland travel. Reconnaissance Armor cost more than regular clone armor, though at 4,000 credits it was cheaper than its standard Jedi counterpart.
- "Looks like we got ourselves a batch of shinies, Commander."
"That's right. Your armor, it's shiny and new, just like you."
- ―Captain CT-7567 "Rex" and the rookie CT-1409 "Echo"
At the beginning of the Clone Wars, clone troopers were outfitted with standard white armor that had been designed for their use on Kamino. The Kaminoans who created the clones were also responsible for the production of the army's armor, weapons and gear. Before attaining the status of trooper, however, clone cadets wore a training variant of the standard-issue models used on the battlefield. When conflict ensued between the Galactic Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems, Grand Master Yoda journeyed to Kamino to inspect the army that the Kaminoans had built for the Republic. He then departed for the Separatist world of Geonosis at the head of the finest military force in the galaxy. Due to the armor's standard white appearance, Republic citizens took to calling the clone troopers "Boys in White." This civilian-coined nickname was promoted through propaganda by the Commission for the Protection of the Republic.
Initially, the Grand Army of the Republic used color splashes to distinguish clone trooper officers from the rank-and-file soldiers who served under their command. This approach to military rank identification was considered a benefit for non-clones on the battlefield as well as clones whose helmet displays had malfunctioned. It ultimately fell into disuse as a result of the Jedi's growing influence on the clones. Once in command of the clone army, the Jedi Generals encouraged the clones to stop thinking in lockstep and express their individuality, causing entire clone units—from the 212th Attack Battalion and the 501st Legion, to the Coruscant Guard and the 104th Battalion's Wolfpack—to decorate their armor with unique color schemes and markings.
This new trend was taken a step further by Clone Commanders, who increasingly customized their armor over the course of the Clone Wars. Commanders often made extensive modifications to their armor, which came to reflect their experience on the battlefield as well as their own inclinations. Officers such as Clone Captain CT-7567 "Rex" and Clone Commander CC-2224 "Cody" upgraded their kits with blast-resistant kamas, pauldrons, macrobinoculars, communication packs and other gear.
Improvements were made to the clone trooper armor throughout the Clone Wars, and were successfully field-tested by the elite ARC troopers. This led to a widespread distribution of the improved Phase II armor, resulting in the retirement of its Phase I predecessor as nearly all clones switched to the new kit by the final days of the conflict. By then, several variant forms had been created for the various specialized troopers in the Grand Army of the Republic.
- "I'm proud of my service, but I really hate this armor."
- ―Rex, referring to his Republic service and stormtrooper armor
The Phase II clone trooper armor was retained by the clones who served as the first generation of stormtroopers in the Galactic Empire that replaced the Republic after the end of the Clone Wars. The Imperial Army ended the practice of using color to denote unit affiliation, which the clones had adopted after becoming more individualistic under the Jedi's influence. As a result, most of the remaining clone troopers took on the unformed appearance of white-armored soldiers, their individuality replaced by programmed conformity. Despite this, Imperial shock troopers retained the distinctive red markings which identified them as members of the Coruscant Guard.
During the first days of the Imperial Era, Phase II-armored clone troopers were stationed throughout the newly-risen Galactic Empire, from their homeworld of Kamino in extragalactic space, to various planets such as Saleucami and Pantora. By then, the Empire started using conscription as a cost-effective alternative method to the Kaminoan cloning production. Recruited through Project War-Mantle, ES-01, ES-02, ES-03, and ES-04 were enlisted as Elite Squad Troopers. They were issued clone trooper armor that had been modified to fit the non-clone soldiers who were physically different from their clone counterparts as well as each other. Additionally, their version of the clone armor was black instead of white, and their helmets featured green visors.
The Phase II model was eventually succeeded by the Imperial stormtrooper armor and, as a result, was mothballed by the Empire, leading to large stocks of clone trooper armor being recycled while its replacement was distributed throughout the ranks of the Stormtrooper Corps. By then, clones had been supplanted by birth-born human recruits due to Galactic Emperor Darth Sidious' decision to shut down Kamino's cloning facilities.
During the Imperial Era, clone armor remained an occasional sight in the galaxy despite being retired by the Empire. While clone gear was scavenged for its armor plates by Mercenaries and pirates, a handful of renegade clones continued to wear the armor from their days as Republic soldiers. Captain Rex, a retired clone trooper who supported the Alliance to Restore the Republic, was highly vocal in his criticism of stormtrooper gear, referring to it as "junk armor." He also found his ability to see limited by the helmet's eye lenses, further adding to his frustration with the new kit. His opinions on stormtrooper armor were in broad contrast to his views on his old "Generation One" armor, which Rex continued to hold in high regard long after the Empire deemed it obsolete.
Moreover, a variant of the Phase II model was provided for the Purge Troopers, a death squad originally consisting of the last batch of Fett clones that had been repurposed to serve the Inquisitorius as Jedi hunters. Due to their role in the Great Jedi Purge of Order 66, these special forces units wore armor that offered some protection against lightsabers.
The legacy of clone trooper armor endured for decades and was remembered as the first phase in one of the most distinctive symbols of military might in galactic history. It influenced not only the design of Imperial stormtrooper armor but also that of the First Order stormtroopers. Outfitted with a new generation of stormtrooper armor, they were considered the next stage in the evolution of the galaxy's armored soldiers.
Although the image of white-armored clone troopers was once seen as a symbol of honorable defense and salvation by the galaxy, in time this perception morphed into a faceless icon of fascism. This was due to the clone troopers' appearance being appropriated, in turn, by the soldiers of the Galactic Empire and the First Order. By the final days of the First Order's war with the Resistance, their Sith Eternal allies unveiled a new breed of soldier—the crimson-armored Sith troopers. Serving as the backbone of a secret army on Exegol, Sith troopers were modeled on the stormtroopers who preceded them as well as the clone troopers, whose training and armor inspired that of their Sith counterparts. As a result, the Sith trooper armor's helmet incorporated a version of the clone trooper armor's T-shaped visor.
Notes and references
- Ultimate Star Wars
- Rise of the Separatists
- Collapse of the Republic
- Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones
- clone troopers are 1.83 meters tall, which means that their armor must be around that height. states that
- Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
- Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith 1
- Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith 13
- Star Wars Rebels – "Secret Cargo"
- Star Wars Rebels – "Relics of the Old Republic"
- Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary, New Edition
- Ultimate Factivity Collection: Star Wars
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "The Unknown"
- Knights of Fate
- Star Wars Propaganda: A History of Persuasive Art in the Galaxy
- Star Wars Battlefront II
- Star Wars: The Bad Batch – "Aftermath"
- Trivia Gallery
- Star Wars: The Bad Batch – "Cut and Run"
- Star Wars: The Bad Batch – "Cornered"
- Star Wars: The Bad Batch – "Replacements"
- Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith 2
- Star Wars Rebels – "Stealth Strike"
- Star Wars Rebels – "The Last Battle"
- Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith 16
- Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary