- "How about you get into this armor and try to see out of this damn helmet?"
Stormtrooper armor was a distinctive white plastoid body armor over a sealed black body glove worn by Imperial stormtroopers, and in this respect appeared similar to their Clone Wars Phase II clone trooper armor predecessors, having acquired its color from the austere tastes of its Kaminoan creators. The complete set of eighteen pieces completely encased the body and typically had no individually distinguishing marking outside of rank. In fact, the casual first-time observer sometimes mistook the Stormtroopers as a form of battle droid.
It also protected the troopers from very harsh environments as well as projectiles and kinetic energy weapons. The armor might be penetrated by a blaster bolt, but it reduced damage from the bolts significantly. The body glove allowed for operation in warm or cold climates, however it could protect the trooper from almost any environment -- from total vacuum conditions to the very extremes in cold and heat for a very limited period of time.
Rank was indicated with colored pauldrons. In certain situations, Stormtroopers sometimes wore camouflage armor to help them blend in with different environments. The Stormtrooper corps instituted this reform after the embarrassing defeat at the Battle of Endor.
Private ownership of stormtrooper armor was strictly forbidden by the Empire.
The most obvious function of the armor was protection against weapons fire and battlefield hazards. The armor, and the body glove worn beneath, were designed to disperse the energy of a blaster bolt and insulate the wearer, lessening injury. Although standard armor lacked the durability to make the wearer immune to blaster fire, it could deflect low-powered bolts. It also deflected stun beams, and served as protection against explosions and shrapnel. It was almost impossible to kill a stormtrooper with a slugthrower unless the bullet was abnormally large, specifically armor piercing, or if it hit the body glove or visor. Although this armor provided less protection from blaster weapons than Phase I and Phase II armor, it offered superior protection from the elements.
Stormtrooper armor was fitted with air filters and fully sealed against chemical and biological attack; the armor could even protect the wearer against vacuum for a limited time. A back-mounted tank contained 20 minutes of emergency oxygen. The aforementioned body glove also provided limited thermal protection.
- The gloves were powered up during Hand-to-Hand combat (power gloves).
- The stomach armor contained a Manual Suit Seal and environmental controls.
- The thigh armor had a reinforced alloy plate ridge
- The lower right side, near the knee contained the suits system power cells.
- The left upper side of the shin armor had a sniper position knee protector plate.
- IFF circuitry was in the back of the suit for identification and command purposes for identifying each other.
- Wrist comlink[source?]
- A Proper Resonator to open secure doors
By 130 ABY, stormtrooper armor had reportedly been strengthened to absorb and diffuse direct blaster hits. However, during the Battle of Borosk between the 407th and 908th stormtrooper divisions, it was observed that direct blaster hits seemed to render troopers incapacitated, although it is possible that the effect of the blast was dissipated and the trooper survived.
By this date, slight modifications had been made to stormtrooper armor in the breathing system and back plate. Also, in a return to the convention followed in the early years of the clone wars, the armor of NCOs were distinguished by different colors. For example, sergeants were identified by yellow-green stripes that ran the length of their arm, similar to the Katarn VI armor.
- "I can't see a thing in this helmet!"
- ―Luke Skywalker
Stormtrooper helmets consisted of four-layer construction. The outer layer was made of plastoid composite armor, the next layer was an anti-laser mesh, followed by magnetic shielding, and finally an inner insulator. Cellular padding helped prevent head injury.
Over time, the helmets evolved and implemented new technology. For example, earlier models included only simple eye lenses, but as technology increased, the helmets began to feature more advanced visual targeting systems including:
- Automatic polarizing and anti-flash blinding lenses protected the trooper against intense glare and provided them with enhanced combat vision or "Holographic Vision Processors" (which allowed vision through many barriers such as smoke, darkness and fire.
- Multi-Frequency Targeting and Acquisition System (MFTAS) helped with the stormtroopers' perception in darkness as well as smoke and other visibility obscuring conditions.
Additionally, stormtrooper helmets contained features such as:
- Built-in comlink (see below)
- Advanced Breathing Filters (which acted as protection against chemical and biological attacks, as well as toxins)
- Cooling and atmosphere control systems
By 130 ABY, stormtrooper helmets included updated sensors. The helmet's appearance was also slightly modified to appear as a cross between the Phase II clone trooper armor and the original stormtrooper helmets. A number of variations were also introduced to accommodate alien species that were newly allowed to enroll in the Stormtrooper Corps.
A comlink with frequency changing options was built into the trooper's helmet. The comlink used linked encoding sequences to rotate frequencies every few seconds while keeping all troopers in the unit synchronized. If a trooper's helmet was removed without the trooper first hitting the comlink's control stud (most likely found on the under-rim of the helmet), the frequency coding routine was automatically deleted from that helmet.
The Comtech Series IV helmet speaker used three-phase sonic filtering for clear sound (for troopers, it was connected to the audio pickup). It also had a vocoder for talking to non-stormtroopers. Video recorders were included in some helmets.
Utility belt and backpack
Stormtroopers were also equipped with a utility belt. This could include:
- A high-tension wire
- Two grappling hooks
- Four spare blaster power packs
- Three ion flares
- Energy rations
- A spare comlink
- Three water packs
- Two medpacks.
- Two Blast Energy Sinks to protect the trooper's hips and absorb blast energy
- A Thermal detonator
- Combat de-ionizer
The backplate of the standard armor contained a power pack as well as a small supply of air (see above). In certain deployments, stormtroopers were equipped with backpacks. These backpacks could contain:
- An extended air supply
- Additional communications gear
- Cooling systems
- Mortar launchers
- A heater (contained in the snowtrooper backpack)
- Additional rations
Behind the scenes
Stormtrooper armor as portrayed in the films is highly ineffective as combat protection and is generally hindering to the wearer. Though this may largely be due to the now infamous stormtrooper effect, it has given rise to much fan speculation and outright mockery. However, this is countered by numerous role-playing, and other such sources, wherein stormtrooper armor is, on average, the best available armor, for protection versus weight/mobility restriction, and advantages, only being limited by its illegality to purchase, thus requiring exorbitant prices on the black market.
Stormtrooper armor is very similar to the real-world compound of kevlar, a synthetic fiber used in body armor for soldiers and police officers. Kevlar stops low-to-medium powered handgun rounds and is only reliably defeated by rifles or specialized armor-piercing ammunition, very similar to the effect stormtrooper armor has on solid projectiles.
Replica Stormtrooper armor is popular among fan groups, such as the 501st Legion, but is often produced illegally, in breach of Star Wars copyright. In 2008, George Lucas sued Shepperton Design Studios over its production of illegal stormtrooper armor.
In Episode IV, there is at least one little glitch in stormtrooper armor. When few stormtroopers go with inprisoned Leia Organa Solo, it is clearly seen that one on the right has a long grill, while the one on the right has a short one.
- Galaxy Guide 3: The Empire Strikes Back
- Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary
- The New Essential Guide to Weapons and Technology
- Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game, Second Edition