More Machine Than Man: Darth Vader’s Armor

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Very few villians in the history of cinema can rival Darth Vader’s iconic appearance. His strained mechanical breathing, lifeless black eyes, and flowing cape personified his villainy. 

Vader’s armor acted as a kind of mobile life-support system. The system was fully encased in a suit of distinctive black armor. The entire suit was designed to maintain and protect the charred body of Anakin Skywalker.


The design of Darth Vader’s suit was styled after ancient, traditional sith armor and patterned after the Sith droids of millennia earlier. The combination was designed to be both intimidating and fearsome. 

The helmet consisted of a combination of durasteel, obsidian, and plasteel. Rumors persisted that the strong metallic structure of the helmet had been further enhanced using dark side alchemy. 

The appearance of the mask was designed to resemble a skull. This enhanced the overall fear factor of Darth Vader’s appearance. Hermetically sealed components connected with a flat backpack cycled air to his lungs. 

The air pump was located inside the top of the mask. The distinctive rasp was supplied through a ventilator. An implanted enunciator linked to an electronic voice processor enabled Vader’s scorched vocal cords to produce speech.

The pectoral armor of Vader’s suit as one piece that protected the entire upper torso. The shoulder pauldrons were resistant to both energy blades and blasters. This created a challenge for Vader to raise his lightsaber to full height. 

The entire abdominal area was covered by a plastoid girdle that protected Vader’s synthetic and organic internal organs. The chest unit over the solar plexus regulated many of the suit’s life support functions.

Protective Systems

Darh Vader wore a black ribbed, multi-ply body glove over the majority of his body. The suit was flexible and blast-dampening. The material was fireproof and offered protection against corrosive gasses and fire. 

Within the suit was a gasket that accessed a cartridge containing kouhunin chemicals. These chemicals acted as painkillers that could dull Vader’s pain perception. 


Vader could take in food while inside a hyperbaric chamber, since the triangular respiratory vent had to be removed. It was easier however for him to receive nourishment through liquids. 

He was forced to rely on catheters, collection pouches, and recyclers to deal with liquid and solid waste.Though liquids were easier, Vader still had the capacity to chew if he wished.

Discomfort And Limitations

Vader was dismayed by the incompetence of the medical droids that performed the life saving surgery. As a mechanical engineer, he recognized that the technology responsible for his suit was already obsolete. 

In some instances, Vader wondered if the suit was deliberately designed by Sidious to limit his full potential and lethality. The armor itself was extremely uncomfortable at first. 

The synthetic skin replacing his seared organic skin itched constantly. Vader’s body routinely had to be scrubbed of necrotic flesh through an extremely painful process.

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