Darth Vader’s armor, serial number: E-3778Q-1, was designed to maintain and protect the young Sith apprentice’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’s construction incorporated Sith alchemy to augment Vader’s severely diminished physical strength and vitality.
The suit provided a suite of life-support system and gave Vader relatively free movement without having to use a hoverchair. It was damaged or broken several times during its use, necessitating upgrades and repairs. The suit was finally irreparably broken in 4 ABY, when Vader absorbed Emperor Palpatine’s powerful Force lightning in his face aboard the second Death Star to save his son, Luke Skywalker, from certain death. After Vader’s death, Luke ceremonially cremated his father along with the armor on the forest moon of Endor.
The armor encased Vader completely, creating a seal to protect his charred skin and lungs. It was also uncomfortable to wear. Vader slowly learned to live with the isolation and anonymity that the suit imposed on him. Vader had to change his lightsaber style to compensate for the weight, bulk and inflexibility of his armor. The electronics of the suit were sensitive to electrical discharges. Vader later added a limited amount of insulation to the suit after discovering this vulnerability. To escape the armor’s claustrophobic nature, Vader had several pressurized meditation chambers built where he could remove his mask and suit and still survive. Vader longed to be less dependent on his armor and tried at times to function without it, but he labored in vain.
Despite the weaknesses imparted by the suit, it also provided a number of strengths. These included greatly enhanced durability and stamina, numerous sensory enhancements, and protection from extremely inhospitable environments and biological weaponry.