Stormtroopers. The universal symbol of Imperial oppression in the Star Wars universe. Faceless, nameless, clad in stark white armor. Reputedly they will not betray their oath, can not be bribed, and are unswerving loyal to the Empire and Emperor Palpatine. They are the Empire’s shock troops, its mighty fist that keeps the galaxy in Palpatine’s iron grip. Ever since the opening scenes of Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, stormtroopers have been one of the most easily recognizable visual symbols of the Star Wars universe. But did you know there are many different types of stormtroopers?
All stormtroopers share the same basic training and armor but there are many specialized sub divisions of the Stormtrooper Corps trained to operate in a multitude of environments and scenarios. Stormtroopers are the Empire’s elite and have been involved in every film of the Original Trilogy as well as the newly released and soon to be released films. Stormtrooper variants began appearing in the films starting with A New Hope and their ranks exploded as first the films then the Expanded Universe introduced more specializations.
Below we take a look at some of the most prominent stormtrooper variants.
The original stormtrooper first seen on screen storming the corridors of the Tantive IV in the opening scenes of A New Hope. Formed from the clone trooper forces created by the Galactic Republic during the Clone Wars, stormtroopers are a symbol of Imperial power and instill fear into the hearts of the citizens of the galaxy. Stormtrooper armor is comprised of eighteen separate plastoid composite plates and synth-leather boots. Generally the armor is capable of repelling projectile weapons and shrapnel, but it fails to stop a full blaster bolt unless it is a glancing glow. Stormtrooper helmets are fitted with integrated comlinks and visual targeting systems allowing for troop coordination and precise marksmanship. The E-11 blaster rifle is the standard stormtrooper firearm, although heavier weapons such as the DLT-20A laser rifle and the DLT-19 heavy blaster rifle are not uncommon. Stormtroopers also carry a thermal detonator attached to the back of their armor and make use of utility belts packed with goodies including a comlink and grappling hook.
Skills: Storming Rebel starships
Weaknesses: Primitive warrior races with spears
Sandtroopers led the search for the missing droids C-3PO and R2-D2 in the desert wastes of Tatooine in A New Hope. Sandtroopers are given specialized training and equipment to operate in desert environments. They wear stormtrooper armor modified with cooling fans and sand filters to counter temperature extremes. Each sandtrooper is also equipped with a survival pack that holds extra rations and water. Some sandtroopers are trained in beast handling and ride large lizards called dewbacks while carrying out their missions. Sandtroopers proved their brutality when they slaughtered Jawas and killed Luke Skywalker’s aunt and uncle in their search for the stolen Death Star plans. They failed spectacularly to stop the Millennium Falcon from escaping Tatooine however.
Skills: Burning moisture farm homesteads to the ground, riding single file
Weaknesses: Inability to recover wanted droids
Appearances: Episode IV
Dropping from the armored bellies of All Terrain Armored Transports, snowtroopers stormed the Rebel defenses of Echo Base on the ice planet Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back. Snowtroopers often work in tandem with walker units to assault Rebel positions. Their armor is insulated against extreme cold and includes a heated breather mask, ice-grip boots, insulated belt cape, polarized snow goggles, grappling hooks, ion flares, and a homing beacon. Of all the stormtrooper units featured in the Original Trilogy, snowtroopers are probably by far the most effective due to their overwhelming victory at Hoth.
Skills: Overrunning Rebel defenses
Weaknesses: Vulnerable to blaster fire from YT-1300 freighters, evisceration by wampas
Appearances: Episode V
Roaring through the giant forests of Endor, scout troopers guarded the Imperial base assaulted by the Rebels in Return of the Jedi. Mounted on fast 74-Z speeder bikes, scout troopers wear light armor that included optical enhancements in the helmet that gives them increased reaction times. They are also expert snipers and marksmen trained in recon and infiltration. Standard weapons include blaster pistols and E-11s long-range blasters. Despite all their training however, they still managed to be outwitted by a small joyriding Ewok.
Skills: Mad biking skills
Weaknesses: Giant trees, Ewok bike thieves
Appearances: Episode VI
First Order stormtroopers
The Force Awakens introduced a new generation of stormtroopers. Loyal to the successor of the Empire known as the First Order, these new stormtroopers were abducted at birth and trained to be loyal servants and soldiers. Their armor is similar in design to their predecessors (via an Apple-inspired redesign) but lacks certain enhancements such as advanced optics which require them to use equipment like quadnoculars which are presumably like binoculars but more futuristic. They are armed with F-11D blaster rifles and SE-44C blaster pistols. Variant stormtroopers within the First Order include flametroopers (barbecue cooks), megablaster heavy assault troopers (big guns), riot control stormtroopers (traitor control) and snowtroopers (tobogganing).
Skills: Destroying undefended settlements
Weaknesses: Traitors, bowcasters, aerial strikes, Jedi mind tricks
Appearances: Episode VII
Shoretroopers are one of the newest iterations of stormtrooper due to be introduced in Rogue One. Not much is known about them obviously but they’re included here since they look kinda cool and are probably going to play a vital role in film. Probably armed with some cool weapons and hopefully a hover-surfboard (or would that just be a hoverboard?) Just be glad that Lucasfilm did not decide to introduce beach troopers into the film …
Skills: Lifeguarding? Surfing?
Weaknesses: Sand in armor cracks? It does get everywhere.
Appearances: Rogue One
Another recent addition to the stormtrooper ranks for Rogue One is the black armored death trooper. Even less is known about them than the shoretrooper but it is clear they are an elite branch – black armor has always denoted elite stormtrooper units in the Expanded Universe from shadow stormtroopers to dark troopers to storm commandos. They’re not even the first stormtrooper variants to be called death troopers – that honor goes to the Death Trooper (note the capitalization) who were zombie stormtroopers infected by a bioweapons agent known as the Sickness. Yes, you read that correctly. Star Wars has zombies. And they’re not even confined to Legends.
Skills: Probably great at everything
Weaknesses: Probably none unless they’re actually zombies then cutting off the head or destroying the brain
Appearances: Rogue One
The old Expanded Universe – now rebranded as Legends – introduced a range of different specialized stormtrooper divisions, some of which have been reintroduced into Canon through various projects. Some of the more memorable are:
Aquatic assault stormtroopers (seatroopers) are trained to operate underwater. They look like scout troopers with scuba gear and flippers and their primary weapon is a blaster speargun. Which is exactly what it sounds like. Recently reintroduced into Canon.
EVO troopers operate in hazardous environments conditions which include toxic environments. They usually carry flechette launchers or light repeating blasters.
Heavy troopers are armed with electro staffs for melee combat against powerful and large aliens such as Wookiees. Their armor gave them a degree of protection against lightsabers.
Radiation zone assault troopers (radtroopers) operate in heavily irradiated areas. Their armor is silver and black. Referred to by Rebels as KSA (kinky silver armor).
Wetland assault stormtroopers (swamptroopers) are deployed to wetlands and other semi-aquatic environments.
Zero-G assault stormtroopers (spacetrooper) are trained for operations and combat in space. Each trooper’s armor turns them into a veritable walking arsenal. Used effectively by Grand Admiral Thrawn in Heir to the Empire.