Used by: Darth Vader

DVesbsab.jpg (40278 bytes)

DVesbsab.jpg (40278 bytes)
Clear reference photos of this lightsaber are elusive.

DVesbsab.jpg (40278 bytes)

Darth Vader wielded this weapon against his own son in a fateful duel on Cloud City. The prop had some minor changes from the previous film. It was constructed from an MPP Microflash manufactured by Micro Precision Products of England. In fact this exact MPP flashgun was one of the two primary Vader lightsabers seen in A New Hope. This MPP has rectangular black sidebars on the clamp and has lost it's clamp lever. The clamp lever was on the side seen in the top photo in ANH. The remaining lever post was tightened down against the clamp washer.

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MPP Microflash - photo: Laszlo Beckett

The Microflash nameplate was removed from the side. It was held in place by two tiny rivets therefore we presume the prop makers drilled them out. A D-ring was attached though a hole drilled into the black angled head of the flash just under the thumbscrew. On the middle band that held the unit to the side of a camera, a Light Emitting Diode display bubble type lens from a vintage calculator was slid into the clamp. Very few calculators have the correct 7 bubble lenses, so far only two models are known the Exactra 19 and the Exactra 20. These were introduced by Texas Instruments in 1974 and are referred to as 6 digit displays (only six of the spaces are used for numbers, the leftmost is for modifiers like a negative sign). These lenses are 2 inch long clear strips with a row of convex lenses referred to as "bubbles" that magnify glowing red display. For this prop a normal 7 bubble lens was cut down to a length of 1 1/2 inches leaving only 6 bubbles.

Texas Instruments Exactra 20 interior detail
Photo: Justin of World Famous Comics

The Empire Strikes Back version has only six grips compared to seven on the original A New Hope lightsaber. These six grips are much longer and run from the bottom of the middle band to the ridge of the endcap. The exact identity of the grip material has yet to be determined, but recent revelations suggest hard black plastic T-track from old cupboards with sliding doors.

Wires were added in the plug holes just below the saber's shroud. A red wire runs between the two holes of the vertical "B" slot. Right next to that in the two horizontal "E" holes are a black and a white wire.

As with all of the films, multiple lightsabers were constructed. Another version of Vader's lightsaber has been on display in Europe recently as part of the traveling Art of Star Wars exhibit. Most of the parts on this version are unidentified but it does have a circuit board connector card within an MPP middle band and many allen head screws. These parts lead us to believe it was also from The Empire Strikes Back. It also has six longer ESB style grips. The clamp has black rectangular side bars, but is missing the usual plastic backing that protects the chrome finish of an MPP flashgun from scratches. The clamp lever was tightened a half turn to secure the middle band which would have been loose on a 1 1/2" tube without the plastic backing.

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