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The vertical maneuvering equipment (立体機動装置 Rittai kidō sōchi?) is a set of equipment developed by humans allowing for great mobility when facing the Titans in combat. The equipment enables the user to fight in a 3D space as opposed to a 2D one. The equipment itself takes the form of a body harness that encompasses much of the body below the neck.
Although the equipment can grant a skilled user tremendous mobility, it is a demanding art that requires strength, and skill, both of which must be honed through constant practice.
Some tools involved in the apparatus include:
- Hand grips
- Piston-shot grapple-hooks
- Gas-powered mechanism
- Iron wire propeller with plug-in blades
The simplest move possible with the vertical equipment is simply aiming and firing the grapple hooks at an object and then activating the gas mechanism to reel oneself toward said object. They can then disconnect the hook and continue moving forward.
However, usually soldiers must be able to move around in order to navigate in general. Therefore, they tend to use their momentum in order to swing around targets, not only in rectilinear patterns, but also slaloming between objects and Titans. The gas mechanism is so powerful that it can stop a person from falling without using the hooks.
The vertical equipment tends to be less efficient in open spaces because the user does not have too many spots where the hooks can be reeled. The hooks are able to pierce Titan flesh and vertical equipment can be as fast or even faster than a Titan.
A variant design specialized in fighting humans later made its debut during the Anti-Personnel Control Squad's battles with the Survey Corps. After learning of the threat that Marley posed, this variant is adopted for mass use while the traditional gear is retained for use in individuals with specialized tasks.
As seen during the Survey Corps' attack on Liberio, vertical maneuvering equipment can be worn alongside the anti-personnel vertical maneuvering equipment. This gives the wearer access to both ranged and close combat capabilities.
The Body of the Device - Steel wire is stored inside the body, installed in the lumbar area of the back. There are two axles, which revolve independently.
Operating Device - The functioning part of the operating device is a black box, which the technical department manages and improves in secrecy. The operating device has two triggers that launch the hooks, a lateral switch that aims the hooks and a brake. It also has a top piece where blades are put for combat. Thus the operating device also works as a sword's handle.
Body of the Compressed Gas Cylinder - Gas is compressed into the cylinder and injected.
Blades - The blades are made from an ultrahard steel, which is both supple and strong, capable of rending Titan flesh. It can only be manufactured in the blast furnaces of factory cities. Soldiers usually carry more blades in boxes free floating and attached at the sides of their thighs. Four years after Battle of Shiganshina District, the designs for the blades and their containers were made smaller. In addition, the containers now mounted parallel to their thigh bones and are open at the top to enable the blades to be pulled out in a diagonal fashion.
Vertical maneuvering equipment training is a rigorous process that allows humans, which are limited to two-dimensional movements, to adapt to movement in the third dimension.
Great physical strength, particularly in the legs, coupled with spatial recognition abilities, as well as the mental strength to not waver in the midst of a panic, are crucial qualities.
One of the first things done after enlisting in training is the vertical maneuvering equipment aptitude evaluation. Those unable to remain upright are dismissed.
Three years of training are needed before officially becoming a soldier. Many run away or are driven out before graduating. The training is so intense that some actually die during the process.
- A variation of this device involves using the standard body and harnesses of the equipment, but replacing the sword blades with explosive rods used to incapacitate or destroy armored opponents (such as the Armored Titan).
- The Beast Titan showed great interest in vertical maneuvering equipment, apparently having never encountered it before his meeting with Mike Zacharias, suggesting that the world beyond the Walls had been unaware of the existence of the device before this time.
- In Chapter 101 the vertical maneuvering gear's main body is altered to match the design introduced in the anime.