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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 that allows great mobility when facing the Titans in combat. The equipment allows 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.
Usually however, 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. However the hooks are able to pierce Titan flesh and vertical equipment can be as fast or even faster than a Titan.
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 built at the sides of their thighs.
Fan Section - Gas is blown directly into the fan to make it rotate. The pressure of the gas is regulated to manipulate the output.
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.
"Those incapable [of staying upright] aren't suited to even be used as decoys!"
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 people actually die during the process.
- As of Chapter 58, Gunfire, the members of the Interior Military Police's Anti-Personnel Control Squad are shown wearing a variant that is quite different from the standard vertical maneuvering equipment used by the regular forces. While the basic principles for maneuvering in it are the same, the design is drastically different with the bulk of the device worn over the shoulders rather than the hips, one tank of compressed air on the back rather than two mounted on the blade sheaths, and with the grapple-hooks being fired from the hand grips rather than from the blade sheaths. In addition, the swords are replaced with high powered pistols that are reloaded with the barrels being discarded and replaced with others stored in bandoleers worn over the thighs of the wielder.
- 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.