Translator's Note: In 1984, Kodansha published a set of three pocket books devoted to the Mobile Suit Variation series, which were released as part of the Kodansha Pocket Hyakka Series. Long out of print, these books have recently been reissued. In addition to profiles of the various MSV machines, these books also included detailed features on mobile suit development history and the progress of the war between the Earth Federation and the Principality of Zeon.
Mobile Suit Variation 3: Federation Forces Edition was published in July 1984 and included the final installment of a continuing feature on the history of the "Zeon War of Independence." This installment covered the events of the Mobile Suit Gundam television series and the conclusion of the war. The feature also included several diagrams and maps, for which I've provided text descriptions. I've also translated the sections devoted to mobile suit development history, a overview of the White Base and its sister ships, and a comparison of Federation and Principality conventional weapons.
|Mechanical Design:||Kunio Okawara|
The following text is copyright © 1984 Kodansha.
Translator's Note: The mobile suit development history section is broken up into two parts in the original book, and I've reproduced that structure here.
The development of the Federation Forces' RX mobile suits began directly after the outbreak of war, but the rollout of the functional RX-77 type and RX-78 type came just eight months later. There were several reasons why the Federation Forces were able to complete high-class functional machines in such a short time, while the Zeon forces took roughly five years to complete a working mobile suit. The greatest of these was that they already excelled in the general-purpose technology of walking mechanisms and other technologies required for mobile suits, as well as the economic power to support them. Another major reason was that some Zeon mobile suit engineers who opposed the war had fled to the Earth Federation.
With the help of these exiles, the (prototype) anti-mobile suit fighting vehicle RTX-44 was comprehensively refined to complete the RX-75. This was then developed into the full-scale test type vehicle RXM-1. At this point the Zeon forces began their Earth invasion operation, and the fighting shifted from space to Earth.
The RTX-44, the first anti-mobile suit weapon developed by the Federation Forces, was a fighting vehicle rather than a mobile suit. Similar in form to an ordinary tank, it was heavily armed with two 240mm cannons and four anti-air rocket launchers, and had an overall weight of 97 tons. As a result, its mobility was extremely low, and it was more like a huge lump of metal than a weapon.
RX Mobile Suit Development Flow
From the beginning, the Federation Forces' RX mobile suits followed two separate flows. One started with the RX-77 and RX-78 and consisted of types with two-legged walking units, and the other began with the RX-75 and consisted of types that moved with caterpillar treads or verniers instead of walking units. This could be seen as an indication of how the Federation Forces, who were behind in mobile suit development, were groping for possibilities. The RMV-1 and RB-79 were born as a result. In Zeon terms these would be a land warfare mobile armor and a simplified space combat mobile armor, respectively, but the Federation Forces classified both machines as RX mobile suits.
The difference in how the RMV-1 and RB-79 were treated could be said to reflect the different ways in which each side recognized mobile suits. Although both machines were incomplete in many respects, they were put to use as they were, because they appeared before mobile suit-based weapons systems and tactical theories had been properly established.
Due to insufficient development time, the RX-78 entered the battlefield in the form of the mass production type RGM-79. In other words, the RGM-79 was in a sense an incomplete machine. The Federation Forces' development bureau had plans for an RX-81 which would resolve the problems of the RX-78 and give a single machine greater fighting strength than a warship. Although no formal announcement was made regarding this plan, had it been completed, it would probably have been the perfect mass production model of the RX-78.
The following text is copyright © 1984 Kodansha.
The space warships of the Federation Forces tended toward a "big ships, big guns" philosophy. Even though they recognized the need for space carriers, the Federation Forces had not yet launched such a project, but seeing the growing military strength of the Principality of Zeon they were finally moved to action. It was at this point that the SCV-X project was launched.
The first plan considered by the Federation Forces was an open-decked carrier for the FF-S3, which was a deviation from the regular practice of the time. After several plans were discarded, the SCV-27A plan now known as the White Base class was put into execution (1). Perhaps because of the achievements of the Zeon forces' mobile suits, the plan was changed directly after the outbreak of war, and the design was altered to carry RX mobile suits instead of space fighters.
The White Base-class space carrier was constructed using a highly advanced block method, and was essentially divided into seven blocks. The central bow hangar, the bridge and living quarters, and the engine room and stern landing port each made up a block within the ship. These were combined with port and starboard main hangars in the bow, and port and starboard main engines in the stern. This was the basic form, but some later ships were constructed in a way that made them appear at first glance to be an entirely different type.
Its distinctive internal characteristics included living quarters twice the size of those in previous ships, which included an artificial gravity area, and an open deck that ran from bow to stern. These provided the same comfort and functional advantages as the surface carriers of the latter half of the twentieth century. Thanks to their unique style, the Zeon forces called ships of this class "Trojan Horses."
The basic engines consisted of two units with a cruising output of 32,000 tons apiece, as well as a field propulsion system which applied the Minovsky craft principle. The regular engines were similar in principle to those of Magellan- and Salamis-class warships, but their far higher output made it possible to escape the atmosphere without supplemental boosters.
When it was changed into a carrier for RX mobile suits, the White Base-class space attack carrier became a part of Operation V. Operation V was to be an important factor in the Federation Forces' subsequent counteroffensive, and the White Base was expected to support RX mobile suits as the core of the Federation Forces space fleet. As a result, from construction to commission, it was treated as a military secret of the same AAA rank as the RX mobile suits themselves. But due to unanticipated events the White Base, the first ship of the class, ironically came to be operated by people from outside the regular military.
In order to understand the operation system of the RX mobile suits, one must first understand the operating method of the FF-X7 Core Fighter that served as their core. In form, this resembled the aircraft operation system of surface carriers, but in airless zero-gravity conditions it was really a different thing. This operation system was composed of four subsystems, including the FF-X7 landing system and the RX mobile suit conversion system, as well as the computers that controlled them all.
Where landing systems were concerned, landing was normally performed with zero speed relative to the mothership. In the landing system used by the FF-X7, however, it was decelerated by the arresting gear on the underside of the ship and then brought inside by a receiving arm.
Once received inside the ship, the FF-X7 entered the port or starboard hangar deck in the bow of the ship via the open deck. The same receiving arm was used to move it, and when the aircraft was to be installed in an RX mobile suit it could transform into a core block while still suspended from the arm.
In the rear of the hangar decks were maintenance platforms for RX mobile suits, which could also be used for docking with the core block. RX mobile suits were usually placed on these platforms when the core block was separated, or for disassembly and maintenance.
The central section of the hangar deck, in front of the maintenance platforms, was used as a parking and arming area. Standard equipment and armament was completed in this area, and machines that were ready for takeoff then proceeded to the launch area at the front of the hangar deck, where they were shot out of the ship on a catapult. Other carried vehicles also followed the same process from the parking area to takeoff.
The hangar decks had doors that separated into upper and lower halves, and could be pressurized and depressurized as needed. Since there was no vacuum pump inside the deck, the air rushed out whenever the hatch was opened.
There were catapult rails and bridle catchers on the lower section of the hatch. Since the volume of the hangar decks was limited, this method was deemed the best design for the installation of the catapults, which required a great deal of space.
Catapults were installed for the sake of fuel efficiency during takeoff, and were operated by linear motors. The acceleration shuttles could be fitted with either bridles for carried fighters, or hooks for RX mobile suits. Each ship had four catapults, and RX mobile suits used two at a time. Blast deflectors were located behind the catapults.
Due to its shape, the White Base class had fairly limited armament, most of which consisted of close defense weapons with short ranges. Its major weapons were a 52 cm gunpowder-based dual cannon which served as its main gun, and two dual mega particle cannons. It had no secondary guns, and its other weapons consisted of 18 dual machine guns and 32 missile launchers.
The first ship of the class, the White Base for which it was named, is said to have been equipped with two kinds of mega particle cannon. One had two short barrels set side by side around a targeting sensor, and the other had two longer barrels set one on top of the other. It's not clear when the replacement was made, but it's reported that it was equipped with the former during Operation Odessa and the latter when it docked at Side 6. It's generally believed that the switch was made during its special overhaul at Jaburo.
The gunpowder-based main guns, meanwhile, had a historically unprecedented caliber of 52 cm, a projectile weight of 2 tons, and an effective firing range of up to 70 kilometers (on the ground). It would be neither possible nor necessary to install such huge guns on an ordinary warship, but these were installed to give it weapons with greater destructive power than missiles in the event that the Zeon forces developed defensive measures against beam weapons. However, due to their huge recoil, it was necessary to limit the use of other weapons while firing them.
As for targeting systems, the main guns used laser systems, the missiles used image sensors, and the machine guns were aimed visually. With the machine guns, the gunner's skill was particularly important.
The construction of the SCV-70 White Base, the first White Base-class space attack carrier, was approved as part of the U.C. 0077 Armament Reinforcement Plan and began in Dock 1 of Jaburo's A Block in February of U.C. 0078. At the same time, work began on the second and third ships in Dock 4 and Dock 5.
The first ship was commissioned on September 1 of the following year. It departed for Luna II as a test flight, and the plan was that it would then collect the RX mobile suits that had completed their functional testing at Side 7 and return to Jaburo. However, when it docked at Side 7 it was discovered by Lieutenant Commander Char, the "Red Comet" of the Zeon forces, and was unavoidably drawn into combat. At this point most of the regular crew were killed in battle, and it was officer cadets and civilians who fought back. After this, these people operated the ship as its crewmembers.
After descending to Earth, the White Base was attacked by the Earth Attack Force, but fought back and succeeded in killing the enemy commander Captain Garma. After this it received the G-Mecha and participated in Operation Odessa, and was fortunate enough to destroy the "Black Tri-Stars." On November 3 of that year it returned to Jaburo and underwent a month and a half of maintenance (2). During this interval, its crew participated in the Battle of Jaburo.
It was then assigned to the space offensive as the 13th Autonomous Squadron, and participated in Operation Cembalo (the Battle of Solomon) and Operation Star One (the Battle of A Baoa Qu). However, during the Battle of A Baoa Qu it approached the fortress too closely and was sunk by mobile suit attacks.
Three ships of the same type as the White Base were constructed, and three more of a similar type (one of which was not completed).
The second ship of the White Base class was named the SCV-69 Pegasus. It was assigned to the Luna II fleet just before the end of the war and produced no combat results. This ship was originally meant to be the first of its class, but its construction was delayed and it became the second ship. The third ship was completed as the SCV-71 White Base Junior just before the end of the war, but because it had the same crew as the first ship, it was commissioned as the White Base II.
The similar type had enlarged hangar decks, and its engine units were concentrated in the stern. This was known as the quasi-White Base class, and the first and second ships (the SCVA-72 Thoroughbred and the SCVA-73 Troy Horse) were both commissioned after a dramatically shortened construction period. During Operation Star One they were used for tasks like resource transportation, but there is no record of them engaging in combat. Construction of the third ship, the SCVA-74, was halted when it was roughly 40 percent completed. Materials from this ship were used in the special overhaul of the White Base.
(1) The MSV books consistently refer to this as the White Base class rather than the Pegasus class, presumably due to the military convention that each new class of ship should be named after the first one completed.
(2) At this point, the chronology of the MSV books departs from the current standard timeline.
The following text is copyright © 1984 Kodansha.
Translator's Note: The following account is continued from Mobile Suit Variation 1: Zaku Edition and Mobile Suit Variation 2: Zeon Forces MS · MA Edition.
Roughly one and a half months after the landing operations, the Zeon forces' Earth invasion had succeeded in its initial objective of securing resources and military facilities. But thanks to the systematic counterattacks of the Federation Forces, which had greater terrestrial strength, the Earth Attack Force had its hands full merely maintaining its previous advances and holding its front lines in each area. Meanwhile, the Federation Forces were doing their best to avoid deploying more fighting strength than immediately necessary, so that they could build up their strength for an upcoming all-out counteroffensive. Thus the war situation both in space and on Earth became a stalemate, and a series of advances and retreats continued for almost half a year thereafter.
During this middle stage of the war, both sides were trying to avoid expending their fighting strength. At this point the Federation Forces had no combat mobile suits, which remained in the experimental stages. Had the Zeon forces been less stingy in using their fighting strength against the Federation Forces, the later war situation might have been less favorable for the Federation. In any case, during this period of stalemate on the front lines during the middle of the war, the Federation Forces, which had superior national resources, worked effectively towards victory.
In the middle stage of the war, the Federation Forces carried out three military buildup programs. These consisted of a personnel reinforcement plan, the Vinson Plan aimed at mass production of space warships and fighters, and Operation V, whose objective was to build up a fighting force of RX mobile suits and construct White Base-class space attack carriers to support them as motherships. Operation V was expected to provide fighting strength for decisive battles, and was designated as a military secret of the highest AAA rank, whose details were known to only a small part of the Federation Forces.
Meanwhile, the Vinson Plan and the personnel reinforcement plan were preparations for the coming space counteroffensive, with the goal of organizing an armada of 340 vessels and training their crews. It proved possible to construct these spaceships very quickly, and 228 vessels were ultimately commissioned. However, many of these vessels were only modified Columbus-class space carriers and Public-type assault boats, so it is hard to say whether the plan was truly a success.
The Federation Forces' RX mobile suits moved from basic research to the practical stage with the announcement of Operation V on April 7, U.C. 0079. The RX-75, RX-77, and RX-78 types that were thus completed incorporated the latest new technologies such as the core block system and learning computer. Due to the lack of development time, they were sent into the battlefield while some parts remained incomplete, but these three types fought well against the mobile suits of the Zeon forces. This fact raised the morale of the Federation Forces engineers, and spurred the mass production of RX mobile suits.
In late August of U.C. 0079, plans were drafted for an all-out counteroffensive against the Zeon forces, made possible by the preceding military buildup programs. The initial plan was to carry out multiple counteroffensive operations simultaneously across the entire Earth, striking at the core of the Earth Attack Force, and then shift the main battlefield to space. The RGM-79, a simplified mass production model of the RX-78, was to have been sent into battle at this point.
In fact, with Operation V delayed and time being required for the movement of combat units, there was no choice but to change the schedule and move the all-out counteroffensive from late September to early October. The subsequent progress of the rescheduled counteroffensive operation was dramatically altered by a battle that took place in a distant corner of space, far from the combat airspace of both sides.
On September 18, U.C. 0079, the Zeon forces recorded the loss of three mobile suits in a small-scale space battle. This was not so unusual in itself, but the battle was the first appearance of the Federation Forces' RX mobile suits. This combat at Side 7 was the first battle of the Gundam and the White Base that won unparalleled fame in the ongoing war. The opposing Zeon forces were commanded by then-Lieutenant Commander Char Aznable of the Space Attack Force, also known as the Red Comet. In this battle, Char's forces helplessly lost three MS-06F Zaku II mobile suits and their pilots to an RX-78 operated by someone who was essentially a novice.
Of course, this RX-78 should have been operated by a regular pilot, but they had all been killed in battle and the mobile suit ended up being piloted by a civilian who happened to be nearby. Likewise, the White Base was operated by a group of civilians under the command of an officer cadet. They were later recognized as its official crew, and this irregular decision was made by General Revil, the supreme commander of Operation V. It's said that the general saw the seeds of Newtype potential within these civilians.
After shaking Char's pursuit, the White Base descended to Earth and was attacked by the Earth Attack Force. The White Base narrowly triumphed in a series of battles on the North American continent, but the greatest of its combat achievements was the destruction of a Gaw attack carrier carrying Captain Garma Zabi, the commander of the Earth Attack Force and youngest son of the Zabi family. Thanks to this, the Earth Attack Force was temporarily thrown into chaos.
The introduction of the White Base and RX-78 into combat was a prelude to the last stage of the war. Garma Zabi's death then gave the Federation Forces an opening for their counteroffensive. With the Zeon forces having lost their commander, the Federation Forces dispatched large forces from their Alaska and Panama bases, and began advancing on the California Base from the north and south. Their next counteroffensive was carried out in the central region of Eurasia. The operation was codenamed "Odessa," and the Federation Forces threw roughly a third of their terrestrial fighting strength into this operation.
North American Counteroffensive Routes
Illustration: A map of North America showing the counterattack routes of the Federation Forces. One route leads south from the Alaska base, another leads north from the Panama base, with both routes continuing along the west coast to converge on the California Base. The Alaskan route splits around Seattle, Washington, and one branch heads southeast towards the Mayport base on the Gulf of Mexico. This branch then splits again, with one route leading northeast to the Newport base and the other leading southeast to Cape Canaveral.
Operation Odessa Routes
Illustration: A map of Eurasia showing the routes of the attacking Federation Forces and retreating Zeons. The Federation Forces start from bases in Belfast, Ireland and Norrkoping, Sweden, then land on the Baltic coast in modern-day Poland, Kaliningrad, Lithuania, and Latvia, before advancing on to Odessa. The Zeon forces retreat northeast towards Baikonur, southeast into the Middle East, and west towards the European front.
Operation Odessa ended in a total victory for the Federation Forces. M'Quve's forces withdrew, and the Zeon lines receded dramatically. At this point Zeon's Earth Attack Force had made the mistake of going for some time without a commander. This was because the forces dispatched to Earth had multiple chains of command.
After this, the Federation Forces steadily accumulated victories on Earth, and by the end of U.C. 0079 the main battlefield was shifting back to space.
The space fortress Solomon, constructed at the former location of the Side 1 space colonies, was one of the three great strongholds of the Zeon forces and the headquarters of the Space Attack Force commanded by Vice Admiral Dozle Zabi. This was to be the first target of the Federation Forces' space counteroffensive. In late December of U.C. 0079, the reconstructed Federation Forces space fleet successively launched from Jaburo and joined with the Luna II fleet. Between the Revil, Tianem, and Luna II fleets, the Federation Forces' huge fighting strength amounted to 12 regular carriers, 36 auxiliary carriers, 128 battleships and heavy cruisers, 144 space boats, and more than 600 carrier-based craft and RX mobile suits. The opposing Zeon Space Attack Force had 79 cruisers and space boats, and about 800 mobile suits and mobile armors. As the two sides confronted each other, the new year of U.C. 0080 began.
In early January of the new year, the Federation Forces began a battle to capture Solomon as the first stage of their space counteroffensive. After only six hours, the battle ended in victory for the Federation Forces, who had concentrated their strength. Zeon's Space Attack Force was annihilated, and its commander Dozle Zabi was scattered across the battlefield along with his Big Zam.
Incidentally, during this battle the Federation Forces succeeded in carrying out a direct attack on Solomon using the high-energy Solar System weapon, an application of solar furnace technology.
The casualties of the Battle of Solomon amounted to roughly 20 percent of the Federation Forces' space fighting strength, and about 35 percent of the Zeon forces. The operation left the Federation Forces with a direct route from Luna II to Side 3. Meanwhile the Zeon forces, unable to determine the Federation Forces' attack route, were dispersed throughout the airspace between Granada and A Baoa Qu. The Federation Forces continued to array their forces as time passed, while on the Zeon side, Supreme Commander Gihren and Rear Admiral Kycilia were unable to agree on the disposition of their fighting strength.
Then another development occurred within Zeon. This was the ceasefire proposal advocated by Sovereign Degwin. Supreme Commander Gihren rejected this ceasefire, and when Sovereign Degwin went independently to a ceasefire conference, Gihren targeted him and the Federation Forces' Revil fleet with the huge Solar Ray laser cannon. Despite losing almost half their vessels, the Federation Forces began an attack on A Baoa Qu. The final confrontation between the Zeon forces, who were not arrayed for battle, and the Federation Forces, who had avoided a fatal blow, continued for a full day and became the greatest battle in history. Taking advantage of their capture of Solomon, the Federation Forces continued their slow and steady advance.
As the fighting entered its final stage and turned into close combat between mobile suits, Rear Admiral Kycilia learned that her father Sovereign Degwin had been killed by Supreme Commander Gihren, and she herself pulled the trigger and killed her brother Gihren.
Kycilia's shooting of Gihren in the middle of the battle left the command center in turmoil. The battle situation was shifting to close combat between mobile suits, but it was clear that both sides were short of military strength. Among the combatants were the three RX mobile suits of the White Base, which took advantage of the turmoil in the Zeon forces and cut their way through to A Baoa Qu.
As A Baoa Qu was virtually consumed by fire, Ensign Amuro's RX-78, Captain Char's MSN-02, and the White Base itself vanished into the flames. Realizing that her forces were at a disadvantage, Kycilia attempted to escape A Baoa Qu and then consolidate her fighting strength using the Mobile Assault Force that remained at Granada and in the homeland. However, her escape failed and her ship was destroyed. Thus the Battle of A Baoa Qu ended in a narrow victory for the Federation Forces. However, the Federation Forces had lost the majority of their fighting strength, and in their current condition they could no longer be called an "army." Likewise, although their Mobile Assault Force had greater fighting strength than the Federation Forces, the Zeon forces had lost all their command capabilities and been rendered powerless.
In the aftermath of this battle, Zeon once again became a republic instead of a principality, and concluded a peace treaty with the Earth Federation government. On January 26, U.C. 0080, the thirteen-month war came to an end.
Zeon-Occupied Territory at the End of the War
Illustration: A world map showing the areas that remained in Zeon hands at the end of the war. These include the northeastern United States; a swath of northern Africa encompassing Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia; the southern end of the Arabian peninsula; a portion of the West Siberian Plain; most of India, the Himalayas, and southeast Asia; and the northern portion of Australia. Judging from the maps in the previous volume, it appears that Newport, Baikonur, and Alexandria remain under Zeon control at the end of the war.
Historically speaking, the war ended in a defeat for Zeon. In fact, however, it would be more appropriate to call the Earth Federation a defeated nation. In order to win the conflict at any cost, the Federation government applied all its national resources to the prosecution of the war. This made the postwar settlement even more difficult.
Although the previously concluded peace treaty prohibited combat activities by both sides, their fighting forces remained on the battlefield, and there was no telling when hostilities might begin again. Fearing that renewed fighting would surely lead to the extinction of humanity, the leaders of both nations decided to open a tri-nation conference, including Side 6, which had preserved its neutrality throughout the war.
The greatest problems facing the tri-nation conference were the swift withdrawal of the Zeon and Federation forces, and the early realization of a lasting peace. However, disagreements frequently broke out between the leaders and the forces that remained on the battlefield, and only now did it become apparent how difficult it would be to resolve these problems.
Meanwhile, the postwar inquiry that began in February of U.C. 0080 soon presented a significant report to the leaders of both sides. This report recorded the fact that, directly after the Battle of A Baoa Qu, the Gwazine-class battleship Zwamel and more than ten Gelgoogs went missing from the Granada base. Should this prove to be preparation for a personal war, it would be a serious problem. However, the Zwamel did not reappear and its passengers remained missing, and the matter was forgotten by all but a few people.
After many twists and turns, the postwar settlement took shape. The development of Side 7 was restarted by both Zeon and the Federation, and problems like the return of soldiers to their home nations were resolved. The repatriation of these soldiers, incidentally, was completed in October of U.C. 0081.
With this war, the space colonies started down the path to obtaining autonomy and becoming independent nations. In particular, the reborn Republic of Zeon, despite its defeat in the war, was able to attain its long-held dream of freedom and independence. But this had come at a very high price to humanity.
The following text is copyright © 1984 Kodansha.
The main tactical weapon in the recent war was, ultimately, the mobile suit. However, it would be impossible to assemble a fighting force from mobile suits alone, and so the quality and quantity of conventional weapons had a great effect on fighting strength. These conventional weapons can be broadly divided into the four categories of space, sea, air, and land.
Generally speaking, the Federation Forces were superior in terms of conventional weapons, while the Zeon forces had greater mobile suit fighting strength. In other words, the Zeon forces had an advantage in local warfare, but the Federation Forces had the upper hand when it came to all-out mass battles (1). This was demonstrated in the series of Federation Forces counteroffensives that took place in the late and final stages of the war.
The Federation Forces
The following text appears as a sidebar in the original book.
"Federation Forces" is a general term for the forces controlled by the Earth Federation, and before the war they were made up of a total of four forces--the Air Force, Navy, Army, and Space Force. Provincial armies were also stationed in each administrative region as supplemental forces.
After the outbreak of war, in order to compensate for the damage inflicted by the Zeon forces, the provincial armies were promoted to the status of main forces. The Army and Navy were combined to form the Earth Forces, while the Air Force and Space Force were merged into the Aerospace Forces, creating a single large combined force. The general headquarters of all these forces were also transferred from their various locations to form a joint staff headquarters at Jaburo.
However, the Federation Forces had no combat experience in the almost eighty years since the dawn of the Universal Century, and they were unable to function as smoothly in practice as in theory.
The space warships of the Zeon forces, unlike those of the Federation Forces, were generally designed with mobile suit operation in mind. The Chivvay class, however, was an old type from before the completion of the mobile suit, so it had some problems with mobile suit operation. Both the Zanzibar class and the Gwazine class had atmospheric entry capabilities, and both used boosters to escape the atmosphere.
There were great differences in the tactical weapons that each side used for their main space combat forces. While the Federation Forces mostly used small craft such as the Saberfish and Public, the Zeon forces used space boats and fighters to supplement their mobile suits. The Zeon forces also constructed a ship of historically unprecedented size, but only two vessels of this Dolos class entered combat.
Air power is a major factor in ground combat. The strategic doctrines of ground combat perfected in the latter half of the twentieth century held that obtaining air supremacy could lead to victory. Although some revisions to these strategic doctrines became necessary with the appearance of the mobile suit, they remained fundamentally unchanged. When it came to actual fighting strength, the Federation Forces were superior in both quality and quantity.
The fact that the Principality of Zeon itself occupied the limited space of the colonies where aircraft were an unknown quantity, and the priority given to mobile suit development, are among the reasons suggested for the Zeon forces' inferiority in air power. As a result, despite their mighty ground forces, the Zeon lines rapidly shrank once they were placed on the defensive.
One aspect of the Federation Forces' air power which particularly vexed the Zeon forces was its fleet of anti-submarine patrol planes. This was a weak point for the Zeon forces, which had few surface vessels and relied mainly on submarines for their naval power. These aircraft inflicted heavy damage on the Zeon submarine fleets and greatly restricted their activities.
Since the recent war, sea power has come to include mobile suits as well as surface ships and submarines. Both sides were evenly matched in sea power, but the vessels used by the Zeon forces were captured from the Federation Forces rather than being brought along during the Earth invasion.
The main submarines of the Zeon forces were 24 Jukon-class and eight Mad Angler-class vessels. Both types were constructed by the Federation Forces, who expected them to become their next-generation main submarines. However, the Zeon forces invaded Earth at the point where the initial construction plan had just been completed, and they fell into Zeon hands essentially intact. These vessels were modified and placed in service as the sea power of the Zeon forces. Only the Prober class was of Zeon manufacture.
The Zeon forces, which had many mobile suits, had an overwhelming advantage in ground power. Of their ground forces, the most interesting weapon was the Magella Attack. It was based on the M1 tank, although that type had no conspicuous distinguishing characteristics.
The tanks of the Zeon forces gradually gained higher caliber guns and heavier armor, ultimately becoming twice the size of ordinary tanks. This was probably done with anti-mobile suit combat and the movable fortress concept in mind. The Magella Attack, with its flying turret, could be considered a product of an era where there had long been no ground combat.
(1) This passage hints at the meaning of the term kyokuchisen (local warfare), which is often used in reference to mobile suits like the MS-06D Zaku Desert Type and the MS-07 Gouf. By drawing a contrast between local warfare and mass battles, the text suggests that this type of warfare deals with small-scale battles using smaller forces. In this case, perhaps "guerilla warfare" would be a good equivalent.
Mobile Suit Gundam is copyright Sotsu Agency and Sunrise. Everything else on this site, and all original text and pictures, are copyright Mark Simmons.