Since we've just been discussing the Kaempfer and other Zeon mobile suit development stuff from the tail end of the One Year War, I was finally motivated to go through and translate some related material from the "Gundam 0080 the OVA Movies" film comics.
These are part of a series of film comics published by Asahiya Shuppan about 15 years ago. Each volume in the series has a collection of science- and mecha-focused essays in the back, which seem to be held in pretty high regard by Japanese Gundamologists; for example, the Gundam Officials encyclopedia draws heavily on these essays. This is probably because the essay series was spearheaded by Gundam science maven Tadashi Nagase, whose credentials I've listed in my notes on Gundam Century
. These later installments are written mainly by Masatoshi Kusakabe and Takayuki Ikegami, who've gone on to contribute to a lot of other Gundam publications like the Gundam Historica series.
Anyways, I'll just go ahead and blart the text out here. This is from volumes VII and VIII in the film book series, and I've picked out the essays dealing with Zeon mobile suit development and the United Maintenance Plan. Discussion to follow, but please: If you're replying to this, for the sake of humanity, please don't quote the entire thing!
-- MarkMOBILE SUIT GUNDAM 0080 THE OVA MOVIES VIIMass Production Mobile Suits of the Late One Year WarCompleted versions of many prototype mobile suits were rolled out in the final stage of the One Year War. Here we will discuss these mobile suits which were intended for mass production. The completed forms of the amphibious mobile suits, whose prototypes were considered defective products, are particularly remarkable.Completion of the Local Warfare Mobile Suit
During the One Year War, the Zeon forces produced a variety of prototype mobile suits for local warfare. Of these, the amphibious mobile suits were the most famous for their wide range of prototypes.
Early on, Zeon put an emphasis on conquering Earth's surface, and the design and production of these machines proceeded in parallel with that of the Zaku. Mobile weapons that could move freely in the oceans that covered 70 percent of Earth's surface, and were capable of attacking inland to some extent, would be strategically indispensable for gaining an advantage in surface warfare.
In the end, however, these amphibious mobile suit projects were largely abandoned during the later stages of the war. At this point, Zeon could no longer devote much of its fighting strength to Earth's surface. But the main reason was that, generally speaking, the mobile suits of this series had a low degree of completeness.
Of all the amphibious mobile suits, the MSM-07 Z'Gok was considered the most successful type. During its prototype stage, however, there were serious concerns about mass production due to its high production cost and its difficult handling.
Nonetheless, the development of such local warfare mobile suits was not completely halted. Even as the budget for surface operations was drastically reduced in the wake of Operation Odessa, the development of a few amphibious mobile suits intended for mass production was still under way.
The MSM-07E Z'Gok E succeeded in enhancing the performance, and drastically reducing the cost, of the previous Z'Gok. Thanks to its standardized parts, and a redesign based on data obtained from the early production type, it had a very different appearance from the previous version. Its joints had an enhanced range of motion like those of the Gogg, thus expanding its attack radius, and the arms could be retracted to increase its underwater cruising speed. It was also equipped with one of the more efficient generators introduced in the later stages of the war, giving it much greater output. (Or rather, the previous early production type had a low ratio of output to volume.)
The MSM-03C Hy-Gogg, like the Z'Gok E, was drastically redesigned to address the problems of the early production version. While traces of the original version still remained in the Z'Gok E, the Hy-Gogg could probably be considered an entirely different machine.
Even if one wanted to be flattering, the early production version of the Gogg could never be called a masterpiece. Despite its merits as a pioneering amphibious mobile suit, it had plenty of shortcomings such as a lack of optional equipment capacity, poor maneuverability on land, and generator output comparable to that of a Zaku (which may have been inevitable, since it was developed at roughly the same time).
The original Gogg design, however, was rushed onto the production lines while it was still in development. At that point, the development team had already begun the development of a new machine based on the Gogg, and it was almost on the verge of completion. This was the Hy-Gogg, the final production type of the Gogg.
In terms of its appearance, the resulting Hy-Gogg diverged greatly from the previous type. The machine was made as lightweight as possible, and it was even lighter than the Z'Gok E. It generator, however, was about as powerful, and its arms were equipped with beam cannons that the old Gogg would have been unable to drive. Although these had a lower output than the beam rifle of the MS-14 Gelgoog that rolled out at the same time, they had the advantage of being internal weapons, and two of them were installed.
Mass production of these machines finally began in the last stage of the war. Ultimately, their production was halted by the sudden end of the war, but like other Zeon mobile suits they had a great influence on subsequent mobile suit development. After this, however, no more amphibious mobile suits were produced. As the main battlefield for mobile suits shifted to space, a stronger emphasis was placed on their nature as general-purpose weapons.Amphibious MS Cockpit
At this point, Zeon was finally beginning to standardize its mobile suits. Their cockpits, which until now had been different for each type of machine, were finally made modular and their control systems were unified.Z'Gok E
One of the completed forms of the amphibious mobile suit. Although prototypes such as the Capule were later produced, they did not really surpass this mobile suit. It was meant to have a lower cost than the early production version, but it was still more expensive than the Hy-Gogg.Hy-Gogg
A completely redesigned version of the Gogg. With its lower cost, lighter weight, and enhanced output, its overall balance surpassed that of the Z'Gok. It also had many optional weapons, completely eliminating the shortcomings of the old mass production type. This machine had a great influence on later general-purpose mobile suits.External Rocket Launcher
An optional weapon attached to the Hy-Gogg's arm. This was the first such equipment used by amphibious mobile suits, which had previously suffered from poor functional versatility. Thus it demonstrated the high flexibility of this machine design. It is believed that it could also be used by the Z'Gok E.The Zaku, the Most Mass-Produced Mobile Suit in History
Surely everyone knows the Zaku's name. Not only was it the first mobile suit in human history, but it was also the most successful mass production type.
From the time of the MS-05 early production type, the Zaku had an unusually superb overall balance. Though this old type had its shortcomings in terms of thruster and generator output and the expandability of its equipment, its handling was said to be even better than that of the MS-06 Zaku II. Due to Operation British (the colony drop operation), the Zeon forces lost most of the MS-05 units they had deployed, and as previously planned they shifted to the mass production of the Zaku II. From a design standpoint, this machine was nothing but a minor upgrade of the MS-05, but it unintentionally ended up confirming the greatness of the Zaku's basic design.
The Zaku II was designed simply for increased output, but it proved to have far higher mechanical potential than anticipated. Once notice was taken of this potential flexibility, the Zaku series went on to spawn a huge number of variation types. By the final stage of the war, the Zaku appeared to have surrendered the spotlight to the many newer machine types, but this was to change with the rollout of the FZ series.
The MS-06FZ Zaku II FZ could be called a hidden masterpiece of the war's final stage. Its production numbers were small, but its generator and thruster output rivaled that of the R and S series created for ace pilots, while its ease of operation was comparable to that of the original Zaku II. And although it was unable to drive beam weapons, it also had maneuverability rivaling that of a Gelgoog. (In practice, it was no match for a Gelgoog operated by a skilled pilot, but it made up for this with ease of operation.)
The Zaku II FZ was still relatively unknown by the time the war ended. This was probably due to its very late rollout, just one month before the end of the war, and because its frontline deployment was greatly delayed. This, in turn, was because the Zaku was already branded with the stigma of obsolescence, and most units preferred to be supplied with Rick Doms and Gelgoogs. In the end, the Zaku II FZ was deployed only to a few units (in particular, hastily organized units made up of student soldiers and new recruits), and it produced no notable combat results. There are reports that the Zaku II FZ participated in the operations of Zeon special forces at Side 6, but this is not confirmed.MS-06FZ Zaku II FZ
A masterpiece of the war's final stage, whose name is unfortunately largely unknown. Although it was deployed only to a few units, it was extremely popular with skilled pilots who preferred using the Zaku, and many machines were seen with customized armor.FZ Type Cockpit
The piloting systems of the Zaku II FZ were greatly modified from those of the Zaku II, thanks to data accumulated over a long period. Improvements were made in terms of operation and pilot protection, and these were generally well received.MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM 0080 THE OVA MOVIES VIIIThe Mobile Suit United Maintenance PlanConsidered individually, Zeon's mobile suits were truly excellent, but they were created with almost no consideration for standardized parts or production lines. The Mobile Suit United Maintenance Plan was hastily planned and executed in response to this state of affairs.A Flood of Mobile Suit Production Lines
Zeon's mobile suits were able to reach the battlefield in such a short time because of the fierce development competition being waged between companies, and even between individual project teams.
This situation was intentionally created by the Zeon military leadership. In exchange for establishing mobile suit development and production lines, these companies were allowed to escape confiscation under the Principality's national unity program, and were guaranteed some freedom of economic activity. Because weapons development promised to yield enormous economic results, these companies devoted their full energies to mobile suit development.
As a result, the mobile suit was completed with astonishing speed, only two years after its development began. Although the basic research had been performed almost half a century earlier, it was almost miraculous that a combat system equipped with a Minovsky-Ionesco nuclear fusion reactor, which gave the machine vastly higher output than a traditional spacecraft, could be created in such a short time--let alone in so nearly complete a form.
On the other hand, this development competition became a hindrance to the sharing of technology between projects. For this reason, Zeon mobile suit designs were so different that each machine type was virtually unique. In the earliest mobile suits, not even the cockpits were consistent. Naturally, they had virtually no weapons systems in common, and could not even use handheld weapons from other machine types unless they had been specially modified. This is why the weapons systems of the Zaku, which were produced in the greatest numbers, were never adopted by the other mobile suit types.
Zeon finally recognized this fact one month after the outbreak of war, when it began rolling out a succession of new mobile suit types. The various project teams, which were already moving on to the development of next-generation mobile suits, were gathered by the military leadership and ordered to thoroughly standardize their current and future machines. As a result, Zeon's mobile suit development went through months of confusion, and even the development of the Gelgoog was nearly cancelled at this point.
This became known as the Mobile Suit United Maintenance Plan. The plan itself could be called somewhat belated, but ultimately, it would dramatically accelerate the development of later mobile suits.Zaku II
This one machine type boasted the greatest production numbers in human history. Effectively, it became the first standard mobile suit. The standardization of the United Maintenance Plan was based on this machine.Z'Gok
This Z'Gok was completely incompatible with the Gogg, its fellow amphibious mobile suit. This was the main reason for the high cost and low production suitability of both machines.Gelgoog
Although incomplete, it had some standards compatibility with the Zaku. Because this machine was hastily rolled out in the final stage of the war, it was not necessarily fully standardized.The Unification of Mobile Suit Standards
The United Maintenance Plan was drafted by M'Quve and others under Kycilia's command. Commander M'Quve, who was an expert in material supply and logistics, had been pointing out inefficiencies in mobile suit production since before the war began. Even Vice Admiral Dozle Zabi, who had initially ignored his reports, could no longer deny these facts. With Kycilia's support, M'Quve immediately put the plan into operation.
M'Quve's reforms were comprehensive. He summoned the heads of each mobile suit development project to his office, and ordered them to implement the plan regardless of their current state of progress. M'Quve's office was furnished with trained soldiers and scrupulously maintained small arms. Although there was considerable opposition to his orders, thanks to this effective persuasion, the plan was ultimately put into effect.
It was anticipated that these projects would be plunged into temporary chaos. Every mobile suit was to be reconsidered from the design stage, in order to improve production efficiency and thoroughly standardize their parts. This task was expected to take almost half a year, but in fact, it was completed in just over four months.
Once the standardization of the production lines was completed, the rest of the work proceeded quite quickly. The technical knowhow which was previously retained by each individual project was shared, and mobile suits from different series adopted each other's technology. The flood of new mobile suits that rolled out during the later stages of the One Year War were purely a result of this United Maintenance Plan. Although the plan itself had not been thoroughly considered, and M'Quve's "persuasion" had contributed to the problem of assigning responsibility, it could be said that the results were dramatic.
The United Maintenance Plan was based on the Zaku mobile suit, whose production lines were the most widely dispersed and easiest to maintain. (From this fact, it can be seen just how haphazard this plan really was.) But it could also be said that this was the greatest factor in the plan's success. From the standpoint of pure specs, the Zaku was no match for subsequent mobile suits, but it was unrivaled for its high versatility and the soundness of its design concepts. As a result, the reuse and standardization of its parts did not result in catastrophe. Even the basic frame and joint components of a Gelgoog-class machine could be adequately handled by Zaku-based production lines. And aside from its output parts, the final version of the MS-06F was not that different from a Gelgoog.
The most dramatic revisions were made to the amphibious mobile suits. This becomes obvious just from looking at the Hy-Gogg and Z'Gok E, the later versions of the Gogg and Z'Gok. While they retained the same design concepts, as a result of drastic parts standardization and the adoption of technology from other machine types, they were both transformed so much that they could be considered completely different machines.Hy-Gogg
Aside from its design concepts, this could be considered almost a different machine from the early production version of the Gogg. Its performance and serviceability were greatly improved, and its operating costs dramatically reduced.Z'Gok E
Since the Z'Gok was hardly a low-level machine to begin with, this version had no dramatic increase in performance, but its serviceability and functionality were much improved. Thanks to standardized armament, it could also use equipment from other machine types.
The standardization of the cockpit was welcomed by pilots. It used the same basic specifications as that of the Zaku.Mass Production Mobile Suits of the Late One Year War (Continued)Many mobile suits were rolled out in the final stage of the One Year War. In particular, the majority of the Zeon mobile suit types identified during the war were produced during this period. Here, we will focus our discussion on mobile suits for use in space.Final Mass Production Type Space Mobile Suits
During the final stage of the war, Zeon's space mobile suits underwent a great change in style. This was a result of the United Maintenance Plan that was underway within Zeon.
The new mobile suits, which were standardized based on Zaku production lines, yielded a drastic increase in efficiency compared to the previous manufacturing process which relied on artisanal handcraft. On the other hand, this led to extensive revisions in the design of their armor and internal frame. Put more directly, they were changed to become suitable for mass production.
The most extreme example may be the Rick Dom II. The specifications of this machine were drastically revised from the previous Dom and Rick Dom, sacrificing the Dom's versatility to obtain a machine more specialized for use in space. The Dom was originally designed with atmospheric use in mind, taking aerodynamics into account. But the shape of the Rick Dom II's armor was extensively changed because it did not have to consider air resistance. Although its overall silhouette was not much different, its armor was redesigned to use a more planar structure, which made it possible to install more powerful generators and thrusters.
The late-arriving Gelgoog was developed from the beginning with standardization in mind. However, this standardization assumed the existence of dedicated production lines, because it was expected that the Gelgoog would henceforth become the standard for Zeon mobile suits. Ultimately, under the United Maintenance Plan, the developers were forced to reconsider the design of the Gelgoog from its basic stages. Fortunately, the general concept of the Gelgoog was close to that of the Zaku, and even as they experimented with drastic changes at the component level there was no need to make major changes to the structure of the machine itself. The full-scale mass production and combat deployment of the Gelgoog, however, was greatly delayed as a result.
Because it was already a very complete machine, later models of the Gelgoog such as the JG type and M type showed no major increase in performance. But thanks to a uniform control system, interface improvements, and better serviceability, they became distinct machines from the previous production version of the Gelgoog. The JG type was intended exclusively for precision shooting, and so its performance was not extraordinary, but its targeting accuracy was greatly improved through the use of units that were developed for similar prototype machines in the Zaku series.Rick Dom II
A Rick Dom redesigned exclusively for space combat. The Rick Dom was originally just a Dom equipped with space engines, but this machine could be called a genuine space version of the Dom.Gelgoog JG
A machine type exclusively for precision shooting. By sacrificing the original capabilities of the Gelgoog, it achieved dramatically increased targeting accuracy. It was based on the Gelgoog due to its ability to drive beam weapons.