Here's something I've been puzzling over recently. As I mentioned in the MSV-R topic
, there's an interesting explanation for the unique head of Uma Lightning's custom Gelgoog. From the profile in Gundam Ace:
This is the machine of the young ace Uma Lightning, whose distinctive features are its head and verniers. From the appearance of its legs, it seems like a 14C-1A type, but the design of its head is very different. Although there are no precise records, judging from the delivery schedule, it is believed that it uses some prototype MS-11 parts that were created before it was redesignated MS-14. The machine may been made using parts from FDE (Functional Development Experiment) machines, or it may have been retrofitted with FDE parts.
In other words, even before the Gelgoog was rescheduled and given the new model number MS-14, the developers had already produced some prototype MS-11 parts that later proved to be compatible with the final version of the Gelgoog.
This seems consistent with the claims made in the MSV series and the Master Grade kit manuals that the MS-06R-2P and MS-06R-2 were also made with MS-11 testbed parts. The R-2P version was originally equipped with a modified version of the generator intended for the MS-11, in hopes that this would give it enough power output to use beam weapons. And the MG kit manuals tell us that the arms and legs of the R-2 type include a lot of MS-11 parts. In particular:
Aside from the thigh sections and their internal propellant tanks, the leg units of the R-2 were made up entirely of newly designed equipment developed for the MS-11. Although the front panel itself retained the silhouette of the R-1 series, its internal structure was totally different.
It's worth repeating here that this early MS-11 design for the Gelgoog isn't necessarily related to the MS-11 Act Zaku. The Pezun Project designs were developed using the model numbers of canceled projects, and so the Act Zaku may not be any more closely related to the original Gelgoog design than, say, the Pezun Dowadge is to the Gyan which was being developed as the MS-X10.
So how far did the MS-11 incarnation of the Gelgoog get, and how did it differ from the final version? The MSV books suggest that the design of the Gelgoog was actually finalized at a relatively early stage, noting that "The Gelgoog was the first mobile suit of the Zeon forces to use beam weapons as standard equipment (though of course the development of the beam weapons lagged three months behind the completion of the mobile suit itself)." Since Zeon's beam weapon production lines were completed in late November, this suggests that the design of the mobile suit itself was completed in August, just after the MS-06R-2 was created.
The delays in the project, then, seem to be due mainly to issues with beam rifle implementation. The only changes mentioned in the Master Grade Gelgoog kit manuals are related to beam weapon support and thruster systems:
The arm module of the MS-14 was essentially completed during the MS-11 project, but many additional devices were included due to the added conditions of beam weapon usage and ground operation.
At first, the plan was that the vernier thruster units installed in the Gelgoog's legs would use the same Zeonic-manufactured parts developed for the MS-11. But in fact, improvements had been made to these units between their use in the 06R-2 type and the completion of the new machine. In order to increase the total thrust, it was decided that the skirt verniers would incorporate knowhow from the Zimmad-manufactured verniers of the 09R series, and so these were once again jointly developed.
A couple more data points. The profile of Uma Lightning's machine mentions that prototype MS-11 parts were used to meet the delivery schedule, and this meshes with something mentioned in the Master Grade Char's Gelgoog kit manual...
Although the basic avionics of the MS-14 were made by Zeonic, Zimmad technology was adopted in its thrusters. The mobile suit departments of mobile armor developers such as MIP were also brought in during the development of the beam rifle, and served as OEM producers for the machines of this series. Each maker also ended up performing its own licensed production, depending on the supply requirements for various parts. The production itself was meant to be performed block by block, so that each part of the Gelgoog could be manufactured independently. For this reason, the head and leg parts could be supplied ahead of time, making it possible to mass produce the machine in a short period.
In other words, the Principality had already laid in a stockpile of heads and legs before Gelgoog production began in earnest. Presumably these stockpiled parts weren't affected by the later design changes, and this may be where they got the FDE parts for Uma Lighting's machine. This fact, in turn, suggests that the Principality had never actually gotten around to building any actual MS-11 Gelgoog units, just a bunch of test parts.
One final thing, while we're dredging through the MG kit manuals. The MS-14A kit manual makes some even more sweeping claims about the modular nature of Gelgoog production...
Initially, 25 units of the MS-14 Gelgoog were produced as a pre-production type. This was also known as the YMS-14. As with the 06R series, these machines were assigned to ace pilots from various units. It is said that one of these 25 machines was assigned to Captain Char Aznable, and many others to the Ace Corps. Functional data was then collected and fed back to the production lines. At the same time, various design changes were made to improve functionality and ease of production, and a wide range of functional standards were established. As long as a certain level of performance was maintained from unit to unit, this meant that it didn't matter if construction methods and production processes varied from one production base to another, and thus the order was given to begin knockdown production.
Since the Principality's factories had existing materials on hand before their lines were converted to the Gelgoog, this order allowed them to make effective use of these materials when setting up an emergency system for increased production. In other words, even if these parts and materials were originally produced for machines other than the Gelgoog, as long as they maintained a certain level of compatibility and yield rate, they were considered acceptable for use in Gelgoog construction. As a result, even though the Gelgoog was developed in the final stage of the war, there were numerous variations such as the C type which bypassed the need for a beam rifle, and teams made up of unique machines based on separately produced parts.
Factories that had been anticipating the production of the MS-15 series incorporated unique units into their machines, using the parts whose specs proved to be compatible. The development bureau of the Principality forces also had a plan for a mobile suit with the development code MS-17 and the name Galbaldy, which combined the merits of both the MS-14 and the MS-15, and some factories were giving priority to supplying parts for this machine. As a result, there were also some types of the MS-14 series whose production lines were based on the use of MS-17 parts.
Interesting stuff! This kind of standards-based production, of course, was presumably made possible by the famous United Maintenance Plan
. As I noted in that other topic, the discussion of the UMP in the Gundam 0080 film comics implies that the massive delay in the Gelgoog development project was largely a result of its being redesigned for standards compliance. Could that be the real
difference between the MS-11 and MS-14 incarnations?