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 Post Posted: Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:16 am 
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Master of Mecha

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Hi all!

I've been thinking a bit recently about the early U.C. mobile suits that led up to the Zaku, and the various ways they've been described and visualized. I'm actually putting together some kind of gallery roundup, but the one thing I'm missing is the prototype mobile suits that were shown in the supplemental shorts included with the 08th MS Team OVAs. If anyone has good-quality screencaps of those, I'd appreciate it!

To be updated soon with actual content... :-)

-- Mark


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 Post Posted: Tue Jan 24, 2012 6:30 am 
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Are these what you're looking for?

#1
#2
#3

These are cropped to focus on the MS. If you'd prefer the full shots let me know and I'll grab them.

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"I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, 'wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them?' So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe."


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 Post Posted: Tue Jan 24, 2012 6:35 am 
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Master of Mecha

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Lovely! Thanks so much. :-)

-- Mark


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 Post Posted: Tue Jan 24, 2012 6:39 am 
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My pleasure. You're lucky, that's the only OVA I happened to have. :wink:

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"I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, 'wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them?' So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe."


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 Post Posted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 10:45 pm 
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Master of Mecha

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At long last, we're going to delve into the pre-history of U.C. mobile suit development. I'm actually going to approach this in real-world chronological order, so for our opening round, we'll look at the earliest text accounts of the MS-01 through MS-04, leading up to the first visualization of an actual early mobile suit in the 1990 art book MS Era.


Gundam Century (1981)

For the full text of Gundam Century's mobile suit development history, see here. The following is a condensed summary of the key points...

The mobile suit was created in response to the development of Minovsky particle dispersion technology in U.C. 0065. Zeon's defense ministry ordered its weapons makers to develop new weapons for use under Minovsky particle conditions, but after four years of basic research, only Zeonic and MIP had produced prototypes that satisfied the performance requirements.

These prototypes diverged dramatically from previous weapon concepts. MIP's MIP-X1 was a hybrid of a space fighter and the worker pods used for asteroid resource development. Zeonic's ZI-XA3 was a 14-meter humanoid machine with two "magic hands" and a pair of legs for walking. Although its performance in space didn't match that of the MIP-X1, the ZI-XA3 had high potential for use at asteroid bases, on the lunar surface, and inside colonies. The defense ministry decided to adopt Zeonic's proposal, giving it the designation MS-01, and ordered the development of a combat version under the guise of a new type of non-combat space worker machine.

The humanoid form of the MS-01 (formerly the ZI-XA3) gave it many advantages. Its magic hands could carry various weapons, and could also be used for working tasks or to open airlocks while entering colonies. With its two legs, it could move across various terrains, and these enabled it to carry a larger weapons payload and heavier armor than the hovercraft system used by the MIP-X1. It was powered by a traditional atomic fission reactor with an output of 2,200 horsepower, and its joints were driven by a fluid pulse system. Its arms and legs were also used for attitude control as part of the AMBAC (Active Mass Balance AutoControl) system.

Zeonic went on to develop the prototype MS-02, which had higher mobility. Then, in February of U.C. 0074, it rolled out the first prototype unit of the combat mobile suit MS-03, with stronger armor and improved anti-G features. But this heavier armor increased its dry weight from the 17 tons of the MS-01 to 28 tons, and its mobility was less than 60 percent that of the MS-02. Zeonic attempted to dramatically reduce the weight of the third prototype unit, which was then under construction, by removing the cockpit escape system and changing its body structure to a frameless monocoque type. But the performance of the MS-03 remained unsatisfactory.

It was at this point that the engine maker ZAS developed the prototype ZAS-X7 ultracompact thermonuclear reactor, based on Minovsky physics. This reactor had an output of 6,100 horsepower, more than twice that of the MS-03's reactor, but was more than 20 percent lighter. Zeonic quickly developed an MS-04 version equipped with this new reactor. Its higher output required a more powerful cooling system, increasing the mobile suit's dry weight to 31.2 tons, but its performance surpassed even that of the MS-02 high mobility test type.

A prototype combat mobile suit based on the MS-04 was completed in August of U.C. 0075. Known as the MS-05 Zaku, this mobile suit had an overall height of 17.5 meters, a dry weight of 34 tons, and an overall weight of 63.2 tons. It was powered by a ZAS-MI8B thermonuclear reactor with an output of 5,700 horsepower.

Aside from the date of U.C. 0065 for the development of Minovsky particle dispersion technology, and the rollout dates of the MS-03 and MS-05, Gundam Century doesn't provide a lot of specifics. Its weight specs are also much lower than the current standards, giving the Zaku I a base weight of 34.2 tons and the MS-06F Zaku II a base weight of 36.4 tons. Elsewhere in this book, we're told that "the first use of Zaku forces in combat was in July of U.C. 0077."


Mobile Suit Variation Handbook 1 (1983)

The reason why the Principality of Zeon was able to oppose the Federation Forces during the recent war was the activities of its mobile suit task forces at the beginning of the conflict. The mobile suit, a weapon focused on visual-range combat under Minovsky particle interference, was the end result of countless redesigns demanded by Zeon's defense ministry. First, in order to satisfy the military's requirements, it had to simultaneously possess enough mobility, armor, and weapons payload to adapt to any kind of strategic operation. Due to concerns about invasion missions and working ability, five years after the concept was established, it had taken the form of a bipedal humanoid weapon. This was the MS-01, which later became the basis for the mobile suit Zaku. The defense ministry gave the new weapon an "MS" model number, while presenting it to the outside world as a space worker machine.

Starting with merely the basic form, Zeon gradually began round after round of improvement research to give it the performance necessary for a weapon. Improving its mobility, and protecting the machine and its pilot with heavy armor, were urgent problems. The first verson that could be called a combat mobile suit was probably the MS-04. The MS-04 carried the burden of expectations on its shoulders. It was then made even more efficient, leading to the completion of the MS-05, the mobile suit known as the Zaku, which was designed with a completely humanoid exterior.

This account tracks Gundam Century fairly well. The MS-01 is now said to have been developed in five years, and we're told that the MS-05 had a distinctly different exterior from its direct predecessor.


MS-06F Zaku Minelayer kit manual (1984)

The origins of the so-called SUIT Project go back to the military's selection of the Zeonic company, which was based at Side 3, in the Principality of Zeon. Attitude control in space was a major research problem, but Zeonic's research and development staff gave their new weapon a directional control system in which the drive engines were widely distributed, and the manipulators used for combat and construction work also served as rudders.

During testing by the Zeon military, which was looking for fresh concepts and simpler basic designs, this machine could not help but provoke spontaneous laughter from the officials who saw it. In fact, it is said that Supreme Commander Gihren Zabi even questioned the usefulness of continuing the SUIT Project.

The prototype machine which was given the new name of "mobile suit" suffered from problems with its cooling systems and the fuel capacity of its engines, and naturally it was not considered suitable for mass production. Simultaneously with the improved MS-02, the staff was expanded, and the development of the MS-03 progressed in parallel. At this point, the development site had already been transferred to a Zeon military arsenal, and the Zeonic staff were reclassified as technical officers. It was at this time that (Lieutenant Commander) Elliot Lem, who later contributed to the pilot manuals of combat mobile suits, was reassigned to the arsenal.

The goal of the MS-03 was improved mobility and ballistic resistance. Four prototype units of this machine were produced, each for different purposes, but the general form of the modern mobile suit had already been established as of this machine. In fact, there are records of functional tests using this MS-03 during the early days of Zeon military history. Aside from its high cost, and the requirement of finding talented personnel for each machine, it was considered a weapon with high offensive capabilities.

The installation of ballistic-resistant armor, and a trend towards multipurpose usage by exchanging weapons, began with the MS-04. Like the previous MS-03, this machine placed an emphasis on humanoid design, and the so-called Zaku style was essentially completed at this point. However, it was handicapped by the small working radius of the manipulators, and too much emphasis was placed on certain points of the armor. When it came to the mounting of the arm parts, this was resolved in the subsequent MS-05 by adopting block armor for the arm itself. At this point, the military was evenly divided on whether or not to adopt the MS-04 as a combat mobile suit, but this was finally resolved when the development process continued on to the more complete MS-05. This led to the most favorable result.

After seven years from development to completion, the decision to produce genuine combat mobile suits was made with the MS-05. It was given the name Zaku, and production facilities were established at every point. This Zaku was distinguished by improved ballistic resistance, thanks to its heavy use of curved surfaces, and it pioneered the effective use of arms and legs for work and combat performance.

An obscure but very interesting account, and one which was tricky enough to translate that I had to consult the paraphrased version in Gundam Officials for clarification. Taken together with Gundam Century, this confirms that the basic humanoid form of the mobile suit was established with the MS-03. The discussion of the MS-04 is apparently supposed to indicate that its designers attached so much armor to its arms that they couldn't move very effectively, a problem that was resolved in the MS-05. And if the Zaku's trademark curved surfaces were introduced with the MS-05, this would explain why so many interpretations of the MS-04 have a blocky, angular exterior.



Mobile Suit Variation 1 (1984)

For the full text of the mobile suit development history from this book, see here.

The discovery of the Minovsky particle had made it impossible to use radar and other radio systems. This fundamentally overturned the weapons systems and strategic and tactical theories that had been perfected in the latter half of the twentieth century.

Thus the Zeon forces began developing weapons for visual-range combat under Minovsky particle interference. Five years later, after countless designs, the mobile suit MS-01 was completed. Seven years after this, the MS-05 Zaku was deployed in combat.

Now we have a timeline. Going by Gundam Century's claim that Minovsky particle dispersion technology was developed in U.C. 0065, and the Zaku I was first used in combat in U.C. 0077, the completion of the MS-01 would take place in U.C. 0070. This timeline, however, has been drastically condensed in later sources.


MS Era (1990)

As far as I can recall, MS Era was the first source to provide a visual of an early mobile suit, and it's certainly the most iconic. See here:

http://www.ultimatemark.com/gundam/imag ... _1990a.jpg
http://www.ultimatemark.com/gundam/imag ... _1990b.jpg

This image is date-stamped "May, 0070 UC". According to the timeline in MS Era, the MS-01 was completed in U.C. 0071, so this may represent a stage in the development of the ZI-XA3 itself. The English caption reads as follows:

Birth of the Mobile Suit: The fusion of two revolutionary concepts, the space pod (free-flying mobile manipulator) and the AMBAC system resulted in the gigantic anthropomorphous (human-like-form) machine with a height of 10 meters. Its development process was extremely trying. There were various problems in adjusting the auto-balancer to maintain perfect balance to prevent the machine from tumbling over.

The Japanese caption text is a little different. Here's a literal translation.

The combination of the space worker pod and the AMBAC system was a revolutionary technical concept, which led to the creation of a giant humanoid machine more than ten meters tall. However, its journey to completion was difficult, and it is said that problems such as falling down due to defects in the auto-balancer were everyday occurrences.


-- Mark


Last edited by toysdream on Sat Feb 04, 2012 11:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post Posted: Sat Feb 04, 2012 11:18 pm 
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Continuing the retrospective into the 1990s, we get a few different text explanations, and a lot more visual interpretations - most of them directly inspired by the famous illustration from MS Era.


M-MSV Series (1990)

Kunio Okawara's first interpretation of the MS-04 appeared in SD Club Vol.8, as part of the M-MSV variation series. Here's the accompanying text, and you can see the visuals on the MAHQ profile page.

This MS-04 was created to address the poor mobility of the MS-03 Prototype Zaku unit 3, which was a result of its reinforced armor and inadequate output. With the installation of a newly developed high-output generator that applied Minovsky physics, it had more than twice the mobility of the MS-03 as well as reinforced armor, finally becoming a mobile suit that could handle real combat.

It carried a 100mm machine gun as armament, but simulation results indicated that this would have little effect in anti-ship combat, and so the development of a bazooka began. As a prototype, the MS-04 was extremely expensive, and so a prototype MS-05 with some simplified equipment was created with mass production in mind.


Gundam The Movies I (1996)

The U.C. Mechanics essay in this book presents a slightly different back story, emphasizing the mobile suit's worker machine ancestry and drawing a distinction between the ZI-XA3 and the MS-01.

It is said that the ancestors of the mobile suit were originally small worker machines equipped with manipulators. But the explosive increase in demand for space worker machines for use in the colony construction industry was the turning point at which they began a dramatic transformation into the form of the present-day mobile suit.

Space colonies were ultra-large scale structures to which the existing principles of civil engineering and contruction were completely inapplicable. It would have been impossible to construct colonies capable of supporting the ongoing settlement program in such a short time using traditional heavy worker machines. The appearance of the space worker machine ZI-XA3, produced by the Zeonic company, was the breakthrough that made it possible to work efficiently in zero-gravity environments.

Because it was positioned as a worker machine, the XA3 lacked the balance of flexibility, dexterity, and agility seen in mobile suits. But since it was created for the purpose of working in zero gravity, this machine implemented almost all the basic technologies of the mobile suit. In fact, this type was the direct ancestor of the later Zaku mobile suit.

From the earliest stages of its hasty preparations for war, Side 3, the Principality of Zeon, had been looking for a revolutionary new weapon that would determine the course of the conflict. The ZI-XA3 was surely the breakthrough Zeon needed.

With the addition of a reinforced frame equipped with a high-output engine, vernier thrusters for space mobility, and a fire control system, the XA3 became the MS-01 "Crabman," the first mobile suit. Further improvements were made to the MS-01, and its fifth version, the MS-05, was the start of the Zaku mobile suit series.


The 08th MS Team (1996)

The bonus video included with episode 5 of The 08th MS Team included images of a couple of prototype mobile suits. It's not clear which model these are supposed to be, but the third image in particular resembles the one seen in MS Era.

http://www.ultimatemark.com/gundam/imag ... team_1.jpg
http://www.ultimatemark.com/gundam/imag ... team_2.jpg
http://www.ultimatemark.com/gundam/imag ... team_3.jpg

Redrawn versions of these images appeared in Rapport's Saga Of The One Year War, published in 2000.

http://www.ultimatemark.com/gundam/imag ... e_2000.jpg


Zeon Military File (1997)

The account in this CD-ROM draws heavily on Gundam Century, right down to the outdated specs. There are also some new details about the MIP-X1 and the MS-02.

The first step in the development of this weapon was the SUIT (Space Utility Instruments Tactical) Project announced by the Zeon defense ministry to all the nation's weapons-making companies. As its name indicated, the goal of this project was to develop weapons that could be used for any tactical objective in a space environment. This was a response to the revolution in tactics caused by Minovsky particle dispersion technology.

Each weapons maker proceeded through repeated trial and error, and in October of U.C. 0073, two years after the launch of the SUIT Project, machines were finally completed that met the basic performance requirements issued by the arms procurement committee. These were Zeonic's ZI-XA3 and MIP's MIP-X1, and both machines were completed in a form that deviated greatly from traditional weapons concepts.

MIP's MIP-X1 resembled a combination of a space fighter and the worker pods used for asteroid development, with an overall length of more than 25 meters. Zionic's ZI-XA3 was a humanoid type with a height of 14 meters, and equipped with a pair of manipulators and a pair of legs for walking in gravity. With its ridiculous-looking design, the ZI-XA3 earned derisive laughter from Admiral Gihren Zabi when he came to observe it. But as the testing proceeded, it displayed performance surpassing that of traditional machines, and ultimately it defeated the MIP-X1.

The main reason for this was the ZI-XA3's unique humanoid form. Its legs, and the manipulators that corresponded to a human's arms, served as part of the AMBAC (Active Mass Balance AutoControl) system. The adoption of this system enabled the ZI-XA3 to perform attitude control without consuming any propellant, something that would be impossible for traditional space fighters. Compared to the MIP-X1, it was a small machine with a smaller propellant capacity, but due to the use of AMBAC it had roughly twice the operating time of the MIP-X1.

When it came to close combat in space, the ZI-XA3's results were slightly inferior to those of the MIP-X1. But it displayed high performance during testing at asteroid bases, on the lunar surface, and inside colonies, and the ability to deploy a single weapon on battlefields with such different characteristics earned it a far higher valuation.

Thus, the decision was made to adopt Zeonic's plan for the SUIT Project. The ZI-XA3 was given the model number MS-01, and while this was outwardly presented as the development of a new type of non-combat space worker machine, Zeonic began the development of a combat type under the direction of the defense ministry's technological development office.

After receiving a formal order for the development of a combat mobile suit, Zeonic set out to improve the MS-01's mobility, and created a prototype MS-02 with increased propellant capacity. It then developed the MS-03, intended for actual combat, which was structurally redesigned for better defense and anti-G performance. As a result, the weight of the MS-03 was increased to 28 tons, versus the MS-01's 17 tons, and the output of its generator was no longer adequate.

This problem was resolved with the completion of the MS-04, equipped with a ZAS-X7 Minovsky-Ionesco thermonuclear reactor. The new thermonuclear reactor required an enhanced cooling system, which increased the weight of the MS-04 to 31 tons. But the new ZAS-X7 thermonuclear reactor had more than twice the output of a traditional thermonuclear reactor, even though it was smaller and lighter. As a result, the MS-04 could easily handle this extra weight, and could even use it for more effective AMBAC maneuvering.


G20 (1998)

The second issue of this anniversary tribute magazine featured models of the ZI-XA2, ZI-XA3/MS-01, and MS-04 inspired by the famous MS Era illustration.

http://www.ultimatemark.com/gundam/images/g20_1998a.jpg
http://www.ultimatemark.com/gundam/images/g20_1998b.jpg

The following year, these designs reappeared in the kit manual of the Perfect Grade Zaku II.

http://www.ultimatemark.com/gundam/imag ... e_1999.jpg


Master Grade MS-05B Zaku I kit manual (1999)

The Master Grade kit manuals have a rather unique account of the MS-01 through MS-03. Also, the SUIT Project is described here as an internal Zeonic program rather than an initiative by the Zeon defense ministry. The rollout date given here for the MS-05 is the same one listed in the MG Zaku II kit manual in 1995, and it's been echoed by most subsequent sources, no matter how implausible it seems.

The concept of a mobile space weapon with movable limbs was proposed by the Zeonic company based at Side 3. At first, Zeonic was pursuing the development of new weapons for a competition with the rival companies Zimmad and MIP. It concluded that, in meeting the requirements for new weapons issued by the Principality forces' development office, it could not hope to be tremendously effective unless it found a radical solution for addressing the machine's mobility. After realizing the effectiveness of AMBAC maneuvering, the company launched the SUIT (Space Utility Instruments Tactical) project as an internal program. It began the development of a newly conceived weapon which imitated the human form, with the two pairs of movable limbs necessary for AMBAC.

In fact, at the point when the concept of the weapon known as the mobile suit was established, the development of adequate power sources and actuators was still in progress. With the technology of the time, it seemed impossible to create a giant, self-supporting general-purpose humanoid weapon. This does not mean, however, that Zeonic's engineers had no hope of success. Thanks to remarkable technological innovations, the miniaturization of nuclear fusion reactors was underway, providing an independent power source. The development of small, high-torque actuators was also progressing well. Thus, mobile suit development continued in anticipation of this technical progress.

In U.C. 0073, two years after this research began, the mobile suit gained a form close to its present one. That same year, it was given the name "mobile suit." Initially, the functional test machine MS-01 was constructed using external control and external power. Then came the MS-02, with internal control systems, and the MS-03, which could operate independently for short periods. With the completion of the functional test machine MS-04, equipped with an ultracompact reactor, combat deployment now seemed feasible. Further improvements were made, and in February of U.C. 0074, the MS-05 was completed and given the name "Zaku." In this machine, the power and control systems which had previously been outside the machine were all made fully internal, and a mass-produced combat version rolled out in May of that year. Thus, history's first giant humanoid weapon was born into the Universal Century.


-- Mark


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 Post Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2012 12:40 am 
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Interesting stuff. Am I reading too far into things, or does Zeon's "space worker" excuse evoke images of Nazi Germany using excuses like "border skirmishes" to justify building up their military in secret? I ask mainly because it reminds me of the tabletop RPG/wargame "Gear Krieg", which has Germany doing the exact same thing as Zeon in order to secretly develop military mecha.

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 Post Posted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:57 pm 
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Time to complete the roundup! Here's the last decade's worth of prototype mobile suit visualizations...


Gundam Officials (2001)

The Gundam Officials encyclopedia featured an original pinup by mecha designer Kunio Okawara, depicting an unidentified prototype mobile suit. The accompanying caption speculates that this is somewhere between the MS-01 and MS-03, and suggests that it may be a version of the MS-03, which was produced in several different forms. Interestingly, the details of this machine seem strongly influenced by the designs published in G20.

http://www.ultimatemark.com/gundam/imag ... _2001b.jpg


Developers (2002)

This Gundam Ace manga presented a rather idiosyncratic account of mobile suit development, focusing on a civilian company which helps Zeonic develop the MS-04. The first two images here show an early model which is said to be similar to the ZI-XA3.

http://www.ultimatemark.com/gundam/imag ... _2002a.jpg
http://www.ultimatemark.com/gundam/imag ... _2002b.jpg

Here's the MS-04 as it appears in the manga. The orange machine is the worker type developed by the civilian Hoshioka company, and the white one is the military version built by Zeonic, which is clearly based on the M-MSV design.

http://www.ultimatemark.com/gundam/imag ... _2009b.jpg


MS Encyclopedia (2003)

The 2003 edition of the MS Encyclopedia included a preface discussing the technology of the early Universal Century. This was accompanied by illustrations of prototype machines made by Zeonic and MIP, and a diagram showing how each machine manuevered in zero gravity.

http://www.ultimatemark.com/gundam/imag ... _2003a.jpg
http://www.ultimatemark.com/gundam/imag ... _2003b.jpg

The captions read as follows:

Made by MIP
A prototype mobile weapon made by the MIP company at the same time. It provided greater mobility than a standard combat vessel of its time, but when operating at high mobility its propellant consumption was enormous, and its maximum combat time was less than 10 minutes. It was equipped with a dummy mega particle cannon.

Made by Zeonic
A prototype mobile weapon which used the AMBAC system, made by the Zeonic company before the Principality forces selected their main next-generation general-purpose tactical weapon. Because it could use the reaction to its limb movements to control its attitude, it could rival the 180-degree attitude control performance of a standard combat vessel of its time, all without using its thrusters.


Gundam Fact File (2004)

The second volume of this weekly fact file magazine included a two-page feature on "The Birth of the Mobile Suit," with illustrations by Tomotake Kinoshita. Although the second image is captioned "ZI-XA3/MS-01," the accompanying text appears to distinguish between these two versions, as per Gundam The Movies I.

http://www.ultimatemark.com/gundam/imag ... _2004a.jpg
http://www.ultimatemark.com/gundam/imag ... _2004b.jpg

Here's the relevant portion of the article text

The first mobile suit, the MS-01, was finally completed in U.C. 0073. The "MS" model number was, of course, taken from the initials of "Mobile SUIT." It is recorded in many documents that the initially fumbling development of the mobile suit began with the ZI-XA3, whose main mission was the completion of a bipedal walking system.

The photograph shown here is from the earliest stages of the SUIT Project, and appears to be a record of a walking test in zero gravity or microgravity. It is believed to depict the confirmation of the leg mechanisms' operation. At the lower right, mixed in with the crew working in zero gravity, is a SUIT Project pilot receiving directions from a worker. From the design of his normal suit and the Principality emblem on his arm, he appeared to have been dispatched from the Principality forces, but the details are uncertain.

This was a great step forward for the SUIT Project. One could not guess from the faces of the engineers, filled with excitement, but it would also become part of the countdown to the coming One Year War.

The mobile suit was a superweapon developed by the Principality of Zeon forces. Its form was very different from that of the standard weapons of the time.

With military conflict between the Principality of Zeon and the Earth Federation becoming a real possibility, sending forces directly to Earth would be essential in order to defeat the Earth Federation. But it was impossible for the Principality of Zeon, a colony nation with few resources, to organize ground and sea forces with no ground or sea of its own. Thus it developed a weapon versatile enough to fight against space fighters in space, and tanks on the ground. Out of countless plans, a humanoid form with freely moveable limbs was chosen for this new weapon.

The MS-01 was history's first mobile suit, and at this point its functionality as a mobile suit was more or less complete. But the miniaturization of the nuclear fusion reactor had not yet been achieved, and a traditional nuclear fusion reactor was used instead. A traditional reactor with rigorous protective systems would not fit inside the main body, and so it ended up protruding from the back. Thrusters for space use were also installed on the back, making its backpack even larger. Moreover, the necessary power output could not be obtained with a traditional reactor, and development records from this time indicate that inadequate output was a constant problem during testing.

Compared to the upper body, whose development lagged due to the delayed miniaturization of the nuclear fusion reactor, the development of the lower body proceeded smoothly. At the point when the operation of the leg mechanisms was was confirmed, their armor had already been attached, and it is interesting that their form was essentially unchanged in the MS-05 that was later formally adopted. This contrast can be clearly understood by comparing the upper body, with its naked frame, against the more or less completed lower body.

The second image includes callouts discussing specific parts of the MS-01 design.

The mono-eye system was a distinctive feature of the Principality of Zeon's mobile suits. This highly reliable system was adopted in virtually all the mobile suits of the Principality forces.

The armor pattern of the arm, which had many moving parts, was a major source of frustration. Many patterns were tried, with the goal of maximizing both protection and range of motion.

The nuclear fusion reactor protruded into an enlarged backpack. Most of its interior was taken up by cooling systems and safety devices. Thrusters for space operation were installed in the lower part.

Unlike the formally adopted machine, the manipulators had only three fingers. It is said that these were taken directly from the manipulators of worker pods.

The knee sections were so frequently damaged, it is said their design was different every time it left the factory. This was apparently a major frustration for the engineers.

Hardened rubber was used on the soles of the feet for greater gripping power. However, due to the Earth Federation's embargo policies, it became hard to obtain rubber derived from petroleum resources, and this was not adopted in the MS-05.


Gundam The Origin (2005)

The Gundam The Origin manga, by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko with mecha designs by Kunio Okawara, presents yet another interpretation of mobile suit development history. This begins with the MS-01, an improved version of the worker machine MW-01, whose engine is mounted on its back.

http://www.ultimatemark.com/gundam/imag ... _2005a.jpg

At the MS-02 stage, Gihren Zabi comes to make an inspection, orders the cancellation of the project, then changes his mind when Dr. Minovsky explains his plan to install a miniaturized fusion reactor. The scene shown here strongly resembles the pinup from Gundam Officials.

http://www.ultimatemark.com/gundam/imag ... _2005b.jpg

The MS-03 is never actually shown in the manga, and the design shown here actually looks like an MS-01 upper body mounted on a new pair of legs. The MS-04 design shown here, on the other hand, sees plenty of action and is generally very impressive.

http://www.ultimatemark.com/gundam/imag ... _2009a.jpg


-- Mark


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 Post Posted: Mon Feb 13, 2012 11:10 pm 
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Now that I've finally finished the roundup of sources, I'll beg your collective indulgence one more time for some general conclusions. Taking these model by model...


MIP-X1
The MS Encyclopedia depiction of MIP's prototype mobile weapon is the only one available. It's not specifically identified as the MIP-X1, but it's probably pretty close.

According to Gundam Century, the MIP-X1 has a hovercraft system for operating inside colonies; according to the Zeon Military File, it's more than 25 meters long. The machine shown in the MS Encyclopedia has a maximum combat time of less than ten minutes and is armed with a dummy mega particle cannon.


ZI-XA3
Gundam The Movies I contradicts previous sources by identifying the ZI-XA3 as a different machine from the MS-01. Here, we're told that the XA3 was a worker machine developed for colony construction. The MS-01 which won the military's design competition was based on the XA3, but upgraded with "a reinforced frame [...] a high-output engine, vernier thrusters for space mobility, and a fire control system." The Gundam Fact File appears to echo this distinction, and even Gundam The Origin claims that the MS-01 is a military version of the existing worker machine MW-01.

So which version is shown in that famous MS Era illustration? Since it's datelined U.C. 0070, it's about a year too early for the MS-01. And since it clearly has no thrusters on its back, it couldn't really be tested in space to show off its AMBAC maneuvering. I propose that the MS Era machine is actually the legendary ZI-XA3.


MS-01
I think the Gundam Fact File depiction is pretty convincing here. It really does look like a revision of the MS Era machine, with the body covering stripped off and a giant reactor/thruster backpack bolted onto its back. The notion of a back-mounted reactor is also used in Gundam The Origin, and helps justify the claim from the MG kit manuals that the MS-01 and MS-02 used an "external" power source.

The MS-01 is generally said to stand just 14 meters high. The Zeon Military File says it had twice the operating time of the MIP-X1 - presumably about 20 minutes - but its fuel capacity was still considered inadequate for military purposes. At this point, the AMBAC system had already been implemented, so we could consider this a combination of the MS Era machine and the AMBAC testbed pictured in the MS Encyclopedia.


MS-02
This seems to have been a minor revision of the MS-01, a "high mobility test type" with increased propellant capacity.


MS-03
The first version intended for combat use, with anti-G features and heavier armor. Since this was the basis for the MS-04, which in turn evolved into the MS-05, it was probably pretty close in size and shape to the final Zaku design. (As per the Zaku Minelayer kit manual, "the general form of the modern mobile suit had already been established as of this machine.") This increase in size from the MS-01/02 would also make it possible to fit a reactor inside its torso, although the output was far from adequate.

Gundam Century reports that four units were built, in a variety of configurations. As of the third unit, the body was changed to a frameless monocoque design for lighter weight. I note that that, in this instance, the term "body" is written with the kana ボディー, which could refer strictly to the torso section. This would be consistent with the claim in the Gundam Fact File that the leg design was basically finished as of the MS-01, while the arm design wasn't finalized until the last minute. The traditional hard "skirt" of the Zaku series, then, may have been introduced during the production of the MS-03.

I suspect that the prototype mobile suits seen in the 08th MS Team bonus video (here and
here) may correspond to the MS-03 version. They seem proportionally similar to the final Zaku design, and their chest sections are quite close to the MS-05, but their lack of monocoque skirts and virtually unprotected arms suggest that they pre-date the MS-04.


MS-04
As well as the installation of a compact thermonuclear reactor, this version supposedly introduced the notion of swappable weapons, although its abilities in this area were limited by the fact that the anxious designers put so much armor on the arms that they couldn't really move. Since the MS-05 was distinguished by its curved armor surfaces, we can also assume that the MS-04 was blockier-looking. In both respects, Kunio Okawara's M-MSV design actually seems like a fairly plausible interpretation.

-- Mark


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