The need for prototypes to surpass the mass-production models

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The need for prototypes to surpass the mass-production models

Post by WildeHopps_Shipper » Wed Nov 01, 2017 8:27 am

So during the summer, I binged on a lot of mecha anime, and noticed that a lot of them featured prototype models surpassing the mass-production models. It was a trend that was kickstarted by Gundam, and worked its way up to the EVA units from Evangelion, the Arbalest from Full Metal Panic, the Lancelot and Guren Mk. II from Code Geass, the Vilkiss from Cross Ange, etc.

So why develop the need to make prototypes surpass mass-production models, when military combat revolves around strategy and teamwork, rather than the one-man army fantasy that super prototypes create in their respective series?

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Re: The need for prototypes to surpass the mass-production models

Post by Kuruni » Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:29 am

TV Tropes has nice article on this topic, Super Prototype.
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Re: The need for prototypes to surpass the mass-production models

Post by WildeHopps_Shipper » Wed Nov 01, 2017 11:26 am

Kuruni wrote:
Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:29 am
TV Tropes has nice article on this topic, Super Prototype.
I already know that.

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Re: The need for prototypes to surpass the mass-production models

Post by Seto Kaiba » Wed Nov 01, 2017 11:35 am

WildeHopps_Shipper wrote:
Wed Nov 01, 2017 8:27 am
So why develop the need to make prototypes surpass mass-production models, when military combat revolves around strategy and teamwork, rather than the one-man army fantasy that super prototypes create in their respective series?
Well, from a production (real world) standpoint it gives you an obvious "hero" mecha that stands out in action scenes... which both gives you a readily exploitable additional source of character goods AND makes it easier for the audience to identify which character is piloting which robot in the action scenes. Mind you, this isn't something unique to robot anime, or even anime in general...

It's also not entirely unrealistic either. In most of the series you cited, the one-off or limited production unit the hero operates is a forward model test platform intended to evaluate new technologies intended for mass production. It's not uncommon in civilian and military technology, for prototypes and development mules to have feature content that either isn't present, or is present in a reduced capacity, in the production version. It'd be somewhat unusual for that kind of vehicle to be sent into actual live combat instead of simulated live combat for testing, but also not exactly unheard-of. (Very rare in this day in age, but more common back in World War II.) Features present in a prototype get scaled back or cut entirely to make the production model cheaper, materials might be simplified or made less robust to save on weight or costs vs. what the prototype had, etc. Most of this is true for the examples you cited, as I will elaborate below.


WildeHopps_Shipper wrote:
Wed Nov 01, 2017 8:27 am
So during the summer, I binged on a lot of mecha anime, and noticed that a lot of them featured prototype models surpassing the mass-production models. It was a trend that was kickstarted by Gundam, and worked its way up to the EVA units from Evangelion, the Arbalest from Full Metal Panic, the Lancelot and Guren Mk. II from Code Geass, the Vilkiss from Cross Ange, etc.
As noted above, a fair amount of this is actually justified with plausible real-world explanations within the shows they're from:
  • At least in the Universal Century timeline, the titular Gundams of Mobile Suit Gundam are mostly forward model test types used to evaluate new technologies and feature content intended for use in later mass production mobile suits. Reality often ensues in that the new features and/or materials tested on a prototype are too expensive, too unstable, too impractical, or any combination of the three, for use on a production mobile suit. Likewise, these prototypes are often overbuilt or made from more expensive and durable materials to ensure that their expensive and difficult-to-replace test hardware comes back from potentially destructive testing in one piece.

    Looking, for instance, at the difference between the RX-78 and RGM-79 from the original series, you'll see that apart from the cosmetic changes to the exterior the overwhelming majority of the differences are in the cost-cutting to make the RGM-79 something that was practical and economical for mass-production in wartime. Luna titanium was expensive and difficult to source in sufficient quantities, so a lower cost and more readily available alternative was used. The complicated learning computer was replaced with more robust, simpler, and cheaper computer hardware. The powerful and precise beam rifle was replaced with the simpler but no less devastating beam spray gun, etc.
    |
  • Gundam's alternate universes often make the Gundams themselves a mass-produced weapon (e.g. Gundam SEED, Gundam X), unique superweapons intended to fight against overwhelming odds (e.g. Gundam Wing), or were built as one-offs because the circumstances of war are different in the period of their construction (e.g. Iron-Blooded Orphans).
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  • Neon Genesis Evangelion gives the first few EVAs unique outer armor, but by all indications their actual combat performance is no different from the mass production type... which may actually be more effective since their performance is not dependent on the psychological stability of a child, and thus is a good deal more stable.
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  • Full Metal Panic!'s ARX-7 Arbalest isn't really an example of this, IMO. The Arbalest's performance and equipment are essentially identical to the trial production Geotron M9s used by MITHRIL's SRT, and it's not altogether surprising that's the case given that the Arbalest is for all practical intents and purposes an M9D retrofitted to accept MITHRIL's prototype TAROS and lambda driver.

    On its own, the ARX-7 doesn't really constitute a prototype or super prototype, the only thing separating it from the M9D is the retrofits necessary to accommodate the TAROS, lambda driver, and the cooling system for same. This actually makes the unit LESS effective than the standard model, since it cuts into the unit's fuel storage space (IIRC, like a 30% reduction in operating time vs. the production model) and increased its tendency to overheat in normal combat operations.

    The ARX-8 Laevatein that replaced it is definitely a super prototype though, being a new design that all too often handicapped itself because its anti-lambda driver countermeasures disrupted its own lambda driver, and the power demands of both rendered it unable to use ECS and further diminished its operating time in the field.
    |
  • The Z-01 Lancelot and Type-02 Guren from Code Geass are both the same kind of forward model shenanigans as described above in Gundam. Each was a test article for a next-gen Knightmare Frame incorporating weapons and technologies that DID make their way into production model Knightmares later in the series. (The Lancelot got a lightly economized mass production model in the Vincent, and we also saw a mass production version of Lelouch's stolen Gawain near the end of the series. The Guren had its own mass production unit in the Gekka used in season 2.)
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Re: The need for prototypes to surpass the mass-production models

Post by MythSearcher » Fri Nov 03, 2017 12:07 pm

Apart from what Seto Kaiba said up there, other reasons that usually creep up includes:
1) The prototype/test-type is tunned up for testing the maximum stress that design can take.
Fatigue problems prevent mass-production models to use the maximum power the model can take, not that they cannot do so, but because it wears out the parts much faster.
All of the parts of the production model can be the same or even higher in spec(usually because of improved production method figured out during testing), but you simply don't want to stress it as much.
A simple design calculation taught when I was still in Engineering school is that if maximum force you can apply on a part when it is static, it is about 6 times the force it can take in dynamic situations of about 100,000 cycles. You can always increase the force and lower the number of cycles, but it is usually logarithmic, so doubling the force it may drop to like 10,000 cycles. So you can always set the upper limit of the prototypes about 20~30% higher without concerning it to fail within its short life span, after all, a mass-production model will need to be in the field for maybe a few years, but a prototype may only have a few months. You will need and usually have a much bigger supporting team, a much larger spending and logistics to support the testing, this is the magic of the more powerful proto/test-type
In real life, the proto/test-types are much more prone to malfunction, you really don't want to be in one when it enters a real combat situation even if your orders are just "get out of there as fast as possible to protect the unit". It may break a leg or two just by going full speed, especially when it is in the earlier stages of development.

2) Custom crafted parts can be more flexible and more exact.
You usually have the best of the best working on the proto/test-types, but regular blue collar working on the mass-production types. Even if you use machinery for production, same story goes for mass-production machines have to allow for more tolerance than development ones.
For example, this is the main reason of why China can make one or two super prototype J-20 engine(s) for demonstration purpose but can't really mass-produce it. Similar things happen in most countries at some point, and possibly still happen in most of them in some form.
This is a simple Quantity or Quality reason, you can design an accurate part and have the most high-end machine produce a part with an accuracy in micrometres but can only give you a part a day, or a much faster regular model that produce parts with accuracy only up to 0.1 millimetre but can stamp out hundreds of it everyday, and still be 20 times cheaper than the high-end machine by itself and running the machine only cost like 1/5 of the price(maintaining highly accurate machine isn't cheap)

3) Usage of limited production parts borrowed/purchased from other projects.
Say, if you are building a prototype, and you need to reduce your budget, so you stay away from the high-end production machine up there because of the operation cost. You can actually buy existing parts or simply use a spare part from another project you worked/are working in.
Say, I need an actuator for the arm of my giant robot, it needs to have an output of 300kW, and my design is 20cm in diameter and 40cm in length. Building an actuator from scratch isn't an expertise of mine or my team member/company, so I buy an existing one. However, there may not be any existing actuator that meets the spec, so I did some calculation and got a 450kW one with 30cm diameter and 40cm in length, and purposed my design so the stress and such matches the profile, all I need to do is limit the actuator output to say, 350kW to match the modified spec. (It's heavier, so I need a slightly higher output to offset it)
Now, during testing, I can always remove the limit to the output to test out if my design can take the stress or not.
It'd be best to get an actuator that fits the design perfectly at a later stage, but the custom order may be slower than planned, or my client didn't want to pay that much until a later stage, after I showed them the capabilities of my design in action. IRL there are many different reasons this can happen.
Actual mass-production models, of course, will not be using the more expensive actuator in the prototype, but compared to the multi-millions spent on the whole development project, an engine costing 20 thousand usually isn't that much of a concern in the budget.(but scratch building one or order making one may cost ten times that much) If you are mass-producing thousands of units, a 20 thousand dollar engine and a 15 thousand dollar engine with be of higher importance, especially in highly efficient/economic oriented modern warfare.


Other reasons also comes up quite often in shows.
RX-78-2 vs RGM-79 also have the "Lost documents" reason, where the development of the model is so dynamic and the Minovsky particle blocking long range communication, the newest modification didn't reach HQ when Side 7 got attacked, and the EFF was too desperate to start the mass-production, so they used older designs documents for it, and thus the first roll out models of RGM-79A are not stable and prone to malfunction. The RGM-79B received updated information from the WB team, so they are more stable. After the war, they had more time to fix the problems and finally get a better version, the RGM-79C.

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Re: The need for prototypes to surpass the mass-production models

Post by WildeHopps_Shipper » Fri Nov 03, 2017 1:15 pm

Seto Kaiba wrote:
Wed Nov 01, 2017 11:35 am

[*] Full Metal Panic!'s ARX-7 Arbalest isn't really an example of this, IMO. The Arbalest's performance and equipment are essentially identical to the trial production Geotron M9s used by MITHRIL's SRT, and it's not altogether surprising that's the case given that the Arbalest is for all practical intents and purposes an M9D retrofitted to accept MITHRIL's prototype TAROS and lambda driver.

On its own, the ARX-7 doesn't really constitute a prototype or super prototype, the only thing separating it from the M9D is the retrofits necessary to accommodate the TAROS, lambda driver, and the cooling system for same. This actually makes the unit LESS effective than the standard model, since it cuts into the unit's fuel storage space (IIRC, like a 30% reduction in operating time vs. the production model) and increased its tendency to overheat in normal combat operations.

The ARX-8 Laevatein that replaced it is definitely a super prototype though, being a new design that all too often handicapped itself because its anti-lambda driver countermeasures disrupted its own lambda driver, and the power demands of both rendered it unable to use ECS and further diminished its operating time in the field.
So essentially, the Arbalest was more like a custom model than a prototype model. Right?

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Re: The need for prototypes to surpass the mass-production models

Post by Seto Kaiba » Fri Nov 03, 2017 2:01 pm

WildeHopps_Shipper wrote:
Fri Nov 03, 2017 1:15 pm
So essentially, the Arbalest was more like a custom model than a prototype model. Right?
For all practical intents and purposes, yes... parts-wise, apart from all the systems that support lambda driver functionality, it's a Geotron M9 with cosmetic alterations to its composite outer armor. If its developer hadn't committed suicide, it's likely that the Arbalest would've become at least a limited production AS for MITHRIL's SRT similar to what AMALGAM did when they modified the Zeeya Zy-98 into the limited production Codarl and Eligor series AS's.

(Kaname Chidori or Mira Kudan could also conceivably have finished Bani Morauta's development of a lambda driver worthy of combat use, but Kaname got abducted and Mira spent her time finishing ARX-8 instead and a lambda driver canceler instead.)
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Re: The need for prototypes to surpass the mass-production models

Post by yazi88 » Fri Nov 03, 2017 7:04 pm

Um... RGM-79C was deployed in the last month of the OYW. Igloo during ABQ battle showed this. Not to mention that the 1st ep of 8th MS team showed the test/prototype version of the type C.

Anyways, there is also the rare case that the prototype becomes a limited mass-production model in Gundam, like the F-91 and Victory Gundams. F-91 mass produced versions to my knowledge do not have the Bio-Computer system but is otherwise exactly the same as the prototype version.

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Re: The need for prototypes to surpass the mass-production models

Post by Geoxile » Sat Nov 04, 2017 2:18 am

There probably were GM prototypes, it was just internally tested and there was nothing to show. I know the Gundam is considered a prototype and a direct ancestor of the GM but in practice there were probably prototypes of the GM made to evaluate the GM design itself, but by the time we get to Jaburo in MSG they're already mass produced in some quantity. Not saying it's canon, just my conjecture, but even in an anime world it makes sense to do a near-identical trial run of the thing you'll be producing en masse, test it, optimize it, and then respin it. And the eXperimental part of RX is probably more revealing than the "prototype" classification for the Gundam.

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Re: The need for prototypes to surpass the mass-production models

Post by MythSearcher » Sat Nov 04, 2017 4:54 am

yazi88 wrote:
Fri Nov 03, 2017 7:04 pm
Um... RGM-79C was deployed in the last month of the OYW. Igloo during ABQ battle showed this. Not to mention that the 1st ep of 8th MS team showed the test/prototype version of the type C.

Anyways, there is also the rare case that the prototype becomes a limited mass-production model in Gundam, like the F-91 and Victory Gundams. F-91 mass produced versions to my knowledge do not have the Bio-Computer system but is otherwise exactly the same as the prototype version.
During OYW they did have RGM-79C, developed from the RGM-79[E](the one you see in 08th MS), but it is only a limited production variant model among many. It is only after the war they decided this will be the standard design for the mass-production model. Encyclopaedia Ver. 1.5 actually still list it in the 0080-0086 models instead of 0079 or before.
Geoxile wrote:
Sat Nov 04, 2017 2:18 am
There probably were GM prototypes, it was just internally tested and there was nothing to show. I know the Gundam is considered a prototype and a direct ancestor of the GM but in practice there were probably prototypes of the GM made to evaluate the GM design itself, but by the time we get to Jaburo in MSG they're already mass produced in some quantity. Not saying it's canon, just my conjecture, but even in an anime world it makes sense to do a near-identical trial run of the thing you'll be producing en masse, test it, optimize it, and then respin it. And the eXperimental part of RX is probably more revealing than the "prototype" classification for the Gundam.
There are.
The RGM-79[E] in 08th MS team is one of these test types;
You also get the Prototype GM Cannon.

Gundam is more like a Concept test and true prototype(real life prototypes may not even be able to move at all though) and the GM test types are more like the production and performance test.

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Re: The need for prototypes to surpass the mass-production models

Post by yazi88 » Sat Nov 04, 2017 7:51 am

The Ground GM shown in 8th MS team was also one of the earliest GM models, because it also used parts from the Ground Gundam, but after the regular GM model came out, it was phased out, and also replaced by later ground combat GM types.

From what I've read for Z-MSV, there were quite a number of mass production planned units that were left at the prototype phase or barely had a few units produced like the Hyaku Shiki mass production type or Rick Dias II. Gundam types too with the Zeta and ZZ mass produced types that were never implemented and a few units rolled out. Oh yeah, the Nemo III too.

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Re: The need for prototypes to surpass the mass-production models

Post by MythSearcher » Sat Nov 04, 2017 2:12 pm

yazi88 wrote:
Sat Nov 04, 2017 7:51 am
The Ground GM shown in 8th MS team was also one of the earliest GM models, because it also used parts from the Ground Gundam, but after the regular GM model came out, it was phased out, and also replaced by later ground combat GM types.

From what I've read for Z-MSV, there were quite a number of mass production planned units that were left at the prototype phase or barely had a few units produced like the Hyaku Shiki mass production type or Rick Dias II. Gundam types too with the Zeta and ZZ mass produced types that were never implemented and a few units rolled out. Oh yeah, the Nemo III too.

The EFGF couldn't wait for the mass production, and decided to use the left over/sub-par/over-produced RX-78 parts to build some MS to meet their needs. They probably built the RGM-79[G] GM Ground type first, and only did the RX-79[G] Gundam Ground Type when the front line feedback asked for better communication capabilities(the main description from MG manual and encyclopaedia ver.1.5 both said they went into production at pretty much the same time, but the RX-79[G] head was only made as hearing from the feedback, so the RGM-79[G] must have saw limited use before that) Since the original plan of EFF was mass producing Gundam, they thought the production line could still be used later on. Stuff happens and EFF decided to simplify the design and rendered the production lines of the ground types obsolete.

Zeta Gundam's mass production is a bit different, and kinda the opposite of RX-78.
The ditched MP Zeta plan is a simplified version that cannot even transform to the WR mode.(So in a sense it is more like the Hyakushiki)
The actual mass produced Zeta, the Zeta plus, is more like an upgrade of Zeta. (likely by reducing some of the redundant systems and specializes in different fields for different models like the A types in atmosphere and C types in space) They had a better generator(not by much, just 50kW), better sensor range, higher thrust thrusters (but less of them)

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Re: The need for prototypes to surpass the mass-production models

Post by E08 » Sat Nov 04, 2017 10:01 pm

MythSearcher wrote:
Sat Nov 04, 2017 2:12 pm
The EFGF couldn't wait for the mass production, and decided to use the left over/sub-par/over-produced RX-78 parts to build some MS to meet their needs. They probably built the RGM-79[G] GM Ground type first, and only did the RX-79[G] Gundam Ground Type when the front line feedback asked for better communication capabilities(the main description from MG manual and encyclopaedia ver.1.5 both said they went into production at pretty much the same time, but the RX-79[G] head was only made as hearing from the feedback, so the RGM-79[G] must have saw limited use before that) Since the original plan of EFF was mass producing Gundam, they thought the production line could still be used later on. Stuff happens and EFF decided to simplify the design and rendered the production lines of the ground types obsolete.
Actually, the Ground GM is the later creation. This is stated in the HG manual, the Gundam Info's video on the suit, and even on the archived Gundam Official website. The untranslated portion of the HG manual noted that EF's need to remedy the insufficient number of MS, forced it to start developing new MS using the Ground Gundam's production lines, and this is closely linked to the development and production of Ground GM.

Based on the MG Ground GM manual scans on Dalong.net (not very good quality, so I might be wrong...), yes, the Ground Gundam has improved communication and close combat capabilities as requested by the front lines, but that is followed by noting that Ground GM has similar parts with specs close to that of the Ground Ground's. To me, this seems to imply that Ground GM is merely continuing/inheriting Ground Gundam's characteristics.

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Re: The need for prototypes to surpass the mass-production models

Post by yazi88 » Sun Nov 05, 2017 1:51 am

Yeah, the MAHQ profile even says that the Ground GM uses the Ground Gundams parts. So how could the Ground GM come first if it uses some of the Ground Gundam's parts? Also, the Ground Gundam was made first because it used the RX-78's spare parts.

As the case for the Zeta Plus... not really much of a upgrade as a whole but rather specialized versions that also sacrificed some of the more general aspects of the Zeta. It had some new weapons, but also lost weapons compared to the Zeta. Its more cost effective which is one of the main aspects of mass production types compared to prototypes. Plus, the Zeta Plus series were also limited production models too.

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Re: The need for prototypes to surpass the mass-production models

Post by Henyo » Tue Nov 07, 2017 9:09 am

There is one series that i recall where the prototype unit didn't surpass much of anything.(at least from what was shown on screen and what i remember.) the titular mech of Shirogane no Ishi Argevollen.

anyone got info on this series? i have a soft spot for Argevollen. which is to the point that i prefer it over Aldnoah Zero.
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Re: The need for prototypes to surpass the mass-production models

Post by Kuruni » Tue Nov 07, 2017 11:00 am

Well...

In Votoms Steel Force video game, there's prototype of Scopedog call Spending Wolf. It's slower than Scopedog. But they really want the thing to come back from field test for data colelction, so it has thicker armor and some "luxury" like fire extinguisher.
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Re: The need for prototypes to surpass the mass-production models

Post by Seto Kaiba » Tue Nov 07, 2017 11:57 am

Another good example of a prototype that doesn't technically exceed the performance of a production model would be in Nobunaga the Fool. Leonardo da Vinci's Vittoria Absolute Mark Dieci is a prototype, but the actual performance doesn't exceed that of any other giant war armor in the series... their power is all in the pilot's regalia.
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Re: The need for prototypes to surpass the mass-production models

Post by yazi88 » Tue Nov 07, 2017 7:32 pm

Viper's Creed comes to mind with the main antagonist complaining that he hates prototypes because they are unreliable and break down, and its shown to be the case, lol

With Muvluv, there really isn't a difference between prototypes and the mass production models as they all can be upgraded as they have been over decades, especially with the American TSFs.

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Re: The need for prototypes to surpass the mass-production models

Post by Gelgoog Jager » Mon Nov 13, 2017 10:22 pm

I want to point out that supposedly the EF's original plan wasn't to mass produce the RGM-79 (or even the RB-79), but rather to mass produce the Gundam in the form of the RX-81:

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.

https://web.archive.org/web/20160304172 ... /msv3.html

This goes more or less in line with the ultimate results of the Vinson Plan:

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.

In short, the size of the armada only reached 2/3 of the intended goal, and even then the remake about many of these vessels being Columbus class ships and Public class space boats make it sound as if the intended plan involved a much higher ratio of warships (Salamis and Magellan) to support ships.

Adding these up we can see a larger picture where the EF's efforts to rebuild their fleet and arm themselves with MS are falling behind expectations, which leads them to instead rush things with incomplete or more simplistic designs such as the RGM-79, RB-79, Public, Columbus, etc., instead of their intended goal of mass produced RX-81 units with Gundam-like specs and a large fleet consisting mainly on Magellan and Salamis class ships, maybe even more Pegasus-class.

Incidentally, Gundam Seed, which tries to follow to a large extent the events of the original MSG series, also has a proper mass production model of the Gundam, the GAT-01A1 105 Dagger, and a rushed stand-in, the GAT-01 Strike Dagger. The former retains the striker pack system and replaces phase shift armor with ablative gel armor, making it more suitable for a battlefield where beam weapons start becoming the norm. The later is basically said to be a stripped down model that is rushed into production given the EF's immediate need to counter ZAFT's MS.

The situation of the Dagger reflects pretty well the situation of the GM, with the former being rushed into production also in part due to an OS for natural pilots becoming available, while the Gundam's learning computer data allows the EF to deploy the GMs with an extra edge to help their pilots overcome some of their shortcomings. Despite this, both designs are rushed and below the specs of the prototype they were based one, despite plans for a proper mass production models that can match said prototypes spec-wise being in the cards in both instances. Both units suffer shortcomings from this rushed state, the GM being an accident-prone machine (see below quote), which MS Igloo goes as far as put on a similar tier as the ill-fated Zudah, while the Strike Dagger omission of a basic feature such as EMP shielding turned out to be fatal during its debut combat.

Although the existing GM was an accident-prone machine due to its rushed development, there was still some resistance to the idea of using captured Zeon mobile suits "as is."

https://web.archive.org/web/20160305044 ... ndam3.html

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Re: The need for prototypes to surpass the mass-production models

Post by Kuruni » Mon Nov 13, 2017 11:00 pm

Well, on the not-so-super prototype in Gundam, we also have two nice examples, the V Gundam and Strike Gundam. Both have "stop-gap" water-down model (Gun EZ and Strike Dagger) because they need something to fill their rank, but the actual MP model is identical for V Gundam, and even superior for Strike (the Dagger).
My girlfriend was a loli.

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