I’ve been wanting to type out a mecha article for awhile now but wasn’t sure how to say it in a brief manner. For all those that have watched Gundam, Transformers, Macross, FLAG, Code Geass and etc, would probably wonder why this world doesn’t contain Â mechs if any type. Well, I can’t really argue the practicality but I will find ways that they are possible, probably hitting up on how to insert them into combat. If anything Anime and games are a good place to get your ideas on how to implement such monsters.
(Link – MySite)
First off what is special about mechas? What are they?
Mechwarrior: (Game Trailer)
They are known to be as tall as a 5+ story building which are able to contain hordes of ammunition. They’re bulky and typically walk on two legs to four legs while fighting Â in semi-sluggish battlefield. The cockpit of the mech shows the basic and realistic layouts of your mech’s ammunition, “health”, and the read out on enemy targets.
Gundam series: (Original Gundam trailer) (MS Igloo trailer) (Gundam Image)
Gundams are an overpowered prototype and one of a kind mecha while the grunt suits are labeled as “Mobile suits”. The Gundams within the series are typically overpowered (quality) while the grunt units focus more on numbers and tactics (quantity). The series also focuses on a World War 2 perspective in the future while others focus more on it’s effects in the later years.
Depending on which era you look at within the Gundam realm they tend to be land, sea, air, and space based. They first appeared as construction vehicles to be later armed as bi-pedal machines of war. The Zeons/Zaft turned their bi-pedal construction into war machines from human desire of greed, political desires, and arrogance.
Macross:Â (Game Video) – (Macross Frontier Trailer)
It may not seem like a series used for mechs but these planes do contain them as a secondary and third mode. Macross is a series about humans exploring the Galaxy to resettle and make sure human race survives till the end of time. They use these planes called “Valkyrie” or “Variable Fighters” to ensure their survival within the universe. As time progressed so did the style in which these Valkyries were constructed and behaved with. They are able to fight within any environments, behaving in ways tanks would only begin to dream about.
FLAG: – (Image above) – (Video of Mecha)
A highly underrated and least watched Anime. Later within the series a tank appears while a female journalist records a conflict brewing on a carefully placed fortress in a desert pillar. A mecha was called into service to help extract a symbolic flag stolen by a rebellious group and was shown to be quite effective in what it did. This mecha boasted speed, power, and a bit of light armor.
Due to this Anime being the least looked at I thought I’d link a image and video of it (sadly not in action).
(Early Side note: As this is the most active article on my blog I shall be coming back to edit this with appropriate (up to date) materials. If you have anything to add or to correct me on then leave stuff in the comments. If you see me being rude then notify me and I shall edit it appropriately.)
So, now you know what these mechas are and what they can do. So, why aren’t they in our world yet? People seem to fear it bringing up more negative traits then positive or neutral ones. I guess its human nature to doubt something to the extreme of becoming bias towards a said topic. I did notice more and more people turning into so called “punks” and “gangsters” just because it seems to be the social norm to do so and because it seems to be “cool”.Â What does that (punk and gangster) have to do with anything? I’m basically trying to say that people will freely tend to join a bandwagon and bash something until the group moves onto something else.
Oh, you want me to mention its pro’s and con’s? I’ll be glad to. Anyways….
Categories Â are split into:
– Mobility + Terrain.
– Limbs + Add-ons/accessories.
– Taking the best into our world.
– Reader requests & opinions: 1)Â Operating System and Navigation controls.
– Conclusion/Final thoughts.
When people think mechs they tend to think it would be sluggish and inappropriate for mechas to be bi-pedal. Mechs in Anime and games tend to have two-to-four legs allowing them to “run” across most terrains. In space they tend to use them as redirect-able thrusters allowing them to maneuver at a quicker pace. In the Gundam universe there are even aquatic type mechas that can also traverse onto land in a D-Day fashioned manner. On land they tend to be sluggish and pestered by the Earth’s gravity. Compared to a tank it could cross most obstacles with ease allowing it to travel further faster instead of waiting up for a tank bridge to unpack.
What about speed? Balance? The Japanese have you covered, who else?
– Youtube video – Asimo
– Youtube video – Toyota Robot
If the Japanese can make little robots to do that then I can see the big mechs doing so also.
-> Land types:
Mechas simply walk, run, and kneel on land. Translating the walking motion on land is a do-able task and has been done on smaller scale. Just like us humans, these mechas would first learn how to walk, do construction, and eventually be used in combat once a genius finds a way to put weapons on them. If not a first world nation then a third world class nation would for land based combat, construction, or rescue operations.
(Real world Amphibious tanks vs Anime based Amphibious mechas (Video).)
Besides land, there are aquatic mechas which are specifically used in naval based combat. These mechas specalize in aquatic battlefields and may often be found on shorelines, lakes, swamp land and nearby water related battlefields. Their movements within the sci-fi realm would be similar to a submarine’s role, be twice as quick Â wouldn’t be restricted by it’s role in the water. The Amphibious mechas wouldn’t be restricted by their niche to water combat and can double up as land based war machines due to their hybrid nature of being able to traverse through water and onto land to deal D-Day (World War 2) style assaults.
A good example of anÂ amphibiousÂ mechas would be the Z’Gok and the Acguy from the Gundam series.
-> Z’Gok – MAHQ
-> Acguy – MAHQ
Translating such into real world wouldn’t be too hard as there are vehicles turning into terrain hybrids. During WW2 the Allied forces experimented with the Sherman tanks with skirts added on top of the tank. Due to the bad weather the majority of these Sherman tanks were lost due to the depths. For the year 2010, the Americans also have a vehicle called the AAV that can skim on top of the water. As for merging a tankd with a submarine for the real world might be the next step.
-> Space spaced:
As of 2010 there are no space colonies, no moon bases, and no space ships. We only have the experimental International Space Station which acts as our door step into space. Though, in the future, once we do reach space conflict may inevitable reach the cosmos and damage everything around it. Within the Sci-fi Anime realm, mechas were used as construction and combat tools to wreck such havoc. They would often be bi-pedal as to cause conflicts in space and within space colonies and the moon. They would also be often seen firmly planted on space transport vessels similar to a battleship merged with an aircraft carrier with their bi-pedal frame.
Such thing seems far into the future, but would seemÂ plausibleÂ once military based organizations merge with space based ones. They currently seem highly unlikely for those living around the year 2010.
-> Air based:
Within the Gundam and Macross universe we can see mechas taking to the skies as they leave behind a space shuttle like trail behind them. Would such a thing even be possible?
Limbs & Add-ons/Accessories.
Exposed parts you say? For those following mecha or love to enter within these debates would know that the legs and their joints can be easily harassed by a well placed projectile. There is already an answer for that and its the form of joint guards. The mecha designer for the Gundam series probably thought of this and actually tried to have their early mechs contain joint guards.Â Â Depending on todays technology there could be flexible joint guards or or some kind of skirt for the hip joints.
Lets take a quick look at a modified Zaku II as seen in the Gundam series – MS Igloo.
(Link – MySite & Ngee Khiong’s Blog)
Typically, the head in mechas contains the camera for the pilot to see their terrain. Depending on the universe and the faction the “eye” of the mechas might be a mono eye or a pair.
The mono eye is often used for “evil” factions known as Zeon/Zaft and can only view whats infront . A good example of the camera type could be compared to an individual holding a typical hand held camera without wide screen enabled. An example of a mono-eye camera was shown off in Gundam ZZ where a One Year War version Gelgoog was repaired and used as an antique to enter the opposing faction’s space vessel. The range the pilot sees in a “cyclops” mecha is highly limited with an 80% blind spot.
The pair (as in two) camera is used in Macross, Gundam mechas and Earth Federation/Earth Alliance mobile suits. Those with two cameras could be compared to an individual holding two hand held cameras both enabled with widescreen options.
The majority of the Gundam variants, Federation Mobile Suits, and experimental Zaku mechas contain a head vulcan. The head vulcans may be used to spare higher grade ammo, to cause further damage, or to be specifically used to deal with tanks.
And in rare cases, the head of a mecha contains the pilot seat (i.e Zeong and Guntank.)
(This section needs little translation for real world mechas as the design is already there. All that needs to be done is to craft one andÂ continuallyÂ test it until it works in our world. The camera points on a mecha need refining though, replicas of sci-fi would be welcome.)
Arm & Hand:
The arm of the mecha isn’t simply an arm that copies human biology. The arm of a mecha may contain a hidden blade (Gundam Heavyarms), vulcans mounted in forearm (Alex Gundam), or an arm mounted shield (GM).
The hands for mechas are typically ones that can articulate like any human hand. The only exception to this would be North American Mechwarriors that are built “realisticallyÂ bulky” and the Gouf with a hand version of a vulcan. Most mechas are designed to grasp things, hence the human hand design on mechas. The five finger hands can articulate well, can grasp onto things, and can pull anything it wants to.
For the amphibious mechas, they simply have claws with lasers in them. They can melee other mechas with ease with the claws.
In Gundam Wing there was a quick Gundam battle at the near beginning of the show. The pilots were still aggressive unsure who was an enemy and who was their allies, causing them to get into a quick combat. Two mechas ended up getting stuck in a literal hand to hand combat spawning a rubber like sound effects with the friction from the two robotic hands pushing against one another. Whatever theÂ outerÂ coating is/was it allowed the mechas to grasp onto weaponry with ease.
(Translation to real world? Keep it the same, or use whats already been designed in Gundam/Flag/Gundam/Macross/Mech Warrior. Whatever the combat field needs a mecha gets. Mechas may end up having built in rocket launchers or even hooks on the end of the arm. Your mecha, your choice.)
Typically, the torso in various sci-fi realms contains the pilot seat and what typically powers the rest of the mech. It can be the bulkiest part or theÂ skinniestÂ part of any mech as it contains the “heart” of the suit. The power supplies’ size often vary as with the placement of the pilot seat or the cockpit in general.
The cockpit areas may contain a single seat, a few joysticks, lots of gauges, hordes of switches, and 1-5 display monitors. The cockpit may only allow for one individual to sit or to allow a few others that may have been stranded or rescued from a battlefield.
In later mecha versions within the Gundam realm, mechas tend to containÂ miniatureÂ side weapons built into various parts of the chest or lower portion of the torso to assist with offensive, defensive, or guerilla tactics. A good example would be the Ground Gundam with it’s chest mounted vulcan and the Dom with it’s blind effect.
The power supplies tend to be electric battery packs, generators, or even nuclear reactors. Hit the wrong spot on a mecha and the side-effects may end up worse then the assault that was originally started.
Knee, Legs, and Foot:
The most vital part of a mecha is it’s legs and knees for motion. Take one out and a mecha is crippled for the majority of the battle. Crippled may not mean down and out as they can still do damage.
Mechas tend to kneel when shooting, thus putting most of the strain on the lower portion of the mecha body. The leg portion also contains various mini-boosters which would assist with brief flight or may even contain additional combat gear. They may also be attached with various attachments to assist with the conflict.
Though, if one fears having legs on mechas, they could simply stick a mecha body on a tank chasis (i.e Zaku Tank). But then that would defeat the purpose of having a mecha as we could simply stick with tanks. Then again, it could only be aÂ temporaryÂ fix to the whole leg crippling situation.
-> Amphibious Operation:
In certain cases there are aquatic mechas that have propellers placed on their legs to propel themselves like any submarine would. They would also have propellers attached to their back to help with movement in the depths of various lakes or oceans around the world.
-> Desert Operations:
The Zeon’s have re-designed their Dom into a Dom Tropen. The Dom Tropen has enlarged leg thrusters and a specialized filter to filter out anyÂ unnecessaryÂ fine sand particles which would hinder with constantÂ maintenanceÂ down times. Â The thrusters would work in a similar fashion to a hovercraft (or a plane engine stuck on it’s side) allowing it to skim across the any surfaces, including sand (highly unlikely for water).
(Translation to real world? Build the leg as strongly as possible Â and have it so that another could be placed on as quickly as possible. Â Another theory could be to have crippled mechas attached onto secondary vehicles in less then 10 minutes to rejoin the conflict zone.Â As this is the most vital portion of the mecha lots of care and testing must be placed into the research of placing a proper projectileÂ resistantÂ leg portion.
The Dom and the Dom tropen might end up being highly unlikely, though plausible, due to the hovering ability and the amount of energy needed to power the jet like engines.)
Depending on the mecha they tend to sometimes have add-on packs; Booster packs (think NASA shuttle), Missile pods, fuel pods, ammo pods, or even extra body armor. Some even have hidden weapons within these limbs to combat with.
-> The Ground Gundam (08th Team) is often seen with a backpack on its back which contains aÂ dismantledÂ artillery styled canon.
-> The Alex Gundam (War in a pocket) had an external armor plating that allows it to be further protected from enemy assault. Even though it sacrifices speed and mobility, it’s defense ability goes up.
-> Within the Macross universe a mecha had scale armor that similar to how scales would shed on a reptile. the affected scale hit would simply come off as if a reptile was shedding it’s skin.
-> Hygogg’s arms contained missile pods on the claw arms.
Though, not really an accessory, but a necessity – joint armor and skirt plates. I was going to add this into limbs but they’re not really part of any body part we know of. To protect your mecha’s articulation point some form of armor must take the place of vital weak spots that infantry and/or helicopters could easily chew at. Luckily, sci-fi mechas have a design already in place (look at image of a Zaku II linked above) and already built into the mecha itself that protects the joints from sneaky attacks. Within MS Igloo the joint guards on the knees were also used as a melee attack to damage another mecha.
(Translation to real world? Basically the same with little refinement needed for space and balance.)
Safety? There are always various ways to protect a human body. I am only aware of those within cars and the eject seats used in various military vehicles. Typically those within tanks tend to face a rough time, even as far as being burned alive within their own confined space.Â As for a mech, the cockpit would assumingly be protected by a lightweight defensive material (Dragonskin or Canadian 1313 paste) for the hatch cover. Helmets are a must. Anything else I’m drawing a blank on within safety as I’m not totally familiar with the safety precautions of canon fodder on the battlefield.
(Translation into real world? Need 3D simulation or theories to test how real world mecha designs may fair in our world. New regulations and guidelines must be created.
So what weaponry does a mech normally have? They usually come armed with an enlarged rifles, sniper rifles, pistols, or even optional missile pods (more missile pods in space) attached to the frame.Â They sometimes have head mounted vulcans, hordes of missiles, a simple machine gun, a laser rifle, a normal rifle, a rocket launcher, a mini-gun, a massive laser sword, or a traditional massive sword. Daggers area also known to be used, claws (amphibious mechas), or even a shoulder spike to off balance the other mechs. Grenades? Yup, large ones of course. As of MS Igloo 2 (look above) Mechas are now armed with anti-infantry type weaponry placed within the skirt area.
Recoil issues? Did you design them properly or are you just trying to discredit mechas? For the recoil just take a look at what the Japanese managed to (nearly) perfect in our human sized form. Small robots are now able to withstand strong pushes and bumps as they manage to stay balanced. If the little robots can survive our abuse then surely a mecha should be able to after the research stage.
Weight? Since weapons are being constantly redesigned they will soon cater to the over-sized mechas to cause further carnage to both the military and civilian population.
Over-sized sniper rifle? We probably won’t be seeing that but if it is necessary then we might see them eventually.
Rifles and machine guns? Sure, the Japanese have us covered and the Germans should be able to tune the machinery to the proper specs.Â Not satisfied? Add the Canadians to further enhance the quality by adding in the Canadian touch (Avro Arrow). Still not satisfied? Check out the air burst bullets that could be used and modified to do all the work when fired from the mecha. These air bursts could be modified to to be anti-air projectiles along with sniping at ships at a far off distance, or even underwater. The types of weaponry and firepower are limitless when compared to our desire to kill one another.
(Translation into real world? Modify weapons appearances to make them fit with the times they’re set in. The balance and recoil has already been figured out by various nations, its up to the manufacturers and researchers to pull their weight now.)
Another one that tends to kill these mecha debates. As I’m not familiar with the types of armor that is currently out there I’m only going to add the Dragonskin, 1313 paste, and the Firepaste. You’re going to have to fill me in on the armor types.
Want a Gundam from Gundam Wing series? Try to fuse Fire Paste and 1313 Paste together, somehow, and you’ll have something close to a real Gundam.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troy_Hurtubise – Again, Firepaste and 1313 paste.
From what I heard, and has been aired, on the Discovery Channel (but now taken down from the internet) was how much the 1313 paste could withstand any high explosive damage from grenades to RPGs. There were visual tests showing that anti-vehicle infantry had no effect on the test padding allowing for great protection (showing positive test results). As the articles about the Firepaste and 1313 paste aged by a year or two the information about such a thing has been corrupted as information kept being pulled off the internet. The only thing I can say now is if you want a mech to withstand Earth’s re-entry then pad it with a mixture of Firepaste, 1313 paste, to enter combat upon entering from space.
On an additional note, it may beÂ plausibleÂ to add the same kind of scale armor that falls off when projectiles damage the scale itself leaving undamaged ones still stuck on the mechas Â (as seen in Macross Zero).
(Translation in real world? Finding the proper lightweight yet durable armor to withstand both infantry and anti-vehicle weaponry. May need to add anti-air amor as those tend to be the issue now a days.)
Taking the best into our world:
Being the far superior weaponry in the series (in Anime) they tend to have a far line of sight and can even warn pilots of incoming threats. Being slightly taller, or having a superior radar system, they tend to notice incoming threats as they enter within range. They beep and signal the pilot in the direction these enemy threats are coming by alerting the pilot, notifying him in case he was within tunnel vision by another enemy. These Gundams were also known to display temperature scanners allowing them to spot enemy threats hidden within any misty or sand stormed battle zone.
Some mechs (i.e Wing Zero, Gundam Epyon, Blue Destiny, Gundam Stargazer) have been given an artificial intelligence system to act on their own and gain information about their pilots behavior. As they progress through more battles they tend to work with the pilot instead of against them allowing various targets to be spotted quicker, and to be dealt with easier.
One questionable scene in theÂ Gundam Wing series had a Gundam Sandrock save his pilot as the pilot set the mech to self destruct. The mecha suggested the pilot should flee, assisting him to the ground before self-destructing.
Further into the show the “Zero System” was introduced forcing the pilot’s full killing desires to be brought up to the surface. Most average pilots failed in taming the system, some succeeded.
HAVWC mecha-Japanese Mecha:
This one is probably the only non-stereotypical mecha within the Japanese line up. The chances of seeing this similar mecha should be less then spotting a Abram camouflaged within a densely packed forest. It seems to acts like an APC would when firing, moving as swift as a Ferrari would, and able to deal with any damages with ease. When in its tank form it would see slightly more and re-act in a more hostile manner. It would still be a low visible target and would prove far more worthy then an APC ever would. This mecha would probably be the best in creating a phase 1 mecha and could prove how flexible it could be as well as practical.
90% chance of appearing on a battlefield near you.
(Percentage influenced by it’s appearance, its in show abilities, and how it was used.)
Ever play Mech Warrior, Battlefield 2142, or seen American designed mechs? They tend to be more “realistic”, I think otherwise. Their radar and visibility is hindered by its thoughts of “western” realism making me think that even the European Union, or Russia, could do far better. I’m not trying to be rude as we do know Americans make great military weapons, just not mechas. Those within 2142 are still worthy to be called mechs and probably a good place to start with Phase 1 mech building for the North American and European Union if they’re willing to co-operate with one another in their “buddy buddy” manner.
40% chance of appearing on a battlefield near you.
(Percentage influenced by it’s appearance, its in show abilities, and how it was used.)
Within the Macross universe, the majority of mechas are built into planes. Some are simple artillery while others are highly mobile fighters. Simply merging a fighter plane and mechas may seem like the best way to introduce them onto a combat field in a “shock-and-awe” manner. In the air they behave as planes and briefly as robots, while on land they would simply behave as mechas. You may add pre-existing add-on packs onto a Macross styled mecha plane while allowing upping the multi-purpose tag on a vehicle.
80% chance of appearing on a battlefield near you.
(Percentage influenced by it’s appearance, its in show abilities, and how it was used.)
Real life counterparts possibilities:
Taking examples from the three above styles we could probably see a new wave of mechas that Anime has never imagines. If we add in all the sensors and radar into a single mech prototype, along with artificial intelligence, we may soon see a new breed of mechas. Not Terminators or Transformers but one that shall work along side the human body. Striving for quality, the AI and the sensors within the mecha could probably warn the pilot within of a possible air strike or possible risks even before the enemy radar even manages to pick out the mech. Having the AI read another system’s codes could provide the pilot with necessary information and even cancel out any con’s any debaters have discussed.
What I’m trying to say is if you merge the Zero System (A.I) from Gundam with a hybrid tank/mech (HAVWC) with the real world you’ll get something far more interactive then a tank from our life time.
Reader Requests and suggestions:
1) Operating System and Controls:
There has to be a way to control a mecha, correct?
In the Gundam realm, the OS is oftenÂ acronym-edÂ as “G.U.N.D.A.M” with different meanings. The pilot would end up cycling through various menus and options re-adjusting and calibrating various settings and weaponry or balance options. To control the mecha, the pilot would use foot pedals to move the legs and the two joystick for arm and hand manipulation. The pilot would view the screen and squeeze variousÂ buttonsÂ on the joystick to fire back at the enemy.
In Jame’s Cameron’s Avatar, the upper body of the mecha contained gloves that would manipulate the mecha’s arm. Move in a certain way and the mecha would follow your movement.
– Mobility + Terrain – Check – (We have mobility and we already have the theory of mecha movement on various terrain down.)
– Limbs + Add-ons/accessories – Check – (Limbs can be designed and changed around to the pilots and designers will. Modify it as you wish.)
– Safety – Unconfirmed – (Needs to check more into this and someone needs to test it.)
– Firepower/weaponry – Check – (Confirmed at the start. We’ll always kill one another so there is always a way. Grab a tank turret and modify it to shoot if you want. The Germans used an artillery turret as an anti-aircraft gun during WW2. )
– Armor – Unconfirmed – (All the armor types went top secret. If anything, all the military organizations around the world know the best way to defend themselves. They probably know of a way which might be top secret.)
– Merging the best – Plausible – (We can always merge the best into one. Adding AI and etc is just a bonus to a mecha.)
Sorry, I just can’t accept that mechas are impractical and impossible as its only used to boosts your ego, along with pride within the wrong direction. Us humans are capable of inventing anything we desire and we keep showing that to one another with national pride. Take a look around your city, in museums, online and etc and you’ll see that nothing is impossible. It’s only impossible because you want it to be.
I can view mechas as something produced in low quantity for high quality purposes. I can also see them being made with the progress we made with technology as well as we constantly break new technological boundaries. Though, I wouldn’t want them used for pure destruction, more like defensive or necessary offensive mission.
On the plus side ego-istic maniacs and conspiracy theoriests: mechas won’t be roaming the Earth to destroy cities Â and slaughtering innocent individuals around the world. I’ll give you mechas are impossible/impractical only on the reasoning of not existing to slay those not participating in war(s).
If Â the mecha did gain interest and evolution time then it might follow the mecha route as shown in “FLAG” (Anime). That mecha in FLAG is as swift as a mini-prototype British tank, and it can approprtialy interact with it’s environment. It can be inserted with ease and is small enough to even fight in urban areas. Starting point for mechas? FLAG would be it. Once it has time to evolve it could then attempt to evolve into the ones seen in Macross or Gundam universe.
Even though I haven’t properly answered the safety and defense part of the “debate/discussion” I did attempt to show that mechs are plausible in our realm. Similar to how the tank, planes, helicopters, submarines, and various ships evolved, the mecha has to do the same. If you restrict evolution on anything then of course it won’t be up to spec and eventually go extinct. Give it time and interest to evolve and it shall pay up.
Japanese and Bandai are interested enough in mechas to spawn and respawn the Gundam statue in Tokyo and now Shizuoka – Source.
(Edit: September 10, 2010 – It appears I was rude and inappropriately turned Americans into the villain in the way I worded things. My apologies, wasn’t my attention. I only added in America as a show of example, not an insult, sorry :(.
(Edit: Monday, July 05, 2010 – I basically redid 70% of the article while updating it with new content. I also added a user suggestion area to input any reader suggestions and topic recommendations. I was also recommended to view this so I shall share – http://mechaps.com/)