Common Types of Mobile Weapons
This page will introduce some of the more common or notable categories of mobile weapons.
The Evangelion is a proprietary giant mobile weapon manufactured by NERV. NERV is cagey about how, exactly, Evangelion units function; only a handful of high-ranking Federation officials know the particulars. It is known that they are not fully mechanical, and that they both bleed and regenerate; speculation about Evangelion specifications ranges wildly.
Officially, only three Evangelion units can operate in a single bloc at a time. The enforcement of this restriction, however, is discretionary, due to the nature of NERV's mission.
Since the creation of Mazinger Z by the Kabuto family, there has long been a dream of reproducing its success en masse. That dream was realized first with the Mass Production Great Mazinger, but these were hijacked by the Mycenaean Empire; these vulnerabilities led to a return to the drawing board. Today, however, the dream of a Mazinger Corps has been realized with OCU Japan's MPMZ-17 Ichinana, produced by NISAR (in its role as a mobile weapon manufacturer).
The Ichinana is very popular for construction as well as combat, as its design inherits at least some of the toughness of Mazinger with an almost mobile suit-like range of motion. The inbuilt firepower, however, leaves much to be desired; in practice, these are slightly heavier platforms for mobile suit weaponry, using a weakened version of the Rust Hurricane in lieu of head vulcans.
The mobile suit (MS) is the standard by which most other mobile weapons are judged, and is sometimes used as a generic term for same. They are the most ubiquitous type of mobile weapon in the Earth Sphere as of 0096, and many other types of mobile weapon draw cues from the mobile suit.
Mobile suits range, for the most part, from 14 to 25 meters in height; larger units along the mobile suit structure are seen infrequently, but usually classified as mobile armors despite having at least four AMBAC limbs. Classification can sometimes get murky. Mobile suits most commonly use either variations on the Minovsky-Ionescu compact fusion reactor, though occasionally solar batteries are used as a cost-cutting measure.
Mobile suits use either a three-monitor cockpit setup or a panoramic cockpit. Most use a mix of levers, buttons, and computer macros for control, but some -- designed for those with elevated quantum brainwaves -- use direct brainwave input.
Mobile fighters are similar to mobile suits, but use the Mobile Trace System for control. To control a mobile fighter, one simply moves in the way one wants the mobile fighter to move. This makes more outlandish designs difficult, but not impossible; these units use a combination of hard-light constructs within the cockpit and alternative readings of muscle motions for control.
Mobile fighters have an unprecedented range of motion and flexibility, but the learning curve is steep. Learning to move in space is often a challenge, as pilots must develop comfort with the micro-motions associated with AMBAC maneuvering. As a result, they are mostly unsuited for mass production in modern space-based warfare. For the Gundam Fight, however, which takes place entirely on Earth, mobile fighters perform fantastically.
MULS-P is an internationally-recognized standard for the construction of most mobile weapons between 4 and 7 meters in height. The "Multi-Unit Link System - Panzer type" enables parts from any of these weapons to be fitted to any other, provided the geometry all sticks together, a too-high center of gravity doesn't ruin it, and the torso has enough horsepower to support the assembly. MULS-P units generally do not fly, though Britannian manufacturer Diable Avionics has managed exceptions.
MULS-P units usually run on batteries charged using the Orbital Elevators' solar power generation networks (or Mt. Fuji's Photon Power reactor), and can be refueled with an energy filler.
Current units using MULS-P standards include the Wanzer (average height of about 5.5 meters) and the Knightmare Frame (average height of about 4.2 meters). Wanzers and Knightmare Frames generally use a relatively standard cockpit interface with a modernized approach to Hands On Throttle-and-Stick. Generally, MULS-P units use solid-state weaponry, though there have been some developments in neutron and mega particle weaponry at this scale very recently.
Seventh-generation Britannian Knightmare Frames like the Lancelot, and one-off, difficult-to-trade-parts flying Wanzers like the Gracilis, probably herald the end of MULS-P as a standardization agreement within the next decade, or at least fundamental changes that would constitute a 'MULS-P+.'
The wanderpanzer (wanzer for short) is the oldest mobile weapon lineage on Earth, and the one least reliant on insights from Overtechnology to function. Virtually every weapons manufacturer in the world produces at least one part that falls under the wanzer umbrella. Modern wanzers use a standard solar battery which can be easily replenished with an energy filler, though other powerplants have been tried with mixed results.
Knightmare Frames (KMF) are the Britannian military's unique take on the MULS-P standardization agreement. While the performance profiles are comparable, KMFs emphasize highly-regimented blitzkrieg strategies less common in other MULS-P approaches. KMFs use sakuradite as a primary energy storage medium, rather than a conventional solar battery, enabling lighter torso construction and in turn drastically better maneuvering than your average wanzer. The unique reactor design, used first in Britannia and now steadily propagating out to other countries' wanzer and KMF development projects, is referred to as a Yggdrasil Drive.
While Yggdrasil Drives (and by extension KMF assemblies as a whole) are quite powerful and flexible, the KMF does not quite lead the ground operations space outright. The speed is great, of course, but traditional wanzers cope better on uneven terrain, making them quite popular among guerrilla forces.
MULS-P2 is a similar standardization agreement to MULS-P, covering mobile weapons between 8 and 13 meters in height. Unlike MULS-P, it does not come with any assumptions of a standardized control interface. MULS-P2 units include "advanced" Wanzers (average height 9m) and Arm Slaves (average height 8.2m). The principle is the same as that behind MULS-P, but with additional hardpoints on the back.
Advanced Wanzers use the same standard Hands On Throttle-and-Stick cockpit design traditional 5-meter Wanzers do. Arm Slaves use a control system that reads smaller movements by the pilot and transfers them into full movements by the machine. Similar to changing a mouse's sensitivity, this system can be set to accept smaller movements from a pilot. As with MULS-P, solid-state weaponry is the order of the day, though a MULS-P2 Wanzer does have the power plant to support a basic mega particle weapon.
One of the first mass-production mobile weapons developed in the Earth Sphere. Variable Fighters are planes capable of transforming into humanoid shapes, or splitting the difference and deploying their limbs while still maintaining a plane-shaped top. Came to prominence during the Zentradi War, but lost momentum for several years after Zeonic mobile weapons temporarily outmoded their most common armaments, only to surge back into production thanks to innovations made in the early 0090s.
While the VF's low cost and proven track record has made it a mainstay of Federation forces, the current generation of VF -- and, for that matter, mobile suits -- may well be the last. The VF and mobile suit design principles have been steadily converging since the Gryps Conflict, and with more production going to AMBAC-enabled units, the VF may be on its last legs.