RCX-76 Guncannon: Why did it suck so bad?

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RCX-76 Guncannon: Why did it suck so bad?

Post by LTJGLono » Mon Dec 05, 2016 2:36 am

Hey, I'm new to the forum here.

I've been a huge MSG fan since I was in High School. Started with Gundam Wing of course, but then I graduated to the original and absolutely fell in love. I love the suits, the ships, the pilots, the stories or war and how civilians deal with those horrors.

I was just recently introduced to Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin, and I have watched all 4 parts of the OVA. It relit the fire of my love for Gundam and I've must have watched all of them several times now.

So here's my big question about MS in The Origin: Why did the RCX-76 Guncannon suck so bad? It seemed like a pretty solid MS, with a cannon and gattling gun, and honestly it looks almost identical to the RX-77-02 Guncannon. So what made the RCX-76 so bad and the RX-77-02 better?

We know that somehow their different, even Tem Ray said "This is not what Dr. Minovsky called a 'mobile suit. This isn't it at all."

But why? What was so different about the RCX-76 that made it inferior to Zeon's MS-05?

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Re: RCX-76 Guncannon: Why did it suck so bad?

Post by Deacon Blues » Mon Dec 05, 2016 3:59 am

Anaheim's development team and the Federation bigwigs were at fault when it came to mobile suit design. The Zeon's designs always had an emphasis placed on versatility whereas the Federation's was merely a humanoid mobile weapon as an extension of larger combat vehicles. Combine this with the clunky manipulators as opposed to hands and you can see that they didn't give it any close combat weapons, so that's another check in the bad column.

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Re: RCX-76 Guncannon: Why did it suck so bad?

Post by toysdream » Mon Dec 05, 2016 4:18 am

That explanation from the HG kit manual seems to boil down to "it didn't have a heat hawk," though, which seems like a weak explanation for what the story depicts as a vast categorical difference.

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Re: RCX-76 Guncannon: Why did it suck so bad?

Post by Dark Duel » Mon Dec 05, 2016 6:08 am

I always interpreted it along the same lines as what Deacon mentioned. Never really had looked into what the official justification was, but when I read the manga, I concluded based on what was seen that the GunCannon in the Origin is basically, in terms of the design philosophy, a Guntank with legs. It was a humanoid MBT, designed to function like a walking tank.
By contrast, the Zeon mobile suit designs, from the very beginning with the MW-01/MS-01 were designed with close-quarters combat in mind. Thus, Zeon's mobile suits emphasized versatility, mobility, and the ability to get up-close and hack whatever to pieces.

The end result was that on the one hand you had an artillery unit that had barely passable mobility and zero close-quarters combat capability, and on the other you had the ancestors of the Zaku, a machine that performed well at both long- and close-range.

To put it another way, on the one hand you had a tank, and on the other you had something along the lines of an anti-tank aircraft.
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Re: RCX-76 Guncannon: Why did it suck so bad?

Post by toysdream » Mon Dec 05, 2016 2:13 pm

That's not really reflected in the mecha designs, though. The Guncannon has a swiveling head and waist, crude but functional hands (which can hold human-style guns with grips and triggers), an arm-mounted shield, a reasonable amount of leg articulation, little foot thrusters for jumping - there doesn't seem to be any obvious reason why the Bugu and Zaku are genuine mobile suits and the Guncannon is just considered a walking tank. If it were distinctly slower, or had less articulation, or lower power - if the lack of a Minovsky fusion reactor or the much-vaunted fluid pulse system were apparent in action - that would help, but there doesn't seem to be much difference in their animated movements. Based purely on the animation, I'd take it as a failure of training and tactics, not technology.

EDIT: Just watched the battle sequence again, and yeah, it basically seems like a bunch of inexperienced Federation pilots get wiped out by Ramba Ral and the Black Tri-Stars. Which, honestly, what else would you expect? Those guys are really good, super-aggressive, and specialize in brawling. It doesn't seem like a technology issue to me, and if I were Tem Ray, I wouldn't necessarily watch that scene and say it was a hardware problem. :-)

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Re: RCX-76 Guncannon: Why did it suck so bad?

Post by AmuroNT1 » Mon Dec 05, 2016 6:17 pm

toysdream wrote:there doesn't seem to be any obvious reason why the Bugu and Zaku are genuine mobile suits and the Guncannon is just considered a walking tank. If it were distinctly slower, or had less articulation, or lower power - if the lack of a Minovsky fusion reactor or the much-vaunted fluid pulse system were apparent in action - that would help, but there doesn't seem to be much difference in their animated movements. Based purely on the animation, I'd take it as a failure of training and tactics, not technology.
In other words, if they'd animated the Guncannon acting like a Western mecha - like say those from Battletech or Mechwarrior (meaning no disrespect to those franchises, of course) - its getting dominated by the Bugu and Zaku would have been much more believable?
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Re: RCX-76 Guncannon: Why did it suck so bad?

Post by toysdream » Mon Dec 05, 2016 6:35 pm

Let's say its getting dominated by the Bugu and Zaku would have seemed more like a technology problem instead of a mismatch in piloting skills. (It was actually a less humiliating rout than, say, the Scarlet Team in Gundam 0080.)

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Re: RCX-76 Guncannon: Why did it suck so bad?

Post by Zeonista » Wed Dec 07, 2016 12:32 am

It is not so much what the RCX-76 was as what it was not at the time. Compare it to the RX-78 and the RGM-79 and you can see the shortcomings. Now, following the Guncannon line, and the Chicom MiG-copy garage job that was the Zanny, and the Guncannon 0.5 is a real step forward. But it is not a full step. It is still in the "walking tank" stage, and has not made it to "mobile suit" stage.

The MS as a mechanical concept is not a piloted machine, but a case of the pilot becoming the machine, and the EFF just hasn't gotten there yet both on the design board and on the test track. The MS-04 Bugu, MS-05 Zaku I, and its soon to appear successor MS-06 Zaku II are all built to be extensions of the Zeon pilot's will as his own limbs and senses. The RCX-76 Guncannon simply has not gotten to that stage, and neither has the test squadron's MS pilots. The rout is as much the mindset and training direction of the Zeon pilots as much as their MS. To me, that is the idea behind Tam Ray's cry against the played-it-too-safe RCX-76.

Now, of course MS the Origin can safely retcon the moment since his vision has already been proved to be true, by both his MS and the pilot, his own son. ;) But that is still why it needs to be explained in narrative context for the greater story.
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Re: RCX-76 Guncannon: Why did it suck so bad?

Post by toysdream » Wed Dec 07, 2016 1:28 am

But we're dealing with Char, Ramba Ral, and the Black Tri-Stars; of course they're going to achieve a state of mystical leaping-and-kicking communion with their machines. I can't help feeling that if the Zeons had fielded more average pilots it would have been a much more even fight, and Tem Ray would end up saying "Oh, I guess the Guncannon is a perfectly adequate mobile suit after all."

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Re: RCX-76 Guncannon: Why did it suck so bad?

Post by Zeonista » Wed Dec 07, 2016 6:15 pm

toysdream wrote:But we're dealing with Char, Ramba Ral, and the Black Tri-Stars; of course they're going to achieve a state of mystical leaping-and-kicking communion with their machines. I can't help feeling that if the Zeons had fielded more average pilots it would have been a much more even fight, and Tem Ray would end up saying "Oh, I guess the Guncannon is a perfectly adequate mobile suit after all."

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That was part of the scenario failure as well, and more telling than the mechanical specs. The EFSF commanders really didn't understand the new machines they had been given. They also did not understand the extent of the Zeon military investment in their counterparts. (Admittedly the testing of the Zeon MS corps had been carried out in greast secrecy, but that is no excuse for discounting the skill and readiness of the Zeon team in their deceptively clumsy-looking MS.) The aggressive action by Ranba Ral and the Tri-Stars was the result of the confidence in their training and their MS. The EFSF pilots could deploy and manage not to fall over when they landed. So no, we shouldn't have expected any other result.

I suspect that in-story the EFSF blamed the machines rather than the command decision to deploy untrained pilots against a smaller force that had hundreds of hours of experience. (We'll leave Char out of the equation here, as his ability, like Amuro in the RX-78-2 Gundam, defied normal quantification methods.) So they told themselves that in a big space battle the MS would be at best a secondary force... Fortunately for the Federation AE had decided to back Tam Ray, and so the development of the RX-78 would be underway when the crisis hit after Loum and the need for a Zaku-beating MS became paramount.
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Re: RCX-76 Guncannon: Why did it suck so bad?

Post by domtropen » Thu Dec 08, 2016 2:44 pm

From the ova Guncannon seems to be slow for turning, dashing, and dodging. It takes too long to turn around and fire back or block incoming Zaku bazooka round, eventhough the pilot knows it is coming his way. It is also slow in moving away from the explosion. The Zaku [with capable pilots such as the black tristars, but the machine itself is also fast and responsive enough] is fast enough to dodge very close cannon shot and quickly slide into the opening left by another Zaku jumping back. What's worse is that the Guncannon's gatling that is supposed to be used for close combat, just bounce off Zaku's armor.

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Re: RCX-76 Guncannon: Why did it suck so bad?

Post by Zeonista » Thu Dec 08, 2016 6:44 pm

domtropen wrote:From the ova Guncannon seems to be slow for turning, dashing, and dodging. It takes too long to turn around and fire back or block incoming Zaku bazooka round, eventhough the pilot knows it is coming his way. It is also slow in moving away from the explosion. The Zaku [with capable pilots such as the black tristars, but the machine itself is also fast and responsive enough] is fast enough to dodge very close cannon shot and quickly slide into the opening left by another Zaku jumping back. What's worse is that the Guncannon's gatling that is supposed to be used for close combat, just bounce off Zaku's armor.
The RCX-76 proves why the RX-77 Guncannon, RGM-79 GM, and RGC-81 GM Cannon are as depicted. The Federation engineers learned their lesson, if just barely in time. The RX-77 is the most straightforward fix. Still clumsy, but it has the firepower and protection to stay in the fight and give good support for other MS. It can even equip a rifle and shield for offensive missions. The GM has the correct reaction time and balance, thanks in part to the Gundam, but also due to the GM being a stripped-down fighting machine. The head gats are backed up with a beam saber that is effective against an axe-swinging Zaku. The GM Cannon is a GM with support firepower, but not as clumsy as a Guncannon. Most important, the GM was a good enough MS that a rookie pilot who finished training and survived his first mission or two could develop the confidence required to excel. The 08th Platoon is the best example I can think of this process in action, albeit not with GMs.
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Re: RCX-76 Guncannon: Why did it suck so bad?

Post by Gelgoog Jager » Fri Dec 09, 2016 4:37 pm

Do we know the armor material of the RCX-76?

It occurs to me that the EF might have put a great emphasis on the defensive capabilities of the RCX-76, but at the time still wasn't implementing the light weight luna titanium alloy used on later models, thus requiring more armor material (whether it's super hard steel or titanium alloy) and consequently increasing the weight of the unit while reducing its mobility.

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Re: RCX-76 Guncannon: Why did it suck so bad?

Post by Erisie » Sat Dec 10, 2016 3:27 pm

Tem Ray gives an explanation about weapons and doctrine that, sadly, was cut out of the anime. Since I don't want to damage my Vertical copies, I cobbled together a scanlation based on the official English script.

The best equivalent I can think of to the RCX-76 were some of the heaviest interwar French tanks: 2C and the B1 (some of you will probably remember the B1: it appeared in Girls und Panzer as Team Mallard's vehicle). As we all learned in high school history class, pre-invasion French doctrine was merely an evolution of WWI tactics, emphasizing static defensive combat and heavy guns. In contrast, Nazi Germany was all about mobility. In consequence, France's heavy force was in huge disadvantage against the new combat paradigms. Their tanks were too slow and armed with inadequate weapons to deal against a fast-moving enemy.
As a side note, "tank" in French is called "char", derived from the same root as "chariot".
Zeonista wrote:I suspect that in-story the EFSF blamed the machines rather than the command decision to deploy untrained pilots against a smaller force that had hundreds of hours of experience. (We'll leave Char out of the equation here, as his ability, like Amuro in the RX-78-2 Gundam, defied normal quantification methods.)
toysdream wrote:But we're dealing with Char, Ramba Ral, and the Black Tri-Stars; of course they're going to achieve a state of mystical leaping-and-kicking communion with their machines.
As a matter of fact, Char's ability is a mixture of surprise, hype, war propaganda and Char's own flashiness. In both the Loum sequence and Mare Smythii, his Zaku is barely limited to destroying large targets. Not exactly complicated mano-a-mano techniques. As a matter of fact, Ramba and the Tri-Stars show a lot more skill, consequent to their years of experience in the overall creation of mobile suits. Compare this to Char's experience: apart from whatever training he might've received in Zeon, we also see him operating what it seems to be an Early MW-01, with threads instead of legs and actual construction equipment.

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Re: RCX-76 Guncannon: Why did it suck so bad?

Post by Amion » Sat Dec 10, 2016 9:50 pm

Ray's explanation makes a lot of sense, and puts the battle into context, for me at least.
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Re: RCX-76 Guncannon: Why did it suck so bad?

Post by Zeonista » Sun Dec 18, 2016 11:43 pm

The scanlated story section makes sense to me as well. He is telling them the MS is a new weapon with the ability to engage other vehicles, not just scare and suppress ground troops. The RCX-76 Guncannons were still just Guntanks that could walk. The Zakus were capable of taking on EFSF MS, ships, and fortifications with equal effect.
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Re: RCX-76 Guncannon: Why did it suck so bad?

Post by Brave Fencer Kirby » Mon Dec 19, 2016 12:18 pm

I think you're sort of missing the point, Zeonista. The question is why the Guncannon was just a "walking Guntank" instead of a "real mobile suit". The answer seems to be that there was no real major qualitative technical difference between the Guncannon and the Zaku, and the reason for its poor performance had less to do with mechanics and more to do with personnel.
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Re: RCX-76 Guncannon: Why did it suck so bad?

Post by Dark Duel » Mon Dec 19, 2016 1:34 pm

That does seem to be what the animated version of the scene implies, which puzzled me a little. I would have to watch it again, but going from memory the GunCannons did seem to be moving somewhat slower than the Zakus, though not as slowly as I had expected after having read the manga. And IMO it was definitely not enough of a difference to entirely justify the massive curb-stomping they received as due only to a technology or development gap - despite the manga making that assertion, as was mentioned above.
I would be forced to agree, therefore, with some of the conclusions stated above, that while the GunCannon's development does not seem to have placed as much emphasis as it ought to have on its role as an anti-MS weapon, as the anime depicts it, the other major factor seems to be a deficiency in training of the pilots, who lacked their opponents' experience in piloting their machines.
So it was, then, I say it's a little of both.
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Re: RCX-76 Guncannon: Why did it suck so bad?

Post by Zeonista » Tue Dec 20, 2016 11:00 pm

Brave Fencer Kirby wrote:I think you're sort of missing the point, Zeonista. The question is why the Guncannon was just a "walking Guntank" instead of a "real mobile suit". The answer seems to be that there was no real major qualitative technical difference between the Guncannon and the Zaku, and the reason for its poor performance had less to do with mechanics and more to do with personnel.
Already went there in my earlier posts with the personnel. Went back to the design, which summed up the lack of technical vision as well by Tam Ray. The properly done Mobile Suit is mobile, a concept which really takes most of 0079 for the EFSF to begin to understand. The RCX-76 is a lumbering cannon-hauler straight out of a classic 3025 Battletech scenario. (Not helped at all by the rookie pilots, which proves that the man does make the machine! Proof rendered by every Gundam series ever.) The Gundam is meant to be a mobile MS with a vengeance, able to do everything a Zaku II can do...but better. Not to mention the lunar titanium armor so the test data survives to get collected. ;)
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Re: RCX-76 Guncannon: Why did it suck so bad?

Post by Brave Fencer Kirby » Wed Dec 21, 2016 11:50 am

"The Guncannon lost because the Zaku had better mobility" is a fair point, but the question wasn't "why did the Guncannon lose", but "what makes it a walking tank instead of a real mobile suit". Drawing arbitrary lines and saying "you must have this level of mobility to be a mobile suit, anything less is just a walking tank" is... well, arbitrary.

There's no real categorical technical difference between a Guncannon and a Zaku. That doesn't mean that the Zaku can't have better performance, but trying to say that the Guncannon is a walking tank while the Zaku is a true mobile suit reeks of no true scotsman.
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