The size of the Robotech Expeditionary Earth Reclamation Fleets have been shrouded in mystery as there are no official statistics for the force composition. The purpose of this article is to try and place some lower bounds and more reasonable best guess estimate on the size of the three main Earth Reclamation fleets sent by the REF in September 2038 (1st), September 2042 (2nd), and the final (3rd) in July of 2044. I have an Excel spreadsheet which gives a tally of all the scenes in Robotech during which REF capital ships from the Earth Reclamation Fleets makes their appearance. The spreadsheet can be downloaded (EstimateEarthReclamationForces.xls 33 kb).
Originally, I had planned on using the higher quality footage from the ADV version of Mospeada instead of the Robotech DVDs, at the time of writing of this article (Feb 2004) the digitally re-mastered New Generation episodes of Robotech have not yet been released; however on closer examination, I noticed that the animation used in Robotech has been cropped from the original Mospeada.
For example, in the above screen capture there are an extra two Horizon class dropships shown in the Mospeada animation over the Robotech. Therefore, I decided to use primarily the Robotech versions of the animation and only use the higher quality Mospeada captures when the number and/or composition of ships in the picture was unclear. I will however, mention in the article if there are any discrepancies between the two video sources.
Of the three major reclamation fleets, the first is the least documented. Other than a few flashbacks and the fact that Lancer was a member of the first attempt to take the Earth back from the Invid little else is described. There are three flashback scenes which show fleets of REF ships, albeit with more primitive looking starship designs than later fleets. Assuming that the flashback scenes in EP61 "Invid Invasion" are showing the composition of the first reclamation fleets the following estimates are arrived at.
Scene-1: EP-61 "Invid Invasion"
The ships/drawings shown in the first episode are more primitive than latter drawings of Garfish, Ikazuchi, and Izumo capital ships. As a result there is uncertainty whether these early ships are of a differing type or stylized drawings of later models. I have grouped these more primitive designs into which later design they match with most closely.
Ship composition shown in Scene-1
Scene-2: EP-61 "Invid Invasion"
Ship composition shown in Scene-2
Scene-3: EP-71 "The Secret Route"
The starships shown in Secret Route resemble the latter designs more closely than those shown in the first episode. In addition these ships, unlike those in the first episode, are more clearly identified with the first reclamation fleet. There are two Horizon dropships clearly shown in the drawing which is somewhat puzzling. The ADV supplemental material provided with the Mospeada DVD has the following
"As the fighter planes were not built to endure re-entering the Earth's atmosphere, most of the shuttle units didn't make it to the ground" (pg19)
Later the same article quotes the following:
"Three years later, in 2083, the Second Earth Liberation Force was established. As the first episode tells, it was a big fleet consisting of the space aircraft carrier Ikazuchi, long-distance, high-speed Garfish class carriers and Horizont descending craft." (pg 19)
The first statement seems to indicate that the first fleet did not have Horizon dropships and the second that they were new additions to the Second Reclamation Fleet in 2083. However, the scene shown in the "Secret Route" refutes this premise as they are clearly shown as members of the First Reclamation Fleet.
Ship composition shown in Scene-3
Scene-4: Robotech Invasion #1, pg 1
This dearth of information about the First Reclamation Fleet has been somewhat rectified with the release of Robotech Invasion #1 in January of 2004 which shows the composition of the fleet. As the new comics have been canonized by Harmony Gold, the comic likely presents the best estimate of the composition of the First Reclamation Fleet. The final point made in the comic is that there were no transformable fighters with this first fleet as Admiral Hunter had decided to use them elsewhere and replaced them with non-transformable Conbat space superiority fighters and Condor Destroids. The following is an account of the number of types of capital ships shown in the opening
Ship composition shown in Robotech Invasion #1
Estimates of the First Earth Reclamation Force (September 2038)
There are four scenes of importance which show capital ships which may be part of the 1st Reclamation fleet; however, the scenes shown in "Invid Invasion" are not specifically identified as participating in the reclamation effort and thus they will be ignored in calculating the final numbers. As a result the two snapshots of importance are those in Robotech Invasion #1 and in Ep-65 "Secret Route" which show that the First Reclamation Fleet did have Horizon dropships. The minimum composition of the First Reclamation Force is thus:
(Minimum Composition) First Earth Reclamation Force (September 2038)
The minimum composition is only a lower bound to the fleet size. As one really does not know how many ships are off screen, any estimates which try to present the "likely" number of ships are to some extent educated guesses. With three Ikazuchi Battlecruisers and twenty-five Garfish cruisers, the First Reclamation Fleet already possessed a significant number of warships and thus the likely and minimum numbers for those ships should be nearly equal. However, as mentioned previously there are Horizon dropships with the 1st Reclamation Fleet. The Robotech RPG game estimates that each Ikazuchi can hold four Horizons in its internal bays. While Robotech.com does say that the Ikazuchi can hold "numerous auxiliary craft and shuttles", they do not specify a number. As the Horizons are not shown in any other frame, except the "Secret Route's" flashback, the total number must be low. I will assume that each of the three Ikazuchi have a full load of four Horizons and thus the likely number of Horizons in the 1st Reclamation Fleet is twelve.
(Likely Composition) First Earth Reclamation Force (September 2038)
Next: 2nd Reclamation Forces