"Of Nose Lasers, Vindicators, and Delta-V"
The rantings of a crazed GM
(version 1.03 updated 02/24/01)
I feel like I should explain my basic philosophy in regards to the Robotech RPG game. First, as many of you realize, I have referenced Peter Walker's Robotech Technical Files, Dave Deitrich's Third Invid War, and Nathan Babcook's Hellcat Squadron extensively. I feel that these three sites are some of the best on the web, not to put any of the other fine Robotech RPG sites down. However, I decided that there was still a niche that I could fill and as a result the Robotech Research page was born. I would generally consider myself as an anti-McKinneyist; however, I believe that anything and everything that is seen in the show is cannon. This belief guides my reasoning throughout the rest of this article.
Many still do not think that nose lasers exists on either the VF-1 Valkyrie fighter nor the VAF-6 Alpha fighter. Although the case for the later is not nearly as clear cut as the later, I strongly disagree with those who point to the nose lasers on the VF and Alpha series of veritechs and discredit them with arguments of "intern animators" or the technical impossibility of such weapons. As mentioned above, my basic premise is that if the weapon is shown in the show it exsists.
The nose lasers on the VF-1 are clearly shown several times in episode 25 "Wedding Bells". I have provided below two clips from this episode.
Are there nose lasers? You be the judge.
The nose lasers on the alpha fighter are a trickier issue. The only clear picture is shown in the closing credits of Robotech. Some would argue that opening and closing credits are not cannon. I would argue that this is not correct for two reasons: first just because something is in the opening/closing shots does not mean that it is not cannon. Of course one does not believe that Dana can hover around nor can she with one shot from her personal laser destroy a Zentraedi Battlecruiser. The first case is part of Dana's dream sequence and the second is a result of the editing of the Macross and Southern Cross scenes. Does this mean that the alpha nose lasers should be grouped into this category, I would say not.
My second reason for inclusion is that the animation from the opening scene is seen in episode 83 "Reflex Point" Sue Grahm is filming the battle when you see the animation that makes up the closing clip, all of this except for the final 0.25 seconds where the alpha fires its nose cannons. For whatever reason, in the final Robotech version this part was cut out of the episode but included in the closing scenes.
There are two other places were one can see what appears to be nose lasers. The first is in episode 64 "Survival", where Scott fires two "beams of light" from his Alpha at an Invid Armored Scout (shown below). Granted this picture is not definitive, but it lends additional evidence to the existence of nose lasers. The second scene is again in episode 83 "Reflex Point", before the Sue Graham clip mentioned earlier. I will look into this scene further, but it appears to show that both the VAF-6J and VAF-6R firing nose lasers off screen.
As mentioned previously, my premise is that if something appears in the show then it is cannon. I have listened to all the arguments for and against the Vindicator. Most of the arguments for the Vindicator center around the "cyclone rider" scene in episode 85 in which a large "alpha" type mecha appears in front of a group of cyclone riders. Those who are against the existence of the vindicator point to the fact that a comparison between the cyclone riders show that the mecha in question is in actuality an alpha. I believe that the scene which provides the greatest evidence for the Vindicator is not the infamous cyclone rider clip but one that appears a few seconds later.
No Tricks here, Scene taken straight from Symphony of Light
The unknown mecha is struck by a shock trooper. Therefore one can compare lengths more precisely. The width of the shock trooper is 4.6m, as referenced in Robotech Technical Files. Because the mecha in question is bent over, two lengths are measured: one along the out-stretched leg to the waist and the other from the waist to the head. If one uses the length of the shock trooper to be exact, then the two lengths are calculated at 8.25 m and 4.0 m. In actually because the shock trooper is closer to the camera than the Vindicator these numbers are conservative, however I will error on the conservative side. The addition of these two lengths result in a height of 12.25 meters. This compares to the height of 8.75 meters for the alpha as given by Robotech Technical Files.
One can conclude, using my original premise that everything as shown in Robotech is cannon, that this mecha may look like the alpha but is at least 3.5 meters taller. This number is still some 1.75 meters less than the value for the Vindicator as given in Robotech Invid Invasion, but if one takes into account that the measured leg is slightly bent and the previous perspective argument, this deficient of 1.75 meters can be dismissed.
Not satisfied with the first argument? There are four scenes in episode 85 "Symphony of Light" that could be construed as large alphas or Vindicators as the RPG game calls it. The most controversial scene is the infamous "cyclone rider" clip where a group of cyclones appear in front of two alpha-type mecha. Most of the arguments are based on the fact that the measurements of the height of the cyclone riders are in question. In order to avoid this, I will use the length of the cyclone.
No Tricks here, Scene taken straight from Symphony of Light
This frame capture is from the very beginning of the scene, the first cyclone on screen is the one on the bottom left. This cyclone travels across the picture and exits on the left without traveling behind the mecha. From this one can conclude that the cyclone is in front of both mecha. If one assumes that the cyclone and the larger of the two alpha type mecha are at the same distance from the camera, which we know is not the case because the cyclone is in front, then one can compare lengths directly. We already know that the unknown mecha is further away and this method will underestimate its size.
The length of the cyclone, as referenced in Robotech Technical Files, is 2.05 meters. Because the mecha in question is bent over, three lengths are measured: one along the out-stretched leg to the knee, from the knee to the waist and from the waist to the head. If one uses the length of the cyclone to be exact, then the three lengths are calculated at 4.60 m, 1.90, and 4.03 m. The 4.03 meters from the waist to the head is in remarkable agreement with the earlier estimates given above. The addition of these two lengths result in a height of 10.53 meters. This compares to the height of 8.75 meters for the alpha as given by Robotech Technical Files. Although this second number is still some 1.72 meters less than the earlier estimate it is still some 1.78 meters larger than the values given in Robotech Technical Files. I believe that because the cyclone is some "undetermined distance" in front of the Vindicator this explains some of the discrepancies between the first and the second pictures.
I am not arguing that the Vindicator in the RPG is correct. I think that that height can not be justified based on these calculations. However, what I am saying is that a larger version of the alpha fighter is shown in episode 85 "Symphony of Light". Perhaps this is a ground based unit used only to penetrate the hive's shields but nevertheless it does exist.
Picture of an alpha fighter with cyclone ride: Standing up he almost comes to bottom knee of an alpha fighter. Do you think that the cyclone rider in the above picture standing up would come to the knee of the "unknown mecha"?
Peter Walker has derived delta-V's for all the major mecha and veritechs in the show. From both a technical standpoint, see homepage for my technical qualifications, and a roll-playing standpoint I feel that his numbers are too low. Concentrating on the second argument, when veritechs have delta-V's in the few kph they are extremely limited in terms of combat radius in outer space. As a result GM's will not be able to make missions in which characters travel some distance from their bases of operation given reasonable amounts of time. In addition there are numerous times in Robotech, see "Blind Game", were groups of veritechs travel a greater distance from the SDF-1 than delta-V's in the few kph would indicate From purely this standpoint, I propose that one multiply all the delta-V's given in the Technical Files by 25 to allow characters more flexibility.
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