L. M. Lloyd (ubik@austin.rr.com)
Fri, 21 Jul 2000 00:37:58 -0500


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I'm sorry. I never meant to contradict your original statement about
whether or not it was the "Japanese sense of the word prototype." In
fact, I said that I did not have the first clue what the original
poster meant by that statement. I just saw the opportunity for an
interesting discussion about the progression of MS development, so
started talking.

What I will say is that I think the slow rate of modern airplane
development has more to do with the fact that we have not been
involved in any major world wars. Most people consider 20 years to be
the safe service life of an airplane, before it starts to need major
structural repair, so I see it as no coincidence that we are
currently running on around a 20 year development cycle. Right now
aging is the only tangible factor that requires us to replace service
planes. We are not seeing any major air battles anywhere on the
globe, so as long as an airforce's deterrent factor remains credible,
there is no rush to come up with fantastic new aircraft until the old
planes are so decrepit and aging, that an entirely new production run
is required.

This is not the case during war. In an air war, even minor
improvements can make the difference between who comes out of an
engagement victorious, and revolutionary aircraft drastically change
the balance of power in the theatre of operations until the opponent
can catch up. At times like this you see a much higher rate of weapon
development than you do in peace time, partly because of larger
budgets, and partly because you have planes getting shot down left
and right, rather than just quietly aging on the runway.

I do not necessarily agree that it is an issue of maturity, because I
do not really think that helicopters, prop airplanes, jets, ducted
thrust vehicles, and variable control surface vehicles with vectored
thrust, all belong in the same category. It seems to me that when
there is a need for a flying vehicle, there are a number of
solutions, and many of the technologies involved are, to this day,
still very immature. I think the bigger issue is that there has been
very little impetus to push development at a break-neck pace.

- ----- Original Message -----
From: Blackeagle <cdupchurch@hotmail.com>
To: <gundam@aeug.org>
Sent: Thursday, July 20, 2000 1:22 PM
Subject: Re: [gundam] Questions for Mark Simmons (and everyone else)

> I think you may have misunderstood my point here. The original
> statement to which I objected was that the prototyping philosophy
> seen in Gundam (build a kick ass prototype crammed with every
> piece of gear you can then dumb it down for mass production types)
> was a typical Japanese approach. My original point was that it
> may be a typical Gundam approach, but it bears no relationship to
> the way the Japanese develop technology (military or otherwise).
>
> Your next response brought up the evolutionary vs. revolutionary
> development for military technology. Since your response didn't
> mention Gundam specifically, I was responding to this purely on a
> real life basis. I used Naval development because Japan produces
> naval vessels using it's own designs (rather than building
> liscenced copies of U.S. equiptment as it does for aircraft).
> Also because I happened to have a copy of 'Combat Fleets of the
> World' handy as a reference.
>
> In your response (below) you bring up the issue of which real life
> pattern of tech development best applies to MS development. Note
> that I began this discussion because I thought that the pattern of
> Japanese tech development did not fit the Gundam universe.
>
> Now, you assertation is basically that the aerospace model best
> fits MS development. I think this is generally right, but not
> quite the way you applied it.
>
> Like airplanes, MS are not that well suited to modification. You
> can up the power output, add more verniers, change the weapons,
> but you are pretty much locked in to the basic stats. However,
> you use modern examples from the aerospace development and compare
> it to MS development in the OYW to CCA era. During this period,
> mobile suits are a very new and immature technology.
>
> Look at the MS-05 Zaku. It was the first combat capable MS.
> Fielded in 0075, it was considered obselete just four years later.
> During the war, development takes place even faster! The Zaku II
> was fielded shortly before the war, yet the third generation MS
> that replaced it (the Gouf and Dom) were entering service by
> October. The fourth generation of Zeon MS (Gyan, Gelgoog and
> Kampfer) were available by November/December.
>
> The pace stays fast even 10-15 years later. The Hizak was
> considered a front line combat machine in 0087, yet it was
> completely obselete as a combat unit by 0093.
>
> Compare this stunning rate of development with the modern 20-30
> year generational cycle for combat aircraft. I would submit that
> a better model for MS development would be aircraft development in
> back in the first half of this centurywhen aircraft technology was
> as new and immature and MS technology is in the Gundam universe.
>
> During WWI, the aircraft development proceeded very quickly, much
> like the One Year War. After the war, development slowed a bit,
> but the pace still remained incredibly high compared to today.
> During World War II a fighter more than half a decade old was
> effectively obselete. This sort of frantic pace seems to match
> what we've seen of MS development in Gundam quite well.
>
> A side note on your comment about ship development in the Gundam
> universe. I think this fits in quite well with what I have
> described above, since spacecraft are a much more mature
> technology than mobile suits.
>
> Well, I'm looking forward to what you have to say.

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