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AAR - Robotech - MS1-3 - Boobytrap/Countdown/Spacefold

NOTE: This will be released in three parts; but not for each episode as it is one large battle. Instead the three episodes will focus on:

  • the Battle for Macross Island

  • the Space Defense

  • an analysis of the SDF-1

Friendly Composition

  • Robotech Defense Force (Lunar contingent?)

  • ~12 space defense platforms, fleet vessels

  • Super Dimension Fortress 1 (SDF1) – Command Carrier - Captain Henry Gloval (Russian; ~mid50s) - Lt Cmdr Roy Fokker (American; ~30) - "Slick" Rick Hunter (American; 18) - 200 Veritech Fighters -120 Combat Drones - 150 Destroids (Walkers; non-participant) - 3,500 Crew (“navy”) - 1,500 Pilots/Air Crew (“ACE”) - 11,000 Troops

  • CVS-101 Prometheus (Carrier, later part of SDF1)

  • Daedalus-class Submersible Landing Ship (Huge “mike boat”)

  • ARMOR-01/ARMOR10 (was supposed to dock with SDF1) & ARMOR02

  • Dozens of fighter drones (Space SDF)

Enemy Composition


Not to dwell on the backstory here about Zor, Protoculture, the Robotech Masters, the Zentradi Warrior-Slave race, other cultural impacts of Robotech. Nor will we talk about how Rick is an 18yo jet jock who’s been winning since he was 10/11, but in an air circus with his adopted brother Roy. The timelines are so jumbled when you try and shoehorn things into a few Japanese shows.

Bottom line Global War > Crashed ship > Peace > Tech > Harmony > SDF1 > New war with aliens. This show was Nate’s first real appreciation of Military SciFi. Til then Star Wars was more Jedi and cool ships than a war in his juvenile mind.

The show mostly holds up, but with some rewrites and updates, a live action show in the spirit of Robotech, following the main beats would be mind-blowing.

Ground/Air Battle for Macross Island

Everyone is at a bit of a loss here after the reflex cannon fires. Vertiechs (F14s on steroids) get scrambled. At least 3 squadrons are launched to deal with alien fighters above the island. Roy stops to coach Rick in aerial combat. If things were that thick and heavy they’d both be dead. Rick then robocrashes under the guidance of Lisa Hayes, ATC grump extraordinare.

Over view of the battle, including Rick's crashpath. Credit to Chris Jouan for the original map

We enter into some crazy giant robot MOUT where more damage is done to the city then direct enemy. Rick and Roy engage a number of Zentradi scout pods. We learn about the big bad aliens. All the civilians take shelter in these amazing airtight shelters and someone on the ground crew loads Rick’s stunt flyer into the SDF1. Not sure who took the initiative (Roy took the credit), but points awarded for plot device salvation.

Rick and Roy eventually battle their way back to the orbiting SDF1 and Rick’s short stint as a fighter pilot comes to an end (for now).

The Zentradi had no intent of a land invasion as they were completely focused on recovery of Zor’s vessel (SDF1). They dedicated only light harassment forces against Macross Island. Due to its isolated nature in the pacific, no other RDF forces were able to respond in time. Massive damage was caused to the city, but due to the strategic relevance of the SDF1, the battle station went largely unmolested. Civilian casualties were likely significant, but never addressed.

Space Battle

Opening shot by the SDF1, the ship just happens to be lined up perfectly for an opening barrage. (Similar stupidness happens later in the series when the earth is turned into an immobile Death Star.) Armor 02 and Armor 10 engage some scout ships with missiles and drone fighters. Armor 02 is destroyed and Armor 10 is shredded. Given we later discover the RDF has a larger force, it’s questionable where they are, why only limited forces were involved. Unless the slow crawl back from Pluto took years permitting RDF buildup.

It seems the Zentradi hold back at the moon and only send out limited scout ship incursions or laser battery fire. The bulk of their force holds back, but they would have easily ravaged the Earth forces. SDF1 takes orbit. The objective is linking up with ARMOR01 and ARMOR10, the intended “arms” or launch bays for the SDF1. Modular add-ons. More vessels get obliterated in the attempt. (Fairly sure there were some animation issues as water vessels were shown in orbit. Cut and paste animation).

Gloval makes the decision to space fold, but retreats from battle first. They say 100 miles above the island, but looks more like less than 20 above. If I was feeling brainy I could extract the size of the SDF1 vs the radius of the bubble…. Actually let me eyeball this. 5 SDF1 lengths from the center. 5x0.75 miles. So yeah… the SDF1 wasn't even 4 miles above Macross Island. So they would have captured the island, the bay, and a few cubic miles of seawater. Visually it works, dialog… eh not so much. Thank gods for those airtight bomb shelters, eh?

Fold drops them outside the orbit of freaking Pluto… whoops. The overwhelming Zentradi force withdraws from lunar orbit to chase the SDF1, leaving Earth to lick its wounds. They are not here as conquers; but for technology retrieval. Earth isn't even "on their radar". It's insignificant in their eyes, but we do also later realize that the Zentradi not only don't know how to repair their own tech, but are stuck on a very out of date tactical playbook. They are not adept at adapting. But they do bring a shitload of ass to bear. Later in the series they show up with 4.8 million capital ships. o_O

SDF1 in Review

So Zor crashed alien ship 3/4mile (1.2km/4,000 ft) into Earth, killing the crew. Managed to stop a Global War and bring peace and chicken grease to the Middle East. 10 years to overhaul an alien vessel, develop radical reverse-engineered tech and train an entire military force is crazy. Realistically, everyone would have probably fought over it. The crew is “raw recruits” although most are actually veterans of the Global War, once opposing forces. (There even was a Mars military base? IDK that one kinda confused me.) They rebuilt it, but aren’t totally in control as seen in the first episode. Come to think of it, none of the math of this show really adds up. Fokker is about 30, it's been 10 years since the Global War, which means he was a fighter ace with over 100 kills at 20? And Rick is 18, but winning competitions since he was 10? Really stretching some timelines here. More sense would be if Fokker was about 36 and Rick was 21 or so and for the sake of pedobear creep make Minmei 18 instead of 16. Then the timelines work much better and make ranks, character behavior, etc much more natural. Moving on.

We have an old salt-dog Russian Naval commander in charge. He's in his mid-50s. I'll buy it. More than anyone else, honestly. This and ST TNG kinda bug me. Top of the line ships sent out with mostly boot crews. Look at any major US Naval vessel, you have a senior AF leadership staff. Not just one Commander, one Lt Commander, and a whole shitload of Ensigns. You'd have salt-dogs galore; three or four Commanders; a few dozen Lt Commanders… etc. And don't get me started on Trek and its ignorance of enlisted life.

Back to the SDF1, sure a handful of the crew were Global War vets (Like Roy and Claudia), but the "bootness" of the crew kinda scares me. Sure, sure the JOs and the junior enlisted would all not have served 10 years ago in the Global War, but a boatload of the senior staff would have at LEAST 10 years under their belts. Everyone at the Lt Commander level and above would likely have at least 12 years of service under their belts and if there had been a Global War, you'd have plenty of experience to spread around your spankin' new RDF flagship. //#EndRant

Slight alt-SDF1 (there's like a doz MACROSS variants) this one shows the ARMOR01 as it was supposed to have docked. Instead they get the Prometheus and Daedalus

The design of the ship itself made me fall for big battleships in space. More so than a Star Destroyer (years later I came to love the Super Star Destroyer better) or a MonCal cruiser. It *felt* like a proper battleship. I loved the idea of a city in a ship. I was actually – not – a fan of the transformers aspect. Felt it was dumb… except for the Daedalus maneuver. Punching ships is kinda cool, m'kay‽ Still, overall, I loved the split-level bridge design (I stole it for something of my own, only larger) and the massive carrier in space vibe she gives off. The systems feel like something we'd put up in space for sector dominance and space superiority. The point defense shields are kinda weak, but I want to say there was an argument about power drain made later. The actual guts of the ship always seem to be in canon-question as things don't seem to really line up, but meh… we'll worry about that in retcon post.

The compliment of Veritechs and Destroids are bad ass. The VF-1s are obviously based on the design of the F-14 Tomcat which was the premier fighter jet of the 80s. (DANGER ZONE, LANA!) And the transformation makes sense (in a warped way) for hand-to-hand combat with giant aliens – even if the tech would likely be super impractical to implement and a bitch to maintain.

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