Variable Fighter Design Notes
General VF Design
There are a number of design issues common to all variable fighters. The list below summarizes these issues.
All variable fighters have very high speeds. Some are so fast that they can go from the ground to orbit in under a minute. This may seem to be a problem at first, since a fighter travelling at its theoretical maximum speed may cross its weapon range in well under a second.
It’s important to keep in mind during play that speeds reflect the maximum speed a fighter’s engines are capable of. There will be several limiting factors not reflected in the raw statistics.
- Speeds are low in combat. Dogfights occur at subsonic speeds – even in the real world, supersonic fighters often don’t approach their top speed in combat.
- Danger to civilians. A fighter flying very low at very high supersonic speed produces a shock wave which can cause considerable damage to anything under it. Fighters operating in areas with civilian populations will have to keep their speed down to avoid loss of life and property damage.
- Poor aerodynamics. The newer variable fighters have such a high thrust to weight ratio that they are theoretically capable of supersonic flight in an atmosphere in any mode.
However, fighters in battroid and GERWALK are basically non-aerodynamic. Attempting to maintain supersonic speed in these modes is likely to result in loss of control or structural failure.
The sudden increase in drag caused by changing to battroid or GERWALK mode in an atmosphere will greatly reduce speed. This can be seen in Macross Plus where Isamu brings his Thunderbolt to a very abrupt stop simply by switching from fighter to battroid.
The cockpit type is listed as “canopy” for most of the UN Spacy variable fighters. However, this doesn’t tell the whole story. The cockpit is covered by a sliding armored plate or part of the torso for most variable fighter designs when in battroid mode, so the cockpit should actually be considered enclosed when in battroid and canopy in GERWALK and fighter.
There is are exceptions to this. The VA-3 Invader has its cockpit in the head, so it counts as a canopy at all times. The VF-5000 has never been seen in battroid or GERWALK, so it’s a matter of conjecture for it. The VF-22 uses an enclosed cockpit, although it looks like a canopy at first glance.
All Macross mecha are designed with no fuel supply. They actually do have fuel – those fusion engines do need hydrogen, after all. However, the variable fighters all carry enough that the limiting factor is pilot endurance, not fuel supply.