No matter what type of mech anime you like, you’ll know that of all the glories of mech fighting, there is nothing (save perhaps those ruddy homing lasers) that satisfies the blood so much as a good, big missile barrage: lots of things scurrying about the screen to showcase the animators’ skills and terminated (hopefully) in some impressive explosions.
All very visceral, all very brutal, and all very cathartic.
However, things like the destroid Phalanx are not nearly as off the wall as one might imagine, as humanity has been spending centuries perfecting things that go ZOOM then BOOM (hopefully to the detriment of some bad guys somewhere ‘over there’).
Waking the Dragon
China is still considered to be the birthplace of both the rocket itself (used for signaling and as fireworks) and the weaponized version.
From the moment that Three Kingdom alchemists mixed charcoal, sulfur, and saltpeter together (in an effort to discover the elixir of life*) the Middle Kingdom was keen to put this interesting powder to use in destructive fashion. In their earliest forms, they were little more than arrows with slow-burning powder compounds attached, used to provide effective incendiary devices, and in this regard, according to the records of the kingdom of Wei, they were reasonably effective.
*I’m not even joking. These chaps spent centuries using the most outrageous elements with the idea of achieving perfect solids, salts, and solutions by which the enlightened might join the gods. Another such example would be the mercurial oxides which the first Qin emperor took as part of his own search for immortality… And we all know how nutty they drove him before his death.
However, by the 11th Century, these fire arrows were being propelled by the very powder which was being used to provide the incendiary effects, which, thanks to the improving quality of the compounds, involved more and more explosive. As the gradually-improved missiles started to be seen more and more often on the battlefields of China and Korea, concerns over their accuracy combined with a desire to create mass barrage weapons brought us weapons like the one below: The Korean Hwacha, as well as a series of possibly semi-mythical things such as a surface effect anti-shipping missile…
All very ‘anime’.
And that little beauty was about as good as it got for centuries. The practical power of the gun rather put the rocket into the shade for centuries. We had a few interesting developments, such as the ‘blades of Mysore,’ which were rockets with sword blades attached: an Indian development of the Hwacha technology. However, until the 20th century, the military missile was little more than a hokey horse scarer…
However, once Robert Goddard developed practical, supersonic liquid-fueled rockets the race was back on: not just for the skies, but for enemy as well. This was especially true in Germany in the inter-war years. The German post-Versailles army had strict artillery restrictions imposed by the victorious Allies in 1918, to limit what they saw as the prime reason why the war had bogged down into the trench slog…
However, no-one considered rockets as practical weapons and so German experiments went largely disregarded ’til the outbreak of war, at which time every side scrambled to exploit whatever worked best.
The British, for example, created very effective ground attack rockets in the RP-3, which was little more than a 60lb artillery shell on a rocket body.
However — and trying to get back on track — it was when each side began to look back and reconsider missiles as barrage weapons that we get into the mind of Master Miyatake when he was laying the Phalanx down in his mind.
Today, known affectionately as ‘Merl,’ the Multiple Rocket Launcher has become a staple of modern long-range artillery operations in many armed forces. It is light, self propelled, and capable of launching a wide variety of warheads, potentially at multiple targets. As you can see below, strap a couple of these to a BFoGR and we already have the Phalanx.
However, it was not this which inspired Miyatake, but the cruder, yet just as intimidating Russian Katyusha, the American Calliope, and the German Nebelwerfer – as well as the mass rocket barrages which were part of Allied landing assaults in all theaters of war. They were certainly more fragile than artillery pieces, but – pound for pound – a missile system, and its launcher was lighter in weight, faster, and easier to deploy (if not reload) than an artillery battery capable of doing the same sort of damage.
Only accuracy issues caused some concern, but as the Russian Army rightly decreed, on the modern battlefield of WWII artillery was not being used to snipe, but to saturate targets. These MRLs were ideal for this: able to move as fast as the troops they were covering and capable of the concentrated fire for a fragment of the cost of a comparable artillery barrage.
Of all the destroids, this was always the one that seemed ‘right’ to me – though I certainly liked them all (though the Monster was a bit extreme). However, the Phalanx did have a niche feel to it. It had a clear battlefield role, and deployed weapons that a kid like me could understand.
It was certainly going to be a good build…
When these destroids were released, they represented a move by Wave into better moldings (with brand new technology) and better plastics. Today, we take their work for granted on lines such as Ma.K. but back when these kits hit in (I think) 2009, they were something of a revelation.
Macross fans had been force=fed Valks as toys and models ’til they were bursting. It makes sense, though. Valks sell.
However, when these beauties came calling, the ground really shook! 😀
Well molded and snap fit (though I cemented anyway), they were as good as any Bandai HG and considerably better than the then available Bandai destroid line.
At 1/72 – which was always my favourite scale for the Imai original line – there is so much more room for detail and heft in these kits.
I’m not entirely happy with the missile mounts, as they really are just numbs stuck on a plate. However, I cannot imagine how else it could have been done, so…
Again, on this build I am going mainly with a clear undercoat and washing back with Tamiya X-19 Smoke over any paint. I want a worn look, but not totally wrecked.
This time, you might think that the god of liner pens has me in their power… However, a little patience and you’ll see the method in the madness.
Either that, or I’ll be asked to leave the bar.
The detailing on the moldings is very impressive indeed, even for a relatively large kit. The domed and recessed rivets on the feet, for example, can only be about .5mm across, yet retain very crisp detail.
The cockpit is only partial, but contains a full figure and enough detail to allow for a good view once the hatch is lifted.
Also included in the kit is a blank, brown window section for those who want to paint in the glass, anime style.
Antennae… Yes. Lovely, are they not?
In scale, very slender and very, very fragile…
Well. Less said about that the better.
Just be careful is all I am saying.
Another point of contention is the pin which mounts the torso to the hips. It is as fragile as glass.
A word about the decals: I am not sure why, but they responded very badly to Mr. Mark Setter when being applied, and became brittle enough that they cracked. Hence why I painted in the gun door markings.
Once I cottoned on to this, I switched to Mr. Hobby Softener and things went better.
Part of the reality of this kit for me: those big, beautiful, ugly missile pods.
“COME AND GET IT!”
I am informed thatlore, wise, the missile units would be detached and pre-loaded before placing back in the launcher, so sooting about the muzzle is not really on the money. However, I love a little grime (or alot) and wanted to try out some new weathering pigments from Vallejo.
Classic Macross is in the spotlight again this year, thanks to the Hi Metal R line making such a splash. However, I hope that this renewed interest drives people back to kits like this, and those from Hasegawa and other makers.
If Wave can be shown there is interest, maybe those true-scale 1/72 Regults, Glaugs, and power suits could become a reality.
Just remember the words of Santa, though: Macross is about all mechs, not just those cute little Valks. Adopt a Destroid today!
Yakt deKulture! 😉