Monday, January 1, 2018

[Kit Insight] Bandai HGTO 1/144 MS-05 Zaku I (Kycilia's Forces) (Straight Build)

Model Number: MS-05 Zaku I
Designation: Principality of Zeon Mass Produced Mobile Suit

A Zaku I in Kycilia Zabi's trademark colours!
As the immediate intermediary between the proof-of-concept (and over budget) MS-04 Bugu to the Zeon workhorse MS-06 Zaku II, the MS-05 Zaku I occupies a comfortable niche in the Zeonic arsenal. Nowhere as bulky as either the Bugu or Zaku II, the lightly armoured Zaku I was remarkably versatile and hardy, being fielded for a variety of uses before the One Year War and was even deployed due to shortage of combat-ready mobile suits during Zeon's final stand at A Baoa Qu.

The Gundam The Origin version of the Zaku I received a noticeable facelift, now featuring better proportions, mechanical design and detailing. Its combat capabilities are also more apparent, being first used by the Black Tri-Stars and Char Aznable in the altercation on the Lunar surface, resulting in the complete destruction of a full squad of Federation Guncannons along with their mothership. This was the first showcase in the value of true combat-ready mobile suits.

First deployed en masse by Kycilia Zabi against the Lunar bases of Von Braun and Granada, the Zaku I showcased a spectacular shift in traditional combat paradigms, moving away from ship-based fleet battles to high speed, close quarters skirmishes with humanoid mobile weapons. 

Armed with a plethora of weaponry, Kycilia's Zaku I forces easily wiped out EFSF defences on the Lunar surface. The 100mm Zaku machine gun served well as a general purpose weapon, effective against fighter craft, tanks and to a certain extent, capital ships. The caliber of the machine gun allowed rounds to penetrate conventional armour plating, although capital ships such as the Salamis-class cruiser and Magellan-class battleships required substantially more firepower to take down. 

The Type A2 Bazooka for mobile suit use proved to be a fearsome weapon against enemy capital ships. The shaped charges were able to tear through armour with relative ease, with a single well-placed round able to trigger explosive decompressions throughout the warship, effectively disabling it for the remainder of the fight, if not outright destroying it. The only drawback was the weapon's low ammunition capacity of three rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber. This eventually led to Zaku II pilots carrying additional bazooka magazines on their L-shaped shields. 

Although the EFSF still favoured fighter craft like the Tin Cod and Saberfish  - and to a certain extent the Guncannon Early Type - over mobile suits at the time of the Zaku I's introduction, all Zeon mobile suits were still equipped with heat hawks as standard issue equipment. While the heat hawks were designed for use against other mobile suits, they were also effective against fighter craft armour with a single cleave able to bisect an enemy single-ship fighter, cockpit, pilot and all.

A small number of Zaku Is in Kycilia's Forces were equipped with anti-ship rifles (ASR-76) during the sieges of Von Braun and Granada. Handpicked by Kycilia Zabi herself, these pilots had shown proficiency and competency in long-range combat. With the ASR-76s, these Zakus were able to inflict heavy damage to defending EFSF warships, taking out their bridges, engines or weapons storage bulkheads before the warship's crew even knew what was hitting them. This tactic would be used to deadly effect by Char Aznable in his Zaku II during the Battle of Loum.

Build Notes:
As a straight build, this HGTO 1/144 Zaku I was constructed almost to the manual, save for the swapping of the shoulder armour and the usage of the original Zaku I's shoulder armour frame to give the bare shoulder a little more definition. The monoeye sticker was also replaced with a flat shiny gem that catches light beautifully. The weapons used with the Zaku I are also painted and enhanced versions from another HGTO 1/144 Zaku model kit; the Zaku I doesn't come with the ASR-76.

The Zaku I paved a path to victory for the Principality of Zeon, upon which its successor machines strode.


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