Sunday, July 12, 2020

[Kit Insight] Bandai HGCE 1/144 GAT-04+AQM/E-A4E1 Jet Windam - Painted Build

Model Number: GAT-04+AQM/E-A4E1
Designation: OMNI Enforcer Mass Production General Purpose Mobile Suit

In a timeline where cannon fodder mobile suits are blown up en masse, the Windam is one of the coolest-looking grunt units to be blown up en masse.

If you follow my channels enough, you'd know how much I adore mass production mobile suit designs such as the RGM-79 GM. In every Gundam timeline, there will most definitely be GM equivalents (not counting the dozens in the Mobile Suit Gundam Universal Century timeline alone), such as the Daughtress from After War Gundam X, the Adele series from Gundam AGE and to a lesser extent the Io Frame Shiden from the gritty world of the Iron Blooded Orphans. For the flashy, pose-and-shoot universe of Gundam Seed, the GAT-01 Strike Dagger was the first iteration of the GM in the Cosmic Era.

Developed as a response to ZAFT mobile suits that were kicking their asses sky high, the Earth Alliance's military branch - OMNI Enforcer - quickly developed and fielded the mass production type GAT-01 Strike Dagger based on combat data collected from the GATX-105 Strike Gundam. By all intents and purposes, the Strike Dagger was a simplified, cheaper, lower-performance version of the formidable Strike Gundam that could be produced in large enough numbers to turn the tide of the war. However, its introduction during the Battle of Porta Panama was disastrous at best despite its good performance against ZAFT GINNs, with the units lacking EMP shielding which caused the brand new mobile suits to lock up and get easily picked off by ZAFT pilots like fish in a barrel.

As research and development continued to be spurred on by the dragging war, the Strike Dagger soon made way for newer and more advanced mass production models in the Earth Alliance's ever-expanding arsenal. The pinnacle came in the form of the GAT-04 Windam, the endgame for OMNI Enforcer mass production designs. Under the Junius Treaty which limited the numbers of mobile suits that could be fielded, the Windam prioritised versatility and high performance, resulting in a machine that exceeded the capabilities of all its predecessors combined.

Cosmetically, the GAT-04 is essentially a Strike Gundam with some exterior alterations. It retained the Striker Pack system of the X100 series and was said to have a performance level on par with the high performance Strike Gundam. Some members of OMNI Enforcer also claimed that the Windam could go toe-to-toe against ZAFT's next-generation mobile suits (the ZAKU Warrior series) and emerge victorious. 

On paper, it was quite easy to see how Earth Alliance leaders could make such a bold claim as the Windam was exceptionally well-armed for a mass production unit. Excluding the Jet Striker Pack, the Windam itself was armed with two pairs of M2M5 Todesschrecken 12.5mm Automatic CIWS, a pair of ES04B Beam Sabers as well as a pair of Mk-315 Stiletto Rocket-Propelled Anti-Armor Penetrators as standard fixed weaponry. GAT-04 units usually sortied with a M9409L Beam Rifle and A52 Offensive Shield Type E, which gave the unit substantial mid-range firepower and defensive capability. On top of those equipment, Windam units could be equipped with all Striker Packs ever created, but were usually deployed with the AQM/E-A4E1 Jet Striker Pack which gave the unit even more long range tactical options in the form of Drache Air-to-Surface Missiles or Mk-438 Triple Würger Air-to-Air Missile Pods and Mk-1323 Unguided Rocket Pods. The Jet Striker also greatly improved the mobility of the Windam in the atmosphere.

Despite the seemingly lofty performance of the Windam, most units were assigned to rookie OMNI Enforcer pilots who could do little to bring out the full capabilities of the mobile suit, evidenced by the fact that Windams were shot out of the sky left, right and center during the battle in Orb waters. Most Windams deployed didn't survive long enough to fire off a single shot from their large beam rifles, let alone use any of their other weaponry. The Jet Strikers also did nothing to save the Windams from the Freedom's incredible mobility, the inferior booster packs failing to keep up with the Freedom's insane speed. 

However, the Windam could be deadly in the correct hands. Neo Roanoke, aka a brainwashed Mu La Flaga, piloted a custom violet-coloured Jet Windam against the Freedom. While his Windam was ultimately shot down, Neo/Mu put the Freedom through its paces and denied it the ability to continue doing what it pleased, even managing to destroy the Freedom's shield with a well-placed Stiletto.  

The HGCE 1/144 Windam model kit is an excellent product for its relatively low price point. You get a fairly large model kit with fantastic part separation and a bunch of equipment (no Stiletto) to complement its very decent articulation. It is truly heartening to see the level of quality Bandai has put into the Windam, despite it being a Fine Build model kit similar to the likes of the HGAC 1/144 Leo and the HGFC 1/144 Death Army. 

Now, we wait for the inevitable P-Bandai variant of the violet one.