VF-1 Valkyrie

From Academic Kids

Missing image
VF-1J.jpg
Artist's Rendering of a VF-1J Valkyrie

In the fictional series Macross and Robotech, the first mass-produced variable fighter (Macross) or Veritech fighter (Robotech) is called the VF-1 Valkyrie. The VF-1 was initially designed by the legendary Japanese mecha designer Shoji Kawamori (with contributions by his Studio Nue partner Kazutaka Miyatake) in 1980-1982 to be the centerpiece mecha design of the anime series The Super Dimension Fortress Macross (1982-1983).

The VF-1 is built in three main variants (along with several less frequently used variants): A standard soldier's fighter is the VF-1A, a team leader's fighter is the VF-1J and a commander air group's fighter is the VF-1S. The three models differ slightly in engines, avionics, and armament; notably, the VF-1A has one laser on its head, the VF-1J has two, and the VF-1S has four.

The VF-1 was preceded into production by an advanced-concept prototype, the VF-0, which was flight-tested from 2005 to 2007 and briefly served as an active-duty fighter from 2007 to the VF-1's rollout in late 2008. The VF-1's combat debut was 1 February 2009, during the Battle of South Ataria Island, the first battle of Space War I.

Contents

Configurations

The VF-1 is different from modern fighter aircraft in that it can transform into three different configurations for different combat environments, and can perform the task of more than one fighting vehicle: In fighter configuration it acts as a jet fighter; in GERWALK (or Guardian in Robotech) configuration it acts as an VTOL unit; in Battroid configuration it acts as an infantry fighting vehicle.

Fighter Configuration

The VF-1's fighter configuration is its basic mode and is the typical mode employed when the craft is parked and is the primary mode used in high altitude aerial combat planetside.

In this configuration, it resembles a single-seat, swing-winged hybrid between the F-14 Tomcat and F/A-18 Hornet jet fighters. It's armed with 1, 2, or 4 (depending on model) Mauler RV-20 laser cannons mounted on a ventral turret, a GU-11 55mm three-barreled gun pod holding 200 rounds, four underwing hardpoints holding up to twelve medium-range AMM-1 missiles, twelve MK-82 LDGB bombs, six RMS-1 large anti-ship reaction missiles or four UUM-7 micro-missile pods containing up to 15 Bifors HMM-01 "micro-missiles". Like most of the VF-1's nomenclature, the "GU" and "AMM" designations of its weapons are referential to US military designations (GPU for Gun Pod Unit and AIM for Air-launched Interceptor Missile).

The missiles were carried on multiple-ejector racks on the four wing hardpoints. Long-range anti-mecha missiles could be emplaced for fleet-defense roles, but in the target-rich environments the Valkyries faced, this was not typically done. In fact, based on enemy weapons loadouts the optimal solution appeared to be to emplace as many "micro-missiles" as possible. They could also carry large anti-ship missiles for destroying enemy capital ships.

In fighter configuration, the VF-1 can reach a maximum speed of Mach 3.87 at high altitude (above 30,000 metres), and Mach 2.71 at medium altitude (10,000 metres). Its wings, similar to those of the F-14 Tomcat, sweep between 20 degrees back and 72 degrees back. Unlike the F-14, the wings can sweep 90 degrees back for storage, with the tail module folding up over the fighter's back. Although technically the VF-1 has an unlimited service ceiling and atmospheric range (since it can operate in space), the VF-1's internal tanks cannot carry enough propellant to achieve a stable orbit and need the help of a booster pack to reach Low Earth Orbit.

GERWALK Configuration

In GERWALK (Ground Effective Reinforcement of Winged Armament with Locomotive Knee-joint) configuration (called "Guardian Mode" in Robotech), the VF-1 looks like the nose and wings of a fighter plane stuck on "chicken walker" legs with two arms. The legs are formed by the aircraft's engines and intakes, bent down and forward. The arms are stored between the engines in fighter mode and fold out to the sides, reaching around from behind the legs. In GERWALK mode, the gun pod is held by the fighter's manipulator "hands" and acts in all respects as a very large automatic rifle. This mode is the intermediate one which was originally intended to simply allow the craft to land in a combat zone with a maximum of defensive ability. However, the mode's considerable maneuverability combined with its speed made it useful in low level aerial combat and flanking maneuvers on the ground. Pilots have the option to deploy the legs alone, leaving the arms in storage.

In GERWALK mode, the VF-1 has a maximum speed of 500km/h flying, 100km/h walking.

Battroid (Battloid) Configuration

In Battroid configuration (called "Battloid Mode" in Robotech), the VF-1 looks like a fighter airplane folded up to resemble a 12.68-meter-tall (42-foot-tall) human. The legs are now straight and bend in the normal direction; the sides of the nose now resemble a human chest and shoulders (where the arms attach), and the laser turret is now a head. While the mode has some limited flight ability, its primary purpose is for ground fighting which enabled Earth forces to fight the giant alien invaders on their own scale the military anticipated they would meet.

In Battroid mode, the VF-1 has a maximum airspeed of 220km/h. Its maximum running speed is 160km/h.

Variants

  • VF-1A (one head laser) Used by main line pilots
  • VF-1B Updated Valkyrie (VF-1A with a VF-1S head and upgraded avionics; Macross only, also referred as the "half-S" upgrade)
  • VF-1D (two head lasers) Two-seater with two camera systems primarily used for training, but can also be used in combat roles
  • VF-1J (two head lasers) Used by team leader
  • VF-1S (four head lasers) Used by Commanders Air Group and squadron commanders
  • VF-1R Updated Valkyrie (VF-1A with a three-laser head; Robotech only)
  • VEFR-1 Unarmed two-seater Electronic Warfare and Reconnaissance variant, includes rotary radome, arm mounted electronic surveillance pod, retractable sensors in place of hands.
  • VT-1 Super Ostrich Unarmed two-seater trainer variant, usually carries modified FAST Packs that carry extra propellant and no weapons. (Seen in Do you Remember Love?)
  • VE-1 Elint Seeker Unarmed two-seater electronic warfare variant. Includes rotary radome mounted on FAST Pack boosters, radio antennae on arm pods, and side scan radar on conformal leg pods. (Seen in Do you Remember Love?)
  • VT-1C Unarmed civilian version. (Seen in Macross Dynamite 7)
  • VF-1X A major upgrade for the Spacy in the 2020s which included new materials, avionics and powerplants (Macross only, seen in the VF-X games)
  • The VF-1 can mount one of several different sets of jettissonable battle armor to improve its combat effectiveness.
    • The most common of these are called FAST Packs and consist of additional "pads" on the arms carrying three missiles, conformal propellant tanks around the engines and a pair of heavy rocket boosters on its back mounting micro-missile launchers to give the fighter more speed and firepower. Under this configuration, the aircraft was nicknamed the "Super Valkyrie". The later "Strike Valkyrie" carried the same features but replaced the right micro-missile launcher with a beam cannon. These were meant for space use only, as they are not aerodynamic and would hinder performance in an atmosphere.
    • Another is the GBP-1S heavy armor system, resulting in the "Armored Valkyrie" wherein the Valkyrie is covered with heavy armor modules which also contain numerous short range missile launchers and a pair of assist thrusters. The bulk and weight of the armor modules limits it to Battroid mode only until they are discarded.
  • A booster pack was developed to allow a VF-1 to enter satellite orbit without expending all of its internal fuel load once in orbit. Four very large boosters could be mounted and were expended on each use.

Successors

  • In Macross, the VF-1 was succeeded in service by the VF-4 Lightning III. The switchover began in 2012, with the famed Skull Squadron which switched in time for the September launch of SDF-2 Megaroad-01. It ended in 2020, when the VF-4 officially announced as the main variable fighter for the UN Spacy (although VF-1s continued in use through the galaxy as a colony fighter and private fighters; as of 2045, roughly a fourth of the produced Valkyries were still in service).
  • In Robotech, the VF-1 was succeeded in service by the VF/A-6 Alpha. The switchover began in 2018 (it was delayed five years by the later end of the First Robotech War as compared to the First Space War, and the need to develop a successor to the failed YF-4 Lightning project) and was complete by the 2020 departure of SDF-3 Pioneer.

Trivia

  • In one scene of the TV series, animation subcontractor Anime Friend mistakenly drew laser fire coming from two farings in the nose instead of the head lasers under the fuselage. These "nose lasers" were taken as canon by many non-Japanese fans. Acceptance of the error among non-Japanese fans spread when the Robotech RPG listed them as weapons. The fairings are actually for the infrared sensors and attachment points for the leg hip joints in Battroid mode.
  • In another scene much like the one above, a VF-1A "Cannon Fodder" valkyrie was very shortly seen with two extra head lasers mounted on the sides (much like the VF-1J). While an animation mistake, Harmony Gold inserted it into Robotech canon as the YF-1R in the Playstation 2 game, Robotech: Battlecry.
  • The VF-1's design was strongly inspired by designer Kawamori's admiration for the variable-winged F-14 Tomcat jet fighter.
  • The FAST Packs of the VF-1 and other variable fighters were inspired by the Conformal Fuel Tanks used on the F-15C, called FAST(Fuel And Sensor Tactical) packs.
  • The VF-1's name comes from the US Air Force's cancelled Mach-3 XB-70 Valkyrie bomber.
  • The "Orguss Valkyrie," whose existence is actually debated, is seen momentarily in two episodes. Its inclusion in the animation footage is an inside joke referring to the next project developed by Kazutaka Miyatake and Studio Nue, The Super Dimension Century Orguss. Kawamori himself was not involved with Orguss.

See also: Robotech, Macross

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