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Technology and Combat Characteristics
The MA-08 Big Zam is a mobile armor in which the designers had completely disregarded the concept of high speed and mobility, which had been the key factor to the success of their mobile suits and other mobile armors, and focused completely on the Big Zam's offensive and defensive capabilities. Approaching the size of a battleship, the MA-08 Big Zam features none of the living quarters or storage areas found on ships designed to operate independently for long periods of time. Instead all of its internal components; including its engine, multiple fusion reactors, armor, I-Field generator, and cockpit; are focused on improving the Big Zam's combat abilities making it a much more efficient and destructive weapon.
The massive, oblong body was supported by two legs and dwarfed mobile suits in size, as it stood 60 meters in height and weighed close to 2000 tons when fully loaded. Its forward-mounted mega particle gun could destroy several battleships with a single shot, and the body also housed twenty eight smaller particle guns that could lay down 360 degrees of fire. For additional protection, should a mobile weapon get inside the range of the twenty-eight particle guns, the claws on the Big Zam's feet are actually air-to-air missiles that can easily crush any of the Earth Federation's mobile weapons.
Because of its size and poor maneuverability, it had an I-Field installed on its underbelly to protect it from beam weapons, and it relied on its bulk to survive projectile attacks. All of this equipment required four large power plants to operate, and as a result Big Zam overheated quickly and could not be used for more than 20 minutes in battle.
- Large Mega Particle Gun
- The primary weapon of the MA-08 Big Zam is a massive mega particle gun that sits prominently in the center of the mobile armor's body. This mega particle gun draws a vast amount of energy from the four fusion reactors, allowing it to fire a massive mega particle beam that can destroy multiple battleships in a single shot. It is the most powerful weapon used by any mobile weapon or battleship, second only to the superweapons employed by both sides.
- Anti-Aircraft Mega Particle Gun
- The main secondary weapons of the MA-08 Big Zam are twenty-eight anti-aircraft mega particle guns that line the middle of the Big Zam's torso, completely encircling it with a break for the large mega particle gun. The positioning of the anti-aircraft mega particle guns, and their higher firing rate, provides the Big Zam with 360-degree defense against smaller, more maneuverable mobile weapons, such as mobile suits, which can avoid the large mega particle gun's beam. However, their positioning is also a weakness because if a mobile suit can get directly above, below, or simply gets close enough to the armor, it will be out of the anti-aircraft mega particle guns' targeting range.
- Air-to-Air Missile
- To protect the Big Zam's undercarriage, a blind spot not covered by the mega particle guns, the Big Zam is outfitted with 6 large air-to-air missiles disguised as claws on the mobile suit's feet. These massive air-to-air missiles are almost the size of a mobile suit and are not explosive in nature. Instead, the missiles are designed to crush enemy machines with their size and mass.
- 105mm Vulcan Gun
- A tertiary weapon fitted in the main body of the MA-08 Big Zam are a pair of shell-firing 105mm vulcan guns, placed to cover a blind spot not protected by the mega particle guns. Though larger than most vulcan guns, the Big Zam's 105mm vulcan guns, the first to be used in a Zeon mobile weapon, can still only deliver light damage to the armor of a mobile suit and are better suited for shooting down lightly armored targets such as missiles.
- I-Field Barrier Generator
- When Minovsky particles are released into the air or into open space, the positive and negative particles spontaneously align themselves into a three-dimensional cubic lattice. Due to the repulsive and electrostatic forces between the Minovsky particles, this lattice functions as a kind of a force field, which is referred to as an I-field. This field has difficulty permeating conductive materials like metal, water, and plasma, and it exerts a repulsive force against mega particles. An I-field is used to to deflect enemy mega particle beams. Due to its high power requirements, the I-field generator originally could only be installed in large mobile weapons. When the generator is activated, the I-field forms an invisible barrier around the mobile weapon, protecting it from incoming beam attacks. However, this barrier has no effect against solid objects like missiles and projectiles, and beam weapons can still be used at point blank range within the barrier's boundary.
As the One Year War dragged on between Zeon and the Earth Federation, the Zeon strategy began to shift from the deployment of mobile suit squadrons to the development of a new type of unit called a Mobile Armor. Mobile armors could approach battleship size and could thus house certain systems, such as the Psycommu System and I-Field, that were impossible to fit on mobile suits due to size, weight, and power issues. Zeon's plan during the closing phases of the war was to overwhelm the Federation with mobile armors.
The MA-08 Big Zam was developed at A Baoa Qu and was sent to Space Fortress Solomon for Space Attack Force Commander Dozle Zabi when Zeon learned of the impending attack of the Federation Space Force on Solomon.
Big Zam was first deployed as Solomon's last line of defense during the Battle of Solomon on December 24, UC 0079. Dozle and two co-pilots attacked the Federation space force that was attempting to land on the base, wiping out numerous RGM-79 GM and RB-79 Ball units before taking flight to attack the Federation fleet. The attacks went smoothly and several battleships were sunk before the Big Zam was confronted by the Federation's most powerful mobile suit, the RX-78-2 Gundam piloted by emerging Newtype Amuro Ray. Making his attack run docked with the G-Fighter piloted by Sleggar Law, Amuro was able to attack Big Zam from within the I-Field's defensive perimeter, dealing heavy damage to the undercarriage. He then finished the Big Zam off with Gundam's beam saber, destroying the unit and effectively ending Zeon resistance at Solomon.
There also exists the MA-09 Mass Production Type Big Zam which first appeared in the SD Gundam G Generation game. This mass production type was much smaller than its ancestor and armed with only a smaller mega particle cannon and missile launchers. It also lacked the I-Field barrier and used weaker anti-beam coating for protection. However, the smaller size also made it much more suitable to operate on Earth.
There is a slightly modified version of the Big Zam in the game Gihren's Ambition: The Menace of Axis V. The specs for it are more or less the same. The only difference is that it has ornate gold engravings and trim all over its frame, just like MS-06F Zaku II Dozle Zabi Custom.
Notes and Trivia
- Big Zam appears in Gundam: The Battle Master, its sequel and later US adaptation in Gundam Battle Assault as an unlockable VS mode unit as well as the first boss in the game. Its appearance is significantly altered and features additional missile launchers on its underside. Its large mega particle cannon features two panels that open up when it prepares to fire. While its toe claws are still intact, they go unused as Air-to-Air Missiles.
- Big Zam appears as both a boss unit and unlockable VS unit in Mobile Suit Gundam: Federation vs Zeon and Mobile Suit Gundam: Gundam vs. Zeta Gundam, with its Federation colors (mostly blue) being a reference to its 2P color in Battle Assault.
- Curiously, the Big Zam cannot sortie in any stage taking place in zero gravity space despite that it spent most of its time doing so in the anime. Even after the release of Encounters in Space which rectified this problem, the error still exists in GVZG, which was released two years after. However, a large number of these units can be seen in outer space in Haman's best ending in UC mode.
- There appears to be some inconsistency as to the depiction of its rear thrusters. In official illustrations as well as some games, the thrusters are located in small slots on the top half but in other games, it's given a series of larger and much visible thrusters, some of them being located in its middle section.