The RX-78GP03 (RX-78GP03D) Gundam "Dendrobium" (aka Dendrobium, GP03) is the third unit of the Gundam Development Project, and the combination of both the mobile suit unit - the RX-78GP03S Gundam "Dendrobium Stamen" - and its massive unmanned support unit - the Armed Base Mobile Container "Dendrobium Orchis". It was first featured in the OVA series Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory. The unit was piloted by Anaheim test pilot Defrah Kar and Federation MS pilot Kou Uraki.
Technology & Combat Characteristics
As described in the MG model manual and MS encyclopedia, while the initial two designs of the Gundam Development Project were specifically designed for an offensive role, the Earth Federation Forces also needed a design for territorial defense in space, also known as Area Dominance tactic. In the Area Dominance Tactic, the battalion group will be small, may be even just a single unit, but need to be able to hold on to that region and fight against numerous enemies with a vast amount of firepower. Furthermore, if it's a single unit, it needs to be able to move around a large area of space rapidly to defend all the incoming enemies. Since the Earth Federation forces were interested in the power of mobile armors deployed by Zeon forces during the One Year War, they had specifically ordered the unit to be a model using mobile armor technology. The result of this was the massive "Dendrobium" mobile weapon. It was not really a mobile armor, but a combination of a mobile suit, the "Stamen", and its add on, the "Orchis".
Developed at the Von Braun city facility and field tested at Anaheim Electronics' La Vie en Rose orbital manufacturing plant, the GP03 Dendrobium was designed to have exceptional firepower and mobility with minimal use of manpower. Two large weapons racks containing sixteen weapon containers sat on the top of the GP03, enabling the pilot to engage in extended firefights without running out of ammunition. The containers were interchangeable and were able to carry different weapons. Extendable large claws mounted with large beam sabers were mounted on both sides of the underbelly of the unit. A warship class mega beam cannon was mounted on the right, while an I-field generator was mounted on left. The control unit for the Dendrobium was the RX-78GP03S Gundam "Dendrobium Stamen". In cases of emergency or severe damage to the "Orchis", the "Stamen" could eject from the add on portion.
- Mega Beam Cannon
- A battleship-grade mega-particle cannon is installed on the Orchis right side. It is handled and fired via a pivoted control trigger to be used by Dendrobium Stamen's right arm and MS manipulator. The trigger provides better maneuverability and targeting adjustment of the gun. Its single beam shot is powerful enough to destroy Zeon's Musai-class or Zanzibar-class cruisers, but is ineffective against mobile weapons with I-Field capability. The Mega Beam Cannon's long and thick barrel can also be utilized as emergency charging weapon like a shot lance.
- Large Claw
- The Orchis platform is equipped with two large claws on its underside in case of enemy units penetrating its I-Field. The claws can be used for grabbing at enemy and causing massive damage with a combination of the claw's strength and the momentum built up by the Dendrobium unit. For extra offensive power during close combat situation, each large claw is equipped with a large beam saber.
- Large Beam Saber
- The hilt of Large Beam Saber is stored inside the Orchis' large claw. Like most MS-sized beam saber, it is a cylindrical device held by the claw's pincer when operated and is powered by an rechargeable energy capacitor. The enormous beam blade generated by Large Beam Saber is capable of cutting through any metal that has not been treated with anti-beam coating. It has shown to be able to slice off the deck of Zeon's Musai-class Late Production Type cruiser with ease.
- 108-tube Micro Missile Pod
- Stored in the Orchis unit's weapons containers, the Micro Missile Pod is a large container which can store 36 micro missiles on each of the three sides for a total of 108 round capacity. When deployed, it is launched towards the enemy targets, and it fires a rapid salvo of micro missiles to bombard cluster of enemies. The micro missiles are capable of destroying the lightly armored Zeon MS such as Zakus and Doms.
- 3-tube Large Missile Pod
- Stored in the Orchis unit's weapons containers, the Large Missile Pod is a bundle of 3 large missiles with a detachable small rocket booster at the back. When deployed, it is launched toward the the targeted area, where the small rocket booster will be detached and each missile will home towards intended enemy targets. A single missile is capable of destroying Zeon mobile suits, but it is ineffective against heavily-armored mobile weapons, such as AMX-002 Neue Ziel.
- Demolition Chain Mine
- Stored in the Orchis unit's weapons containers, it is a rocket-guided, 500 meter-plus long cable being encased with explosives. When deployed, the Demolition Chain Mine is fired toward and surrounded the intended target, and detonates in close proximity without actually attached to the target. A single Demolition Chain Mine is powerful enough to destroy a Zeon's Musai-class cruiser.
- XBR-BOWA M-82A Beam Rifle
- Stored in the Orchis unit's weapons containers. It is a high-power beam rifle, and features an advanced firing control system integrated into the weapon. The beam rifle is the same model as that used by the RX-78GP01-Fb Gundam Full Burnern "Zephyranthes". The beam rifle can be used by the Dendrobium Stamen MS when it docked with the Orchis platform.
- Mounted on the underside of the Dendrobium Stamen's beam rifle, it is a small beam saber designed to catch enemy beam sabers, allowing the pilot to quickly counter when there is no time to draw out its main beam saber.
- Folding Bazooka
- Stored in the Orchis unit's weapons container. It is specially-designed for Gundam GP03 to be used in either the mobile weapon mode (Dendrobium) or the stand alone mobile suit mode (Dendrobium Stamen), the Folding Bazooka features a collapsible barrel for convenient storage inside the Orchis' container, and retrievable via Stamen's Extended Manipulator Arms. Like the Hyper Bazooka used by Federation's mobile suits, the Folding Bazooka is technically a large projectile launcher which could fire large-calibre rocket-propelled rounds to attack targets at long range. No mass-production MS's armor is able to stop this weapon. While very powerful, the rockets has a slow rate of fire and is most oftenly used for taking out slow, heavily armored targets. The Folding bazooka is magazine-fed and capable of carrying 6 rounds per magazine plus 1 round in its chamber.
- Folding Shield
- Stored in the Orchis unit's weapons container. It is specially-designed for Gundam GP03 to be used exclusively in stand alone mobile suit mode (Dendrobium Stamen), the Folding Shield is collapsible along its vertical axis for convenient storage inside the Orchis' container, and retrievable via Stamen's Extended Manipulator Arms. The Folding Shield is designed such that it can be deployed quickly for Stamen's defense, which is fastened by a rotatable hinge around Stamen's forearms with top and bottom handles for better defense positioning. The shield also provides space for storing up to 4 e-pacs of XBR-BOWA M-82A Beam Rifle to prolong the gun's operation during battle.
Special Equipment & Features
- Extended Manipulator Arms
- Each of the Dendrobium Stamen's forearms incorporate a large, foldable manipulator arm. They are used to retrieve the Stamen's own MS weapons and equipment such as beam rifles, folding bazookas, folding shields etc. from their storage racks inside the Orchis' weapons container pods.
- Docking Binder Backpack
- The Docking Binder Backpack is what sets the Dendrobium Stamen apart from other units in the Gundam Development Project. The "Docking Binder" system provides the mechanical an electronic connection that allows the Stamen to dock with and control the Orchis. During docking, hip binders fold parallel to the legs and the backpack binders fold up and forward. In this mode, the Stamen cannot access its beam sabers while the binders are docked with the Orchis platform.
- I-Field Generator
- The Orchis comes with its own I-Field generator for defense from any particle beam attacks. Though the Orchis could still be hit by physical forces, its generator's greatest weakness was that the housing unit was exposed on the left side of the Orchis. This drawback would make it easier for an enemy to damage the I-Field Generator, as demonstrated by AMX-002 Neue Ziel's all-range attacks.
- Chaff Launchers
- The Dendrobium is equipped with numerous Chaff Launchers all around the body of Orchis platform. In situation where it requires a speedy retreat from battlefield, the Dendroium could launch a large salvo of luminous countermeasures to blind and distract enemies for a short period of time.
- Weapons Containers
- The Orchis unit has two weapons containers for carrying/storing various weapons. These containers are able to carry additional beam rifles, bazookas, or even a spare shield for the Stamen unit if needed, a set of Demolition Chain Mines, and 3-tube Missile Pods and sets of 108-tube Micro Missile Pods are also included.
The RX-78GP03 Gundam "Dendrobium" was the third unit built as part of the Gundam Development Project. Unlike the first two the Dendrobium was never brought down to Earth, instead remaining in space aboard the La Vie en Rose under the supervision of Earth Federation Forces security officer Nakohha Nakato and Anaheim Electronics systems engineer Lucette Audevie. After the Delaz Fleet used a nuclear warhead to destroy a third of the Federation forces at Konpei Island for the naval review, and the subsequent mutual destruction of both the "Zephyranthes" and "Physalis", the Albion (MSC-07) docked at the La Vie en Rose for resupply and repairs. During that time both captain Eiphar Synapse and pilot Kou Uraki argued that they should be given the "Orchis" and "Stamen" components so that they could continue their pursuit of Gato. However Nakoha Nakato would not allow them to take the mobile weapon. Lucette Audevie, who was in charge of the "Dendrobium's" construction and development, helped the crew of the Albion to steal the mobile weapon at the cost of her own life.
While it was designed for defensive use, pilot Kou Uraki would use the "Dendrobium" offensively in a series of devastating hit and run attacks against the Delaz Fleet, returning to the Albion (the ship and the rest of its mobile suits staying to the rear away from combat) to be resupplied. With its large amount of missile ordnance, the "Dendrobium" made for a dangerous opponent for Gato's AMA-002 Neue Ziel which relied on its I-Field generator for most of its defense. Both machines were heavily damaged after their last confrontation outside of the colony the Delaz Fleet was dropping on North America, but only pilot Kou Uraki survived.
Notes & Trivia
- The use of a powerful mobile armor with fast acceleration, heavy defense, and vast firepower has only few further developments along this concept in the Universal Century timeline, and most were not used for Area Dominance, but for long range assault against enemy strongholds. However, the concept of Area Dominance is carried over, but instead uses the more agile and versatile transformable or mode-change mobile suit, such as the ORX-005 Gaplant TR-5 (Hrairoo) and the RX-178+FXA-05D Super Gundam. Other examples can be seen in the earlier HFA-78-3 Heavy Full Armor 7th Gundam, MSA-0011(Bst) S Gundam Booster Unit Type Plan 303E "Deep Striker", ORX-005 Gaplant TR-5 (Fiver), and the LM314V23/24 V2 Assault-Buster Gundam.
- The use of a large powerful mobile armor shell /external unit, controlled by a mobile suit, had only been explored again in UC with the NZ-999 Neo Zeong. However, similar concepts have also been introduced in Cosmic Era (Mobile suit Embedded Tactical Enforcer) and Anno Domini (GNR-001D GN Arms Type-D and GNMA-XCVII Alvatore). Such concept is seldomly seen, as even across different universes, such large support units are typically more expensive to manufacture and unwieldy, and was typically considered as a prototype toward shrinking its power to a mobile suit size.
- The design of the Dendrobium has also found its way into non-mecha anime shows such as Digimon. The Ultimate level digimon CannonBeemon possesses a similar design style to the Dendrobium and is also used in area dominance to defend its "Royal Base"
- The design was referenced in Marvel Comics' Marvel MangaVerse series as a weapons platform for the character Iron Maiden AKA Antoinette Stark, who used it to battle a Godzilla-like version of the Hulk.
- With the price of 28000 yen, the GP03 Dendrobium is the most expensive High Grade (HG) 1/144 model kit that released by Bandai, much more expensive than the same grade model kit of METEOR Unit + Freedom Gundam (8000 yen), GN Arms Type-E + Gundam Exia (5500 yen) or GN Arms Type-D + Gundam Dynames (6000 yen). However, the price of HG 1/144 model kit of GP03 Gundam Stamen without the Dendrobium is 1600 yen only.
- In some Super Robot Wars series, the Dendrobium can be deployed on the earth based scenarios if the GP-03 Stamen has a Minovsky craft on its part slots.
- In part three of the Model Suit Gunpla Builders Beginning G,a 1/144 HG RX-78GP03D Gundam "Dendrobium Orchis" appears in the final tournament.
- The Stamen unit of Dendrobium appears as a playable suit in the Gundam Vs series. While it is normally equipped with the dual bazookas included with the Orchis's weapon pack, it can summon the unit's missile containers and use the demolition chain as a jump rope.
- In NEXT Plus, the Orchis unit is a boss unit but the Gundam doesn't separate from Orchis as does Strike Freedom in the Meteor. It is impervious to all projectiles thanks to its I-field though it can be worn out with enough damage.
- It makes an appearance in Full Boost and gains the usage of the large beam sabers and beam cannon and its finisher in EX Mode has it docking with the entire unit and blasting the opponent with the beam cannon after impaling it with its barrel, mirroring Cima's death as it destroyed the Gerbera Tetra.
- Follow the flower theme naming of other GP series, Orchis is a genus in the orchid family.