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In-universe explanation to why certain Variable Fighter variants/models are restricted to CAGs/ Squadron Leaders?


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While it's a common trope in anime for mechs to have custom variants for the heroes and commanders to distinguish them from the grunts, what are the in universe reasons for variable fighters having specialised variants for commanders of air groups and squadron leaders? Would'nt it make them a easier target and result in loss of specialist personnel?

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I think the simple answer would be that “S” or commander versions mostly universally have uprated or more powerful engines and also have command and control capabilities which usually means more advanced communications and a broader overview of the battlefield situation with troop deployments/assets in a given theatre of operations. I “grunt” or “cannon fodder” wouldn’t need and in some cases, wouldn’t be trusted with that level of information. Plus commanders are experienced veterans, you wouldn’t give a suped up ride to a complete rookie, would you?

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2 hours ago, cheemingwan1234 said:

While it's a common trope in anime for mechs to have custom variants for the heroes and commanders to distinguish them from the grunts, what are the in universe reasons for variable fighters having specialised variants for commanders of air groups and squadron leaders?

It's worth noting that relatively few models of Variable Fighter actually have a "command" variant... they're more the exception than the rule.

Where "command" variants exist, the main reason is typically that they incorporate a more powerful communications system which was too expensive to be included on all of the variants.  The performance tuning is technically unrelated, not always present, and usually justifiable as increasing the operational flexibility of the most experienced pilot running the show.

 

2 hours ago, cheemingwan1234 said:

Would'nt it make them a easier target and result in loss of specialist personnel?

Nah, the externally-visible hardware differences are pretty minor... easy to see if you know what to look for and the VF is standing still, but VFs are rarely standing still.

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2 hours ago, Seto Kaiba said:

It's worth noting that relatively few models of Variable Fighter actually have a "command" variant... they're more the exception than the rule.

Where "command" variants exist, the main reason is typically that they incorporate a more powerful communications system which was too expensive to be included on all of the variants.  The performance tuning is technically unrelated, not always present, and usually justifiable as increasing the operational flexibility of the most experienced pilot running the show.

 

Nah, the externally-visible hardware differences are pretty minor... easy to see if you know what to look for and the VF is standing still, but VFs are rarely standing still.

Yeah, they're not going to "strike a pose" just to let the enemy check out their "bells and whistles" (unless they're members of Walkure :P ).

 

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2 hours ago, pengbuzz said:

Yeah, they're not going to "strike a pose" just to let the enemy check out their "bells and whistles" (unless they're members of Walkure :P ).

Or Alto... though he only did it during a mock battle with Pixie Platoon.

Mind you, it's not like the Zentradi are going to pay enough attention to realize which VFs are flown by squadron leaders while they're fighting and various anti-government forces are going to be familiar enough with New UN Forces markings and organization that they'd be able to visually identify the squadron leader's unit even if it isn't a different variant from the modex and other markings.

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But would it really matter in-universe? I mean, that's what happened between Roy and Ivanov in Macross Plus. They recognized each other thru the emblem in the fighter. So taking down the leader would mean disorienting the rest of the squad. Is that correct?

 

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Posted (edited)
46 minutes ago, no3Ljm said:

But would it really matter in-universe? I mean, that's what happened between Roy and Ivanov in Macross Plus. They recognized each other thru the emblem in the fighter. So taking down the leader would mean disorienting the rest of the squad. Is that correct?

 

Yep. While the differences in heads would not be obvious at the speeds of a typical Macross engagement, colours should be more visible. 

Edited by cheemingwan1234
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1 hour ago, no3Ljm said:

So taking down the leader would mean disorienting the rest of the squad. Is that correct?

Almost certainly not.

Squadron leaders have overall command, but in operations the squadron is broken up into platoons of 3-4 aircraft apiece.  The squadron leader commands a platoon of their own and gives direction to other platoon leaders as necessary.  If the squadron leader is shot down, it may temporarily disorient his platoon but the squadron executive officer (who is commanding another platoon) would assume command and the #2 plane in the leader's platoon would assume command of what's left of the platoon.

For instance, Roy had overall command of the ~24 aircraft of the SVF-1 Skulls... but platoon leaders like Hikaru took direction from him and in turn directed the members of their platoon (like Hikaru's Vermilion Platoon).  In the movie version, Hikaru, Kakizaki, and Max (Skull 011, 012, and 013) are the three wingmen in the platoon led by Roy himself.  The chain of command exists for that very reason.

 

24 minutes ago, cheemingwan1234 said:

Yep. While the differences in heads would not be obvious at the speeds of a typical Macross engagement, colours should be more visible. 

Generally speaking, at the speeds they're going they're not going to be close enough to see specific details of the paintjob for more than an instant...and in most cases, squadrons have fairly uniform paintjobs as well.

(Also, in space, without direct illumination the paintjob is going to be indistinct or outright impossible to see anyway... which isn't usually animated except for drama, as in the 6th episode of the original series "Daedalus Attack" or in the opening of Do You Remember Love?.)

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2 hours ago, Seto Kaiba said:

Almost certainly not.

Squadron leaders have overall command, but in operations the squadron is broken up into platoons of 3-4 aircraft apiece.  The squadron leader commands a platoon of their own and gives direction to other platoon leaders as necessary.  If the squadron leader is shot down, it may temporarily disorient his platoon but the squadron executive officer (who is commanding another platoon) would assume command and the #2 plane in the leader's platoon would assume command of what's left of the platoon.

For instance, Roy had overall command of the ~24 aircraft of the SVF-1 Skulls... but platoon leaders like Hikaru took direction from him and in turn directed the members of their platoon (like Hikaru's Vermilion Platoon).  In the movie version, Hikaru, Kakizaki, and Max (Skull 011, 012, and 013) are the three wingmen in the platoon led by Roy himself.  The chain of command exists for that very reason.

 

Generally speaking, at the speeds they're going they're not going to be close enough to see specific details of the paintjob for more than an instant...and in most cases, squadrons have fairly uniform paintjobs as well.

(Also, in space, without direct illumination the paintjob is going to be indistinct or outright impossible to see anyway... which isn't usually animated except for drama, as in the 6th episode of the original series "Daedalus Attack" or in the opening of Do You Remember Love?.)

Which means they could paint themselves like an ice cream truck and it wouldn't matter.

*imagines Roy, Hikaru, Kakizaki and Max all slowly trudging through space, their valks blaring some insipid ice-cream truck music*

Roy: "Come get yer free ice cream, you Zentraedi mother..."

Seriously though, in Roy's case, he was the CAG, which meant he pretty much was in charge of all the valks, correct? Or did I misfire n this?

Edited by pengbuzz
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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, pengbuzz said:

Which means they could paint themselves like an ice cream truck and it wouldn't matter.

*imagines Roy, Hikaru, Kakizaki and Max all slowly trudging through space, their valks blaring some insipid ice-cream truck music*

Roy: "Come get yer free ice cream, you Zentraedi mother..."

Seriously though, in Roy's case, he was the CAG, which meant he pretty much was in charge of all the valks, correct? Or did I misfire n this?

Yes, the CAG is in charge of the planes attached inside a carrier such as the SDF-1. 

Command variants of VFs might make sense for the Windermereans due to their chivalry thing but for the UNS/NUNS or the SMS PMC , it does not as it makes officers more obvious as targets. A VF may be peanuts when it is lost, but an officer represents  a major cost in terms of investment when he/she is killed or captured.

Edited by cheemingwan1234
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10 hours ago, pengbuzz said:

Which means they could paint themselves like an ice cream truck and it wouldn't matter.

Essentially, yes.

There's not much point in using visual camouflage intended to defeat the human eye when VFs and battlepods do their detection, range-finding, and aiming with powerful radar, infrared, laser, LIDAR, and optical camera systems that are all far more potent and precise than the Mk.I Eyeball.

But especially in space, where any VF that doesn't have strong external light source nearby shining on it is going to be illuminated primarily by its running lights and formation lights like in this shot from Super Dimension Fortress Macross Ep6 "Daedalus Attack".  That's Hikaru's VF-1J, btw... which is gloss white with red trim.

image.thumb.png.9d9e1ae89de7f8ccbce5307501b55b60.png

 

Quote

*imagines Roy, Hikaru, Kakizaki and Max all slowly trudging through space, their valks blaring some insipid ice-cream truck music*

Roy: "Come get yer free ice cream, you Zentraedi mother..."

Bah, the minute Roy finds out the Zentradi have liquor rations he'd go full MAKE LOVE NOT WAR.

 

Quote

Seriously though, in Roy's case, he was the CAG, which meant he pretty much was in charge of all the valks, correct? Or did I misfire n this?

Yes, Major Roy Focker was the Commander of the Air Group aboard the Macross.

Macross is a bit old-fashioned about the CAG title/position, though.  Instead of being an administrative-only position for an officer promoted out of squadron command, it's a title held by the most senior serving squadron leader among the ship's embarked squadrons as it was in World War II.  The CAG is effectively the department head for the ship's aircraft and reports directly to the captain.  The CAG doesn't command all the aircraft during operations though, that's normally handled through the various flight controllers, the forward air controllers, and so on.

 

4 hours ago, cheemingwan1234 said:

Command variants of VFs might make sense for the Windermereans due to their chivalry thing but for the UNS/NUNS or the SMS PMC , it does not as it makes officers more obvious as targets. A VF may be peanuts when it is lost, but an officer represents  a major cost in terms of investment when he/she is killed or captured.

As indicated previously, the visible differences between variants is pretty minor and profoundly unlikely to have any real implications for the survivability of a unit's commanding officer.  They're only easy to tell apart when they're standing still in Battroid mode, which they generally do not do in combat, and if you know what you're looking for.

The chain of command being what it is, even the loss of a squadron leader is more an inconvenience than a crippling blow.

The New UN Forces generally doesn't bother with dedicated command variants, because it's cheaper to have one common variant for all pilots.  The VF-1's the only main fighter that was known to have a command variant.  The 2nd Gen VF-4 and VF-5000 didn't, nor did the 3rd Gen VF-11, the 4th Gen VF-19 1st Mass Production Type (VF-19A-E), the 4th Gen VF-171, or 5th Gen VF-24.  Command variants only reliably show up in VFs intended for niche operations like special forces units (VF-17, VF-19 2nd Mass Production Type, etc.) or in the isolated case of the Macross Frontier fleet's 5th Gen main VF (VF-25), though it's not clear if they actually use the VF-25S as such or just have everyone in the NUNS operating the VF-25A/C type.  The VF-31 follows the central NUNS model of having one variant for everyone.

Edited by Seto Kaiba
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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, Seto Kaiba said:

Essentially, yes.

There's not much point in using visual camouflage intended to defeat the human eye when VFs and battlepods do their detection, range-finding, and aiming with powerful radar, infrared, laser, LIDAR, and optical camera systems that are all far more potent and precise than the Mk.I Eyeball.

But especially in space, where any VF that doesn't have strong external light source nearby shining on it is going to be illuminated primarily by its running lights and formation lights like in this shot from Super Dimension Fortress Macross Ep6 "Daedalus Attack".  That's Hikaru's VF-1J, btw... which is gloss white with red trim.

image.thumb.png.9d9e1ae89de7f8ccbce5307501b55b60.png

 

Bah, the minute Roy finds out the Zentradi have liquor rations he'd go full MAKE LOVE NOT WAR.

 

Yes, Major Roy Focker was the Commander of the Air Group aboard the Macross.

Macross is a bit old-fashioned about the CAG title/position, though.  Instead of being an administrative-only position for an officer promoted out of squadron command, it's a title held by the most senior serving squadron leader among the ship's embarked squadrons as it was in World War II.  The CAG is effectively the department head for the ship's aircraft and reports directly to the captain.  The CAG doesn't command all the aircraft during operations though, that's normally handled through the various flight controllers, the forward air controllers, and so on.

 

As indicated previously, the visible differences between variants is pretty minor and profoundly unlikely to have any real implications for the survivability of a unit's commanding officer.  They're only easy to tell apart when they're standing still in Battroid mode, which they generally do not do in combat, and if you know what you're looking for.

The chain of command being what it is, even the loss of a squadron leader is more an inconvenience than a crippling blow.

The New UN Forces generally doesn't bother with dedicated command variants, because it's cheaper to have one common variant for all pilots.  The VF-1's the only main fighter that was known to have a command variant.  The 2nd Gen VF-4 and VF-5000 didn't, nor did the 3rd Gen VF-11, the 4th Gen VF-19 1st Mass Production Type (VF-19A-E), the 4th Gen VF-171, or 5th Gen VF-24.  Command variants only reliably show up in VFs intended for niche operations like special forces units (VF-17, VF-19 2nd Mass Production Type, etc.) or in the isolated case of the Macross Frontier fleet's 5th Gen main VF (VF-25), though it's not clear if they actually use the VF-25S as such or just have everyone in the NUNS operating the VF-25A/C type.  The VF-31 follows the central NUNS model of having one variant for everyone.

So, the above picture is a lot like night fighting? And okay, if the differences in heads and colour are quite minor to the point where the CDR might not be singled out unless if they know where to look at the typical engagement speeds , that what's the point of the VF-25G aka that sniper VF?

Edited by cheemingwan1234
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Just now, cheemingwan1234 said:

So, the above picture is a lot like night fighting?

It is always night in space.
The scene in question, the fighters are flying within Saturn's rings. Particularly, they have just flown into Saturn's shadow, so I think it is literally night flying. Most of the space fights ought to look like that, because space lacks any atmosphere to scatter light and generate broad illumination.

 

There's actually good reason for them to be illuminated in the rings before they enter the shadow, for once(the material of the rings should reflect a lot of sunlight, scattering it through the area).

 

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41 minutes ago, cheemingwan1234 said:

So, the above picture is a lot like night fighting?

29 minutes ago, JB0 said:

It is always night in space.

What @JB0 said.

Unless a spacecraft is illuminating itself with onboard lights or close to something large that's either reflecting a lot of light or brightly illuminated itself, it's going to end up looking like that screenshot in reality.  The way ships and fighters are brightly lit in films is one of those acceptable breaks from reality that's done for audience convenience.

 

41 minutes ago, cheemingwan1234 said:

And okay, if the differences in heads and colour are quite minor to the point where the CDR might not be singled out unless if they know where to look at the typical engagement speeds , that what's the point of the VF-25G aka that sniper VF?

Ultra-long range precision fire support.  

The VF-25G is designed to operate in tandem with a RVF-25 that provides it with fire control data, remain outside the combat area, and engage targets of opportunity in support of the rest of its squadron.

It wasn't designed to hunt enemy commanders.  Most widely-used models of VF don't even have a command variant and other threats, rogue Zentradi forces are largely indifferent to casualties anywhere below the level of losing an entire fleet command battleship, and other hostiles like the Vajra or Dyaus are completely indifferent to losses and don't have a chain of command to disrupt.

It's not even technically correct to call the VF-25G a "sniper" unit, since it's assigned to a regular platoon and operates in support of it.  It's actually a designated marksman VF.

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3 hours ago, Seto Kaiba said:

Unless a spacecraft is illuminating itself with onboard lights or close to something large that's either reflecting a lot of light or brightly illuminated itself, it's going to end up looking like that screenshot in reality.  The way ships and fighters are brightly lit in films is one of those acceptable breaks from reality that's done for audience convenience.

Although if they were to employ realism, they could save a ton on special effects and CGI models. :p

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Depends on how close means "close".  We are plenty close enough to the sun here near Earth that anything in direct line to the sun is lit up very nicely while anything in a shadow anywhere is near invisible.

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57 minutes ago, Dynaman said:

Depends on how close means "close".  We are plenty close enough to the sun here near Earth that anything in direct line to the sun is lit up very nicely while anything in a shadow anywhere is near invisible.

But at the distances space "dogfights" take place, that's like trying to spot a needle in a haystack. As it is on earth, most encounters between pilots occur "beyond visual range", and that's just atmospheric flying.

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12 hours ago, Dynaman said:

Are we talking real distances or distance shown in media.  And lighting doesn't mean beans at realistic distances anyway.

Real distances, as in "beyond visual range". If dogfighting really took place visually, most of them would zip past one another by the time they saw each other!

I think Seto  Kaiba would confirm that one.

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That wasn't really a question on my part.  I should be more direct.  "reality" dumps a bunch of things into space battles that no fiction (visual or literary) I know of handles properly - even within the limits they set in their own "reality".

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