Gaia, Ortega and Mash first met in May, U.C. 0076, when the Zeon space forces began secretly practicing combat maneuvers in preparation for the upcoming war. The three were all assigned to the Mobile Training Battalion D Company, 2nd Platoon, and quickly became good friends. They earned their reputation as ace pilots during the Battle of Loum, when they captured General Revil. The customized MS-05 Zaku I that they piloted, painted in a black-and-purple color scheme, earned the trio the nickname "Black Tri-Stars".
The Black Tri-Stars came up with their own unique tactical maneuver with the high speed and maneuverability of the Zakus, developing their trademark "Jet Stream Attack". Moving in at high speed, the trio lines up one behind the other, forming a lethal simultaneous triple assault in which two of the members attack with ranged weapons and the last one attacks with a melee weapon. The danger of this maneuver is that dodging one attack puts the victim perfectly in the sights of the second or third attack. The three members of the Black Tri-Stars were said to be more skilled than an entire squad of normal soldiers, and they proved it constantly with their ruthless attacks on the Earth Federation's space forces. In July, U.C. 0079, the Black Tri-Stars, in their new High Mobility Zaku IIs, destroyed an entire Earth Federation reconnaissance fleet near the Zeon asteroid fortress A Baoa Qu.
One Year War
In October, U.C. 0079, under the direction of Kycilia Zabi, the Black Tri-Stars receive new MS-09B Dom mobile suits and are transferred to Earth, where they join the 7th Terrestrial Mobile Division, 1st Mobile Suit Battalion. On November 6, the Black Tri-Stars arrive at Odessa, Ukraine to shore up the defenses of the mining facilities against the Earth Federation's all-out attack. The trio immediately sets out to ambush the White Base, during which Ortega manages to kill Medea transport commander Lt. Matilda Ajan. However, the Earth Federation's RX-78-2 Gundam pilot Amuro Ray is able to break through the deadly Jet Stream Attack by using Gaia's Dom as a jumping platform, and kills Mash in return, forcing the two remaining Black Tri-Stars to retreat in shock.
Gaia and Ortega return to Odessa where they honor the death of their fallen comrade, Mash, and decide the best way to both honor and avenge Mash would be to destroy the Gundam and the White Base. On November 9, the remaining two Tri-Stars attack the White Base during Operation Odessa. M'Quve, learning of their intent, berates them for only being interested in revenge, but Gaia and Ortega are not dissuaded and continue with their plan. With the triad broken, however, Gaia and Ortega are easily killed by the Gundam, putting an end to the Black Tri-Stars.
In the compilation film, the Black Tri-Stars battle against the Gundam is compressed into a single battle. Following Mash's death, Gaia immediately challenged the Gundam, only to be killed by a stab from its beam saber. As Ortega prepared to fire on the distracted Gundam, Sayla Mass in the Core Booster blasted Ortega's Dom with her beam cannons, killing him.
The Black Tri-Stars appear as playable characters in Mobile Suit Gundam: Zeonic Front, and Mobile Suit Gundam: Encounters in Space. In Encounters in Space, the Tri-Star's MS-06F Zaku II, MS-05B Zaku I, and MS-06R-1A Zaku II High Mobility Type are playable units. In Mobile Suit Gundam: Federation vs Zeon, they appear in the campaign mode for both sides, with the player taking the place of Mash in the Zeon campaign.
The Black Tri-Stars also appear in the Super Robot Wars game series whenever there's a major focus on the One Year War. The biggest departure, though, is Super Robot Wars Advance and its remake Super Robot Wars Advance Portable, which has the trio surviving until the events of Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ. They end up swapping out their Doms in favor of the AMX-009 Dreissen.
In most non-canonical appearances, the Black Tri-Stars' dialogue is recycled from their failed atempt to destroy the Gundam, referencing such events as stepping on Gaia's Dom, the failed Jet Stream Attack and Gaia being the last of the three to die therefore failing to avenge his allies.
- In the original Mobile Suit Gundam anime, Mash's only speaking line is "Yes sir!", with his voice provided by Ichiro Nagai.
- In episode 2 of Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, there's a sign on a building that reads "Black Three Stars".
- The Black Tri-Stars have been so popular and memorable that they have been referenced numerous times in other Gundam works:
- Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny features a trio of ZAFT pilots who pilot three ZGMF-XX09T DOM Trooper mobile suits, the CE quivalent to the Dom, who also perform the "Jet Stream Attack".
- Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn features a trio of Londo Bell pilots who refer to themselves as the "Tri-Stars", and pilot the black mobile suits, the RGM-96X Jesta. Since it also takes place in the UC timeline, it is likely that the Tri-Stars modeled themselves after the Black Tri-Stars.
- Mobile Suit Gundam AGE presents a trio of Vagan pilots specializing in desert warfare, known as the Phantom 3. Like the Black Tri-Stars, they have their own special team attack, the "Delta Attack", and also like them they are killed off one by one.
- It can also be said that the Black Tri-Stars set the trend of a trio of enemy pilots appearing in most series, with notable examples being the Biological CPUs of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, the Extendeds of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, and Team Trinity of Mobile Suit Gundam 00.
- A trio of similar pilots also appeared in an episode of Aura Battler Dunbine, another television series directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino.
- In the novelization of Mobile Suit Gundam, the Black Tri-Stars are mentioned as having captured General Revil, but they are never mentioned beyond that point.
- In Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3, the Tri-Stars do actually perform their Jet Stream Attack on the player's character when all three of them are in formation. Interestingly, if three Doms also line-up together, they will execute the same maneuver.
- In the fourteenth episode of Full Metal Panic, Is Narashino Burning?, Sousuke and his classmate Shinji compete in a military festival with Arm Slave mecha, and an opponent team has a special move called the "Red Stream Attack", a reference to the Black Tri-Stars' Jet Stream Attack, with the secondary unit leaping at the target from behind the leading unit in a similar fashion to the Doms' signature technique.
- In the 29th episode of Yakitate!! Japan, Close attack!! Birth of the Black Japan!, all three members of the Black Tri-Stars appear as rival bakers. The episode's "bread reaction" features the Tri-Stars acting out a rendition of the folk tale , and later a mobile suit battle, during which the Tri-Stars' Doms fight against the GF13-050NSW Nobel Gundam.