The One Year War (一年戦争 Ichinen Sensō?), also known as the Zeonic War for Independence (ジオン独立戦争 Jion Dokuritsu Sensō?), was the first major conflict of the Universal Century timeline, fought between the Principality of Zeon and the Earth Federation from January 3, 0079 to January 1, 0080. Mobile Suit Gundam, Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team, Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket, Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO and the season one of Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt all take place during the One Year War.
The One Year War was the culmination of the hostilities between Side 3's Principality of Zeon and the Earth Federation. Relations between the two had been strained since Side 3 declared themselves the independent Republic of Zeon under the leadership of Zeon Zum Deikun, and had only worsened since Deikun's death and the Zabi family's rise to power. Declaring themselves the Principality of Zeon a year later, and brutally purging Zeon Deikun's remaining followers, Side 3 became increasingly hostile to the Earth Federation. Zeon entered a state of national mobilization, dividing their military into a Space Attack Force under the command of Dozle Zabi and a Mobile Assault Force under the command of Kycilia Zabi. In January UC 0079, the Principality of Zeon officially declared war on the Earth Federation.
The One Year War was the single largest and most devastating conflict of the Universal Century, in both the number of military casualties, civilian deaths, and devastation across the entire Earth Sphere. It began on January 3, UC 0079, when the Principality of Zeon launched surprise attacks against the Earth Federation controlled Sides. During the fierce fighting in the first month of the war, weapons of mass destruction were used indiscriminately, with Zeon forces deploying G3 Gas in inhabited colonies, attempting a colony drop against the EFF's headquarters at Jaburo during Operation British, and the Principality of Zeon using nuclear weapons during the Battle of Loum. During this period of fighting, each side lost nearly half of their respective populations. After this, both parties agreed to sign the Antarctic Treaty which, among other things, forbade the use of weapons of mass destruction.
With the Earth Federation Space Forces devastated, Zeon pressed its advantage by staging an invasion of Earth, dropping mobile suit forces onto the planet during several operations in March of UC 0079. This began a long stalemate period between the Earth Federation and the Principality of Zeon, with the Earth Federation slowly giving ground until the Zeon had control over approximately two thirds of Earth's surface. In September, the Earth Federation's Project V was scheduled to undergo secret testing in Side 7, but was discovered by Zeon forces under the command of Char Aznable. This marks the beginning of the events of Mobile Suit Gundam.
The turning point of the war was in early November, when the Earth Federation launched Operation Odessa, a counteroffensive against Zeon forces in eastern Europe. Using almost entirely conventional forces, the Earth Federation was victorious, successfully defeating the Zeon, forcing much of their force to retreat or surrender. Soon after, the Earth Federation launched its counteroffensive into space, attacking first the Zeon Space Attack Force headquarters at the Solomon asteroid base on Christmas Eve, December 24, and then defeating the Zeon forces gathered at A Baoa Qu on New Year's Eve, December 31. After Zeon's defeat at A Baoa Qu, Zeon officially surrendered, ending the war on January 1, UC 0080.
One Week Battle (January 3 - 10)
Attacking a mere three seconds after officially declaring war (a fact that was sardonically referred to as the "three second warning"), the Zeon used their mobile suit forces to eliminate Earth Federation Space Forces resistance before killing the civilian inhabitants of a number of colonies with poison gas. This period of initial slaughter became known as the One Week Battle or One Week War. It was during this time that Side 6 declared its neutrality in the conflict.
The peak of the One Week Battle was Operation British, which took place on January 10, UC 0079. Zeon forces used the depopulated colony cylinder Side 2, Bunch 8 Island Iffish in an attempt to destroy the Earth Federation Forces main headquarters, Jaburo. Though the Earth Federation Space Forces dispatched a fleet of their surviving warships, and even made at least a nuclear strike, in an attempt to stop the operation, the Zeon military successfully defended the colony and the EFSF was forced to withdraw after taking near total losses. Upon entering the atmosphere, however, Isle Iffish broke apart, missing Jaburo but causing widespread destruction across Earth. The largest remaining piece of the colony, consisting of approximately the entire front half, hit Sydney, Australia, completely wiping out the city and causing massive damage across the entire continent. Operation British was a complete failure.
Battle of Loum (January 14 - 17)
After the failure of Operation British, Zeon forces attacked Side 5, also known as Loum, on January 15, UC 0079. Beginning as an attempt to drop a second colony, the operation quickly turned into a full scale fleet battle when the majority of the surviving Earth Federation Space Forces, commanded by General Revil, counterattacked. Zeon used nuclear weapons in this battle, causing horrific loss of life not only among the combatants, but resulting in the complete destruction of Side 5 as well. The Earth Federation managed to halt the attempted colony drop and inflict significant losses on the Zeon forces but they were unable to prevent the destruction of Side 5. While the EFSF were able to evacuate a few million Side 5 inhabitants before the battle began, in the end their forces were annihilated during the battle. The Battle of Loum marked the first time that mobile suits showed their true potential in combat, proving to be terrifyingly effective against the Earth Federation fleet. General Revil was captured by the Black Tri-Stars and several other Zeon pilots (most notably Char Aznable, Shin Matsunaga, and Johnny Ridden) first made a name for themselves as mobile suit aces.
During the battle, the Zeon 603 Technical Evaluation Division set up and deployed a massive cannon, the QCX-76A Jormungand. The Special Forces operatives who were in charge of the cannon had high hopes that the Jormungand, with its immense power and tremendous firing range, would be the weapon that gave Zeon the edge it needed to win. However despite the fact that Jormungand's operators were ordered into position for the battle they were never given the needed targeting data, and in fact it appeared that Zeon command never had any intention of using the weapon, instead relying on the new MS-06 Zaku II. The Jormungand's gunner did fire three shots using visual data and managed to destroy one Magellan-class battleship, and possibly disabled one Salamis-class cruiser.
The Antarctic Treaty
After the atrocities of the One Week Battle and the Battle of Loum, with nearly one third of humanity dead, the Earth Federation and the Principality of Zeon met in Antarctica to discuss terms of peace. The Federation, having suffered major losses to its space forces at Loum as well as the loss of more than one billion of its citizens in less than a month, were ready to consider surrendering to the Principality of Zeon. However, during the negotiations, General Revil escaped from Zeon custody and returned to the Earth Federation, giving his famous, "Zeon is exhausted!" speech detailing the poor condition of Zeon's military after the heavy fighting. In a large part due to this speech, the Earth Federation refused to surrender at Antarctica, instead negotiating for several important agreements. The use of weapons of mass destruction—including the use of nuclear and chemical weapons, as well as colony drops—were declared forbidden, rules for the humane treatment of POWs were agreed upon, and the neutrality of uninvolved parties such as Side 6 and the Jupiter Energy Fleet were guaranteed.
The Earth Invasion
Following the bloody One Week War, the Federation and Principality signed the Antarctic Treaty, forbidding the use of Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical (NBC) weapons. While this narrowed the range of strategic options, it also gave a distinct advantage to the Principality Army, whose plans were centered on use of Mobile Suits. Upon realizing that the war was becoming a long, drawn out battle instead of a sudden, quick strike, the Principality of Zeon decided to invade Earth. One week later, the Principality commenced its assault on Earth itself, using the Mass Driver, an electromagnetic "catapult" on the lunar surface, to send their MS into space and Earth. In February they began to organize an Earth Attack Force under the command of Garma Zabi, the youngest member of the Zabi family, divided into five MS divisions with distinct goals. Beginning on March 1, the newly formed Earth Attack Force began staging drop operations to land troops on Earth; over the course of the next month, they would complete a total of five drops, landing in central Asia, North America, Australia, and northern African and the Middle East.
The first group dropped on Central Asia, wiping out the Federation's Baikonur spaceport. They then advanced to the Caspian Sea, moving west into Europe and south into the Middle East. The second and third groups were dropped on both coasts of North America with two objectives: 1) to subjugate the Federation's industrial military complex. 2) To take over the Federation food supply. The California Base (a generic term for the more than 20 military bases along the west coast) became the staging ground for subsequent terrestrial assaults. As the bases were captured without damage, they were soon converted to production of Zeon MS. The fourth group, aided by support troops already on Earth, occupied many islands of the Oceania region for the procurement of resources. Up until then, the Principality faced a distinct disadvantage in resource availability, having to rely on Lunar and asteroid mining. The fifth and final group landed in the largely unprotected deserts of North Africa. With facilities, food and resources at their disposal, the Principality was set for global conquest.
From these drop locations, the Zeon army spread across the planet, using captured facilities and material (notably including the Earth Federation's massive California Base) to strengthen their military power. Within a few months, Zeon controlled most of Europe, Asia and North America. With the Federation forces scattered and their numbers decimated, their outlook was grim.
During Zeon's offensive on Earth, the Earth Federation were desperately trying to develop mobile suits of their own. Project V was a result of this; a top secret Earth Federation Forces research project aimed at producing mobile suits for the Earth Federation, while the Vinson Plan was enacted to rebuild the Earth Federation Space Forces. A major breakthrough of Project V was the development of compact, mobile suit-sized beam weapons, giving a mobile suit the effective power of a battleship cannon. Three prototype designs were completed under Operation V; the long-range tank-like RX-75 Guntank, the mid-range support RX-77 Guncannon, and the close combat oriented RX-78-2 Gundam. The suits would be stored on the Federation's newest battleship, the SCV-70 White Base, the first Federation warship to not only carry mobile suits, but also able to operate on Earth and in space. Unfortunately for the Earth Federation, while the new Pegasus-class ship White Base was traveling to Side 7 with a number of RX-series prototypes for space testing, they were discovered by a Zeon Musai commanded by Char Aznable. Aznable's subordinates attempted to destroy the Operation V prototypes while on a recon mission inside Side 7, and during the attack the civilian Amuro Ray managed to enter the cockpit of a Gundam unit. The first ever case of MS vs. MS combat took place on September 18, UC 0079, when Amuro destroyed two Zaku IIs with the Gundam. This point marks the beginning of the story of Mobile Suit Gundam. It also set into motion a series of events that would send the White Base to Earth crewed almost entirely by civilian refugees. On October 4, Earth Attack Force commander Garma Zabi was killed while leading an attack against the White Base in North America.
Operation Odessa (November 7 - 11)
Operation Odessa was the Earth Federation Force's first major offensive campaign on Earth. The opportunity for the Federation to strike back opened up with the death of Garma Zabi. Operation Odessa used 30% of the Federation Army to take out the Zeon mining facilities in the Odessa region; the lynchpin of the Principality supply network. Launched in early November, the objective of the campaign was to capture the Zeon mining facilities at Odessa and drive Zeon forces out of Europe and Asia. The operation was launched on November 7, ending two days later in victory for the Earth Federation. This was remarkable for the fact that the Earth Federation Forces consisted almost entirely of conventional troops, tanks, and aircraft, yet managed to defeat a Zeon force consisting of many mobile suits. The Earth Federation did deploy a small number of mobile suits, but they were mainly used in mop-up
operations and contributed relatively little to the battle. Operation Odessa marked the turning point of the One Year War; the beginning of the end for Zeon's forces in Europe and Asia. However, the leader of the Zeon mining operations, Colonel M'Quve, had enough mining material sent to the Zeon homeland to allow the Principality to continue the war without the danger of supply shortages. This battle was the largest and the bloodiest on Earth, where the Earth Federation relied heavily on conventional weapons such as tanks, bombers, fighter craft, a small number of MSs (30 units), and a large number of troops (3,700,000) compared to the smaller but much better equipped Principality of Zeon army; who fielded only a relatively small amount of fighters, bombers, tanks, and artillery, but over a hundred MSs which were more advantageous. (The complete statistics of the battle can be seen on Odessa)
In the TV series version of Mobile Suit Gundam the White Base played a more important role. M'Quve had the aid of a traitor within the Federation, General Elron, who through his associate Judoc, planned to sabotage the operation by holding back the troops led by Elron to allow M'Quve's forces to attack the troops belonging to General Revil. White Base pilots Amuro Ray and Sayla Mass accidentally witnessed Judoc's Federation-commissioned plane leave a Zeon base without incident and they followed it to Elron's location where both were arrested, allowing Revil to take direct command of Elron's forces and use both armies to easily overpower M'Quve's unsuspecting soldiers. In desperation, M'Quve tried to break the Antarctic Treaty by launching a nuclear missile but Amuro and the Gundam disabled it before detonation. From there, the determined Earth Federation Forces emancipated Europe, Asia and eventually North America. The remaining Zeon troops regrouped for a massive assault on Jaburo base, hoping to kill the heart of the Federation.
Battle of Jaburo (November 30)
On November 29, White Base finally reached the HQ of Earth Federation forces, Jaburo. At the same time, Char Aznable found the main entrance of Jaburo. Zeon began their initial attack by launching air raids. Char led a commando squad to infiltrate Jaburo through another way after wiping out a guard post with a squad of MSM-04 Acguys. Char's squad found the GM manufacturing factory inside Jaburo and planted bombs on the GMs, which were found by the orphans from White Base. The following morning, California Base sent several Dopps and Gaws to attack Jaburo, air-dropping many MSs while several marine-type MSs attacked Jaburo through the river. However, Zeon underestimated Jaburo's defenses. The Federation officers agreed that White Base's presence would lure their enemy to Jaburo and had prepared a heavy defense against Zeon, part of which included introducing some of the newly mass-produced GMs to overpower them, though not without losses. The defenses at the space port were the strongest, since White Base was docked there, and the defenders put up stiff resistence as it was expected that White Base would bring the war to an end. On the other side of Jaburo there was a new Gundam, RX-78-6 Mudrock Gundam, defending it. However, it was destroyed by the Zeon's Midnight Fenrir. Char, defeated in a duel against the RX-78-2 Gundam piloted by Amuro Ray, retreated from Jaburo alongside the other Zeon forces. After the Battle of Jaburo, most of the Zeon military began retreating to space, leaving only the Zeon troops in North Africa continuing their resistance. White Base also left for space to provide a decoy operation.
Battle of Baldur Bay
After the Battle of Jaburo ended and White Base launched back into space, a Zanzibar commanded by Char Aznable caught up with it, only to let the nearby Zeon patrol, the Camel Patrol Team led by Char's ex-lieutenant Dren engage White Base. By this time, Zeon had replaced their Space Attack Force's mainstay MSs Zaku II with newer MS-09R Rick Dom. Instead of cutting off White Base's route of providing decoy, the whole patrol team was wiped out by White Base's forces. After the battle, White Base went to Side 6 for repairs. Zeon Space Attack Force's commander Vice Admiral Dozle Zabi, worried about the Earth Federation Space Forces build-up at Luna II, dispatched the Conscon Fleet to trap the White Base while he remained stationed at Solomon to observe Federation's movements.
On December 5, Dozle's Conscon Fleet reached Baldur Bay of the neutral Side 6, as White Base was docked in that neutral colony side. White Base left Side 6 and engaged the Conscon Fleet. White Base attacked a Musai-class cruiser and destroyed it a very few moments after it exited Side 6's perimeter. Conscon berated White Base for playing dirty and ordered a full-out attack, but lost 12 Rick Doms within 3 minutes, most of them to the Federation's infamous Gundam. The Rick Doms were no match for Amuro, as his Newtype abilities were growing stronger, making his reaction time much faster. Conscon's Chivvay-class was destroyed by Amuro, who charged it after destroying the Rick Doms.
It was the first time Side 6 saw actual conflict of the war on their doorstep, clearly captured by a TV camera shuttle rented by Cameroon Bloom. As the battle ended with the White Base successfully destroying the Conscon Fleet, Side 6 had aligned itself closer to the Federation while keeping its sovereignty as an autonomous republic, retaining its neutrality in the war, a move that irked the Zeon forces. This explained why there was a larger presence of Federation garrisons in Side 6 when Operation Rubicon (detailed below) started a few weeks after White Base departed.
Operation Rubicon (December 14 - 23)
In December, Zeon intelligence learned of the Federation's secret project in the Arctic: The development of the RX-78NT-1 Gundam "Alex", the intended successor for Amuro's RX-78-2 Gundam. Zeon sent the Cyclops Team, a special task force, to capture the project materials before they were sent to space. However, things went badly for the Zeons as the Federation launched the materials into space before Cyclops Team could stop them. On December 14, Gray Phantom arrived at Side 6's Ribo colony Federation base. The Cyclops Team infiltrated Ribo to learn the location of the Gundam in preparation for an attempt to capture it. On December 19, Cyclops Team launched an attack with their MS-18E Kämpfer as a diversion, while other members of the team infiltrated the Federation's base, disguised as Federation soldiers. Most of the Cyclops Team members, including the leader Hardy, were killed in action. Christina MacKenzie sortied in the Gundam "Alex" to stop Zeon's MS-18E Kämpfer, piloted by Mikhail Kaminsky, and prevent it from causing more damage to Ribo. With the mission apparently ending in failure, Colonel Killing ordered the destruction of Ribo colony with a nuclear missile.
The last remaining member of the Cyclops team, Bernard Wiseman, in an effort to save the colony by completing the mission, launched an attack against the Federation base on Christmas with his MS-06FZ Zaku II Kai. Christina again launched in Gundam "Alex" in an attempt to stop him without further damage to the colony. At the end of the battle, both machines were severely damaged, and Wiseman was killed. Operation Rubicon ended in failure, as the Cyclops Team had failed to capture or destroy the Federation's new Gundam. The Gundam, however, was in no condition to be sent into battle, and the war ended only a week later. The operation itself saw the violation of two points in the Antarctic Treaty, as Zeon had attacked a neutral colony and later attempted to destroy it with nuclear weapons.
Operation Cemballo (December 14 - 24)
On December 14, Operation Cemballo began with the launch of a new Earth Federation fleet from their fortress Jaburo. Sending their new fleets into space, the EFSF moved towards the Zeon homeland at L2. Standing in their way was the Zeon defensive line, consisting of the asteroid space fortresses Solomon and A Baoa Qu, as well as the lunar city Granada. On December 24, UC 0079, the EFSF fleet launched an attack on the asteroid base Solomon, the headquarters of Zeon's Space Attack Force. Using their Solar System, the Earth Federation inflicted heavy damage on the enemy fortress and was able to take Solomon. When it was clear that the battle was lost, Zeon Space Attack Force's Vice Admiral Dozle Zabi gave the order to evacuate the base and sortied in the Big Zam to fight a delaying action. He succeeded in allowing many Zeon forces to retreat, but was killed by Amuro Ray in the process. The capture of Solomon marks the end of Operation Cemballo, and this event is also known as 'Battle of Solomon'.
Battle of A Baoa Qu: Operation Star One (December 31)
Using the newly captured Solomon (later renamed Konpei Island) as a staging area, the Earth Federation Space Forces continued their offensive toward Side 3 in Operation Star One. On December 30, with the Earth Federation Forces en route to the Zeon asteroid base A Baoa Qu, Zeon leader Sovereign Degwin Zabi approached the EFSF fleet with the intention of negotiating an end to the war. Gihren Zabi gave the order to fire the Solar Ray at the EFSF fleet which was assembling at Geldova Line, knowing that his father was in the line of fire. This attack destroyed a full third of the Earth Federation fleet present and killed both Degwin Zabi and General Revil in the process.
Despite these losses, the Earth Federation continued their attack on A Baoa Qu. They assaulted the asteroid base on December 31, UC 0079. With their remaining forces, the EFSF fought against the gathered forces of Zeon's Mobile Attack Force and A Baoa Qu's garrison forces. During the battle Kycilia Zabi executed her half-brother Gihren for the crime of murdering their father Degwin, and took command of the Zeon military herself. In the confusion this caused, some Zeon forces—notably the Delaz Fleet—fled before the battle was over. When it became clear that the Zeon forces would lose, Kycilia herself attempted to retreat; however, she was killed by Char Aznable before she could escape.
After Zeon's defeat at A Baoa Qu, and the death of the leadership on both sides of the conflict, the newly restored Republic of Zeon surrendered to the Earth Federation. The two parties signed a peace treaty at Granada on New Year's Day, January 1, UC 0080. By the terms of the treaty, Side 3 was allowed to keep its independence. However, some of Zeon's remaining military was dissatisfied with the conclusion of the war. Some of these forces retreated to the Zeon base Axis in the asteroid belt, while others, such as the Delaz Fleet and various remnant forces on Earth, remained in the Earth Sphere, hiding from the Earth Federation with the hope of one day striking back at them.
Despite its relatively short length, the One Year War had a greater cost in human lives than all previous conflicts in human history put together. With 5.9 billion people killed during the war, the post-war population was left at 5.4 billion, less than half of the pre-war population. By comparison, the previous deadliest human conflict, World War II, cost 70-85 million lives, roughly 3% of the pre-war population of 2.3 billion. The complete destruction of Sides 1, 2, 4, and 5 left the majority of the remaining population concentrated on Earth, the Moon, and Sides 3 and 6.
Because of the colony drop, thirty percent of the Australian continent was flooded, and cities along the coast of the Pacific and the Indian Ocean suffered catastrophic damage. Abnormal weather patterns would continue for more than six years.
The hostility between Earthnoids and Spacenoids remained, mostly due to Operation British, which had caused an environmental disaster on Earth and heavy casualties among Earthnoids. There were many Earthnoids who blamed their suffering on Spacenoids for starting the war. This caused a kind of ethnic divide where Earthnoids considered themselves to be the elites and wanted to teach the Spacenoids a painful lesson; this attitude was exacerbated by Operation Stardust, when another colony was dropped on Earth by the rogue Delaz Fleet, which in turn fueled the formation of the Titans.
The One Year War set the stage for many of the Universal Century's later conflicts. The Delaz Fleet's Operation Stardust was a direct result of renegade Zeon soldiers' dissatisfaction with the outcome of the war. The Titans were created to counter this threat, which lead to the Gryps War. The Axis Zeon faction, which later became the First Neo Zeon, was also formed as a result of the One Year War, and their actions heavily influenced the Gryps War and the First Neo Zeon War. Other groups, such as the Second Neo Zeon and the Neo Zeon remnants, the "Sleeves", were not spawned directly from the One Year War, but can trace their roots indirectly back to the conflict.
Notes & Trivia
- This war is actually based on the real world's World War II, however, what differs them are that One Year War is set in the future and a fictional war, whereas humanoid robots (Mobile suits) and mobile armors replacing WWII's vehicles, i.e. MS as tanks or fighter aircrafts and MA as tank destroyers or attacker/bomber aircrafts. The book Gundam and World War II analysed MS as tanks and MS development record stated MA are tank destroyers compared to MS as tanks. While official settings often state the use of MS in space warfare in OYW is comparable to the use of aircraft in navy battles in WWII.
- Additionally, the concept of the Federation's "Big Gun" ships is similar to the "Kantai Kessen" battle doctrine adopted by Japan in WWII, with the Japanese Navy having a similar "big-gun" fleet consisting of mostly battleships. However this doctrine was rendered outdated by the introduction of MS (aircraft carriers in the case of WWII). This doctrine also saw the pretext of a "decisive battle", which took place several times in the One Year War.
- Zeon's use of poison gas to kill the garrisons of Earth Federation and the inhabitants within Side 1, Side 2 and Side 4 was an allusion to real life Nazi's methods of gasing Jews in its concentration camps, most notably Auschwitz.
- Operation Odessa/Battle of Odessa resembles real life's Battle of Stalingrad. Both turned out to be the bloodiest battle in history and also served as the turning point of their respective wars. The victor of the battles turned out to be the forces to suffer the heaviest casualties, as the Soviet Union and Earth Federation took the most losses during the battle to achieve victory while the losers of the battle, Nazi Germany and the Principality of Zeon began to fall back on every front and eventually lost the war. The statistics of the Battle of Odessa can be seen on Odessa.
- Darcia Bakharov's role in the Principality of Zeon is similar to that of Georg Michaelis' in Germany although Michaelis was in charge after World War I, not II.