Technology & Combat Characteristics
The Gundam "Physalis" was initially supposed to be an assault-use, heavy mobile suit similar to the Principality of Zeon's Dom series. This was eventually dropped and replaced by the goal of being the most powerful MS to date. Inadvertently, this led to the Physalis being armed with the most deadly weapon available, a nuclear warhead.
Due to the jamming effects of minovsky particles, guided precision nuclear weapons were rendered unusable and because of this, strategic nuclear warheads that served as a deterrent and as a means of retaliation were useless. Thus, the only viable choice is a tactical nuclear warhead meant for use in combat situations with friendly forces nearby and tend to have a lower explosive power than the strategic nuclear warheads. However, this is not always the case, as the Mk-82 warhead used by Physalis has an explosive power comparable to a strategic nuclear warhead despite its tactical classification.
Due to the relatively short firing range of the Physalis' atomic bazooka used in launching the Mk-82 warhead, the mobile suit's armor was designed to be both heat and shock resistant to protect itself from the nuclear blast. Additionally, the Physalis also carried a large shield that contains a powerful cooling system. This shield also stores the barrel of the bazooka when the weapon is not in use. Other weapons of the Physalis included two head-mounted vulcan guns and two beam sabers stored in the side skirt armor.
Despite its bulky appearance, the Physalis is highly maneuverable and can even hover when operating under gravity. This is thanks to the newly developed high-output generators installed in the mobile suit, as well as the pair of 'Flexible Thruster Binders' mounted on the shoulders that house multiple thrusters. Overall, the Physalis is a powerful mobile suit even without its nuclear weapon. It was also rumoured to be designed to work in tandem with its brother unit, the RX-78GP01 Gundam "Zephyranthes".
While nuclear weapons were abhorred due to their destructive effects, the leaders of the Earth Federation Forces viewed them as a necessary evil to maintain its superiority in the post-One Year War period. In fact, the Principality of Zeon had deployed or attempted to deploy nuclear weapons on multiple occasions during the war, even after the signing of the Antarctic Treaty. Furthermore, the Antarctic Treaty only prohibited the "use" of nuclear weapons as opposed to the "development" and "storage" of them. Thus, the Physalis was technically not a violation of the treaty.
There were also some that viewed the Antarctic Treaty as a wartime treaty that was defunct in the post-war period, but there were others that thought differently. Aiguille Delaz of the Delaz Fleet, a Principality of Zeon remnant group that eventually stole the Physalis, was an example, albeit a radical one. He considered the treaty still in effect as he did not recognize the peace treaty signed at the end of the One Year War. He then used this supposed violation by the Earth Federation Forces to rationalize the capture and use of the Physalis and its nuclear weapon.
- 60mm Vulcan Gun
- A standard defensive armament of the Earth Federation Forces' RX and RGM series of mobile suits is a pair of head-mounted 60mm vulcan guns. These shell firing weapons have high rate of fire but little power. They are ideal for shooting down small, lightly armored targets such as missiles, attack vehicles, etc.
- A.E.Blash AEXB-909L Beam Saber
- A pair of beam sabers stored in its side skirt armor, it was an improved model developed for heavy mobile suits. The magnetic field shaping its beam blade was thinner than previous models, but due to its prototype nature, its output and magnetic field intensity can be adjusted.
- AE/ZIM.G-BAZ-0186-A Atomic Bazooka
- The primary weapon of the Gundam Physalis, it can load a single Mk-82 nuclear warhead that is carried separately in the backpack. Although the bazooka only had a single shot, its effect is not to be underestimated, as demonstrated when Anavel Gato used it to destroy two-thirds of the Earth Federation Forces fleet gathered for the Naval Review at Confeito. The nuclear warhead must be used carefully, for even the Physalis's armor and cooling system can only protect the mobile suit from the edges of a nuclear explosion. The Atomic Bazooka is a two-piece system. The warhead is loaded into the rear end, which is mounted on a swivel located on the back of the Physalis' right shoulder, while the barrel of the bazooka is stored in its shield. The two halves of the bazooka lock together when used to fire the nuclear warhead, and the entire weapon can be jettisoned after use.
- NR-Sh-02-RX/S-00013 Shield
- The Gundam Physalis is equipped with a specialized shield. This large shield is not only a defensive measure against physical and beam attacks, it also protects the Physalis from the heat and shock of a nuclear explosion. It also features a powerful liquid nitrogen cooling system to cool the mobile suit, and is where the Atomic Bazooka's barrel is stored when the weapon is not in use. Thus, damage to the shield can hinder the Physalis' ability to launch a nuclear attack.
- Beam Javelin
- In the manga, Mobile Suit Gundam 0083 Rebellion, Gato's Gundam GP02A utilized this weapon from a defeated RGM-79V GM Night Seeker. Compared to a beam saber, it has an extended handle and a three-pronged beam at the end. The long reach of the weapon gives the RX-78GP02A a considerable advantage in close quarters combat. It can also be used as a throwing weapon.
- 135mm Anti-Ship Rifle
- Developed in the early phase of One Year War, the long-barreled 135mm anti-ship rifle is used by various models of Zeon mobile suits for long-range sniping attack against Federation's warships. It fires highly accurate solid rounds which can heavily damage E.F.F.'s Salamis-class cruiser. During the events in Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Mayfly of Space 2, Gato's Gundam Physalis is armed with this weapon.
In UC 0083, the Pegasus-class assault carrier Albion collected both the RX-78GP01 and the RX-78GP02A, and shipped them to the Earth Federation Forces's Torrington Base in Australia for terrestrial testing.
Thanks to the help of a Delaz Fleet supporter in Anaheim Electronics, former Zeon Ace pilot Anavel Gato a.k.a The Nightmare of Solomon managed to sneak aboard the Albion and stole the RX-78GP02A after a nuclear missile from the Torrington Base's stockpile had been loaded into it. Taking advantage of a long range missile bombardment initiated by his team members, followed by a blitzkrieg attack by a pair of MS-09F/trop Dom Tropens, Gato in the Physalis began making his getaway, but not before being confronted by Earth Federation Forces Ensign Kou Uraki in the RX-78GP01 Gundam "Zephyranthes". The two engaged in a beam saber battle but Kou was overwhelmed when he discovered he was battling the "Nightmare of Solomon".
As Gato made his escape with the Physalis, he set out to rendezvous with a Komusai II shuttle so that he could get the Physalis into space. However during the shuttle's takeoff procedure, the Komusai II was attacked by Kou's Zephyranthes, whose machine gun delivered critical damage that destroyed the Komusai II, yet the Physalis escaped undamaged.
With the loss of the Komusai II, Gato and his team were forced to go to their backup plan, and made straight for the coast to rendezvous with the U-801, a refit Jukon-class Combat Submarine. In order to ensure success in their mission, the Zeon team set up an ambush to destroy the pursuing Earth Federation Forces mobile suits in the mist shrouded rocks by the shore. However the Earth Federation Forces pilots expected this and managed to turn the tables, destroying the Physalis's two escort machines. Gato and the Physalis ended up getting into another beam saber duel with Kou and the Zephyranthes. With Gato's skill, the Physalis quickly overpowered its brother unit, however the Gundams' designer, Nina Purpleton, arrived and advised Kou to thrust the beam saber into the Physalis's shield which damaged the Physalis's cooling system. With little choice, Gato escaped with the Physalis on a mobile suit transport hovercraft.
Gato took the Physalis to the Kimberlite Base in eastern Africa where Zeon remnant forces gave Gato an old H.L.V. to take the Physalis into space. During the launch the Kimberlite Base's mobile suit forces fought with the mobile suits of the Albion to buy Gato time. As the H.L.V. was taking off, the Albion fired its main guns, nearly hitting it, but the H.L.V. escaped into space.
In space, Gato returned to the Delaz Fleet, bringing the Physalis to their secret base. There it was used as a propaganda tool on an Earth Sphere-wide broadcast speech made by Admiral Delaz, Calling the Earth Federation hypocritical and underhanded for creating a mobile suit capable of deploying nuclear weapons despite how it was in violation to the Antarctic Treaty.
With their speech broadcast and their intentions known, the Delaz Fleet moved out to Konpei Island, with the Physalis serving as a key component to their battle plan. Knowing that they could not win in a head on battle, Admiral Delaz intended to make use of the Physalis's nuke. Gato piloted the Physalis for its part of the plan, using its high speed and agility to slip through a debris field left after the One Year War, and then through Earth Federation defenses on the edge of the Naval Review. Once in position, Gato fired the nuclear weapon, the explosion from which destroyed or disabled two-thirds of the gathered Earth Federation space fleet at the Naval Review.
As Gato was making his escape, he and the RX-78GP02A once again faced Kou who was piloting the upgraded RX-78GP01-Fb Gundam Full Burnern "Zephyranthes". The two pilots and machines engaged in a battle, this time with Kou matching Gato evenly thanks to his new found experience and more powerful Gundam. The battle would result in the mutual destruction of both machines, though both pilots would survive.
Notes & Trivia
- In the game Mobile Suit Gundam: Encounters in Space, the Gundam "Physalis"'s Atomic Bazooka also doubles as a Beam Bazooka, with the nuclear warhead as its single-use special attack.
- The "Physalis" appears in episode 5 of Gundam Build Fighters, where its color scheme is similar to the Trial Version in the Anaheim Journal.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam 0083 Rebellion, its stated that the GP02A's development team at Anaheim Electronics was full of former Zeon engineers.
- Some materials depict the Physalis with a Zeon symbol painted on the lower half of its shield, although this did not appear in Stardust Memory.
- The seizure of the GP02A is a common level in the Super Robot Wars series, often with other forces besides Zeon and Anavel Gato attempting to capture it if the 0083 story is not the primary focus.
- According to the Language of Flowers, "Physalis" means "falsehood". This would fit with the Delaz Fleet's belief that the Zeon's War of Independence never ended, that the construction of the GP-02A was against the Antarctic Treaty and that the Earth Federation was being a hypocrite for building such a machine.