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 "Stamen" - and the armed base "Orchis". It was first featured in the OVA series Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory and later, the Episode 4 of Gundam Evolve motion pictures. It 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 the armed base "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 containers containing sixteen weapon slots sat on the top of the GP03, enabling the pilot to engage in extended firefights without running out of ammunition. The slots were interchangeable and were able to carry different weapons. Extendable large claw arms mounted with large beam sabers were mounted on both sides of the unit's underbelly. 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 "Stamen". In cases of emergency or severe damage to the "Orchis", the "Stamen" could eject and escape to safety or continue the fight.
- 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 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 Arm
- The Orchis unit is equipped with two large claw arms on its underside in case of enemy units penetrating its I-Field. The claw arms can be used for grabbing enemy unit and causing massive damage with a combination of the claw arm's strength and the momentum built up by the Dendrobium unit. For extra offensive power during close combat situation, each large claw arm is equipped with a large beam saber.
- Large Beam Saber
- The hilt of Large Beam Saber is stored inside the Orchis' large claw arm. Like most MS-sized beam saber, it is a cylindrical device held by the claw arm's pincer when deployed and is powered by an rechargeable energy capacitor. The enormous beam blade generated is capable of cutting through any metal that has not been treated with anti-beam coating, and can 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.
- 84-tube Micro Missile Pod
- Featured in Gundam Evolve's Episode 4, the 84-tube Micro Missile Pod has similar appearance to the 108-Tube version, except that the 28 micro missiles are stored within each of the three rectangular panels, which open outwards after the container is being launched. The micro missiles are launched backwards to destroy persuing enemies.
- 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
- 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 is fired toward and surrounded the intended target, and detonates in close proximity without actually attached to the target. A single Demolition Chain 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. This beam rifle looks identical to the one used by the RX-78GP01-Fb Gundam Full Burnern "Zephyranthes", but its output has been improved. Can be used by the Stamen when it docked with the Orchis.
- Mounted on the underside of the 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 the Stamen, and is usable whether the suit is operating alone or docked with the Orchis. It features a collapsible barrel for storage inside the Orchis' container, and retrievable via Stamen's Folding Arms. Like the Hyper Bazooka used by other Federation's mobile suits, the Folding Bazooka is technically a large projectile launcher which fires 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 often used to take 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 the Stamen, and is collapsible along its vertical axis for storage inside the Orchis' container, and retrievable via Stamen's Folding Arms. The Folding Shield is mounted on the Stamen's forearms via a rotatable hinge and has top and bottom handles for better defense positioning. The shield can also store up to 4 e-pacs for the XBR-BOWA M-82A Beam Rifle, prolonging the rifle's operation time.
Special Equipment & Features
- Folding Arm
- Each of the 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.
- Tail Binder
- Mounted on either sides of the Stamen's waist, the pair of tail binders serve to increase the suit's mobility and maneuverability. Besides having a thruster each, the binders are also used for AMBAC purposes due to their movable nature. Lastly, the tail binders also function as part of the docking system with the Orchis unit.
- Weapons Container
- The Orchis unit has two weapons containers for carrying/storing various weapons in sixteen weapon slots. Weapons stored in the containers include a set of Demolition Chain Mines, 3-tube Missile Pods, sets of 108-tube Micro Missile Pods, and handheld weapons for the Stamen unit, such as beam rifles, folding bazookas, and folding shield.
- Central Container
- I-Field Generator
- The Orchis is equipped with an I-Field generator for defense from range beam attacks, though it could still be hit by physical attacks. The generator's greatest weakness was that the housing unit was exposed on the left side of the Orchis. This drawback 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 unit. In situation where it requires a speedy retreat from battlefield, the Dendroium could launch a large salvo of chaffs to blind and distract enemies for a short period of time.
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 AMX-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. Although the Orchis was damaged beyond recovery, the Stamen was left relatively intact, atlhough it is unknown what happened to it following the conclusion of Operation Stardust and the burying of the Gundam Development Project.
Notes and 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-001 GN Arms and GNMA-XCVII Alvatore). Such concept is seldom seen, even across different universes, as such large support units are typically more expensive to manufacture and unwieldy.
- 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 released by Bandai, more expensive than the same grade model kit of Neo Zeong (27000 yen), 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 GP03S 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-03S 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.
- Due to the Orchis's immense size, the HG Gunpla kit of the Dendrobium is as large as some Perfect Grade kits.