Technology & Combat Characteristics
The ZGMF-X56S Impulse Gundam is a prototype general purpose mobile suit developed by ZAFT as part of their Second Stage Series, and it is quite different from the other units in the series. Firstly, the Impulse Gundam is not designed for combat in a specific environment, instead it is designed to adapt to different combat situations by using back-mounted optional equipment packs known as Silhouette packs. It was designed in this way as many battles in the first war were weight greatly by the skill of a single ace pilot, and ZAFT wanted a high performance suit that can perform various roles to give the single ace pilot the ability to operate in many different situations. This ability to use Silhouette packs also allows ZAFT to get around the restriction placed on mobile suit number by the Junius Treaty, and the packs themselves can be switched out in mid-battle as they are transported by an automated unit known as the Silhouette Flyer (an improved conceptual version of the Silhouette Flyer exists in the form of DRAGOON Flyer).
The Impulse Gundam is also unique due to the fact that it is made up of three different modules, with the main module being the small transformable fighter plane, the YFX-M56S Core Splendor. The Core Splendor not only contains the cockpit of the suit, but can also fly and fight on its own. The other modules are the Leg Flyer and Chest Flyer. If one of the latter two modules is damaged or destroyed, they can be easily replaced and this helps to keep the suit in combat longer. The Impulse Gundam is in its modular form when on standby or undergoing maintenance. As such, it can only be stored and launched from the battleship Minerva which has a specialized hangar and catapult designed for the suit. The three modules will combine in mid-air after launch and then the Impulse Gundam will receive the Silhouette pack from the Silhouette Flyer. Weapon wise, the Impulse Gundam is only armed with a pair of CIWS guns, anti-armor knives, a beam rifle and a shield for defense. Like the other units in the Second Stage Series, it is also equipped with a new form of phase shift armor known as Variable Phase Shift Armor, and is powered by a battery that could be recharged during battle using the Deuterion Beam Energy Transfer System. The Variable Phase Shift Armor will change color depending on the Silhouette pack attached to the suit.
- MMI-GAU25A 20mm CIWS
- The Impulse mounts two CIWS guns in its chest to shoot down incoming missiles or enemy units at close range.
- M71-AAK "Folding Razor" Anti-armor Knife
- For close combat, the Impulse is equipped with two M71-AAK "Folding Razor" anti-armor knives, which are stored in the suit's side armor when not in use. These knives do not need power from the suit and while not really effective against weapons like beam sabers, they are nonetheless capable of cutting into the armor of another mobile suit as long as it is not phase-shift armor or its variants.
- MMI-RG59V Mobile Shield
- The Impulse can use a physical anti-beam coated MMI-RG59V mobile shield for defense, it can be mounted on the left forearm or handheld. The shield has an unique feature, it is normally in a collapsed form and can expand when required. Whether the shield is used in its collapsed or expanded state depends on the combat situations and which Silhouette pack is in use. The basic Impulse Gundam uses the shield in its expanded state.
- MA-BAR72 High-energy Beam Rifle
- The Impulse usually uses a MA-BAR72 high-energy beam rifle for ranged combat. This beam rifle is developed based on Freedom and Justice Gundam's beam rifle, and is stored on the suit's rear skirt armor when not in use.
Special Equipment & Features
- Variable Phase Shift is the latest version of phase shift armor and the most energy efficient. It allows the MS to automatically alter the strength and by extension the power consumption of the armor, depending on what combat configuration or situation that MS is in. As a result, the MS's colors changes. Unlike MBF-02 Strike Rouge's color-shifting PS, VPS is capable of changing its strength in the field, although this must be programmed beforehand. Impulse's VPS armor changes color according to what Silhouette pack it is using at the moment.
- The Deuterion beam energy transfer system is a wireless energy transfer system built into the Second Stage Series and their support ship, the LHM-BB01 Minerva. The system allows a mobile suit that is properly lined up with the Minerva to receive a recharge while in the field, meaning that if the mobile suit runs low on power during a battle it can be quickly recharged without coming into the ship's hanger to recharge. The transfer system is very efficient requiring only a few seconds before the mobile suit is fully recharged. Still on a battlefield even a few seconds could mean death so it is advisable for a machine to only perform the maneuver when they have covering fire.
- Hardpoints for Silhouette Packs
- While the other suits of the Second Stage series are capable of transforming into a mobile armor mode, the Impulse instead is similar to the Strike Gundam in the fact, that it can adapt to different situations by using exchangeable Silhouette packs. In addition to adding weapons and equipment for different mission profiles, these packs also reconfigure the Impulse's Variable Phase Shift armor.
- With further developments, the δ Chaos Silhouette, ε Abyss Silhouette, and ζ Gaia Silhouette, based on ZGMF-X24S Chaos Gundam, ZGMF-X31S Abyss Gundam and ZGMF-X88S Gaia Gundam could be created. However, they never materialized and ZAFT produced the θ Destiny Silhouette, which can be considered as a ZAFT counterpart to the EA's IWSP. There is also a variation of the θ Destiny Silhouette, the ι Destiny R Silhouette.
In late CE 73, ZAFT created a new series of advanced prototype mobile suits known as the Second Stage Series to succeed their previous generation of Gundams,, which were all lost in the previous war. One of these new suits was the Impulse, a multi-role unit similar in concept to the Earth Alliance's Strike Gundam. The Impulse was designed simultaneously with ZAFT's new battleship Minerva, which includes a catapult exclusive for its use. Using this smaller catapult, the Impulse launches with its modules divided, while combining mid flight.
The Impulse was initially piloted by Shinn Asuka, who was selected personally by PLANT Supreme Council Chairman Gilbert Durandal. Shinn performed very well with Impulse, destroying over a dozen enemy warships, numerous mobile suits, and the stolen ZGMF-X31S Abyss. He even managed to defeat the ZGMF-X10A Freedom Gundam. After he received the new ZGMF-X42S Destiny Gundam, Impulse was reassigned to Lunamaria Hawke. Lunamaria first piloted the Impulse during Operation Ragnarök, the invasion of Heaven's Base in Iceland, where it assists Shinn's Destiny and Rey's ZGMF-X666S Legend Gundam in defeating the base's GFAS-X1 Destroy Gundam squad. Impulse was heavily damaged at the end of the Second Alliance-PLANT War in the battle near Mobile Space Fortress Messiah by Athrun Zala's ZGMF-X19A ∞ Justice Gundam.
An additional four units were built during the course of the war. These four units were all equipped with θ Destiny Silhouette, with two units being piloted by Mare Strode and Courtney Heironimus. Courtney Heironimus in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny Astray indicated that with further developments, it could be possible to create new Silhouette Packs based on ZGMF-X24S Chaos Gundam, ZGMF-X31S Abyss Gundam and ZGMF-X88S Gaia Gundam that would allow Impulse to have better performance in specific environment. Upon hearing this, Jess Rabble immediately imagines how ZGMF-X56S/δ Chaos Impulse Gundam, ZGMF-X56S/ε Abyss Impulse Gundam and ZGMF-X56S/ζ Gaia Impulse Gundam might look like.
Notes & Trivia
- The Impulse Gundam's general aesthetic is analogous to the Earth Alliance's GAT-X105 Strike Gundam. This similarity is not only due to their ability to use back-mounted optional equipment to adapt to various combat situations but also due to their armaments. Also, after being heavily damaged and repaired, the suits were given to supporting characters.
- The Impulse Gundam's ability to change parts mid-battle is quite similar to the LM312V04 Victory Gundam from Mobile Suit Victory Gundam.
- The Impulse's role in the series is highly reminiscent of the Gundam Mk-II in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. Like the Gundam Mk-II, the Impulse is heavily based on the primary mobile suit of the previous series in design, and is eventually transferred from the protagonist to a female pilot in his squad.
- Impulse's head crest displays the text "X-56S SEI", which means "Six" in Italian and is a reference to Impulse's series number.
- Impulse is the only mobile suit of the Second Stage Series that does not have a Mobile Armor mode.
- Instead of Shinn, Lunamaria is the default pilot for Impulse in Super Robot Wars K as the ZAFT members recently joined Mist and Angelica (the game's protagonists) after The Battle of Messiah.
- In Super Robot Wars K and Super Robot Wars L, Force Silhouette is the only available equipment for Impulse as a unit. The Sword and Blast Silhouette will only be used when Impulse performed two of its strongest attacks. After that, the Force Silhouette will be equipped again automatically.
- The Impulse can not recharge using the Deuterion Beam in Super Robot Wars K and Super Robot Wars L, even when it was able to in the earlier Super Robot Wars Z.
- One of the Sword Impulse's "Excalibur" anti-ship swords is included in the Master Grade model kit of Force Impulse.
- The Master Grade manual speculates that the Core Splendor system is inspired by the Regenerate Gundam's modular system.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Battle Destiny, the Impulse is unlockable in the ZAFT route, but initially as a standalone unit. The versions equipped with Silhouette Packs comes later, and have the ability to switch in between before or during battle.
- In web novel Sun Musume ～ Girl's Battle Bootlog, the character Kuhoin Shiori's Sun Drive is Impulse Gundam.