Zeon embarked on an ambitious mobile weapons programme as part of its aggressive militarisation in preparation for war with the Earth Federation.
The MS-06C Zaku II Early Production Type was the first mobile suit that Zeon mass produced. The Zeonic Company continued to improve the designs of the C-type Zaku II and in March UC 0079, it completed the MS-06F Zaku II.
The F-type Zaku II went on to become the model to be produced in the greatest quantity by Zeon and served as the mainstay of the Zeon army for years. Many variants were created using the F-type Zaku II as the design base, such as the MS-06J Zaku II Ground Combat Type designed for Earth-based usage.
The Midnight Fenrir team used several F-type Zaku II as scouts before Zeon’s mass drop invasion of North America. The F-type Zaku II survived the One Year War and continued to serve in Neo Zeon forces led by Haman Karn during the First Neo Zeon War in UC 0088.
The F-type Zaku II was eventually succeeded by the MS-09R Rick Dom as the mainstay of the Zeon army.
The MS-06C Zaku II Early Production Type was a successful design. Zeon scientists continued to improve it and eventually rolled out the MS-06F Zaku II. The C-type Zaku II was heavily armoured. The F-type Zaku II was developed to be lighter and more manoeuvrable than its predecessor. It proved to be a very successful design and it was used as the basis for a wide range of variants.
The F-type Zaku II was designed for space combat. Although the F-type Zaku II could be used on Earth, the MS-06J Zaku II Ground Combat Type variant was produced for improved performance under gravity.
The units used by the Neo Zeon forces were refitted with panoramic monitors and linear floating seats in the cockpit.
The standard weapons used by the F-type Zaku II were a ranged weapon and a Heat Hawk for melee combat.
120 mm machine gun
The ZMP-50D machine gun was developed specifically for the Zaku II line. It was drum-fed with 100 rounds per drum. It did not require power to be fired. However, that reduced its effectiveness against heavy armour.
280 mm Zaku bazooka
The H&L-SB21K/280 mm A-P(Anti-ship Piercing) bazooka was an artillery armament that fired hull-piercing explosive rounds. It was designed for use against enemy ships.
It could only take one front-loaded round each time. Due to the method of reloading and the low ammunitions capacity, the pilot had to be very tactful in using it. A magazine of four rounds was stored on the side hip armour.
The bazooka was clasped on the rear waist armour when not in use.
Heat Hawk Type 5
The Heat Hawk Type 5 was a melee weapon designed for the Zaku II. It was an axe with a super-heated metal blade that could melt armour as it cut. The thermal energy was generated by the Zaku II’s fusion reactor and relayed through it’s hands to the Heat Hawk.
It was mainly used in close combat or against enemy ships. The Heat Hawk was clasped on the rear armour when not in use.
The MIP-B6 cracker grenades were explosives that were designed to detonate after a set amount of time. The grenades splits into six smaller sections that scatter and explode over a wide area.
- J Q
- Cozun Graham
- Brenev Auggs
- Shin Matsunaga
- Johnny Ridden
- Gerald Sakai
- Lou Roya
- Charlotte Hepner
- Nikki Roberto
- Cucuruz Doan
- Robin Bradshaw
- Kurt Roswell
- MS-06F Zaku Minelayer
- MS-06F Zaku II Dozle Zabi Custom
- MS-06FS Zaku II Garma Zabi Custom
- MS-06FS Zaku II Shin Matsunaga Custom
- MS-06J Zaku II Ground Combat Type
- MS-06M Zaku Marine Type
- MS-06T Zaku Trainer Type
- MS-06S Zaku II Commander Type
Behind the scenes
Kunio Okawara was the original mechanical designer.
The original name for this mobile suit was simply Zaku1. In the non-official publication Gundam Century, which was later endorsed by Bandai as a semi-official guide book, it was named the Zaku II to distinguish it from the MS-05B Zaku I, which was referred to as Old Zaku in the original series. The name was later officially endorsed and subsequent publications by Sunrise or Bandai referred to it as Zaku II.
The original concept of the Zaku II was a disposable underling. Its name was derived from the sound of a huge man or many soldiers walking2. The Japanese term 雑魚 (zako) means “inferior fish”. Zako was also used to refer to expendable grunts.3.
When the first Gundam models were released in 1980, military modellers discovered that the 1/144 scale Zaku II models fitted right into World War I and World War II 1/144 model scenes that they started to build the Zaku II like armoured fighting vehicles4.
The popularity of the first batch of models prompted Kunio Okawara to design variants of the mobile suits for performing specific tasks or for certain combat conditions. These were released in the book Mobile Suit Variations.
The variants of the Zaku II gave it a more realistic military feel and helped the series lean towards the ‘real robot‘ genre that creator Yoshiyuki Tomino envisioned. This started a militaristic variation boom of the Universal Century series with many units having their own variants.
The Zaku II eventually became the unit with the most variants, with 22 designs in the first Mobile Suit Variation alone. It could be said that Zaku II was the origin of mobile suit variants5.
In the Mobile Suit Gundam novel, the Zaku II had several differences from the version shown in the TV series. The Zaku II’s overall height was 16 metres. It had a laser torch built into the tip of the index finger that allowed it to burn through materials. The standard colour of the Zaku II was light brown instead of green. The thrusters of the Zaku II’s backpack allowed it to jump up to 800 metres under Earth’s gravity.
Outside the Universal Century
The design of the Zaku II influenced the later models such as the RMS-106 Hizack in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, the AMX-011 Zaku III in *Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, the AMS-119 Geara Doga in Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack, the AMS-129 Geara Zulu in Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, and the OMS-06RF RF Zaku in Mobile Suit Gundam F91. The RMS-116H Hobby Hizack was a personal entertainment suit that appeared in *Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack was also a descendant of the Zaku.
Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny director Mitsuo Fukuda requested Kunio Okawara to add his Zaku design to the series6. In the Cosmic Era, ZAKU was an acronym for ZAFT Armed Keeper of Unity. The ZAKU Warrior was an elite model and the ZAKU Phantom was a commander unit.
In ∀ Gundam, the MS-06 Borjarnon was an excavated Zaku II.
MS-06F Zaku II was used as the design basis of the monster “EI-14” in the anime King of Braves GaoGaiGar, which was also created by Sunrise.
The two forklift trucks used in the Bandai Hobby Centre in Shizuoka are named “MS-06 Zaku” and “MS-06S Zaku Char’s Custom” and painted in green and red respectively with a mono-eye in the front panel of the truck7.
A modelling competition, Ore Zaku (“My Zaku”) is held by Hobby Japan every year. Contestants can only use Zaku models to enter. Celebrating the MG Zaku Ver. 2.0’s release, the June and July 2007 edition of Dengeki Hobby Magazine listed the pictures of most of the variants as a prelude of their Campaign ザク祭り(仮) (Zaku Carnival, name to be determined), where there are already 20 entries to their Special Invitation campaign within a month. They accepted entries for the common campaign in the July and August 2007 issue, and the results are released in the November 2007 issue.
Sharp released (through Softbank Japan) a 913SH G Type-Char mobile phone with an MS-06S Zaku II Commander Type (Char’s custom) head as the battery charging compartment. The red Zeon symbol in the front cover of the cell phone serves as the Zaku’s eye when placed inside12.
The Zaku II was the first mobile suit to have its parts featured in the 1/35 U.C. Hard Graph line of plastic models made by Bandai13.
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