Mamerto Adan is an engineer by profession, but a writer by night. He loves toys and knives, and has a martial arts background.
This hub is inspired by a question sent by a visitor months ago, when I did an article about slender Gundams (the title is “Are Slim Gundams a Good Thing,” if you want to visit it). I cannot find his name, but I like to thank the dude for giving me an idea about this hub. He asked how I feel about the Iron Blooded Orphans Gundams’ waist. Those suits are known for their skeletal mid-sections. Frankly it is okay, and I find it aesthetically nice. They never really made the unit looked flimsy as they have good shoulder sizes.
But it made me think if that skeletal waist could work in real life. Okay, I know that giant robots won’t work in real life. Making one walk is nearly impossible. But let’s assume that we just managed to build a giant robot, and we are considering applying the skeletonized waist. I mostly see those designs on Hollywood cyborgs. Arny’s T-800 Terminator robotic endoskeleton is just spine and cylinders. On the way I see it, it could work on human size robots. There is not much weight to support. But for a massive mecha weighing several tons or more, I’m not sure if the skeletonized waist is enough. As an engineer, structural strength is everything to make something stand. But who knows, if that flimsy Barbatos waist is not that flimsy at all.
Core Strength Matter
When lifting, fighting, or even moving, core strength matters. In human level, most professional trainers will instruct noobs in the gym to do less isolation curls on your arm, unlike what wannabes are showing in social media. The focus is on large muscles, and it is not a surprise if they pushed you to build stronger cores. The core includes the abdominal muscles, the back, glutes (the butt) and the pelvis.
Imagine this. A mobile suit will lift a lot of weights. You can see how they snatch a beam rifle with one arm, though when reduced to human scale it will be the size of an M4 Carbine. And it will take more structural strength to absorb all those recoils.
And that’s just the standard beam rifle.
Mobile suit weapons could become bigger. Beam rifles are just the start. How about buster rifles, GN Swords, maces and shields? Structurally, a mobiles suit should be strong enough to drag all those weights. After building kits. I could tell that suits already have good sized arms. The shoulders look steady, but they also need strong waist module both to support the weight, and to exert extra force when swinging melee weapons. And the waist module should be tough enough to resist failure when melee weapons clash. In short, the waist module should never break when your suit pommels something hard.
At some point, I have reservations on Grampa Gundam’s waist module. The whole core unit is not a solid structure, with the transformable fighter inside (but this is anime so who cares).
The Distinct IBO Waist
For the record, the IBO mobile units hold the distinction for having the smallest waist in the Gundam world. Again, aesthetically I see no problem with that. Unlike the traditional core designs, the IBO suits sport skeletal mid-sections. It is missing armor covering both in the front, sides and back unlike the heavily armored belly of the traditional mobile suits. What remains is a single robust spine for overall support, and two hydraulic cylinders. The cockpit sits above the bare and skeletonized mid-section. I’m not sure how the overall waist unit functions, but the whole core seems to be supported by the think spine, while movements are provided by the hydraulic cylinders. Probably the cylinders even provide shock absorption, but that’s just my assumption.
Potential Weakness and Shortcoming of the Exposed Waist
The most obvious weakness of the skeletonized waist is structural strength. Mobile suits are known for their massive upper bodies, and a bare waist could have problems supporting that weight. I mean we only have a spine and two hydraulic cylinders, in oppose to the solid midsection of other mobile suits. The skeletonized midsection might have problems holding such weight, and that’s if the suit is unarmed. We must consider that IBO suits are known for their heavy weapons. They never had light beam sabers to begin with. Those cruel maces, rifles and other supersized murder implements require a lot of strength to wield. And I’m not sure if the skeletonized waist is up to the task.
And remember, the later forms of Barbatos also sports giant arms.
With structural integrity pushed aside, the lack of armor also made the waist area vulnerable. It will make a fine target not just for enemy suits, but for infantry snipers. It will only take a single shot from small arms to damage those hydraulic cylinders, disabling the whole suit in the process.
And by the way, to anyone who owns an IBO kit like me. The thing seems to do ab crunches when on display.
How to Make It Work
In real life, the skeletonized waist might not be the best choice for large robots, considering that it had issues with protection and strength. If one still insists though, we could still use the IBO waist, though we must:
- Reduce the upper body weight. No more massive armors, shoulders or any excess baggage that could make the thin midsection collapse.
- Use lighter, but stronger materials. Since IBO is set in the future, we could assume that they are using specialized material that solves the weight and strength problems.
- Off with the heavy weapons. Unless one came up with the lighter, but stronger steel for weapons and armors, just forget that epic maces and bludgeons.
But I think it is also the problem of other suits from different timelines. But in the case of the IBO series, I think they have solved that problem.
The Ahab Reactor
The Ahab reactor is the IBO’s answer to GN Drive. It is a powerful fusion reactor, physically indestructible, and will continue to produce energy indefinitely. And after checking out the net for references, the Ahab Particles generated by the reactor are used for artificial gravity and inertial control. This might have helped the IBO suits carry extra weight despite of the skeletal waist.