by Pieter Thomassen, Peter Walker and Tim Wing, with Robert Morgenstern
The MBR-04 Tomahawk was the most iconic non-transformable robot of the 1st Robotech War, and possibly the most well recognized robot in history. It was employed by the UN Spacy as its primary main battle robot and saw action on both the SDF-1 and in the Malcontent Uprisings following the first war. It later saw action with the United Earth Defense Forces and the Reconnaissance Expeditionary Force. Over gunned to a fault, this mecha had no less than 12 gun tubes protruding from its front. Though the large robot, large armament style of Destroid later fell out of fashion, the Tomahawk was the most effective combat robot of its generation.
- Type: One Man, All-Weather Main Battle Robot
- In service: 2006-2020 (UN Spacy, UEDF)
- Primary users: UN Spacy, US Army
- Manufacturer: Vickers plc, Chrysler Defense, Vickers-Chrysler Robotech Systems Inc.
- Weight: 31 metric tons (combat)
- Height: 12.7 meters
- Main armament: 2 x Mauser PBG-11 liquid-cooled electron beam cannons
- Speed: 88 kph
- Unit Price: $28 Million (In 2070 adjusted International Credits)
While the SDF-1 was being rebuilt, the militaries of the Earth set about to incorporate Robotechnology into their armies. It soon became clear that the well-established conventional tank/APC duet was no longer a completely satisfying military option. Thus in September of 2001 “Project Excalibur”, the first attempt at developing a Robotechnology-based weapons system, was begun. Because of the new technologies used, design and manufacture of each individual mecha unit was extremely expensive. Thus, when the specifications were drawn up for several of the new front-line mecha, attempts were made to retain a high degree of interoperability. In this vein, two classes of Destroids which had to answer near identical demands on strength and mobility were specified to use a common leg section. Only the sections of these Destroids above the waist would. Later, this leg section was used on board the SDF-1 as the basis for the SDR-04 Space Defense Robot; this design was also produced on Earth after the Zentraedi Holocaust.
The leg assembly designed and built by Vickers and Chrysler Defense, became the basis for the first major Destroid series during the First Robotech War, the R-04 series. Numerous versions of the R-04 assembly saw combat service, the most important ones of these were the MBR-04 Mk VI, a main battle robot, the ADR-04 Mk X air defense variant and the SDR-04 Mk XII mobile missile launcher. Other torsos, including a lighter main battle torso (the Mk VII) and a combat engineering torso (Mk VIII) were never ordered. A lighter and faster Destroid torso capable of “wearing” the Tomahawk’s weapons jacket, the MBR-08 Mk III Masamune, saw only limited service in the UN Spacy and United States Marines.
The Tomahawk versions of the R-04 series were heavily armed and armored weapon systems. Because of the limited understanding the UN Spacy had of the Tirolian technologies at that stage, the Tomahawk had to be equipped with a large arsenal of tried and powerful conventional weapons to back up the new, maintenance intensive, and somewhat mercurial, Robotech weapons. The latter were limited to two large particle beam cannons, derivatives of the Makral Tszikatro 05 mounted on top of the Zentraedi Glaug, and two light lasers in the two gun clusters. The armament was then augmented with a missile battery in the shoulders, with a light SAM missile battery in an external launcher, and further with two 25mm auto cannon, two 180mm Petard mortars, two flame-throwers and two 12.7mm machine guns.
The first production model was the MBR-04 Mk IV Warhawk. Major differences included the weapons fit and sensor suite. The Mk IV mounted two RRG PBG-X-11 particle beam guns, an early version of the later Mauser built PBG-11s. These guns are distinguishable by the additional armor and large secondary capacitors at the back of the elbow. In the slightly larger head, the Mk IV had a pair of FN Herstal M240 machine guns, firing the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge. Though originally meant as an antipersonnel weapon, these were upgraded to .50 Caliber machine guns in the Mk VI. The IR spotlight was mounted on the right shoulder instead of the left, and in place of the Bofors anti-aircraft missile launcher was a massive air intake for the cooling system. This system forced cool air over the heat sinks for the PBG-X-11’s primary capacitors. Later improvements in semi-conductor material science made this unnecessary in the Mk VI. By 2010, all Mk IVs had been upgraded to Mk VI standard.
In addition to the Mk IV, there was another main battle version, the MBR-04 Mk V, which replaced the detachable weapons pack with the set used on the US Marines’ MBR-08 Mk II Masamune. As this configuration was predicted to be rather similar to the Spartan in combat performance, very few of the Mk Vs were ever produced, and these were later refitted into the Mk VI Tomahawk standard.
By early 2006 the Mk VI, the ultimate version of the MBR-04 line, had begun to be produced en masse and started to replace its earlier brethren, serving with the UN Spacy, (as well as the US Army, British Army, Soviet Army and others) and with the UEDF’s Tactical Corps in its first decade of existence. The Mk VI’s weapon load would give the Tomahawk an excellent capacity either to fight the aliens, or to keep order in the world. Because of the numerous barrels (12 in total) projecting from the front, the Tomahawk was a feared sight among the populace. As a premier combat mecha, the Tomahawk saw much action in the various battles with the Zentraedi. Typically, it would be the first front-line mecha to engage, using its missiles to suppress air attacks and Missile Pods, then opening up on approaching Pods with its heavy particle beams. As the range closed the TZ-III gun clusters would be brought into play. Generally, this would break up any but the most determined of attacks.
The MBR-04 Mk XIV Tomahawk was developed and put into production in early 2016 to address some of the short comings of the Mk VI’s design. The most significant improvement was the Mauser PBG-11V (V for Verbessert, improved in German). This variation of the PBG-11 brought back the secondary capacitors, allowing both particle beam cannons to fire simultaneously at a rate of 20 blasts per minute, doubling the Tomahawks ability to put fires on its targets. The Mk XIV also introduced a second air-mode search and track radar, increased armor in a few key areas, and a completely redesigned cockpit. Last, but not least, one of the Astra TZ-III gun clusters was removed. This tripled the total amount of ammunition carried. By the time the Tomahawk was retired by the UEDF in 2024, roughly two thirds of all Tomahawks had been remanufactured to this standard.
The Tomahawk’s primary user was the United Earth Government. The UN Spacy used the Tomahawk from 2006 to 2018. In late 2018 the UN Spacy, as well as all other United Earth Government members states militaries, were reorganized under the Treaty of the Southern Cross. From that point on, all Tomahawks that were used by the UN Spacy were split up between the United Earth Defense Force (UEDF) Tactical Corps and the Reconnaissance Expeditionary Force (REF) (later renamed the United Earth Expeditionary Force (UEEF)). The UEDF phased the Tomahawk out by 2024. The REF used the Tomahawk all the way till 2026. In the REF, the Tomahawk was used only as a ship board anti-mecha defense unit on the larger capital ships, much in the same way they were used on the SDF-1 during the 1st Robotech War. None were ever deployed in ground combat.
Several United Nations, and later United Earth Government, member state militaries used the Tomahawk as well. Of these, the United States purchased the most. They were used by the US Army and the US Marine Corps until the disbandment of both organizations in 2018. In addition to the US, the British Army and Royal Marines, the French Army, the Japanese Self Defense Force, and the German Bundeswehr used the Tomahawk until these militaries were disbanded in 2018. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, also a UN member state, purchased 58 Tomahawks for the Royal Saudi Land Force in 2011. However, these were all destroyed in the Zentraedi bombardment of Earth and were not replaced afterwards. Post Bombardment, the Brazilian National Army also purchased the Tomahawk and used them all the way up to its dissolution in 2018.
The Soviet Union, at the time a UN member state in good standing, purchased a large number of Tomahawks as well. This created some controversy due to western defense contractors not wanting to give their most advance weapon systems to a country that had a long track record of copying foreign technology and producing it themselves. This was a common theme throughout the early 2000’s, before the beginning of the 1st Robotech War. The Soviet Union argued, rightfully so, that as a full member of the UN and a major monetary contributor to the massive defense buildup, it was not right to deny them the same mecha that the former NATO powers were being allowed to purchase. In the end, the Soviets won out and added the Tomahawk (as well as the VF-1 Valkyrie Veritech Fighter, and several other Destroid types) to their army.
After the 1st Robotech War and the Soviet Union’s withdrawal from the United Earth Government, the Soviet Army continued to operate the MBR-04 Tomahawk until 2026. The Tomahawk even saw action against UEDF CBH-4 Salamanders during the Palestine Conflict. The Soviet Union eventually refit most of their Tomahawks with a combination of Russian and Zentraedi weapons systems, and completely revamped the mecha’s fire control system. The most significant change was to Makral Martszur-4 (also known under the Terran designation of PB-10) particle beam cannons from the Zentraedi Regult Battle Pod.
The armor on the Tomahawk (excepting the frontal torso) was composed of a thin layers of standard Chobham laminar developed in the late 20th century and improved with the materials science advances made during the Robotech era, over a space metal main structure. This armor was mainly designed to defeat projectiles and other kinetic weapons. The armor stopped all small arms, heavy infantry weapons fire, and light mecha-mounted weaponry, and provided fair resistance to medium mecha-mounted weaponry, such as the Valkyrie’s 55mm APFSDS round, and poor resistance to heavy mecha-mounted weaponry, such as the VHT’s 105mm smoothbore shells.
The torso armor of the Tomahawk was composed of thicker plates of standard Chobham laminar reinforced by a depleted Uranium mesh on the outer plate. Denser than the standard Chobham, this armor was designed to defeat projectiles striking the forward surfaces of main battle vehicles, and was also effective against beam weapons. The armor on the torso stopped all small arms, heavy infantry weapons fire, and light mecha-mounted weaponry, and provides excellent resistance to medium mecha-mounted weaponry, such as the Valkyrie’s 55mm APFSDS round, and fair resistance to heavy mecha-mounted weaponry, such as the VHT’s 105mm smoothbore shells.
The Tomahawk provided full protection from nuclear, biological, and chemical hazards, using a sealed cockpit environment activated by radiation and hazardous chemical sensors, or manually when biological warfare conditions were anticipated. The internal consumables supplies could provide atmosphere for three days maximum.
To say that the MBR-04 series is over gunned is an understatement of epic proportions. The most prolific of the series, the Mk VI, had 12 gun barrels of different types protruding from its frontal arc and 30 missiles! To put this in perspective, a typical twentieth century tank had four gun barrels (Main gun and up to three small arms caliber guns). By the time of the 2nd Robotech War, the CBH-4 Salamander had only two gun barrels (two head mounted lasers) plus a hand help gun pod! This massive amount of armament certainly looked impressive, and it certainly gave the operator allot of options when engaging enemy forces, it was ultimately the biggest drawback. The large number of weapons limited the amount of ammo carried by the Tomahawk, and the power demands of the projected energy weapons limited the number which could be fired at one time. This is to say nothing of the effect they had on the armor/mobility/firepower triangle. The Tomahawk could best be compared to a World War II tank destroyer: a big gun, and not much of anything else.
The Tomahawk’s main weapon system was a pair of Mauser PBG-11 liquid-cooled electron beam cannons. Each fired 30 MJ of particle energy at 10 blasts per minute with great accuracy and to long ranges, atmospheric conditions permitting. Each arm consists of one cannon. The maximum effective range of this weapon was 32 km, in optimum atmospheric conditions. Though effective, both guns could not be fired at the same time without significantly draining the main capacitors. Once the capacitors were fully discharged, they would take ten seconds to recover. When firing in alternation, the capacitor could not keep up with the max rate of fire power demands either. This limited the total rate of fire with both guns to just 10 blasts per minute. With a real world improvement of only 5 blasts per minute, it was hard to justify the additional 1.3 tons of weight the second PBG-11 added.
Two Bofors MDS-L-12 missile launchers were mounted on the chest. These launcher carried 24 total internal, short range (8.2km) combined infra-red imager and passive laser homing 120mm Rapier III anti-tank guided missiles. The missile carried a HEAT warhead. On the right shoulder was one Oerlikon MDS-M-6 missile launcher. This missile launcher is fitted for 6 short range Mach 3.0 IR-guided Stinger II anti-aircraft missiles.
On either side of the head were a pair of Remington Arms Company M-89 .50 Caliber BMG machine guns in the head, firing standard and tracer 12.7×99mm NATO rounds at 600 rounds/minute. The armor piercing capabilities were respectable against light armored vehicles. The ammunition supply was 400 rounds per gun. Typical ammunition mix was a combination of Saboted Light Armor Piercing (SLAP) and High-Explosive Armor-Piercing-Incendiary (HEIAP). Effective range was a respectable 2,000 meters.
One Oerlikon KCN 25mm autocannon, which could fire APHE (Armor Piercing High Explosive) and HEI-T (High Explosive Incendiary – Tracer) rounds. The maximum rate of fire is 850 rpm. The ammunition tray in each cluster held 100 rounds of Light Explosive Armor Piercing (LEAP) ammunition. Effective range was 3,200 meters.
One Vickers 180mm direct-fire mortar, which launched shells of 75 kg up to an effective range of 500 meters. The cannons could fire one shell every 12 seconds, and each grenade thrower has a supply of 15 rounds.
One RRG Mk3 14.5mm aperture laser. This weapon fired a 3 MJ laser pulse at 60 blast per minute to an effective range of 1,300 meters.
FN Herstal DFT flame-thrower. The effective range of this weapon is 200 meters, and the cluster has fuel supplies for this thrower for one minute.
The Mk VI Tomahawk had an impressive fire control and sensor suite. Starting with its radar, the all Tomahawks mounted a Hughes APG-198 short range X band pulse Doppler phased array, multi-mode radar with battlefield surveillance, short distance air search and fire control modes out a range of 45 km. This radar was mounted in the chest area, and was fairly vulnerable to enemy small arms fire. Later, on the Mk XIV model, additional radar was mounted in the head in place of the deployable periscope to address the poor performance of the APG-198 in air mode. This poor performance was more due to the location of the radar in the mecha’s chest, which limited its field of view to only 45 degrees of elevation. Mounted on top of the head, the Hughes APG/AST-501 air search and track radar had a field of view from 0 to 110 degrees of elevation.
For optical tracking, the Tomahawk had a Thomson DOS-2000 multi-band digital camera system, for medium range spherical UV, imaging infra-red and optical band detection and tracking and a Zeiss TS-2 long range telescopic array for visible/IR spectrum. The laser range finder was a Thomson LT-3 multi-frequency LRF and designator.
An interesting feature of the Mk VI was the Edmund Optics deployable periscope. This was meant to be used when the Tomahawk was in defilade, inside a fighting position. From behind the berm, it could raise the periscope to a max height of 5 meters. This would allow it to get a picture of the battle field without exposing itself to enemy fire. In practice, it was rarely used: engineer vehicles needed a long time to dig the massive 13 meter deep, 50 meter long, ramped battle positions required by a mecha of this size. Instead, it became standard operating procedure (SOP) for Tomahawks to fight from a waist deep battle position.
Another interesting feature was the Tomahawks truly gigantic Edmund Optics IR spotlight, which was mounted on the left shoulder. At maximum output, it provided 35 million candela of IR illumination. This spotlight was designed not for combat illumination, but for use when maneuvering in areas with poor ambient lighting such as the dark side of Earth’s moon.
The Tomahawk’s Tactical Electronic Warfare System (TEWS) included an Elettronica radar warning receiver, an OlDelft infra-red warning receiver, and a Westinghouse ALQ-198(V) active radar jammer. The Tomahawk also had four Ford CLL-3 missile box launchers mounted two to each leg. Each box launcher could hold and launch four short range, chaff or smoke rocket-propelled grenades. One box launcher could lay a full-spectrum smokescreen at a distance of up to 200 meters. The fuses were adjustable in 25 meter increments. For combat in space, the missiles were of the chaff variety, and could be set to disperse at ranges out to three kilometers. The Mk VI also had a conventional close-range chaff and flare dispenser and oil based smoke ejectors on the hips.
The MBR-04’s main powerplant was the Krauss-Maffei GmbH MT808 miniaturized protoculture-cell energizer. This powerplant was a joint venture between Krauss-Maffei as the primary contractor and Siemens as the technical subcontractor, to produce a license built version of the RRG RRL-1 miniaturized protoculture-cell energizer. Naturally, the engineers at Krauss-Maffei being very German, they were unable to make an exact copy of the RRL-1 but rather turned out a slightly heavier and vastly over-engineered version. The MT808 soon developed a reputation for increased reliability, making it an excellent fit for the Destroid series of robots. Like the RRL-1, the MT808 was able to deliver 650 MW of peak electrical output. The MBR-04’s MT808 was fueled by 12 standard canisters of protoculture.
The MBR-04’s auxiliary power unit was the General Electric EM9G diesel generator, which could provide 450 kW for twelve hours. This electrical output was not enough to power the mecha’s locomotive systems or projected energy weapons, but it did provide sufficient power for life support, fire-control, non-energy weapons and torso and arm movement.
All MBR-04 Destroids were designed from the outset to operate in the vacuum of space, from the decks of UN Spacy carriers. As such, from the factory they mounted thrusters for space maneuvering. These thrusters were later removed from ground based MBR-04’s in service with UN Spacy and US Army (and later with the UEDF).
The primary thrusters were two Rocketdyne AST-04 dual thruster banks on the back, which gave the MBR-04 a total thrust 14 kN with a fuel supply sufficient for a total delta-v of approximately 0.2 kps. Attitude control was provided for by 14 Nakajima NBS-1 high-thrust vernier thrusters, located on the heels (4), calves (2), forward waist (2), chest (2) and on the shoulders (4).
Camouflage and markings
All Tomahawks left the Lima Army Tank Plant (in Lima Ohio, USA) painted in overall Desert Sand. This was the common color scheme used on all Tomahawks in service with the UN Spacy throughout the 1st Robotech War. Later, Un Spacy (as well as UEDF and REF) Tomahawks serving onboard capital ships and surface naval ships were repainted dark gray, to better blend in with the surface of the vessels they were fighting from.
US Army and Marine Corps Tomahawks were originally repainted in the US Mobility Equipment Research & Design Command (MERDC) four color camouflage. Later, after the 1st Robotech War, US Tomahawks were repainted again, in either Field Drab (for the North American area of operations) or Medium Green (for the South America area of operations).
Tomahawks leaving the Royal Ordnance Factory Leeds (ROF Leeds) in the UK came painted in the British Army’s standard Dark Green and Black scheme. Most of these Tomahawks went to the European users of the type, as well as the Soviet Union, where they were eventually repainted in each country’s camouflage of choice.
Variants and upgrades
MBR-04 Mk II Destroid: Prototype for the Mk IV Destroid; four produced, 2004.
MBR-04 Mk IV: Served with the UN Spacy from late 2005 until refitted into the Mark VI from 2009 onwards.
MBR-04 Mk V Warhawk: Served with the UN Spacy from April 2006 until replaced by the MBR-07 Spartan beginning in March 2008. This model used the weapons fit from the MBR-08 Masamune, which included hands instead of the PBG-11 particle beam guns and different missile launchers. All Mark V models were later refitted to the Mark VI Tomahawk standard by 2009.
MBR-04 Mk VI Tomahawk: Served with the UN Spacy from early 2006 until 2018, and with the UEDF’s Tactical Corps from 2019 until 2020.
MBR-04 Mk VII: Prototype c. 2009, never saw service.
MBR-04 Mk XV: Upgrade of the Mark VI Tomahawk, with more efficient main guns and improved radar. Served with the UN Spacy from early 2016 until 2018, and with the UEDF’s Tactical Corps from 2019 until 2024. Served in limited numbers with the REF/UEEF from 2018 until 2026.
GBR-1 Topor (English: Axe; UEDF Reporting name: Rake): Soviet Army (EBSIS) refit of their MBR-04 Mk VIs with a combination of Russian and Zentraedi weapon systems, as well as improvements to the mecha’s armor and fire control system. Served with the Soviet Army until 2026.
- United Nations / United Earth Government: UN Spacy 2006 to 2018, United Earth Defense Force 2019 to 2024, Reconnaissance Expeditionary Force/United Earth Expeditionary Force 2019 to 2026
- United States: US Army 2007 to 2017, US Marine Corps 2009 to 2017
- Soviet Union: Soviet Army 2009 to 2026
- United Kingdom: British Army 2007 to 2017, Royal Marines 2007 to 2017
- Japan: Japanese Self Defense Force 2008 to 2017
- France: Armée de Terre 2010 to 2017
- Saudi Arabia: Royal Saudi Land Force 2011
- Germany: Bundeswehr 2008 to 2017
- Brazil: Brazilian National Army 2013 to 2018
- Total Height: 12.7 meters
- Height: 11.3 meters (ground to head unit)
- Total Depth: 5.1 meters
- Total Breadth: 7.9 meters
- Weight: 28 metric tons (dry), 31 metric tons (fully loaded).
- Main powerplant: Krauss-Maffei MT808/RRL-1 miniaturized protoculture-cell energizer
- Auxiliary power unit: General Electric EM9G diesel generator
- Maximum speed: 88 kph.
- Protoculture endurance: an average of 250 hours operational use.
- 2 x Mauser PBG-11 liquid-cooled electrically-charged heavy particle beam guns
- 2 x Bofors MDS-L-12 missile launchers
- 1 x Oerlikon MDS-M-6 missile launcher
- 2 x Remington M-89 12.7mm (.50 Caliber) air-cooled machine guns
- 2 x Astra TZ-III gun clusters, each with:
- 1 x Oerlikon KCN 25mm autocannon
- 1 x Vickers 180mm direct-fire mortar
- 1 x RRG Mk3 laser
- 1 x FN DFT flame-thrower
- Hughes APG-198 pulse Doppler phased array radar
- Thomson DOS-2000 multi-band digital camera system
- Thomson LT-3 multi-frequency laser ranger and designator
- Zeiss TS-2 long range telescopic array for visible/IR spectrum
- Edmund Optics deployable periscope
- Edmund Optics IR/visible light
- Elettronica radar warning receiver
- OlDelft infra-red warning receiver
- Westinghouse ALQ-198(V) active radar jammer
- Ford CLL-3 smoke launchers
- Close-range chaff dispenser
- Smoke ejectors
Robotech (R) is the property of Harmony Gold. The Super Dimension Fortress Macross (R) is the properties of Big West Advertising and Studio Nue. This document is in no way intended to infringe upon their rights.
Original artwork by: Shoji Kawamori, Miyatake Kazutaka, Haruhiko Mikimoto and Hidetaka Tenjin, Tim Wing and others.
Acknowledgement is extended to the work of Egan Loo and the Macross Compendium. Egan Loo is given all credit for all quotes and paraphrasing of the Macross Compendium that has been utilized in this publication.
Acknowledgement is extended to Peter Walker, Pieter Thomassen and Robert Morgenstern of the unofficial Robotech Reference Guide. Peter Walker, Pieter Thomassen and Robert Morgenstern are given credit for all quotes and paraphrasing of the unofficial Robotech Reference Guide that has been utilized in this publication.
Images from – Macross Perfect Memory (1983), Kazutaka Miyatake Design Works Macross & Orguss (2005), Robotech Macross Saga Sourcebook (October 2008), The Robotech RPG Book One: Macross (November 1986) and The Robotech RPG Book Seven: New World Order (April 1995).
Content by Tim Wing
Copyright © 2016 Tim Wing