One Year War
The One Year War (一年戦争 Ichinen Sensō ) is a fictional conflict from the Universal Century timeline of the anime Mobile Suit Gundam metaseries. The One Year War is very similar to World War II, the major difference being that The One Year War is in a science fiction setting and some major battles occurred in space. The war was originally depicted in the 1979 Mobile Suit Gundam TV series. Later series within this same timeline depict this fictional conflict even further.
It is the largest military conflict depicted in the Universal Century series, involving millions of combatants piloting thousands of mobile weapons and warships. In later Universal Century-era series, the conflict is known as The One Year War or simply The War.
From the perspective of the Principality, the war is known as a struggle for independence. Stories set after the Mobile Suit Gundam TV series depict Zeon remnants from the war who still want to carry on the fight.
Similarities to World War II
The One Year War closely resembles World War II and the conflict between the Axis Powers and the Allied nations. The war was started by a dictator in a country with few resources and an inferior economy. Like WWII Germany, the Zeon had the advantage of technologically advanced units at the beginning of the war. The ensuing blitzkrieg shattered Federation defenses and allowed the Zeon to conquer a large swath of territory, totaling two-thirds of the Earth's land mass (including most of Asia, Europe, and North America). Unfortunately (for Zeon), they did not possess enough troops to maintain control over all of this territory and thus were forced to defend key manufacturing and material centers. Because of this, the Federation was able to catch up to Zeon in terms of technology.
In the Universal Century (which was established in 2045AD), the Earth Federation forces the mass immigration of much of humanity to the space colonies, sparking tensions with the colonists, called Spacenoids. The Republic of Zeon at Side 3 begins pushing for a peaceful independence under the leadership of Zeon Zum Deikun. The Earth Federation considers Zeon a threat to the stability of the greater Earth Sphere and applies economic pressure to force them back into the fold. Deikun dies under mysterious circumstances in U.C. 0068; his deputy, Degwin Sodo Zabi, assumes leadership and begins a massive militarization program over the next decade, turning the Zeon National Guard into a full military force. It is suspected that the Zabi family engineered Deikun's death.
Alarmed at Zeon's militarization, the Earth Federation launches two armament programs in the late UC 0060s and most of the 0070s to bolster the strength of the Earth Federation Space Force (EFSF). Federation engineers convert the mining asteroid Luna II into a major military base and rolled out the Salamis and Magellan-class warships during this time period.
Having made final preparations for battle, the Principality of Zeon officially declares war on January 3, UC 0079. Zeon forces strike at several locations just three seconds after the broadcast. Having achieved apparent surprise, Zeon presses the advantage by capturing a colony and drops it on Earth. The resulting blast from the explosion vaporizes much of southeastern Australia. By the end of the so-called "One-Week Battle," several billion people are already dead.
The One Year War
The plot of the Mobile Suit Gundam series starts nine months into the war, while the prologue tell of the events of what happened earlier. Later publications tell of the full story, about how Zeon dropped a Space colony onto Earth and during the process, killed half of the population of the whole Earth sphere, including the space colonies, which was retconned to be the One Week Battle and the civilian casualties estimated to be much higher(4.8~5 billion during the war and 3 billion after the war) during the war due to the aftermath of the disastrous event, just like the atomic bombs and communication interference by the introduction of Minovsky particle. Some of that story was later adapted into MS Igloo and several manga. The war came to an end when the Earth Federation finally gathered enough strength for a full counter attack, in which the few decisive battles were told in Mobile Suit Gundam as well.
The prologue of Mobile Suit Gundam 0083 started from the end of the last battle in the One Year War, and explained the situation in the same world 3 years after the War, with rogue forces of the remnants of Zeon still lurking around and the Earth Federation still wanted to eliminate them.
Many loyalists to the Zabi family, dedicated soldiers, war criminals, and others who could not integrate with the new government voluntarily, leave the Zeon homeland and go on an exodus to the asteroid Axis, which is a previously used waystation for the Jupiter Energy Fleet, which is nominally ruled by Dozle Zabi's infant daughter Mineva Lao Zabi, under the regency of Haman Karn. Others, such as Cima Garahau's Zeon Marines, become pirates while other Zeon soldiers continue fighting inside the Earth Sphere and on the Earth's surface in various guerilla and insurgency actions. Many of these Zeon insurgents become attracted to the various uprisings and movements in the following years, such as the Delaz Fleet's Operation Stardust, Haman Karn's Axis Zeon, Char Aznable's Neo-Zeon and Mars Zeon. Such insurgencies continues until the UC 0120s, but eventually dies out and is replaced by conflicts from new-generation space warlords, such as the Crossbone Vanguard, Jupiter Empire and the Zanscare Empire.
A major treaty that was signed at a very early stage of the One Year War, after the One week Battle(first week of OYW), was called the Antarctic Treaty, the Antarctic Treaty states that:
- All uses of nuclear weapons are prohibited
- All uses of biological weapons are prohibited
- All uses of chemical weapons are prohibited
- All uses of massive inertia weapons are prohibited, meaning the dropping space colonies or large asteroids are prohibited
- All POWs must be treated humanely
- All neutral territories must be respected and combat operations in these regions are prohibited. The neutrality at Side 6 was recognized and respected
Events Leading to the Treaty
Prior to the treaty are a series of events happening before the original Gundam TV series Mobile Suit Gundam. First told in Gundam Century in a detailed manner, the first and second chapter, titled Zeon mobile forces and Background of Guerrilla warfare, mentions small conflicts of Guerrilla warfare started by Principality of Zeon of Side 3 to claim independency from the Earth Federation and on the third chapter, titled Operation British, is a detailed version of the opening narration of Mobile Suit Gundam, where Zeon declared an all-out war on the Earth Federation government on January 3, U.C.0079, starting the One Year War. During the battle, Zeon forces gassed entire colonies, killing billions of people, and both sides used nuclear warheads in the battle. With the element of surprise and their nuclear-powered Zaku mobile suits, the Zeon forces overwhelmed the Federation colonial garrisons. The Zeon forces then launched Operation British, attempting to drop a depopulated colony cylinder onto the Federation's Jaburo HQ in South America. However, the Earth Federation Space Force engaged the Zeon forces on the Earth's orbit, and the battle caused the colony cylinder to disintegrate. The fourth chapter, Disaster, follows the impact on the largest chunk hit Sydney, Australia and wiped out 16% of the continent, creating a 300-mile crater. The first week of war (known as the One Week Battle) resulted in the complete destruction of Side 1, 2 and 4, and catastrophic climate change on Earth, killing half of Earth Sphere's population.
Gundam Century then jumps to the events happening in the beginning of Mobile Suit Gundam, yet Gundam Officials specifies in detail that after the failure in missing the primary target, Zeon forces then attempted to repeat Operation British by hijacking a colony in Side 5 (also known as Loum). The Earth Federation's 1st Combine Fleet, under General Revil, set out to intercept the Zeon fleet. The two forces engaged at Side 5 on January 15, and due to Zeon's tactical advantage with their mobile suits, the Battle of Loum ended in the destruction of 80% of the Federation fleet and the capture of General Revil.
Although actually a pyrrhic victory, the outcome of the battle gave the Principality a huge propaganda advantage. With the Earth Federation severely demoralized, Gihren Zabi attempted to frighten the Federation into submission by threatening to drop the space fortress Luna II on Jaburo. The two side met in Antarctica to discuss the terms of Earth Federation's surrender. However, General Revil escaped with the help of Federal agents and sympathizers within Zeon, arriving at Luna II just in time to broadcast his famous "Zeon is exhausted" speech, citing what he had seen in Side 3 and exposing Gihren Zabi's bluff. Regaining the spirit to fight on, the Earth Federation rejected all terms of surrender, but agreed to discuss on issues regarding the rules of war. On January 31, U.C. 0079, both sides agreed on the treaty.
In the Gundam Encyclopedia:"Gundam Officials", the editor, Yuka Minakawa, quoted the original author of Mobile Suit Gundam, Yoshiyuki Tomino, in the Antarctic Treaty section in page 532, that the Federation needed the treaty to be signed because:
- They had no effective way of defending themselves from colony drops, especially against the tactical advantage of Zeon mobile suits at the time
- They knew Zeon's main weakness was the scarcity of mineral resources, and prolonging the war meant taking the lead in mass-production of ships and weapons, thus a long-term strategic advantage
- They needed time to catch up with their own mobile suit development.
The same section also states the Principality of Zeon agreed to the treaty in light of the following factors:
- The continual use of weapons of mass-destruction were also dangerous to Zeon, as the Federation Forces could retaliate back with NBC strikes. The EFSF had enough nuclear warheads stored in Luna II to completely annihilate Side 3 (a few thousand according to Gundam Officials).
- The banning of weapons of mass destruction meant that conventional/mobile warfare would be the norm. With their mobile suits, Zeon would have the tactical advantage — they already outpaced the Earth Federation in MS development, having successfully deployed their Zakus in real combat (although the Federation engineers proposed their own mobile suit research project in U.C.0078, the Project V didn't formally start until after the Battle of Loum, and the mass deployment of Federation mobile suits didn't appear until November, U.C.0079)
- The treaty allowed Zeon to bring the battlefront down to the surface of Earth. Surface access was considered paramount because in a prolonged war scenario their raw material resources were insufficient (Zeon's national strength was only 1/30 compared to the Federation), and they soon after started various mining operations on Earth (the biggest being the M'Quve mining operations near Odessa).
Violations of the treaty
Within the multiple storylines, the Antarctic Treaty did not remain in effect after the end of the war (in U.C.0080) but was effectively broken many times:
- U.C. 0079: Operation Odessa: Zeon CO M'Quve, after realizing the Eastern and Western European theaters were lost, launched a nuclear missile at the advancing Federation forces as he retreated. The missile was successfully intercepted by Amuro Ray in the RX-78-2 Gundam. (Mobile Suit Gundam TV series storyline)
- U.C. 0079: In the waning days of the war, Zeon covert ops forces under the command of Zeon commander Killing plan a nuclear strike against the Side 6 colony Libot, where the RX-78NT1 Gundam 'Alex' is under development. Patrolling Federation vessels intercept Killing's forces before the strike can be executed, saving the colony inhabitants. (Mobile Suit Gundam 0080:War in the Pocket)
Events mistaken as violations of the treaty.
All events below are commonly thought of as violations but as the treaty was no longer in effect after the OYW ended they did not violate the treaty, at least to the Earth Federation side. Although to the Zeon side, the Zeon independent war never ended, and thus the 0083 development of GP02A was viewed as a violation of the treaty and thus Delaz fleet used this as a reason to use the atomic weapon and drop the colony. They may have violated the Granada peace accords but as that is different from the Antarctic treaty they should not be counted as violations of the Antarctic treaty. Gundam official states this "When the Principality is dissolved at the end of the One Year War, the Antarctic Treaty becomes officially defunct. However, most of its provisions are enshrined as international law with the signing of the Granada peace accords.".
- U.C. 0083: the Federation secretly contracted Anaheim Electronics to develop the RX-78GP02A Physalis Gundam unit; the unit was designed to attack with the Mk.82 tactical nuclear warheads, and was capable of sustaining the shock resulting from such explosions with its massive shield; for this reason all official records of it were subsequently deleted. (Mobile Suit Gundam 0083:Stardust Memories)
- U.C. 0083: Operation Stardust: after successfully stealing the GP02A from Federation's Torrington base in Australia, the Delaz Fleet, a remnant group of Gihren Zabi loyalists who refuse to accept defeat in One Year War, fired a nuclear warhead on the Federation Naval Review, destroying/disabling two thirds of the ships taking part. (Mobile Suit Gundam 0083:Stardust Memories)
- U.C. 0083: Operation Stardust: the Delaz Fleet dropped a colony on the North American continent to drastically reduce Earth's food production. (Mobile Suit Gundam 0083:Stardust Memories)
- U.C. 0085: the 30 Bunch Incident: the Titans task force used G3 nerve gas on Side 1's 30th colony, which were actively protesting against Federation's policies, killing all 3 million of its inhabitants. This inspired the first organized resistance to the Titans.
- U.C. 0087: Gryps Conflict: the Titans gassed Side 2's 21st Block colony with G3 as a show of force. (Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam)
- U.C. 0088: Haman Karn's Neo-Zeon dropped a colony on the city of Dublin, as a show of force and intimidation. (Mobile Suit ZZ Gundam)
- U.C. 0093: Char Aznable's Second Neo-Zeon dropped the space fortress Fifth Luna on the city of Lhasa (Earth Federation's headquarter at the time), as part of a series of attempts to initiate a nuclear winter on planet Earth. (Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counter Attack)
- U.C. 0093: Char Aznable attempted to drop the asteroid Axis on Earth, to complete his plan of rendering Earth uninhabitable and forcing the space migration of the whole human race. (Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counter Attack)
- U.C. 0093: the Earth Federation's Londo Bell task force used nuclear missiles during the space battle to stop the Axis drop on Earth, but failed to destroy the asteroid. The asteroid was later pushed away by a resonating force field generated by Amuro Ray's psychoframe-equipped ν Gundam. (Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counter Attack)
- U.C. 0099: the Moon Crisis: a group of Zeon remnants plan to terrorize the Earth Sphere by sabotaging and dropping a large portion of the Moon onto Earth. The plan is foiled by Earth Federal Forces. (Mobile Suit Gundam 0099: Moon Crisis)
- U.C. 0100: with the reabsorption of the Republic of Zeon into the Earth Federation, the Antarctic Treaty becomes technically defunct. (Mobile Suit Gundam 0099: Moon Crisis)
The Antarctic Treaty is defunct at the end of the One Year War. With the signing of the Granada Accords, it is assumed that based on the numerous colony drops, colony exterminations, and nuclear warhead uses that the Granada Treaty lifts the ban on nuclear weaponry only, but still bans biological and chemical weapons.
- MS Strategy Analysis, MS戦略分析, Hajime Ichigaya, ISBN 978-4-575-29993-9
- Great Mechanics 6, One Year War's Space battle, Futaba Publications
- Gundam and World War II, ガンダムと第二次世界大戦～かくしてジオン軍、ドイツ軍戦い、敗れた～, 鈴木ドイツ, ISBN 4-331-50999-0
- Gundam Century
- Gundam Officials, One Year War entry.
- Gekkan Out Bessatsu "Sora Kakeru Senshi-tachi Gundam Century". Minori Shobō. September 22, 1981. ISBN 4-87777-028-3. (ja)
- "Universal Century :: Glossary :: Miscellaneous Terms :: One Week Battle". Gundam Official. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved November 4, 2007.
- Gundam Officials, P.532 Antarctic Treaty, Kidō Senshi Gundam Kōshiki Hyakka Jiten "Gundam Officials". Kōdansha. March 21, 2001. ISBN 4-06-330110-9. (ja)
- Gundam official http://www.gundamofficial.com/worlds/uc/background/glossary_misc.html#antarctictreaty