The third mobile suit developed under the Earth Federation's top-secret "Project V," the RX-78 Gundam series saw final assembly and rollout at the Side 7 colony under the supervision of engineer Lieutenant Tem Ray. Three prototypes were constructed, although only one unit, the RX-78-2, survived a Zeon attack on Side 7 when Project V was discovered by Zeon Lieutenant Commander Char Aznable. The RX-78-2, having been commandeered by Ray's young son Amuro, fended off the attack and was transferred to the assault carrier White Base. Amuro Ray would continue to serve as the Gundam's pilot for the remainder of the One Year War, being White Base's mobile front line of defense.
The Gundam was designed as a fast, close-combat mobile suit and was the first to feature several new technologies, including the energy cap-based beam rifle (making the Gundam the first mobile suit to pack the firepower of a battleship) and beam saber. Although designed with "high performance" in mind, the Gundam was simply outmatched by its own pilot: Amuro's emerging Newtype abilities would increasingly allow him to push the Gundam beyond its design limits. This had the often-annoying result of the Gundam's motors and joints getting burned-out or overloaded simply because it couldn't keep up with Amuro's reflexes. A later field upgrade which involved coating the joints with an electromagnetic solution, thus reducing the motors' and joints' friction, increased the Gundam's performance to a point where it could keep up with Amuro's reaction time. Another factor that contributed to the Gundam's success was its "learning computer" system, which allowed the mobile suit to "learn" from - and adapt to - the pilot's input. The data from the learning computer system would later be incorporated into the Federation's first mass-production model mobile suit, the RGM-79 GM.
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