U.C. 0079, January 10-17
With the initiative of the war still in the firm grasp of Zeon, Federal Forces decided to stake their pride on a massive fleet engagement. The place: Side 5 - Loum.
Side 6 Declaration of Independence
Following the One Week War, the Federation government came to the realization that this conflict would not be resolved by a mere show of force.
Meanwhile, Side 6, bolstered by their robust economy, declared independence early in the morning on January 11th and declared their intent not to participate in any hostile activity, transmitting this declaration to both the Federation and Zeon governments. Additionally, as Von Braun city was the first city built on the earth-facing side of the Moon, and indeed the first colony created as a base to construct the other colonies, it was a vital and respected location for both the Federation and Zeon governments. Thus, the city was never targeted for any attacks, resulting in the Municipal government adopting a neutral ‘wait-and-see’ attitude towards both sides.
This type of activity occurring in several locations after the outbreak of war allowed the Zeon military to reorganize their fleet. Deciding to repeat the failed Operation British in order to destroy Jaburo, Side 5 would be targeted in this next attack.
Though opposition to this decision was fairly heavy, Giren Zabi’s announcement that ‘We must crush the prestige of this rotten Federation Government, and Jaburo is the very symbol of this prestige.’ sealed this course of action. Operation British would be repeated.
Launch of the Combined Fleet
Early on January 13th, the 1st combined fleet under the direct command of Lt. General Dozle Zabi launched from the Space Fortress Solomon, itself still under construction at the time.
From his flagship, the Musai-class Falmel (A modified Musai-class cruiser with a non-standard bridge module), 5 separate fleets would be combined into a single combined fleet which would contain more than half of the Zeon military’s combat ready craft, 112 ships.
(As a digression, the Zeon military was pioneering the use of conglomerated asteroids as space fortresses at this time, with both Solomon and A Bao A Qu under construction at this time, with Solomon being 50% complete, and A Bao A Qu 70% complete.)
This massive commitment of Zeon forces was proof of how much effort the Zeon Military Headquarters was willing to put into the success of this operation.
At this time, the Federation forces had already found that the next target would be Side 5, also known as Loum. (Each Side had their own nicknames that they were often referred to, with Side 1 = Zam, 2 = Hatte, 3 = Munzo, 4 = Mua, 5 = Loum, 6 = Riah, and 7 = Noa.)
This time, the Federation had clearly seen that they could not afford to stand still and wait.
The Second Space Fleet commander, Lt. General Revil, had ordered all available ships to gather at Luna II, with a reserve commander, a well-known officer by the name of Tianem, standing by with reserve forces at Luna II.)
However, as the Zeon forces were expected to arrive the following day, the 15th, the Federal fleet launched from Luna II as quickly as possible, with some ships joining the fleet while it was already underway. The ships that had managed to assemble by 0900 hours on the 15th are as follows:
48 Magellan-class Battleships
142 Salamis-class Cruisers
118 Other combat craft.
When compared to the Zeon fleet, the Federation Fleet outnumbered them more than 3 to 1. Revil’s fleet had begun to close on Side 5 airspace by 2214 hours on the 15th, and had detected a force from Dozle’s fleet attaching Nuclear Pulse engines to the 11th Colony, Watfort, as well as Dozle’s main fleet to the rear of this force. (As Minovsky particles were interfering with radar, these ships were spotted visually.)
General Revil’s announcement of ‘I expect a good fight from you all!’ was the signal to commence the attack. With ships on both sides maneuvering and opening fire, with beam cannons thundering and causing the destruction they were wrought for, the battle was joined at a distance of 28000 meters. So the largest fleet action in the history of mankind, the Battle of Loum, began.
Date and Time
Jan 13 1920hrs
Jan 14 0900hrs
Jan 15 1120hrs
Jan 16 0100 hrs
Federation Government rapidly proceeds with damage assessments.
Side 6 declares neutrality
Federation Military convenes a top-level staff meeting
Zeon movements are closely analyzed and surveillance is increased
Zeon’s First Combined Fleet launches towards Side 5
Operation British is restarted
Federation detects Zeon fleet movement, and commences a plan to stop the Zeon forces from carrying out their operation.
Revil’s Fleet (3rd Fleet) forms the core of the Federation 1st combined fleet, and launches from Luna II.
The Zeon Fleet begins their attack on Side 5. An operation to attach Nuclear Pulse engines to the 11th colony is commenced.
The Federation and Zeon combined fleets close and engage. Both fleets are completely engaged at point-blank range.
Zeon forces abandon the operation to attach the nuclear pulse engines.
The Federation forces have lost more than 50% of their combat strength at this point.
Revil’s flagship, the Ananke, is sunk.
Revil is captured by the Black Tri-Stars.
The Federal Fleet begins withdrawing from combat
The Magellan-class Battleship Nereid is utterly destroyed.
The First Combined fleet halts combat operations, and retreats to Solomon and Side 3.
An Unprecedented Fleet Battle
After the Federation fleet commenced their attack, General Dozle immediately ordered his Mobile Suit forces to launch, and ordered his forces to continue with their efforts to attach the nuclear pulse engines, as once the Colony entered the trajectory to take it into the atmosphere, it would be much more difficult to stop the operation.
However, this had disastrous results, as the Zeon forces simply did not have enough ships to be able to protect the number of ships that were engaged in the work with the nuclear pulse engines. ‘Those Federation bastards are dancing around us, they must be commanded by Revil.’ At 2240 hours, Dozle’s impatient forces finally abandoned their work on the nuclear pulse engines and reformed into a single large fleet, and the battle was soon thrown into a state of chaos. In this state, however, the Mobile Suits suddenly were able to show their true worth in combat, with many pilots using nuclear bazookas and standard weapons to sink Federation ships, with many pilots distinguishing themselves at this time.
One of these pilots, who sunk five Federation ships, was the stalwart Lieutenant Char Aznable.
Due to the deeds of pilots like this, and many others, the Federation’s three-to-one advantage quickly evaporated. “Just as the old ocean battleships were themselves undone by aircraft...’ General Revil observed, referring to the events of the previous century’s 1945, as he observed history repeating itself on the Federation fleet.
Then, at around 0300 on the following day, the 16th, Revil’s Flagship was heavily damaged, and though the General was able to escape his ship, he was discovered and captured by Mobile Suits.
Notable Heroes of the Battlefield
At the time of the Battle of Loum a Lieutenant General, he was promoted to General upon his miraculous return. He possessed considerable ability in commanding Space, Ground, Sea, and Air forces, which was also a great boon to the Federation’s propaganda. Nevertheless, he emerged as a hero from some of the most difficult battles in the war. General Revil was killed by the Solar Ray near A Bao A Qu.
Brigadier General Rodney Kaningan
General Revil’s second-in-command, who was always recognizable by his trademark round glasses and Cuban cigar. Despite his squalid appearance, he was a highly intelligent gentleman who graduated at the top of his class from Harvard Academy. Promoted to Brigadier General at the young age of 38, he was considered to be part of the uppermost elite of the Federation. His Magellan, the Nereid, remained behind to allow the remaining Federation Forces to escape Loum, and there he went down with his ship.
Lieutenant Char Aznable
A Mobile Suit Pilot stationed with the Space Attack Corps, in the 6th Mobile Fleet. In the battle he sunk five warships, and was promoted two ranks to Major. Earning the deep trust of Dozle, he was later granted command of Dozle’s flagship, the Falmel. Upon painting his Mobile Suit red, he earned the nickname ‘Red Comet.’, and was one of Zeon’s top aces.
Gaia, Ortega, and Mash formed the three members of the independent attack squad the ‘Black Tri-Stars’, which was created under the auspices of Kishiria Zabi. However, to give the sense that Kirishira was sending adequate support to Dozle, this unit was also dispatched, and ultimately did participate in the battle to great acclaim. Along with Char Aznable’s sinking of five warships, the capture of General Revil helped the name of the ‘Black Tri-Stars’ rise to fame.
The moment of General Revil’s capture marked the decisive point in the battle. The heavy Minovsky particle levels rendered the Federation’s prized composite fire control systems essentially useless, reducing them to firing blindly as they were destroyed one after the other by enemy Mobile Suit forces.
Side 5 was also quickly demolished in the battle, as Federation forces lost more than half their fleet and were at certain risk of being completely annihilated.
At this moment, another figure emerged to take command: Brigadier General Rodney Kaningan.
January 16th, 0410 hours. General Kaningan decides to order the withdrawal of all forces from the combat zone, but as the Federal fleet was effectively unable to escape the stranglehold of the enemy Mobile Suits, there appeared to be little chance of escape. The General then ordered the fleet to split their retreat into three directions, (towards Earth, L4, and L5) and units began to withdraw as they were able to do so. This withdrawal strategy took into account the smaller number of enemy ships, taking advantage of this fact, as if one escaping fleet was pursued, the other two would be able to escape. At 0424, the Federal forces began to move again. Meanwhile, the Zeon forces under Lt. Gen Dozle Zabi quickly understood what the Federal forces were attempting, and quickly moved to pursue the EFSF Second and Fifth fleets attempting to escape towards Earth, with Kaningan’s flagship, the Nereid, among them.
At 0455 hours, General Kaningan turned his ship to act as a shield for the remaining Federal forces escaping towards Earth.
General Kaningan was reported to have said, “If the General was still alive, (as he was thought to have been killed at this time) I have no doubt this is what he would do.”
The Nereid began to rapid fire her Mega particle cannons until the induction coils began to fuse together from heat, and at 0514 hours, after receiving hits from eight enemy Mega Particle cannons and four large missiles, the Nereid was literally annihilated. However, due the the time bought by the Nereid, all of the other remaining Federal forces were able to escape the combat area.
The Aftermath of the Battle of Loum
The Federal forces had lost more than 80% of their deployed manpower, and only 42 ships were able to escape. Damage to the Zeon forces was relatively light, with 8 battleships and cruisers destroyed, and 16 heavily damaged, and an additional 14 reporting moderate damage. This was testament to the important role of the Mobile Suits in the battle. Although the Zeon forces failed to achieve their initial objectives, they still boasted a massive victory as the curtains closed.
Side 5 was completely destroyed, with two billion lives lost. The following day, as Degwin Zabi inspected the ruined colonies, “Are these destroyed ruins the results of Beam Cannon fire?”, to which Dozle replied, “No, this is what our Mobile Suits have done.” Though countless warships filled the space in front of them, they floated on in silence.
Combined Strength of both forces:
48 Magellan-class (36 destroyed or heavily damaged)
4 Gwazine-class (2 heavily damaged)
163 Salamis-class (139 destroyed or heavily damaged)
78 Chivvay and Musai-class (22 destroyed or heavily damaged.)
118 L144 type minesweeper (114 destroyed or heavily damaged)
34 Jicco assault boats
(18 destroyed or heavily damaged)
The Federal Forces possessed no MS at this time. The only mobile weapons deployed were a small number of 60 Toriares fighters, which were primarily deployed in defensive duties, but due to a lack of sufficient propellant, were ultimately recalled.
320 MS-05 Zaku I
2600 MS-06 Zaku II
Most of these Mobile Suits were transported to the battle in transport ships. Around 400 Gattle space fighters were also deployed.
84 Columbus-class were deployed to act as minovsky particle scattering ships, but only 2 ships remained at the end of the battle, with both remaining ships suffering moderate damage.
Transport ships were used as Mobile Suit carriers, and though 22 Papua-class were deployed, only four suffered moderate damage as they remained in the rear.
Source: Entertainment Bible #39: Battle strategies digest and complete One Year War Chronicles. Bandai, 1991