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VF-4 in Battroid mode (Styled)

VF-4 in Fighter mode (Styled)

VF-4 in GERWALK mode

VF-4 Fighter profile schematic

VF-4 Fighter dorsal schematic

Color Code Transformation Guide

Stonewell Bellcom VF-4 Lightning III

Technical Data

Equipment Type: UNS/UNSM main variable fighter
Government: U.N. Spacy, U.N. Space Marines
Manufacturer: Stonewell/Bellcom
Introduction: 2012
Operational Deployment: September 2012
Accommodation: pilot only
  • Fighter Mode: wingspan 12.65 meters; height 5.31 meters; length 16.8 meters
  • Mass: empty 13.95 metric tons
    Structure: space metal frame, SWAG energy conversion armor
    Power Plant: two Shinnakasu/P&W/Roice FF-2011 thermonuclear turbine engines; 2 x dorsal rocket engines (mounted on top of the main thermonuclear turbine engines); 2 x ramjet engines (mounted in the center rear fuselage).
    Propulsion: 14,000 kg [x g] x 2 (137.34 kN x 2); P&W HMM-1A high-maneuverability vernier thrusters
    Thrust-to-weight ratio: (empty) 2.01 (rating for turbine engine thrust ONLY)
  • Fighter Mode: at 10,000 m Mach 3.02; at 30,000+ m Mach 5.15
  • g limit: unknown
    Design Features: 3-mode variable transformation; wing-mounted engines; canard forward wing; inward-canted vertical stabilizers to deflect radar reflections; nose-mounted ventral fin; two-dimensional thrust vectoring; variable main wings and nacelle ventral fins for high-speed flight; nose canards and ailerons; ram-Wing nozzle in the aft section of fighter fuselage functions as air brake in fighter mode; three-hull structure ensures airframe's capacity; the VF-4 adopts a different transformation system compared to the VF-1. Even though the engine nacelle structure becomes the legs like the VF-1, the nacelle's upper block forms the arm. It is possible to exchange nacelle's upper block with a large-scale outer atmosphere booster, but arm blocks would be removed. Cockpit block is stored horizontally, a design used in later VFs
    - Armament -
  • 2 x large beam cannons (mounted in forward engine nacelles/lower arms in GERWALK and Battroid modes); blocks can be detached and operate with removable, lightweight equipment within an atmosphere
  • Bombs & Missiles:
  • 12 x semi-recessed long range missiles (mounted on engine nacelles and ventral fuselage)
  • 2 x underwing pylons for missiles
  • Optional Armament:
  • 1 x Beam Gun Pod (Choujikuu Yousai Macross: Eien no Love Song [Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Eternal Love Song], PC Engine CD video game, 1992)

  • Description and History

    The VF-4 Lightning III began development in 2005 under the initial designation of the VF-X-4. Developed as a successor craft to the VF-1 Valkyrie, the VF-4 Lightning III was designed as a variable fighter that emphasized mobility in outer space. As a result of including existing Overtechnology and introducing Zentradi-series technology, the V-4 has a characteristic three-hulled-type airframe structure remarkably different from the VF-1 Valkyire design. The three-hulled style of the VF-4 increased fuselage volume, propellant capacity and armament load capability that all resulted in a 40% improved combat ability over the VF-1 Valkyrie. The VF-4 did suffer minor mobility problems within an atmosphere and it was deployed to the Space Air corps of emigrant fleets to serve as the main fighter craft of the UN Forces in the 2020s. It was because flight performance within the atmosphere was not as good as the VF-1 that the VF-5000 Star Mirage became the main combat craft within atmosphere while the VF-4 operated mainly in outer space. The VF-4's development began with the prototype VF-X-4 and the VF-X-3. However, when Earth was devastated in Space War I the loss of military facilities also resulted in loss of the VF-X-3. Amongst the airframes under development exist prototype No. 1 craft, VF-X-4V1 and the trial manufactured VF-4A-0 and thus the surviving VF-X-4 was developed and completed as the VF-4 Lightning III. VF-X-4 underwent flight tests, including being test piloted by Space War I veteran Hikaru Ichijo. Once successful operational models were ready, the VF-4 began mass production on February 2012. Initial deployment began on the SDF-2 Megaroad-01 in VF-1 Skull and SVF-184 Iron Chiefs Squadrons on September 2012. When the SDF-2 Megaroad launched in the same month, Hikaru Ichijo flew a VF-4 along side the new colonization vessel as the ship lifted from Earth and began exploration outside of the Sol system.

    Built as a space fighter, the VF-4 primary weapons became two large beam cannons, though the craft is capable of carrying a GU-11 gun pod in GERWALK and Battroid modes. In addition to the powerful primary beam guns, the Lightning III also featured twelve semi-recessed long-range missiles as well as underwing pylons for additional missiles. The VF-4 was only slightly heavier than the VF-1, but featured considerably more powerful engines making the craft ideal for operations deeper out in space. The Lightning III was also much faster in the atmosphere than the older VF-1 though the VF-4 flight mobility performance was not as great. The VF-4 is also notable as the first production variable fighter to utilize a HOTAS system (Hands On Throttle And Stick) for the cockpit HMI (Human-Machine Interface). The VF-4's cockpit was also built as a single hexagonal MFD (Multi-Function Display) that proved so successful it was retrofitted into "Block 6" VF-1 fighters as well as providing the template for all future variable fighter cockpits. Fully transformable, the VF-4 could shift into Battroid and GERWALK modes like previous variable fighters.

    By the end of 2015, mass production of the VF-1 series at last came to an end. From 2020 onward, the VF-4 Lightning III officially replaced the VF-1 to become the main variable fighter of U.N. Forces. A trial-produced variable fighter, designated the VF-4A-0, was also built using 25% VF-1 Valkyrie parts. Production of the VF-4 continued for a decade and ceased in 2022 with a total of 8,245 Lightning III variable fighters produced. The VF-4 variable fighter remained in active service into the late 2040's but was complemented or substituted in many branches of the UN Forces by the cheaper and more atmospherically maneuverable VF-5000 Star Mirage. The VF-4 Lightning III was eventually replaced as the main variable fighter of U.N. Spacy in the later half of the 2030s by the VF-11 Thunderbolt.

    NOTE: The VF-4 Lightning III was originally described with a 14.28 meter wingspan, a 3.72 meter height and a 14.92 meter length. Astute fans observed the VF-4 line art did not support such a close length-to-width ratio. Hence the dimensions of the VF-4 remained erroneous for nearly 20 years until the Macross Chronicle 1E Flashback Mechanic sheet UN 02A published more accurate figures (see details above). To honor the old figures, the Macross Mecha Manual will feature those older VF-4 dimensions for the VF-X-4 since that craft has a length-to-width ratio much closer to the old figures. However, it must be noted this is an unofficial application of dimensions as of this writing.

    Production Notes

    Debut: Macross Flashback 2012
    Pilot(s): Hikaru Ichijo
    Other appearances: none
    Original mechanical designer: Shoji Kawamori

    Line Art

  • battroid mode rear view
  • VF-4 Lightning III figher mode line art
  • transformation details
  • transformation details #2
  • transformation details #3
  • external cockpit view (in flight)
  • digital photos of line art #1 (taken from Musasiya 1/72 scale VF-4 resin kit)
  • digital photos of line art #2 (taken from Musasiya 1/72 scale VF-4 resin kit)
  • digital photos of line art #3 (taken from Musasiya 1/72 scale VF-4 resin kit)
  • digital photos of line art #4 (taken from Musasiya 1/72 scale VF-4 resin kit)
  • digital photos of line art #5 (taken from Musasiya 1/72 scale VF-4 resin kit)
  • Information Courtesy of the Macross Compendium:
    Images From - Best Hit Series: Macross Flashback 2012 Graffiti and other macross books
    C. Wilson - Writer, Editor and Colorist