ROBOTECH Technical Files
by Pieter Thomassen, with Peter Walker

Original Illustrations by Harvey Neil Johnston


Montgolfier Class Super Dimensional Tender/Mobile Dock (SAD).

REF Seal
Montgolfier-class Tender/Mobile Dock
Naval Separator

Names and disposition:

Ship's complement:


  • Length:
  • 1120 m over all.
  • Height:
  • 357 m with scaffolding retracted, 850 m with scaffolding extended.
  • Width :
  • 450 m with scaffolding retracted, 475 m with scaffolding extended.
  • Mass :
  • 11,400,000 metric tons operational (typical),
    32,000,000 metric tons maximum, while transporting ships in the dock.
  • Fuel mass :
  • 1,280,000 metric tons, maximum (typical)

    Propulsion systems:

    Note: Because of the location of the thrusters, the Montgolfier-class is generally incapable of using its reaction engines when a ship is in the drydock. However, it is possible to tow another vessel if that vessel's engines can be brought at least partially on-line, of if the vessel's mass is significantly less than the Montgolfier's. However, folding to a safe location with the crippled vessel is the preferred action.

    Endurance and mobility limits:

    Weapon systems:

    Air group and mecha complement:

    (Fleet Air Arm mecha)
    (stored as replacement mecha)


    Montgolfier Scaffolding diagram

    Design notes:

    After the Expeditionary Forces were assigned the two captured manufacturing satellites as space habitats and production centers, there was still a void in the support lines for the far-flung scout flotillas, who now were required to make far longer and deeper voyages than originally envisioned. Specifically, the journey back to one of the factory bases after exhausting some of the supplies was taking more and more time, and even small repairs that required only a basic drydock had to be carried out in one of the satellites. In addition, the habitation standards on board the vessels were insufficient for near-permanent habitation. As a result, the Expeditionary Forces designed a tender vessel to serve as mobile drydock and general tender, supply base, and as rest and recovery craft for fatigued crews.

    To start with the production as soon as possible, the Montgolfier class was based on an existing design, the Tokugawa class. This design was upgraded with new gun armament, but its combat power was virtually eliminated by deleting most of the hangar bays, retaining only enough Fleet Air Arm mecha for self-defense. The freed-up space was then used for storage holds, and for enlarged living quarters. In addition, an Earth-simulation system identical in function to that used on board of the SDF-1 Macross during its long return voyage was installed, giving the main living holds a blue sky and the illusion of a planetside stay. To accommodate ships that had been damaged or needed a minor refit, a retractable scaffolding was added under the hull. when extended, this formed an open-space drydock which could accommodate all but the largest Expeditionary Forces vessels.

    The tenders followed much the same operational schedule during their early life. They would fold from one of the factory satellites, after loading up to capacity, to a central point in empty space, almost two-thirds the distance between the satellites and the foremost flotillas. There they would remain as the various groups folded to them, for several weeks of refit, repair and crew rest. The occasional supply ship from the rear bases also arrived with personel and more supplies. Occasionaly the ship would fold to a new location, as the fleets advanced. After a tour of typically two or three years, the tender would fold back to the large bases for its own refit and maintenance.

    If necessary, the tenders could also fold towards damaged ships, if the battle had died down, and make on-site repairs. This was shown for example UES Bleriot rendezvoused with the Ikazuchi-class cruiser Valiant after she was severely damaged by Invid kamikazes. The Bleriot stabilized the Valiant's main engines, which had become dangerously irregular, closed up many of the breaches in her hull and repaired the badly-damaged life-support system. After a week in this improvised space dock, the Bleriot fold-towed Valiant to Space Station Equality, were she was repaired and refitted.


    Five of these ships were built by the Expeditionary Forces on board the Robotech Factory Satellite Equality. They served throughout the existence of the Expeditionary Forces without ever coming under attack, or even seeing an enemy. Many of the spaceborn children drew their first breaths in the hospitals of a Montgolfier class vessel in deep space.

    Until 2043, they followed the described operational pattern. After that, the Expeditionary Forces decided to rebuilt the old Moonbase Luna into a strongpoint and supply base, capable of housing most of the Expeditionary Forces fleet in underground docks. In order to carry this intent out, the entire class, with a large escort fleet, assembled and folded to dark side of the moon, where they then served as the base ships for the moonbases' reconstruction. They continued to do this during the Reflex Point attack and for some years after, and this base still remains the main fleet base in the Terran system. This work later ensured the fast build-up of the RNF forces.

    This class are still serving in the Terran navy as tenders and supply ships, and are usually stationed, as before, in deep space, supporting long range sensor stations and scout vessels looking for remaining forces of the past three Robotech wars' belligerents. Three enlarged and improved tenders have since been produced to strengthen the fleet support train, the UES SAD-6 Armstrong, UES SAD-7 Scobee and UES SAD-8 Chandrakant. These ships are known as the Armstrong-class.

    See additional design notes.

    Return to REF Naval index.

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    Content by Pieter Thomassen and Peter Walker
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    Copyright © 2001, 1999, 1997 Robert Morgenstern, Pieter Thomassen, Peter Walker