Type 66 Maser Cannon
The Type 66 Maser Cannon (６６式メーサー殺獣光線車 is a fictional weapon that first appeared in the 66-Shiki Mēsā Ya-jū Kōsen-sha, lit. Type 66 Maser Beast Killer Beam Car)1966 Toho film, The War of the Gargantuas.
Originally developed as a missile interceptor system, the Type 66 Maser Cannon was repurposed for use as an offensive weapon to combat the man-eating monster Gaira as part of "Operation L." Several of the weapons were used to assault Gaira, and nearly fatally wounded him until his "brother" Sanda arrived to rescue him. Once Sanda learned of his brother's true nature and the monsters began fighting in Tokyo, more Maser Cannons were deployed to open fire on Gaira.
The Type 66 Maser Cannon was one of the first effective military weapons against a kaiju, and gave rise to many subsequent models across the differing continuities of the Godzilla series. In the Showa continuity, it was replaced with an improved model dubbed the Type 70 which saw action against Gigan and Megalon. In the Kiryu Saga continuity, the Type 66 continued to see use against monsters such as Kumonga and Gigan before being replaced with the upgraded Type 90.
The Type 66 Maser Cannon was not originally in the script for The War of the Gargantuas, but director Ishiro Honda added them to the film in order to increase the amount of special effects. Yasuyuki Inoue designed them. The miniatures were adapted from the A-Cycle Light Ray Gun cars from Invasion of Astro-Monster designed by Akira Watanabe. Two 1/15 scale miniatures about two meters in length and two smaller 1/30 scale miniatures about one meter long were constructed. Neither the Maser Cannon miniatures nor the miniatures for the tractors pulling them were self-propelled, and needed to be operated with piano wires. Electricity was sent through the piano wires into the miniature to make the satellite dish-shaped firing apparatus emit light. It was a last-moment idea of special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya to have the Masers' beams slice through trees.
The Type 66 Maser Cannon models were slightly streamlined and reused in Godzilla vs. Gigan to depict the improved Type 70 Maser Cannons. Stock footage of the Type 66 Maser Cannons appeared in Godzilla vs. Gigan and Godzilla vs. Megalon to stand in for the Type 70 in some shots. Stock footage of the Type 66 was employed once again in Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, showing the weapon's use against Gaira in 1966.
The Type 66 Maser Cannon consists of a large tank with a movable arm extending from it. This arm ends in a large parabolic cannon shaped like a satellite dish which fires the Maser beam. The tank is pulled along by a smaller tractor.
In the Showa continuity, the JSDF originally developed the Type 66 Maser Cannon as a missile interceptor system, equipping it with a system for this purpose. However, they determined that the electromagnetic heat beam fired by the Cannon would be effective at damaging the cells of the man-eating giant Gaira.
In the Kiryu Saga, the Type 66 Maser Cannon was developed from the technology used in the Rolisican military's Atomic Heat Ray Gun, which was lent to the JSDF to combat Mothra in 1961. When the Type 66 proved effective against Gaira, it was adopted as Japan's primary weapon against kaiju attacks.
After discovering Gaira's weakness to sunlight, the JSDF determined that the creature's cells could be damaged by concentrated heat. The JSDF then began "Operation L," which aimed to use the Type 66 Maser Cannons' concentrated electromagnetic atomic heat ray to assault Gaira. At night, Gaira was lured through the forest into the firing range of the Maser Cannons, which opened fire on him. The beams seared through Gaira's flesh and caused him to collapse into a nearby river, which the JSDF had charged with an electrical current. As Gaira was electrocuted by the water and continuously bombarded by the Maser beams, it seemed that the monster would finally meet his end. However, the brown Gargantua Sanda emerged from the forest and helped his brother up. Sanda waved his arms at the attacking forces, signaling to them to stand down, and escorted his wounded brother away.
However, Sanda soon realized why the JSDF had been attacking his brother. Gaira was a vicious man-eater, and Sanda realized that he needed to be stopped. Sanda attacked Gaira, enraging him and prompting him to assault Tokyo. Sanda followed his brother to Tokyo and pleaded with him to end his reign of terror, but was forced to battle him to the death. The JSDF deployed more Maser Cannons to attack Gaira in Tokyo, but were unable to pursue him as the Gargantuas' battle traveled out into Tokyo Bay.
Ever since the original Godzilla assaulted Tokyo in 1954, Japan found itself constantly threatened by other kaiju, with none of its conventional weapons proving effective in combat against them. In 1961, the Rolisican military loaned its experimental Atomic Heat Ray Guns to Japan to fend off Mothra when she attacked Tokyo. While these weapons did not kill Mothra, they proved capable of doing damage against a creature of her size. The JSDF analyzed the technology used in the weapon and developed it into the Type 66 Maser Cannon, which first saw action against Gaira in 1966. By the time a second Godzilla appeared in 1999, it had been succeeded by the Type 90 Maser Cannon.
- Powered by a small nuclear reactor that allows it to fire a 100,000 volt electromagnetic atomic heat ray.
- Equipped with a radar system originally intended to detect incoming missiles.
- Operated by a crew of four people.
- The War of the Gargantuas (1966)
- Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972) [stock footage]
- Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973) [stock footage]
- Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002) [stock footage]
- Akira Ifukube would later use the "Operation L" march he originally composed for the Type 66 Maser Cannons in this film to underscore Maser Cannons in his scores for Godzilla vs. Mothra and Godzilla vs. Destoroyah.
- The 2016 book Godzilla Against Type-3 Kiryu (Mechagodzilla) Completion describes three deployments of the Type 66 Maser Cannons not mentioned in the Kiryu Saga films: Kumonga in 1967, and Gigan and Anguirus in 1972, with the latter prevented from landing in Yokosuka.
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