An Analysis of Dalek Mobile Suit Technology
Michael James Valdivielso
The history of the Daleks’ Travel Machine is slightly simpler than other histories, as all we have to do is use logic and reason to understand their design changes and put them in the proper order. Or mold and cram them into the history we already made for them. The work below is based on the TV Daleks.
In the Beginning:
The history will follow, as best it can, the history from the Daleks’ point of view. The first Daleks we see in Dalek history are those in Genesis of the Daleks, made by Davros for the future of the Kaled race. These first machines ran on energy they received from solar panels. Extra energy was stored in rechargeable batteries during times of inactivity. These first prototypes were already well designed, with a war computer full of the knowledge of the Kaled military, two energy/heat dispensers on top, an eye with multi-lens for seeing a wide section of the spectrum, a translator unit, sensor globes to make it aware of its environment, a radio to keep in touch with other Daleks and more. Their manipulator arm was multifunctional. A small vacuum pump in the arm allowed the sucker to attach itself to any surface, while the smart plastic that it was made of allowed it to operate even the most delicate of controls or carry small items. A data link housed in the arm allowed the Dalek to plug into the computer systems of cities, ships and military bases.
Yet while this made the Daleks more than capable of fighting the badly armed Thals, their batteries and solar panels were too primitive to allow them to be active 24 hours a day. They would need to recharge directly from the power grid of the bunker during rest periods. No doubt Davros would have improved on their design, but when the Daleks rebelled, his body was shoved into an old part of the Kaled’s underground bunker, to lay forgotten by everybody except for the Dalek Supreme Council, the Time Lords, the Movellans and everybody else in the galaxy. Amazingly enough the Kaleds DO become forgotten by everybody, even the Thals, as if the Daleks had only replaced the race but replaced the memory of the lost race.
After chasing off the last of the Thals the Daleks started to develop and build a city, expanding from the bunker and covering a large part of the local area, even absorbing the Kaled’s dome into their city. Their urban projects were very advanced, allowing them to make a city that could supply them with energy from the floor itself. These Daleks soon were free to work 24 hours a day if they wished, using static electricity. Their solar panels were replaced by extra armor and their batteries were removed for more advanced equipment.
In time the Thals came back in greater numbers and the Daleks, with their knowledge of war and weapons, used nuclear bombs. The tactic backfired, forcing the Daleks to build deeper levels for their city, to escape the fallout. Their research of the military files and Davros’ research records allowed them to find many devices to help them make life better for Dalek society. Ways to grow food underground so they don’t have to live on rations, to purify the water from the nearby lake and improve on their life-support systems were all discovered. Daleks were assigned to the research and development of new technology in special labs.
By the time the Doctor showed up, for the second time in Dalek history but his FIRST time in The Daleks, all Daleks were totally dependent on static electricity. No Dalek needed go outside the city’s borders as all they needed was within the protective tunnels and chambers. When the Doctor ‘defeated’ the Daleks and left, he may not have realized how wrong he was. The Dalek scientists and engineers were still alive and rolling. They worked within special labs where the experiments were too important to be endangered by an accidentally power outage. Back-up systems came on the second the citywide grid was damaged. Dalek scientists and engineers found themselves the last Daleks alive.
But they were the SMARTEST of the Daleks besides the Supreme Daleks who were now gone. Using what devices and knowledge they had, they started to rebuild their civilization even while the Thals looted the upper levels of the city. Dalek archivists scanned the vest Dalek library while others worked on a system to beam energy directly from the reactors to Daleks with special receiver dishes to pick up the broadcasted power. Other Dalek suits were developed with rechargeable batteries so they could leave the lower levels for short periods of time. These Daleks could roam the upper levels to collect materials needed, repair parts of the city and scout for Thal spies. Once the ‘Beam Power’ systems were in place, it allowed the Daleks to break out and attack the Thals. While few in number, the Daleks were still better armed than the poor Thals and forced them to flee from their farms and villages to the other side of the planet.
One Small Step:
The Daleks recognized that space flight was possible, otherwise how did the Doctor arrive in the first place? We know that the Daleks lost the planet Skaro at least ONCE to the Thals from what we learn in Planet of the Daleks. The Thals’ equipment look and, in the case of the ships, act inferior to the Daleks’, suggesting that the Daleks left because of another threats (climate changes, Thals had powerful allies, they used up all the resources) besides the Thals. In fact one of the Thals say they JUST developed space flight. So the Daleks HAD to have developed space travel early enough in their history to allow them not JUST to escape the planetary system but also build an interstellar empire before anybody could come about who was advanced enough to keep them contained.
Dalek space programs developed a flying saucer that was able to take the Daleks to the other nearby planets. New material and animals were found and studied. Soon saucers would be made who could travel beyond the gravity of Skaro’s sun. These interstellar saucers would carry a mixed crew of Daleks. The shell of the Daleks were also now made of a new alloy called Dalekenium (not to be confused with the Dalekenium bombs used by the rebels in Day of the Daleks), which would make the creatures immune to all but the most powerful of weapons WITHOUT increasing the outer casing’s weight.
The Daleks, who invaded the Earth, the first time, could pick up broadcasted energy via dishes on their back. They could also accept static electricity from the floor (as the Daleks did on the saucer after the transmitter was destroyed). The same invasion showed Daleks moving under water, suggesting they either had the equipment to take oxygen right out of the water, like artificial gills, or could carry a supply of air with them.
In The Space Museum, we see another type of Dalek. It looks like a normal Dalek that uses only static electricity, yet the idea that the Morok Empire would invade Skaro and take one Dalek for a museum seems somewhat illogical. It seems more likely that a Dalek saucer entering Morok space was captured. The crew, being explorers and needing to go onto the surface of planets found by the ship’s sensors, would have had rechargeable batteries of some kind to allow them to do so for short periods of time. This would allow the Daleks to keep the heavy armor around their middle. I bet the Moroks lost a few people trying to get this Dalek for this display!
Of course it could have been Morok invaders who forced the Daleks to leave Skaro in the first place (or shattered their hold on the planet, forcing them to retreat back into the city). When the Morok Empire went into decline and withdrew from the planet allowing the Thals to repopulate the planet and build a civilization, before the Daleks could recover or return. This COULD mean that two Dalek groups formed; those trapped on the planet, with the Thals, for the period in which the Moroks ruled that region of space and the Daleks who had already escaped into space, beyond the reach of Moroks military reach. In other words, the Dalek in The Space Museum could also be an example of the ‘meek faction’ of Daleks left behind by a ‘bold faction’ of Dalek space explorers like those that invaded Earth, OR a member of the different ‘bold faction’ who also went into space.
The Dalek capsule in Power of the Daleks is bigger on the inside than the outside suggests that Dalek science is advancing itself enough to play with time and space. The Daleks have solar panels, but seem to need the power from the colony to move about and run their machinery. This might come from the fact that most of the action happens inside the colony’s buildings, so they have to relay on static electricity which they make in the capsule from the colony’s power and their own rechargeable batteries. The fact that these Daleks can be awakened after maybe hundreds of years of sleep suggests GREAT advancements in their suits’ life-support systems. These Daleks seem to be the most advanced of the Space Age.
One Great Leap:
Time Travel is finally reached, but at first it is mostly in the form of some kind of time tunnel and even that only works with help from the humans! In Evil of the Daleks we see an Emperor Dalek. Massive, linked to the city of Skaro by data links and tubes that feed it, it is both unarmed and stuck in one place. By now Daleks use both power sources, solar and static, with a battery to draw energy off when they need to. This suggests that, if the Daleks have split earlier in their history into two or three groups, these groups have recombined and joined together in their knowledge of suit technology.
After this, the BASIC design of the travel machine stays the same, with differences in color, size, types of guns and sometimes even the arms. For example, the early guns with the wires along the sides are never replaced but once, in Death to the Daleks where energy is being sucked away by the living city on Exxilon. They replace them with good old fashion slug throwers. But while their energy guns and bombs don’t work they can still move about, scan objects and use their computers! While the episode is not well made it does show the Daleks as flexible problem solvers.
The guns seem to have always been very useful no matter what the need. In Planet of the Daleks we see two Daleks blast a Thal ship, destroying it (which either shows us how powerful the guns are or how badly made the Thals’ ship are). Yet we know the same gun can be used to only cripple, not just kill, a living target, as in The Daleks with Ian. Daleks can also replace their arms with detectors that they use to hunt the Doctor with, electrode guns that can be used to cut through doors and even torches to kill plant-life with. In Destiny of the Daleks we see a Dalek use its regular arm to scan Romana for weapons, like a security wand used at Earth’s airports. Did the arms always have these tiny metal detectors or is it a new addition to an old design?
Color seems to suggest rank, something that seems to be a development of space travel. Space, being so dangerous, might of required the space traveling Daleks to develop a clear line of command and control. Supreme/Commander Daleks are colored in either Black or Gold (some, like the Saucer Commander in the first invasion were half red and half silver, but the show was in black and white and, therefore, came out half black and half gray anyway). This can be helpful in developing a time line, because, for example, Gold Daleks only appear in the Day of the Daleks and in Frontier in Space suggesting a link! The Daleks from this period, starting in Day of the Daleks, also were the first to have a breastplate between their arm and gun.
Jack of All Trades, Master of None:
Some special Daleks, like the Emperor Dalek, do appear. A yellow and black Supreme Council Dalek is seen in Planet of the Daleks, which is slightly larger than the others. It might use more energy and therefore produces more heat, which is why the heat dispensers are so big. A Special Weapons Daleks, designed by Davros (showing us his ‘brute force’ military strategy), has a huge energy weapon. It is nothing but a Dalek tank. Having no solar panels, it must relay totally on static energy from the ships and huge rechargeable batteries stored within the turret, behind the massive armor plating. It seems to be the only reason the Imperial Daleks win. The last time the Whites fought the Grays, in Revelation of the Daleks, they got their butts kicked. You would have thought that Davros could have made his Daleks tougher or better fighters, but no, something in the White/Imperial Daleks seems to make them losers.
Davros replaced the ‘mesh’ between the solar panels in Remembrance of the Daleks with solid armor, which didn’t help them in the least. Still got their butt kicked till they called in the Weapons Dalek. He also slightly changed their manipulator arm, no doubt to help them work with the controls of the Imperial spaceships and shuttles. The changes to the eye and energy dispensers seem to suggest slight improvements. Davros himself travels, in Remembrance of the Daleks, in a Dalek travel machine, calling himself the Emperor Dalek. It has no limbs and is nothing more than a moving life support system. It looks fancy, but not very useful. To me, the height of Dalek Mobile Suit Technology is the Black Dalek from Remembrance of the Daleks. Sleek and dangerous, it makes the past Daleks look like wimps 🙂
Over all, the Mobile Suits prove to be flexible tool for the Daleks, allowing them to bounce back from any set back. The only specialists we see, like the Special Weapons Dalek and the Emperor (from Evil of the Daleks), are flawed. The Emperor, for example, could not more or defend itself. The Special Weapons Dalek, having no solar panels, would be dependent on power grids of ships and Dalek cities. Both this types would also need other Daleks to help them when it came to repair and maintenance.
What new Daleks will we see in the future? I don’t see them changing the basic design, but maybe they would replace the manipulator arm with a more powerful arm, maybe made from energy? Also improvements would allow them to have more powerful blasters.
The First Age: Pre-Space Travel
The Genesis of the Daleks SP/RB
The Daleks SE
The Second Age: Space Travel
The Dalek Invasion of Earth BP/SE (?)
Day of the Daleks (target) SP/SE/RB
The Space Museum (?) SE/RB (?)
The Power of the Daleks (?) SP/SE/RB
The Third Age: Time Travel
The Evil of the Daleks SP/SE/RB (Emperor Dalek SE)
Day of the Daleks (source?)
Frontier in Space SP/SE/RB
Planet of the Daleks SP/SE/RB
Death to the Daleks SP/SE/RB (Develop non-energy gun)
Mission to the Unknown SP/SE/RB
The Dalek Master Plan SP/SE/RB
The Chase SP/SE/RB
Destiny of the Daleks SP/SE/RB
Resurrection of the Daleks SP/SE/RB
Revelation of the Daleks SP/SE/RB
Remembrance of the Daleks (source) SP/SE/RB (SW Dalek SE/RB)
Key to Abbreviations
SE = Static Electricity
SP = Solar Power
BP = Beam Power
RB = Rechargeable Batteries
Article © 2002 Michael James Valdivielso/Visagraph Films International.