Does Sidonia no Kishi's 256 frame formation have scientific advantages?

In episode five or six of Sidonia no Kishi, Tanikaze and Shizuka were rescued by their fellow knights against orders of the captain. The rescuers adopted a 256 Gardes formation traveling to and from the protagonist's location. Is the scientific reason behind this peculiar formation explained anywhere in the series (because I can't recall)?

Their formation was a perfect circle when they traveled to Tanikaze's location but was uneven as they carried his frame, hence balance might be out of the answer. This formation was also used later in the series when they were going to attack the massive Gauna (as the picture shows). They used all 256 for the formation but still, the mission-grouping were in 128 frames per objective.

I don't think this question is a duplicate of this question because I'm asking for the scientific explanation of the formation. I'm also aware this question may be put on hold or closed as too speculative, but it's an interesting thing to ask if the explanation is in the series anyway.

I believe krazer's explanation to the question above (as ton.yeung comments below) is on spot after a little research. However, what I really want to know is the benefits in having everyone in one giant ring when they could create two 128-frame rings that would've been apt on the later event I mentioned. They could even have 64 4-frame rings that might cover a greater area in the long run (or not). Does it save energy, minimize danger, or perhaps guarantee a lesser chance of being lost in space?

• Correction: in the mission to attack the massive Gauna, they used 48 frame formation and the mission-grouping were in 24 frames per objective. – Gao Dec 10 '16 at 15:38

Having studied orbital dynamics and aerospace engineering, I can simplify your answer down for you.

Let's just say 1 mech exhibits a mass of about 5 units. However, the engine can lift up to 10 units, so in a 2-mech clasp formation:

(2x10)-(2x5)=10 units

This means that they effectively double the output of their engines. So, the thrust of a 256-unit clasp formation, and let's also include the weight of one broken mech:

(256x10)-(257x5)=1275 units

This would give them an extremely long range compared to the distance only 2 or 4 mechs could fly.

To answer your question as to how they would balance it, simply cut the engine of 1 or 2 other mechs in strategic locations

This may just sound like I'm saying they can lift more, but the point is the amount of thrust generated exceeds the thrust needed to lift all of the units' mass, thus translating to more speed and range

Hope this clears it up for ya!

• One could also comment on stability. Having 256 human and garde (automated) systems dealing with 1/256th to overall stability might be better than having 2 humans+gardes each dealing with half. – EngrStudent - Reinstate Monica Aug 21 '15 at 0:10

There appears to be a lot of confusion in the answers provided thus far...

What we care about here is rate of acceleration.

Acceleration = force / mass (AKA thrust to mass ratio)

The thrust to mass ratio for 1 unit is identical to n number of combined units (256 or otherwise).

Therefore there is no acceleration advantage to combining units.

Example: Assuming a single guard has a thrust of 10 and a mass of 1 then:

10 units of thrust divided by 1 unit of mass gives a 10/1 thrust/mass ratio. 2560 units of thrust divided by 256 units of mass gives the same 10/1 thrust/mass ratio.

There simply is no advantage with regards to raw acceleration performance nor maximum speed (assuming the vacuum of space of course).

There are also no special relativistic considerations since the units do not ever accelerate to anywhere near the speed of light.

On the flip side, combining multiple units together would have major structural disadvantages with regards to high-rate manoeuvring outside the axial line of thrust - that is, the circle would want to tear itself apart in turns...

Additionally, from a tactical perspective, it makes no sense to maintain tight formation if the potential of a surprise attack is a possibility.

w/ regards to carrying a wounded or damaged mech home, that would be advantageous as the broken mech would just be extra mass for the formation to carry - which would limit the acceleration of the group as a whole but might get the broken unit home...