A MiG-35 with a capable pilot could own them all…
That said, let’s get into it, shall we? Where to begin…
Firely, Wing is a BAD example. While I do love the show, mostly because it was the first anime I really got into, it’s probably one of the least well thought out (technology wise) Gundam series to date. Not to say that they are at all realistic, but they try a bit. 08th MS Team and 0083 were probably the most well thought out.
A Gundam, or more specifically, a Mobile Suit is primarily a space based weapon. It’s limbs allow it to perform rotational motions without expending fuel. There is a wikipedia article on AMBAC, the system that controls the movements. It’s similar to a modern flight control system, actually.
If you want to see a show with a more realistic approach to bipedal vehicles, check out Full Metal Panic! True, it does have a strong sci-fi element as well, but the realism factor is also well developed.
Now, as for advantages of bipedal weapons? There are many. Firstly, the ability to negotiate complex terrain. Even the fastest tank can’t traverse very rocky terrain. Second advantage is manauverability. Wheels and tracks can’t keep up with human-like bipedal locamotion. True, they are faster, but not as mobile. Third advantage is something else. I’ll think of it later, I’m super tired right now
As for flying, well… to be truthful, it’s not that far fetched. You put enough thrust behind something and it’s gonna fly. Just take a good look at the McDonnel Douglas F-4 Phantom. Now, how practical is a flying bipedal vehicle? I dunno, but I don’t think it’s very practical at face value. Now, if they fly as a secondary-system for rapid delivery to hot spots (ala Full Metal Panic! with the X-2 expansion boosters for the M9) then there is some practical reasoning to that. If they fly just to look cool, ala most of the newer AU Gundam stuff, then you can take it at face value. It looks cool and they wanna sell models.
Then you have Macross designs. I won’t go into them, but from where I’m standing among aviation enthusiasts, they are very interesting and above all cool. Shoji Kawamori, the designer of damn near every variable fighter from Macross has some sort of engineering credential, btw.
And then you have designes that are built from the ground up to fly. I don’t know of any (well designed) designs from anime or any other medium. It’s something I’ve been toying with, though. If you had an airframe that can change certain aspects of it’s aerodynamics, like angle of incidence of the wings, for instance, dynamically and on the fly, then you might have something. Then, using the limbs offered by a bipedal design, such as the legs, to put engines on and you have amazing potential for thrust vectoring. Arms can be used to direct weapons, like guns or even dogfight missiles. Head can contain your major sensors like radar, ladar, FLIR, laser designator and whatever else you want. Tie that all together with a sophisticated flight control/motion management system and a well trained operator and you may just have the most fearsome dogfighter mankind has ever seen.
Umm… that went on a good amount longer than I planned. Sorry guys. KUDOS to whoever reads through all of this
Edit: Oh, and Matt… where can I learn ancient? All I know is derentis 8)