Thunderbirds machines

Thunderbirds machines
A rough representation of all five Thunderbird machines to the same scale based on the dimensions referred to in this article. Also included is a tiny Alan Tracy – estimating him to be around 1.83 metres (6 ft) tall, illustrating just how big the machines are. Note that the size of Thunderbird 3 is unclear, and this article's dimensions are only one of the sizes for which arguments could be made.

The Gerry Anderson Supermarionation television series Thunderbirds and the subsequent feature films Thunderbirds Are Go and Thunderbird 6 (1965-68) featured a large variety of futuristic air, land and sea vehicles and machines, the majority of which were designed by special effects director Derek Meddings.

In the context of the series, most of the advanced machines appearing in the series belonged to the International Rescue organisation and were used during their rescues. These were known as the "Thunderbirds", of which there were five core machines and a variety of other rescue craft. It was after these that the series was named. In the series, all of the International Rescue vehicles were designed by the organisation's resident technical genius, Brains.

The use of these models in Anderson's Supermarionation productions beginning with Supercar was a significant advance in television production. Before Supermarionation, scale models had generally been limited to the cinema. Meddings's models introduced a new level of realism and quality; while most TV and motion picture aircraft and spacecraft of the time were clean and polished, the Thunderbirds machines (and most others in the series) show the effects of wear and tear. This dirt and wear was applied as a way of adding realism and countering the miniature models' toy-like appearance.

These effects were to be influential, and Century 21 modelmakers went on to work on Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey and the EON James Bond films. The relative scale of these vehicles is a matter of debate, especially the rocket-based designs. Many of the Thunderbirds machines have subsequently been made into toys, models, kits or other merchandising, although none of the original filming models survive.


Thunderbird fleet

International Rescue's fleet consists of 5 principal craft; the Thunderbirds:

Thunderbird 1

Pilot: Scott Tracy
Thunderbird 1

A sleek, variable geometry (swing wing) hypersonic rocket plane used for fast response, rescue zone reconnaissance, and as a mobile control base. Although its take-off from Tracy Island is most often vertical, Thunderbird 1 is endowed with VTOL capabilities which are demonstrated in many episodes.

The length of Thunderbird 1 is a matter of debate, with various sources giving values of 24 m, 30 m and 35 m (80, 100 and 115 feet). However, the last figure is now generally accepted, placing the aircraft wingspan at 24 m. With a maximum speed of 15,000 mph (Mach 22.6), it can reach anywhere on Earth within an hour's flight if a great circle route can be flown. Thunderbird 1 is hangared beneath the main house on Tracy Island, and launches vertically from a pad camouflaged by a swimming pool which slides aside. The aircraft is primarily piloted by Scott Tracy, with Alan taking his place when he is unavailable as Thunderbirds 1 and 3 are rarely ever required on the same mission (such as in the episode "Atlantic Inferno", where Scott, as the eldest Tracy brother, takes charge while Jeff is on holiday). Jeff described it as "sleek, first and fast" at the beginning of Thunderbird 6. As the reconnaissance craft, it featured in virtually every episode of the series as a means of assessing what vehicles would be required for a rescue- one episode began with Thunderbird 1 returning home after Scott had determined that conventional rescue services were handling the fire that he had been sent to investigate on their own-, although it did not feature in the rescues in "Sun Probe" (Where only Thunderbirds 2 and 3 were required to transmit a vital signal) or "The Perils of Penelope" (Scott was away on holiday in the vehicle when the mission began and there was no time for him to reach the site of the current rescue when he returned).

One of the most popular gaffes noticed amongst Thunderbirds fans is the pilot's ability to control almost all of the many functions of the rocket by simply moving one of the two control levers forward or back. This however is disputed by other Thunderbirds fans, who see it as a precursor to the current system of electronic joystick controls that are backed up by sophisticated avionics computers.

Thunderbird 1 appears in the 2004 live-action film Thunderbirds. Thunderbird 1 has the same looks of the original; it is coloured silver grey, with blue and yellow detailing and red nose cone.

Thunderbird 2

Pilot: Virgil Tracy
Thunderbird 2

Thunderbird 2 is International Rescue's heavy-duty transporter aircraft which carries rescue equipment to the danger zone in one of 6 pods (including Thunderbird 4 in pod 4). Thunderbird 2 is a large, green VTOL aircraft that is used in most earth-based rescue missions. It is normally piloted by Virgil Tracy, who is often accompanied by either Alan Tracy, Gordon Tracy, Brains and sometimes Tin-Tin. Thunderbird 2 is 250 feet long with a wingspan of 180 feet and a height of 60 feet. A long-range craft, it is capable reaching anywhere in the world without refuelling and has a maximum speed of 5000 mph (but cruises at 2000 mph). It therefore arrives at the danger zone later than Thunderbird 1.

The launch sequence begins with Thunderbird 2 taxiing through a steel hangar door disguised as a cliff face onto a runway flanked with palm trees that fall back to accommodate the large wingspan. The aircraft is then raised on a platform until it is at the correct angle for take-off. A blast shield rises at the rear of the launch ramp, channelling the exhaust of the rear engines through a series of tunnels to the other side of the island.

In "Terror in New York City", Thunderbird 2 was fired upon and crippled by the USS Sentinel, and remained out of operation for the rest of the episode. The vehicle was subsequently repaired using parts sourced from several different aircraft companies in order to protect the secrets of the aircraft's design.

The model used in "Thunderbird 6" has a design flaw. Scenes involving T2 unloading its pod clearly show the pod being the entire length of the pod bay. This conflicts with scenes where the pods are loaded laterally via conveyor in the Tracy Island hangar. The support pylons which raise T2 up would not allow the pods on the conveyor to pass underneath the ship.

Thunderbird 3

Pilot: Alan Tracy
Thunderbird 3

A reusable, vertically launched SSTO (Single Stage To Orbit) spaceship used for space rescue and maintenance of Thunderbird 5. Thunderbird 3 is 61 m (200 feet) long, with a 7 m wide body and a 24 m span (including engines). Thunderbird 3 is unique among the Thunderbird craft in having its dimensions quoted in an episode of the series: in "Give or Take a Million" Jeff Tracy states that the spacecraft stands 287 feet (87m) high. However, Brains, the designer of Thunderbird 3, said in a videotaped interview,[1] that Thunderbird was "200 feet in height. " Another problem with the stated size is evident in the Thunderbird 3 launch scenes. For the craft to be over 200 feet, the ceiling of the roundhouse it passes through on take-off would need to be in excess of 50 feet high and the balcony rail 25 feet high.

The spacecraft uses chemical rockets for lift-off and boost, and an ion drive for propulsion while in space. Thunderbird 3 is hangared beneath the "Round House" on Tracy Island, and is primarily piloted by Alan or John Tracy, although Scott often co-pilots. Since John is usually seen in Thunderbird 5, he is rarely seen piloting the spacecraft (only in "The Mighty Atom" and "Danger at Ocean Deep" and "The Uninvited", and never in a rescue situation). In "Ricochet" Virgil is seen piloting Thunderbird 3. This craft was used for space rescues in "Sun Probe", "Ricochet", "The Impostors" as well as escorting Zero X briefly as the start of "Thunderbirds are Go".

Thunderbird 4

Aquanaut: Gordon Tracy
Thunderbird 4

A small utility submarine for underwater rescue, Thunderbird 4 is carried aboard Thunderbird 2, nearly always in Pod 4, although it was once transported in Pod 6 ("Attack of the Alligators") and can deploy independently from the Thunderbird 2 hangar along the island runway (as seen in "Terror in New York City", although its slow speed renders it impractical for Thunderbird 4 to try and travel on its own). Thunderbird 4 is 9 m long and 3 m wide, and is fitted with an adjustable searchlight which can be raised or lowered to reveal a variety of rescue instruments, such as cutting lasers, electromagnets and battering rams, which can be extended from the nose section. Thunderbird 4 is piloted by aquanaut, Gordon Tracy.

Thunderbird 5

Space Monitor: John Tracy
Thunderbird 5

The largest rescue vehicle of the Thunderbirds inventory, Thunderbird 5 is an Earth-orbiting space station which monitors all broadcasts around the globe for calls for help and also manages communications within International Rescue. Measuring 122 m long, 90 m wide, and 83 m tall, Thunderbird 5 was equipped with almost completely automated onboard systems, allowing the entire station to be run by a single crew member. Thunderbird 5 is primarily commanded by John Tracy, although he is periodically relieved by Alan (according to the storyline, John and Alan swap roles once a month, one piloting Thunderbird 3 and the other monitoring Thunderbird 5, but such was writer Gerry Anderson's dislike for the character of John, that he was usually exiled to the space station). Derek Meddings designed Thunderbird 5 after the other machines and apparently based the design on the Tracy Island Roundhouse model (through which Thunderbird 3 launches).[2]

Other International Rescue machines

Thunderbird 6


A six-wheeled Rolls-Royce motor car used by Lady Penelope and her chauffeur, Parker. The car has an aircraft-style canopy and is fitted with many gadgets including an air-cooled machine-gun located behind the Rolls-Royce grille.


Lady Penelope's yacht which featured in the episode "The Man From MI.5". Parker seemingly lost the vessel after using it as currency in a game of poker.

Hover Jets

Small personal transports that hover above the ground, used by all members of IR. These vehicles were also seen in Anderson's earlier series Fireball XL5. They were used to get around the fact that the puppeteers could not make the marionettes walk realistically.

Mobile Control

A mobile command center carried aboard Thunderbird 1, usually manned by Scott Tracy once Thunderbird 1 is on-scene at a rescue operation.

Remote Camera

A remotely operated flying camera designed to withstand extreme heat. Also carried aboard Thunderbird 1.

Pod vehicles

Other Machines


Fireflash as seen in "Trapped in the Sky"

The Fireflash, a hypersonic airliner, appeared in the episodes "Trapped in the Sky", "Operation Crash-Dive", "The Impostors", "The Man From MI.5", "The Duchess Assignment" and "Security Hazard". It has six atomic motors that enable it to stay in the air for a maximum of six months; however, their radiation shielding must be maintained frequently, or the passengers will only be able to spend a maximum of three hours in the aircraft before succumbing to radiation sickness. Fireflash's maximum speed is Mach 6 (approximately 4,500 mph or 7,200 km/h), and can fly at heights above 250,000 feet (76 km). A novel feature is that the flight deck is built into the tail fin. Like the real-world Airbus A380 she has two decks, but also features luxury facilities such as a cocktail lounge housed within glazed sections of the wings leading edges. Fireflash was commissioned by Air Terranean (a.k.a.: Terranean Airways).[3]

Konami model of Helijet


Multi-purpose jet-powered VTOL aircraft, Helijets appear in numerous episodes and are widely used by civilian and military organisations. A variety of different designs are seen over the course of the series and were also seen in Anderson's next series Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Some versions seem to be based on the fuselage design of the Kaman HH-43 Huskie helicopter of the early 1960s. It is assumed that the production team modellers modified commercial plastic models (probably the 1/32 scale Hawk kit) of the helicopter for use in the series.


Used to replace trains and the London Underground and New York City Subways. The monorail cars travel along overhead railings magnetically. The trains can be seen in The Perils Of Penelope, Brink Of Disaster and another version of them are seen in The Mighty Atom.


This huge yellow tree-felling machine featured in the episode "Path of Destruction". Powered by an atomic reactor, but with a wood processing plant dependent on the chemical fuel 'Superon', the Crablogger was designed by Jim Lucas of Robotics International in England. The machine was equipped with two large arms with a giant central chainsaw which would cut a tree at the base before passing it through an opening at the front. Inside the Crablogger, the tree was reduced to wood pulp which was regularly collected by automated tankers. Designed to clear areas of forestation to make way for road developments, much of the Crablogger's systems were automated, although a crew was required to monitor these systems. In the episode Path of Destruction the crew were incapacitated, resulting in the machine going out of control.[4]


The Roadlayer was a giant mobile machine that acted as the command centre and primary construction unit of the Road Construction Company. The giant machine ground up rocks and trees as it moved over them, and flattened the ground before laying a six lane motorway behind it. Astonishingly, the motorway is complete to the inclusion of roadway markings, as well as road-side fences. Moving on a series of caterpillar tracks, the Roadlayer was equipped with a Helijet pad, and a cannon for clearing obstacles.

The machine also carried tracked demolition trucks for clearing larger obstacles with nuclear charges.

Roadlayers appeared in the episodes End of the Road and Atlantic Inferno.


A military walking vehicle which appeared in the episode "Pit of Peril". It resembles a giant lobster. Powered by an atomic reactor, the four-legged Sidewinder has two mechanical arms at the front which are used to uproot trees and move aside other obstructions. The vehicle is operated by a crew of three from the cabin at the front. At 50 m long and weighing over 500 tonnes, the Sidewinder is slow and lumbering, but is capable of crossing terrain inaccessible to other land vehicles. The vehicle was developed to prevent South African "brush fire" wars from escalating into larger conflicts and is equipped with a significant amount of weaponry. The prototype vehicle fell into an unmapped landfill pit during testing. Due to spontaneous combustion of the rubbish the inside of the pit was extremely hot.[5] Later versions of it were equipped with emergency anti-gravity generators for use in situations like that or if one of its legs has been removed.

USS Sentinel

A next generation strike vessel which appeared in the episode "Terror in New York City". Apart from its top speed of 200 knots, which Virgil described as "phenomenal" when he detected it, its statistics are unknown. Unfortunately, the Sentinel also detected Thunderbird 2 and launched a missile attack, having erroneously identified Thunderbird 2 as an enemy aircraft since it was too slow to be a missile, too fast to be a civilian aircraft and did not match any U.S. military aircraft. Although the Sentinel was prevented from fully destroying Thunderbird 2 when an identification signal was transmitted at the last minute, the damage sustained to the ship's engines crippled it for the rest of the episode. Subsequently, the Sentinel helped International Rescue to save some reporters from drowning in an underwater river in New York by taking Thunderbird 4 aboard and carrying it near the city, as Sentinel was the only available craft capable of transporting Thunderbird 4 that was fast enough to take it to the city in time to make a difference.[6]

Skyship One

Skyship One is a large technologically advanced airship which appeared in the second Thunderbirds feature film, Thunderbird 6. Commissioned by the New World Aircraft Corporation, the airship was designed by Thunderbirds creator Brains under the pseudonym of 'Mr X'. The ship requires only a skeleton crew, as the systems are entirely automated, with destinations pre-programmed before take-off. Key to the airship's design are the gravity compensators which effectively reduce the craft's weight allowing it become airborne. Inside, the ship's cabins and facilities are luxurious and include several themed rooms and bars.[7]


A large passenger airliner designed by Brains which featured in the episode "Alias Mr. Hackenbacker". The aircraft has a unique safety feature in the form of an ejectable fuel tank. In the event of a crash landing, the fuel tank separates from the main body of the aircraft, allowing the plane to land safely with minimal risk of fire or explosion. The fuel "rocket" is then guided to a safe altitude before self-destructing.[8]

Sun Probe

The Sun Probe is a rocket that was sent to collect a sample from the Sun for research purposes. However, the heat from the Sun caused the Sun Probe's retro-rockets to fail, resulting in it going on a collision course with the Sun until Thunderbird 3 was able to activate the rockets by remote. It first featured (briefly) in the episode Perils of Penelope and later the eponoymous Sun Probe.

Zero X

A metallic blue spacecraft that made the first manned landing on Mars. Zero X first appeared in the first Thunderbirds feature film, Thunderbirds Are Go, and subsequently in the first episode of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons.[9][10] It is assembled hours prior to launch and consists of 5 parts: The MEV (Martian Exploration Vehicle), the main fuselage, Lifting Bodies 1 & 2, two wing-like structures loaded with thruster packs and also incorporate landing gear at the ends, and the reflective Nose Cone, which is a large metallic nose which attaches to the MEV.[11]


  1. ^ The Brains Behind Thunderbirds (1965/2000), Carlton International Media Limited. Appears on Bonus Disc on Thunderbirds 40 Anniversary Collector's Edition
  2. ^ Thunderbird 5 model
  3. ^ Thunderbirds (1965), Century 21 Television/ITC – various episodes
  4. ^ Thunderbirds (1966), Century 21 Television/ITC – Series 2 Episode 2: "Path of Destruction"
  5. ^ Thunderbirds (1965), Century 21 Television/ITC – Series 1 Episode 2: "Pit of Peril"
  6. ^ Thunderbirds (1965), Century 21 Television/ITC – Series 1 Episode 4: "Terror in New York"
  7. ^ Thunderbird 6 (1968), Century 21 Cinema/United Artists
  8. ^ Thunderbirds (1966), Century 21 Television/ITC – Series 2 Episode 3: "Alias Mr. Hackenbacker"
  9. ^ Thunderbirds are GO (1966), Century 21 Cinema/United Artists
  10. ^ Captain Scarlet and The Mysterons (1967), Century 21 Television/ITC – Episode 1: "The Mysterons"
  11. ^ See The Gerry Anderson Encyclopedia Page on Zero-X

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Нужна курсовая?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Thunderbirds Are Go — This article is about the 1966 movie. For the 2004 song by Busted, see Thunderbirds/3am. Infobox Film name = Thunderbirds Are Go |250px|center| caption = Theatrical poster, showing the Thunderbirds machines and cast . tagline = Now on the BIG… …   Wikipedia

  • Thunderbirds (TV series) — Infobox ITC show name = Thunderbirds caption = format = Supermarionation Science Fiction Adventure runtime = 50 minutes creator = Gerry Anderson Sylvia Anderson starring = Peter Dyneley Shane Rimmer Sylvia Anderson country = UK network = ATV… …   Wikipedia

  • Thunderbirds (film) — Infobox Film name = Thunderbirds caption = Theatrical release poster director = Jonathan Frakes producer = Eric Fellner Tim Bevan writer = Gerry Anderson Sylvia Anderson (TV show) Peter Hewitt Michael McCullers starring = Brady Corbet Bill Paxton …   Wikipedia

  • The Hood (Thunderbirds) — The Hood is the main villain in the Thunderbirds TV series.HistoryTV seriesThe Hood s precise origins are unknown. While it is known that he is the half brother of Kyrano, the precise details of their relationship such as which parent they share… …   Wikipedia

  • List of Thunderbirds episodes — This is an episode guide for the Gerry Anderson television series Thunderbirds made between 1965 and 1966 (although production began in 1964, as indicated by the copyright date) for the British production company ITC Entertainment, and first… …   Wikipedia

  • Brains (Thunderbirds) — Brains is a fictional character in the television series Thunderbirds , the feature films Thunderbirds Are GO and Thunderbird 6 and the 2004 live action film Thunderbirds .The puppet was voiced by David Graham in the television series and the… …   Wikipedia

  • FAB1 — is the name given to the pink six wheeled car in the Thunderbirds franchise.The original series and filmsIn the original Supermarionation TV series Thunderbirds (1965 1966), as well as the films Thunderbirds Are GO (1966) and Thunderbird 6 (1967) …   Wikipedia

  • Fireflash — may refer to*The Fairey Fireflash air to air missile*a supersonic airliner featuring in some episodes of the Thunderbirds (TV series). (see Thunderbirds Machines)* A Superhero from the Peprah Ugbaja Comics (Comics Series)(see Peprah Ugbaja… …   Wikipedia

  • Doppelgänger (1969 film) — Doppelgänger …   Wikipedia

  • Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward — Lady Penelope First appearance Trapped in the Sky Last appearance Thunderbirds (2004 film) …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”