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FAB 1 • Miscellaneous
Pilot: Scott Tracy
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 for his presence to make any difference to the situation).
Pilot: Virgil Tracy
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. The need for Thunderbird 2 to launch from Tracy Island using a ramp is unclear, because at all other times it takes off using its VTOL thrusters.
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 only pod vehicle to have a set pod assigned to it (pod 4), Thunderbird 4 is the most frequently seen of the pod vehicles. Thunderbird 4 requires a ramp to be extended from its pod into the sea or other body of water to allow launch, with the pod often being dropped from Thunderbird 2 into the danger zone and left there until the mission is complete. However, launch can be enabled directly from Tracy island ("Terror in New York City"). Through the series, there is no footage of the pod being retrieved.
Within its front section are a hydraulic ram, missile tube, laser cutter (built into starboard ram) and a multi headed grappling arm. A halogen light bar located on a movable arm in front provides additional lighting. Thunderbird 4 is the only pod vehicle to also have its sole designated pilot, Gordon Tracy.
A high-speed, manned 30 ton tunnelling machine capable of boring through even the hardest rock to rescue individuals trapped underground. A serial number of "56156" can be seen on the top rear port side of the Mole. Due to an inbuilt thermal-imaging system in its drill bit, the Mole can be operated with acute precision to ensure that buried individuals are not endangered from rockfalls caused by drill movement despite the fact that the drill screw rotates in the wrong direction. The Mole is carried to rescue sites on its trolley, then tilts to commence drilling. Caterpillar tracks on both sides enable it to return to the surface. The vehicle is often carried in Pod 5, and is notable for being one of the few pod vehicles to appear in multiple episodes; it also appears in the closing credit sequence with the five main Thunderbirds machines and FAB1. It appears in "Pit of Peril", "City of Fire" and "The Duchess Assignment", and is glimpsed in the pod vehicle bay in "Cry Wolf". It is generally regarded as one of the most popular machines of them all and barring Thunderbird 4, has had more replicas made than any other pod vehicle.
One of International Rescue's primary pod vehicles. Firefly is a fire-proof vehicle used for demolition and fire fighting work, fitted with a large Cahelium Extract-X built blade and armed with a nitroglycerin cannon to fire shells to extinguish fires at their source. A rear gun can also be used to extinguish fires using foam or water. Firefly is often carried in Pod 3 or Pod 6. Appears in "City of Fire" and "Terror In New York City" and is glimpsed in the hangar in "Cry Wolf". Like The Mole, Firefly has been issued as a model by many toy manufacturers.
The Elevator Cars are built for use at airports to enable stricken aircraft to land safely by way of being manouvred beneath a plane to act as replacement landing gear. The Elevator Cars are capable of matching the speed of most incoming aircraft, with each car having twelve wheels and heavy braking systems. Initially four were built; one master elevator car (with a number one label) and three remote controlled cars (numbered 2-4). However number 3 car was destroyed when it lost control and crashed during the rescue of Fireflash. The Elevator cars were seen in the first episode of Thunderbirds, Trapped in the Sky with their rescue of Fireflash becoming probably the most iconic in the show's history. As such, many models of the cars - though often just the Master Elevator Car - have been issued, though the Konami pod vehicle range included car number 2. The Konami Fireflash model also containing three miniature in scale Elevator Cars (numbered 1,2 and 4 as per "Trapped In The Sky"). Carried in Pod 3.
The Recovery Vehicles comprise of one manned (#1) and one remote-controlled (#2) vehicles equipped with magnetic grappling lines to haul large weights such as aircraft or trains out of lakes, rivers or pits. They are seen emerging from Pod 5 in the episode "Pit Of Peril" when they are used to haul the Sidewinder army vehicle out of a fiery pit. Although only seen once, most model manufacturers have issued models of them. Like the Elevator Cars, it is often just the master vehicle, though the Konami series did also produce a miniature of the remote controlled car.
The DOMO (Demolition and Object Moving Operator) is a restraint vehicle with three suction arms that, by using artificial-gravity fields can restrain or lift unstable structures (up to 50 ton in weight) or clear the disaster zone of heavy objects prior to the use of other pod vehicles. Appears in "The Duchess Assignment". Konami produced two models of the Domo (one in a diaroma set from "The Duchess Assignment") and Bandai also produced a die cast model.
The Excavator is a high-powered rock-crushing machine used to clear rough terrain or unblock caves with people trapped inside, often being used for areas affected by landlsides. Similar in design to the DOMO. The Excavator appears in the episode "Martian Invasion" and a diaroma of its use in the episode was re-created by Konami in addition to a standard pod vehicle miniature. Bandai and Takara also issued models of the vehicle.
A low-slung search and recovery utility vehicle capable of either travelling along monorail tunnels or, by using its front mounted telescopic arm, can be attached to an overhead monorail line for greater speed. Due to its low height, the Monobrake can remain in a monorail tunnel and have a train pass over it without incident. The vehicle has seating for two people. The Monobrake appeared in use in the episode "The Perils of Penelope", is glimpsed in the vehicle hangar in "Cry Wolf" and can be seen in Pod 1 in "Security Hazard". Both Konami and Bandai produced models of the vehicle.
A six-wheeled 'cherry picker' vehicle used primarily to lift rescue personnel up to 100 feet into tall structures, transmitter masts, trees and even moving structures. The three seat vehicle features in the episode "Path Of Destruction". Thus far, only Bandai have produced a model of it.
The Transmitter Truck is adapted from a heavy-duty commercial vehicle and uses a Jodrell Six multi-use dish that can transmit tractor beams and safety beams in addition to communications and computer data to inaccessible locations. Its traction and high-performance engine allow it to be used in virtually all terrains, as seen in the episode "Sun Probe" when it is used to project a safety beam to the stricken Thunderbird 3. Many models have been made of the truck, though some of them named the truck either 'Jodrell 6' or 'IR3' due to the nameplate above the cabin. The Transmitter Truck can also be glimpsed in the episode "Cry Wolf" in the pod vehicle hangar.
The Fire Truck is adapted from the same vehicle as the Transmitter Truck. It can fire nitro-glycerine shells to extinguish blazes as well as pumping water and foam onto blazes. Like the Transmitter Truck, the lettering 'IR3' is on a nameplate above the cabin. The Fire Truck appears in the opening sequence of "Security Hazard". Bandai is currently the only company to have manufactured a model of the vehicle.
Laser Cutter Vehicle
The Laser Cutter is a small tracked vehicle with a powerful front-mounted laser that can gain precise and rapid entry to secure buildings such as vaults and bunkers. The laser gun has a number of settings from single beams to pulsed energy bursts as well as an onboard timer and a high powered fan to blow away cuttings. The vehicle is seen in action in the episode "30 Minutes After Noon" but can be seen in the Pod in "Sun Probe". Numerous models of the vehicle exist including Konami and Bandai models.
The Thunderiser is a small tracked vehicle, similar in design to the Laser Cutter Vehicle, with a front mounted cannon which can through computer controlled precision, fire steel-cylinder rescue packs to assist people trapped in tall buildings via upper floor windows. The cylinders contain a variety of equipment such as oxygen tanks, anti-gravity jet packs and hand-held fire fighting tools. If need be, explosive projectiles can be fired. The Thunderiser appears in the episode "Edge Of Impact" and can also be glimpsed in the pod vehicle bay in "Cry Wolf". Takara, Konami and Badai have all issued models of the vehicle.
The Neutraliser Tractor is a small tracked mobile device used to disable the radio control systems and electronics of explosive devices through the use of sonic waves. It can also be used to disrupt computer systems by overriding the incoming data signals transmitted by the carrier. The Neutraliser Tractor is seen in action in "Move And You're Dead" and can be seen in the pod in "Sun Probe". No manufacturer has yet issued a model of the vehicle.
Jet Air Transporter
The Jet Air Transporter is an air-cushioned vehicle which uses a combination of high-powered vertical turbo fans and anti-gravity technology to allow people jumping from buildings or structures to be caught safely and gently lowered to the ground. A catchment area of 20 feet around the vehicle allows a safety margin for jumpers. The Jet Air Transporter features in the episode "Move And You're Dead". The only model to have been made of this pod vehicle is a miniature model issued by Konami in the pod vehicle range.
Though not pod vehicles as such, Alan's racing car ("Move And You're Dead") and Brains and TinTin's truck and caravans ("Desperate Intruder") are seen exiting Thunderbird 2s pod. Thunderbird 2 also has at least two large tents in its storage compartment ("The Uninvited").
Thunderbird 2 also has a selection of other electromagnetic grabs in its front section including:
A Hauser cable rocket launcher consisting of two electromagnetic grabs used to slow down fast moving objects as seen in "The Cham Cham"
A three pronged electromagnetic grab used to move small stationary objects as seen in "Day Of Disaster"
A grappler device used to clear debris from a disaster area as seen in "Day Of Disaster"
A small circular electromagnetic grab used to move awkwardly shaped objects such as satellite dishes as seen in "Lord Parker's 'Oliday"
Small rocket-clamp wire gun and machine guns seen only in Thunderbird 6.
Next to the grabs is a four person heatproof rescue cage as used in the episode "Lord Parker's 'Oliday" and "Operation Crash-Dive".
Pilot: Alan Tracy
A reusable, vertically launched SSTO (Single Stage To Orbit) spaceship used for space rescue and maintenance of Thunderbird 5. Thunderbird 3 is 87 m (287 feet) long, with a 7 m wide body and a 24 m span (including engines).
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".
Aquanaut: Gordon Tracy
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"). In the episode "Terror in New York City" (and briefly in the film Thunderbird 6) Gordon launches the craft by emergency procedure, from Thunderbird 2's hangar and sliding along the island runway, with the runway's overhang automatically dropping into the sea as Thunderbird 4 approaches it. However, the submarine's 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, demolition rockets and battering rams, which can be extended from the nose section.
Space Monitor: John Tracy
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.
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.
FAB 1 is depicted as a modified Rolls-Royce. Owned by International Rescue agent Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward, the car is usually driven by her butler, Parker. The driver sits in a central position at the front of the passenger compartment, which is covered by a bulletproof bubble canopy.
FAB 1 was modified by Brains, the inventor of the Thunderbirds machines, to include weaponry and gadgetry such as front- and rear-mounted machine guns (concealed behind the radiator grille and front and back headlights, although in the episode "The Perils of Penelope", grappling hooks are seen to shoot out of the rear of the car). It is also equipped with a smoke screen canister and oil slick dispenser, extendable tyre-studs (for increased traction), and hydrofoils (or outriggers; for travel on water and snow, respectively).
In the 2004 live-action film, Thunderbirds, FAB 1 is still seen to be pink and powered by a six-wheel drive. Its glass canopy is tinted, and it is now capable of flight in addition to travel on land and sea. FAB 1's boot panels open to expose the gas turbine engine prior to flight, and the wings extend from the undercarriage. During flight, the rear set of wheels folds into the main vehicle body to prevent unnecessary drag. The passenger compartment doubles as a life raft in the event of an emergency at sea; buoyancy tanks hidden in the body panelling ensure that the compartment remains afloat after it has broken away from the rest of the vehicle.
200 miles per hour (320 km/h) + (on land)
50 knots (93 km/h; 58 mph) (on water)
Twin machine guns (front- and back-mounted)
Machine cannon (front-mounted)
Smoke screen canister (back-mounted)
Oil slick dispenser (back-mounted)
Twin laser guns (back-mounted)
4 harpoon launchers (back-mounted)
6 tyre slashers (all tyres)
Propulsion: Vortex aquajet (on water)
Power: Modified Rolls-Royce gas turbine (on land)
Length: 21 feet (6.4 m)
Width: 8 feet (2.4 m)
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.
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.
A mobile command center carried aboard Thunderbird 1, usually manned by Scott Tracy once Thunderbird 1 is on-scene at a rescue operation.
A remotely operated flying camera designed to withstand extreme heat. Also carried aboard Thunderbird 1.