Ander-Answers! Volume #1

With so many wonderfully diverse series and countless thrilling episodes to enjoy, it’s not surprising that we’ve been discussing all things Anderson for over 60 years!

We regularly receive loads of questions from old and new fans alike and today we’re going to answer one of the most common queries that we’ve seen popping up again and again.

So strap in, hold tight, and prepare yourselves for an Ander-Answer!

How Does Thunderbird 4 Get Back Into The Pod?

Ah yes, this old chestnut! Across the 32 original series episodes, 2 feature films and 3 Anniversary episodes of Thunderbirds, we’ve seen Thunderbird 4 deployed on its fair share or aquatic rescue missions. However, we’ve never once seen the craft retrieved at the end of an assignment, which begs the question; how exactly is that done?

Well, it’s actually not as complicated as it seems. First, we have to have a look at Pod 4, the specialised cargo Pod that Thunderbird 4 is transported inside. For starters it’s adapted to float on water, unlike the other 5 Pods that are only designed to be deployed on land.

It is equipped with ballast tanks and gyroscopic stabilisers to improve stability even in rough seas. The flap of the Pod usually remains open during rescue operations, unless the ocean swell is incredibly severe, in which case it can be closed remotely by radio beam from Thunderbird 2 or Thunderbird 4 to prevent water entry.

Pod 4 is also equipped with an auto-bilge pump, which can safely evacuate moderate quantities of water when the need arises.

Thunderbird 4 launches in spectacular fashion! But how does it get picked up again?

Let’s examine how Thunderbird 4 is launched. There are two main scenarios:

  • Air Drop: Thunderbird 2 drops Pod 4 from the air and, cushioned by descent thrusters and shock-absorbers, it splashes down in the water. The flap opens, the launch rail extends and angles down into the water and Thunderbird 4 races along it into the sea.
  • Water Landing: Thunderbird 2 descends to the surface of the water, releases the Pod locking clamps and ascends into the air once again, leaving the Pod behind. The rest of the launch is carried out as above.

Now for the retrieval of Thunderbird 4 and Pod 4.

1. Thunderbird 4 surfaces and approaches the Pod, which is floating on the surface of the ocean. If the flap is closed, it is opened by radio beam and the launch rail is deployed onto the water.

2. Gordon spins Thunderbird 4 around 180 degrees so that it faces forward, away from the Pod flap.

3. Reverse motors are carefully engaged and Thunderbird 4 reverses to the edge of the Pod flap so that it is resting in the water just above the launch rail.

4. Gordon adjusts the ballast so that the craft sinks down onto the launch rail, where it is clamped in place by electromagnets.

5. The launch rail (with Thunderbird 4 securely attached) is retracted into the Pod by remote and the Pod flap is closed once again.

6. Thunderbird 2 descends to the surface of the water, maneuvering over the Pod as it does so, and clamps the Pod in place before performing a vertical launch and returning to Tracy Island.

And that’s all for today, folks! If you have any other burning questions that you’d like us to answer in the next edition of Ander-Answers! then leave a comment below!

Written by
Andrew Clements

A writer, film maker and self confessed Gerry Anderson fanatic. Free to good home.

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