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 another of the most common queries that we’ve seen popping up again and again.
Why do SHADO Interceptors only carry one missile each?
Fans of UFO have plenty of fantastic vehicles and technology to enjoy in a version of the 1980’s that never really materialised.
However, one craft in particular raises a few questions over and over. While it looks amazing, many fans wonder why the SHADO Moonbase Interceptor is armed with only a single missile.
Well, if it was armed with more, there’d just be more to lose down the back of the sofa in your Dinky recreations of the scenes, wouldn’t there?
Oh, that’s not the answer you wanted? Guess I’ll have to get my thinking cap on then…
In an age where the average fan is used to seeing sci-fi ships dogfighting each other like WWII fighter planes, it’s perhaps not surprising that people are more than a little confused by the Interceptor’s supposed lack of weapons.
However, the unusual design choice stems not with a failing on the part of SHADO’s engineers, but from the enemy spacecraft the Interceptor was designed to destroy.
UFOs travel far in excess of the speed of light (commonly shortened to “SOL” in the series). This means that the sub-light Interceptors are physically incapable of seeing them, much less engaging them directly.
The only means of attack is a precisely-timed missile launch, calculated by SHADO’s Moonbase computer. The computer receives the UFO’s course and speed data from SID and works out where and when a detonation should occur to maximise the chance of damaging or destroying an alien craft.
Each Interceptor’s single warhead is comprised of several smaller atomic charges that spread out to blanket a specific sector of space, detonating over a much larger area than a single charge could cover. This blanket effect provides the most effective opportunity to inflict severe damage to a UFO.
If the UFO is damaged and forced to drop to sub-light speeds, the Interceptors can then engage it conventionally with their close-range autocannons concealed in the nose of the craft. Typically such engagements are rare and not without considerable risk as there is no way to be sure a damaged UFO’s weapons system has been disabled.
That’s all for this edition – if you have a burning Ander-Question, don’t forget to leave it in the comments below!