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Know Your Anderson Acronyms, Part 1

The worlds of Gerry Anderson are packed with rescue organisations, security outfits and top secret inventions, many of which are wildly known by their fanciful shorthand titles. These elaborate acronyms give the various organisations, vehicles and commands seen throughout Anderson shows a uniquely memorable identity. In-universe, they also serve such purposes as a protective layer of security against enemy forces, a sign-off response indicating an understanding or agreement, or generally just as a conveniently short name for vehicles or organisations.

With so many acronyms to keep track of, here’s your handy guide to knowing your Gerry Anderson acronyms!


W.S.P. – World Space Patrol

The World Space Patrol serves as an intergalactic police force, keeping the peace for humans and aliens alike throughout the stars. Seen in Fireball XL5, this Earth-based outfit has a variety of fantastic rescue and security space vehicles to its name, all stationed at Space City.

W.A.S.P. – World Aquanaut Security Patrol

The World Aquanaut Security Patrol defends the Earth from marauding underwater alien invaders, whilst maintaining peaceful relationships with less villainous civilisations. Seen in Stingray, W.A.S.P. is stationed at Marineville and encompasses a wide-ranging fleet of advanced aircraft, carrier craft, and submarines in its mission to keep the Earth’s oceans safe.

W.S.P. – World Security Patrol

The World Security Patrol (that *other* W.S.P. acronym!) serves as the parent organisation of W.A.S.P. Seen exclusively in Stingray, it’s name and function as a sort of United Nations-styled security taskforce that other patrol organisations exist under its belt, but the series never quite elaborates on its hierarchy.

However, in the pages of TV Century 21, the World Security Patrol would be confirmed to be in command of both W.A.S.P. and the World Space Patrol, along with several other Earth-based security and military outfits.

I.R. – International Rescue

An independent, humanitarian outfit, International Rescue exists to save the lives of people in colossal danger where more traditional means of rescue are unsuccessful. As an organisation, International Rescue, seen in Thunderbirds, is closely identified by the short-hand name I.R., seen on the outfit’s memorably distinct emblem of a hand outstretched across the world.

S.H.E.F. – Supreme Headquarters Earth Forces

This briefly seen military outfit seen in the Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons episode Point 783 presumably serves a means of blanketing all of the Earth’s far-reaching military powers under one convenient title. The S.H.E.F.’s commander becomes the Mysterons’ latest target, who in turn hijack the S.H.E.F.’s latest invention, the Unitron tank, to murder the commander.

W.I.N. – World Intelligence Network

The World Intelligence Network, seen in Joe 90, is a global espionage network of undercover operatives who maintain the balance of power between Western and Eastern forces.

B.I.S.H.O.P. – British Intelligence Service Headquarters, Operation Priest

B.I.S.H.O.P. serves as a unique branch of British Intelligence which serves much the same function as W.I.N., but with an eccentric twist! B.I.S.H.O.P. employs the services of Father Stanley Unwin, a seemingly quirky British parish priest who secretly works for the outfit as an undercover agent, thwarting enemies of all varieties.

EUROSEC – European Space Exploration Council

If Doppelganger is seen as a thematic precursor to UFO, then EUROSEC is a precursor to S.H.A.D.O. Headed by Jason Webb, The European Space Exploration Council fights tooth and nail against NASA bureaucracy when the organisation discovers the existence of a tenth planet in our Solar System orbiting the Sun in exact parallel to our own Earth.

S.H.A.D.O. – Supreme Headquarters Alien Defence Organisation

Acting under the elaborate cover of serving as a film studio, S.H.A.D.O. is an organisation formed to defend the Earth from an invasion of nameless aliens who travel incredible distances out of pure survival in order to harvest on human organs. S.H.A.D.O. operates a vast plethora of aircraft, submarines, moon bases, satellites and other installations all in secret around the world, and all under a strict cloak of secrecy.


SPV – Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle

Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons mostly abandoned the use of exciting, evocative names for its vehicles and embraced a far more utilitarian motif for naming its fleet of mecha marvels. At the centre of Spectrum’s ground-based forces are the SPV’s. Hidden around the world for immediate use, the Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle is one of Spectrum’s deadliest weapons against the Mysterons. The SPV is tank-esque brute force of design, able to withstand enemy firepower and packed with an impressive array of weaponry of its own. It’s most distinguishing feature is how its driver pilots the vehicle facing back-to-front.

SPC/SSC – Spectrum Patrol Car/Spectrum Saloon Car

The Spectrum Patrol Car, alternatively known as the Spectrum Saloon Car, is a much less covert vehicle for Spectrum operatives compared to the SPV. This vehicle is used chiefly for reconnaissance and investigation between assignments, making up in speed and agility what it lacks in the SPV’s armour, versatility and firepower.

MSV – Maximum Security Vehicle

The MSV is Spectrum’s chief means of transportation when assigned to protect VIPs. Its unique armoured structure is countered by its comfortable interiors, enabling its passengers to travel in safety and comfort.

SPJ – Spectrum Passenger Jet

Rather like the SPC, the Spectrum Passenger Jet serves as the primary means by which Spectrum operatives are transported to and from Cloudbase. The SPJ is also used as means of transport for any visiting officials to Cloudbase.

SID – Space Intruder Detector

A rare instance of an acronym used to name a vehicle outside of Captain Scarlet, Space Intruder Detector from UFO serves as S.H.A.D.O.’s primary tracking for invading UFOs. SID houses an intricate labyrinth of computer hardware and circuitry, enabling the satellite to scan for millions of miles and keep a watchful electronic eye on the depths of the cosmos for any incoming enemies.


P.W.O.R. – Proceeding With Orders Received

This curiously styled acronym may not have the immediacy of what would come for Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet, but Stingray puts its own unique spin on simply saying ‘roger’ or ‘over and out’! P.W.O.R. is utilised throughout the series as a response to any orders given, and is generally used by the Stingray crew when accepting orders from Commander Shore.

F.A.B. – Nothing! Sort of…

It’s comically appropriate that surely the best-known acronym from Gerry Anderson’s body of work doesn’t stand for anything at all! Or does it…?

F.A.B. is used extensively throughout Thunderbirds as another instance of accepting orders or understanding a situation. It’s used most often by the Tracy brothers to aid in the efficiency of a rescue operation. However, despite its use as an apparent acronym, it never in fact stood for anything specific!

Outside of the confines of the TV series however, the acronym takes on an intriguingly separate lease of life. The spin-off media of various 1960s Anderson series often went to great lengths expanding the worlds of each series they spun out of. In character biographies published in the various 1960s annuals, F.A.B. became the shorthand name for a rarely seen spy-fi outfit. It’s full name was the Federal Agents Bureau, and was closely linked to several female Anderson heroes of the 1960s, most notably Lady Penelope.

F.A.B. has also become utilised more recently as the acronym for First Action Bureau, an organisation rooted in advanced artificial intelligence, using it to predict and prevent criminal activity before it has a chance to be carried out.

Discover more about the lengthily and sometimes convoluted history of this widely recognised Anderson acronym!

S.I.G. – Spectrum is Green

Captain Scarlet‘s equivalent of F.A.B. or P.W.O.R. remains one of the series’ best-remember aspects. Short, catchy, instantly memorable and identifiable, ‘Spectrum is Green’ is used by Spectrum personnel to indicate understanding or agreement. The acronym took on its own post-TV afterlife by being parodied by Terrahawks, and even becoming the name of the long-running Anderson fanzine Supermarionation is Go.

S.I.R. – Spectrum is Red

S.I.R. is the obvious alternative to S.I.G. and is used to indicate a warning or emergency. However, it wasn’t used nearly as extensively as its counterpart. Nevertheless, this callsign remains an equally vital part of Spectrum’s extensive communications network.


B.I.G. R.A.T. – Brain Impulse Galvanoscope Record and Transfer

This incredible invention of Professor Ian McClaine has the ability to record and then transfer brain patterns from one individual to another. The B.I.G. R.A.T. itself is a colossal circular-shaped computer system, whilst the individual receiving a brain pattern sits within the Rat Trap, a spherical cage in which the individual then acquires the brain pattern. The B.I.G. R.A.T. becomes an invaluable technological asset to W.I.N. when McClaine’s son, Joe, becomes W.I.N.’s most special agent.

You’ll almost always find a useful and memorable acronym in Gerry Anderson’s worlds – but that’s not all! Stand by for our second explanatory round-up of Anderson acronyms, this time from the extensive worlds of spin-off media of Anderson shows!

To be the first to hear about the latest news, exclusive releases and show announcements, sign up to the Anderson Entertainment newsletter!

Written by
Fred McNamara

Atomic-powered writer/editor. Website editor at Official Gerry Anderson. Author of Flaming Thunderbolts: The Definitive Story of Terrahawks. Also runs Gerry Anderson comic book blog Sequential 21.

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