Fireball XL5Fun

The Fireball XL fleet

Across the 39 episodes of Fireball XL5 we followed the daring Steve Zodiac and his crew as they patrolled the spacelanes of Sector 25, helping those in trouble and grappling with all sorts of intergalactic villainy. However, the XL5 was just one part of the larger Fireball XL fleet operated by other members of the World Space Patrol, and we also saw several of her sister ships during the course of the series. Were Zodiac’s fellow astronauts as capable as him, or did they only exist to make him look even more awesome? Here is a complete guide to the Fireball XL ships (and their crews) that we encountered on television!

Fireball XL1

Fireball XL1 made four television appearances, making it the most frequently seen World Space Patrol craft after the XL5 itself. We first see it deployed to intercept a missile from planet Hedera in the episode Plant Man from Space, where it was referred to as XL1-Alpha. At the controls was Captain Ross, described by Steve Zodiac as “very experienced” – although at what is unclear, considering that he crashed XL1-Alpha moments after it left the launch rail.

Lieutenant 90 shows Ross how it’s done.

Lieutenant 90 later took the controls of Fireball XL1 during his astronaut training in the episode Flight to Danger, executing a successful take-off and landing. He also served as co-pilot during Drama at Space City, when he and Commander Zero took XL1 to intercept the runaway XL5. In Trial by Robot, Robert the Robot was compelled to hijack XL1 and take it to planet Robotvia when he was reprogrammed by the mad robotics expert Professor Himber.

Fireball XL2

Crewed by Ken Johnson and Al Stomper, Fireball XL2 was destroyed by a space monster on the planet Monotane. XL2 is the only craft on this list that we don’t get to see in action, as the episode Space Monster opens after her destruction.

Captain Ken Johnson and co-pilot Al Stomper hide from the terrifying Space Monster!

Fireball XL5

The pride of the World Space Patrol, the exploits of Fireball XL5 and her crew are legendary. Normally assigned to patrol Sector 25, the ship has explored many strange new worlds and seen much action in combat, making her Commander Zero’s first choice to investigate any space mystery.

Fireball XL7

Fireball XL7, with the “very experienced” Ross and co-pilot Chuck at the controls, was drawn towards the planet Magneton in the episode Space Magnet. Although the crew survived, and were later rescued by the crew of XL5, the XL7 itself was broken down and recycled as fuel.

Chuck and Ross aboard the doomed XL7.

Fireball XL9

Fireball XL9 made an emergency crash landing at Space City in the episode Spy in Space, after coming under attack from the S.S. Thor while on its way to a rendezvous with Fireball XL5.

Another capable member of the World Space Patrol at the controls of XL9.

Fireball XL18

Fireball XL18 was lost with all hands while investigating an ominous cloud of space gas approaching Earth, in the episode Invasion Earth.

So RIP this guy.

Fireball XL24

Assigned to investigate the destruction of the XL18 in the episode Invasion Earth, Fireball XL24 came under attack from an alien armada hiding in the space cloud and was also destroyed.

And the world mourned the loss of whoever this was.

Fireball XL27

In The Day The Earth Froze, the crew of Fireball XL27 were affected by a coma cannon fired from the frozen planet Zavia in Sector 29. Thankfully, the pilot was able to remain conscious long enough to bring XL27 close enough to Earth and allow Space City to take over her controls by remote.

The ship was severely damaged in the subsequent crash landing, but her crew slept through the whole thing.

Space Rescue 1

While not carrying an XL designation this Space Rescue craft is clearly of the same class of vessel, and made two television appearances. Commander Zero used it in the episode Sabotage to investigate the disabling of Fireball XL5, while in Faster Than Light SR1 is launched to help bring the XL5 back to Earth after she emerges from lightspeed.

“Thus proving that if you want something done properly, you have to do it yourself!”

Want to relive some of these adventures? Head over to the Gerry Anderson store to pick up Fireball XL5 on DVD!

Written by
Chris Dale

Writer, editor & voice actor on Big Finish's Doctor Who, Terrahawks, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet audio ranges. Host of the Randomiser on the Gerry Anderson Podcast.

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