Ever dreamed of flying on board Fireflash (on a good day!) or taking the helm of the USN Sentinel? Now is the chance for you to show your support for your favourite Thunderbirds guest vehicles. These are the planes, rockets and ships which often stole the show, and even more often left themselves at the mercy of the International Rescue team when they began to plunge into disaster. Here are our top ten, but tell us yours in the comments at the bottom of the page.
10. Martian Space Probe – Day of Disaster
It may not have fared too well against the perils of crossing the Allington suspension bridge, but the Martian Space Probe Rocket from Day of Disaster still has a place on the top ten list. The excitement of the rocket’s transportation is accompanied by Barry Gray’s stirring ‘March of the Oysters’ theme, having journeyed all the way over to England from Cape Kennedy in order to rendezvous with the planet Mars more effectively. Indeed, this is the first attempt we see in the Thunderbirds series to reach the mysterious red planet before the slightly more successful Zero-X mission…9. Pacific Atlantic Monorail – Brink of Disaster
What could be cooler than an overhead monorail? A completely automatic overhead monorail stretching across North America with no staff and a complete disregard for safety regulations? Maybe not. Warren Grafton certainly wasn’t the most moralistic businessman, but he did share the vision of Gerry Anderson that monorails were the future. It is possible to assume that when he saw these overhead trains during a trip to the New York World’s Fair that Gerry thought they would be commonplace by 2065. Today we’re still waiting for them to become mainstream, but with people like Warren Grafton around maybe it’s safer if our trains stay firmly on the ground.
8. USN Sentinel – Terror In New York City
Provided you can forgive the Navy for shooting down our beloved Thunderbird 2, the Sentinel is a sleek strike vessel capable of incredible speeds and tremendous fire power. It has a top speed of at least 200 knots and is called upon by International Rescue to rush Thunderbird 4 to New York following Thunderbird 2’s attack. Of course an impressive ship like the Sentinel is only as good as its commander – we can only hope he got a very firm slap on the wrists for mistaking a giant green transport plane for a missile…
7. Skyship One – Thunderbird 6
An airship? An airship?! They laughed, they built it, and then it crashed and took out a geographically questionable missile base five miles east of Dover. Aside from having a villainous crew, Skyship One is an incredible craft featuring some of the most lavishly decorated interior sets by the Century 21 design team to date. The gravity compensation room not only formed a very tense setting for a shootout, but enabled the enormous machine to float into the air with greatly reduced mass. Skyship One took the International Rescue team all over the world on a completely automatic flight plan. As with many completely automatic machines in Thunderbirds, they tend not to make their second trip…
6. Sun Probe – Sun Probe and The Perils of Penelope
In the year 2065, 20 million pounds of thrust produced from fuel made of seawater can get you into a solar orbit in about a week. Alas, the Sun Probe rocket, followed by Thunderbird 3, proved why that might not be a good idea. Nevertheless, the Sun Probe represents an incredible scientific achievement by travelling across space at an enormous speed and (almost) standing up to the Sun’s phenomenal heat and radiation. Concern for our own planet’s natural resources continue throughout the 21st Century with Sir Jeremy Hodge and Professor Borender’s fuel developed from seawater proving a highly desirable commodity, even to the criminal masterminds of the world.
5. Zero-X – Thunderbirds Are Go
Zero-X, the solar system exploration ship that was so good they had to build at least three of them. The first was sabotaged by The Hood (albeit by accident), the second wiping out an entire town when it crash-lands in Craigsville, and the third transporting Captain Black to Mars to start a war with the Mysterons. Despite these slip ups, Zero-X is an amazing spaceship to watch in International Rescue’s first outing on the big screen. The sequence showing the craft’s assembly may be gratuitous but it demonstrates the desire of the Century 21 team to make space travel believable and grown up by showing all the necessary components coming together. Behind the scenes, the biggest model of the ship was over 7 foot long and filming of its demise took 2 days. The adventures of Zero-X would, however, continue through the TV Century 21 comic.4. Gray and Houseman Road Construction Vehicle – End of the Road
It is perhaps a shame that this incredible machine was not the main feature of End of the Road as it is truly stunning to watch at work. This all-in-one Road Construction Vehicle can simultaneously clear the path in front of it (with explosives of course) while laying a perfect tarmac road. This enormous beast also carries an explosives truck for more intense clearance and a reconnaissance helijet. The crew live and work onboard as it ploughs through remote areas of South-East Asia building highways.3. Sidewinder – Pit of Peril
“It’s like a monster from another planet,” says General Peters with great pride just before his 500 ton jungle clearing Sidewinder fell down a big hole in the ground and burst into flames. Despite the machine’s helplessness at the bottom of the pit, the Sidewinder is an awe-inspiring design which really does look like a creature out of a horror movie. It’s the sort of image that would have kids all over the world drawing pictures and wondering if every vehicle would look cooler if it walked on four legs. Of course Derek Meddings’ special effects team do an outstanding job making us believe that this army transport machine could actually work as it tears its way through the jungle… 2. Crablogger – Path of Destruction
The Crablogger is the epitome of a 2065 disaster waiting to happen. It’s automatic, it’s got an atomic reactor and it’s got a whacking great chain saw stuck on the front. It’s almost unfortunate that we don’t get to see the massive disaster that would have been caused by the Crablogger bursting through the San Martino dam and exploding in what would have probably been the biggest explosion in Supermarionation history… but never mind, the explosion we do get at the end of the episode is still “quite a bang.” The Crablogger was built as a forest clearing machine, developed by Jim Lucas, with the front section chopping down the trees and the rear section processing them into wood pulp. When this machine is seen in action for the first time, one is left open mouthed as it clears a path through the South American forest.1. Fireflash – Trapped in the Sky, Operation Crash-Dive and more
It’s the plane that everyone wants to have a go at sabotaging. The Fireflash may have had a few false starts, but it quickly became Air Terrainean’s aircraft of choice. The aircraft flies at six times the speed of sound while carrying 600 passengers in comfort and luxury in its many cocktail lounges. It can also carry vehicles and is flown from the cockpit which is unusually positioned in the tail fin to allow the pilot and co-pilot a complete view of the plane. It is of course a very striking and memorable design.The beautifully shot emergency landing sequence in Trapped in the Sky makes it one of the most iconic craft from the series. It earned a place alongside the other International Rescue craft in the series’ end titles and featured in a deleted scene from the Thunderbirds Are Go feature film. Fireflash has remained popular to this day and of course it simply had to earn the number one spot on this list.
Do you agree with the choices on this list? Which is your favourite guest vehicle from Thunderbirds? Let us know in the comments down below.