Across the thirty-two episodes of the original Thunderbirds television series and its two feature films, the Thunderbird machines of International Rescue were employed to save the lives of those in peril around the world – but some Thunderbirds saw more action than others! Here’s a handy guide to which episodes and movies the various Thunderbird craft appeared in.
“Sleek, first and fast”, Thunderbird 1 is present during rescue operations in most episodes of the television series and the two feature films Thunderbirds are Go and Thunderbird 6. Its appearance in The Perils of Penelope is however limited to a landing at Tracy Island after Scott returns from leave. It does not appear at all in the episodes Sun Probe, The Impostors, Ricochet, and Give or Take a Million.
The Thunderbird craft most often seen on rescue operations, Thunderbird 2 makes appearances in both Thunderbirds feature films and all of the television episodes with the sole exception of The Impostors.
Designed for space rescue, Thunderbird 3 was the least often used of the Thunderbird machines and is only seen on rescue operations during Sun Probe, The Impostors, and Ricochet. In Give or Take a Million, the rocket is launched only as Nicky’s Christmas present from Jeff ‘Santa’ Tracy. In The Uninvited, The Mighty Atom, Danger at Ocean Deep and The Cham-Cham we see the craft used as a shuttle either from Tracy Island to Thunderbird 5 or vice versa. Although she does not participate in a rescue operation during the course of the film, Thunderbird 3 is assigned to orbital surveillance of the Zero-X launch in Thunderbirds are Go.
The episode Security Hazard features the craft in action via Alan recounting the events of Sun Probe through reused footage. The rocket then makes its final appearance (via reused footage from Thunderbirds are Go) in Jeff Tracy’s opening ‘rundown’ montage of Thunderbirds craft at the start of Thunderbird 6.
Faring somewhat better than Thunderbird 3, Thunderbird 4 participated in rescue operations in the episodes The Mighty Atom, Operation Crash-Dive, Terror in New York City, Day of Disaster, Desperate Intruder, The Man from MI.5, Attack of the Alligators, and Atlantic Inferno. It also appears via stock footage in Security Hazard, as Gordon recounts the events of Day of Disaster.
Thunderbird 4 also features briefly in both feature films; during the opening titles of Thunderbirds are Go, and then as part of the ‘rundown’ in Thunderbird 6. For both films, new footage of the Thunderbird 4 model was filmed.
As International Rescue’s Earth-orbiting space monitor Thunderbird 5 was often seen receiving distress calls or relaying messages, with appearances in Trapped in the Sky, Pit of Peril, City Of Fire, The Uninvited, The Mighty Atom, Vault Of Death, Operation Crash-Dive, Martian Invasion, Brink of Disaster, End Of The Road, Day Of Disaster, 30 Minutes After Noon, The Impostors, The Man From MI.5, Cry Wolf, Danger At Ocean Deep, The Duchess Assignment, Attack of the Alligators!, The Cham-Cham, Atlantic Inferno, Path Of Destruction, Ricochet and Give or Take a Million. Generally these appearances are brief, and the space station is then not actively involved in assisting with rescue operations (with the notable exception of Operation Crash-Dive). Thunderbird 5 also appeared briefly in both Thunderbirds movies, via newly shot footage.
As you might expect, Thunderbird 6’s screen appearances number and indeed total the feature film Thunderbird 6!
Although not a Thunderbird machine, Lady Penelope’s pink Rolls Royce was often as prominently featured as any of them! The car is seen in action in the episodes Trapped in the Sky, Vault Of Death, Brink of Disaster, The Perils of Penelope, Day Of Disaster, 30 Minutes After Noon, The Impostors, The Man From MI.5, The Duchess Assignment, Atlantic Inferno, Path Of Destruction, Alias Mr. Hackenbacker, and Lord Parker’s ‘Oliday. It also appeared prominently in the Thunderbirds are Go and Thunderbird 6 feature films, and makes a cameo parked among the background traffic as the police approach the site of the collapsed Empire State Building in Terror in New York City.