Heavy rescue equipment
Marc J. Frattasio
in its underground hangar over the
Six numbered container pods, preloaded with vehicles and equipment for the most likely rescue situations, move below Thunderbird 2 on a motorized conveyor belt. When the proper pod is in position, Thunderbird 2 lowers itself on to it and the pod is locked into place.
suggests that International Rescue's heavy rescue equipment was stored or serviced in a garage under Tracy Island. Here is a view of the underground garage with several familiar and unfamiliar heavy rescue vehicles in view. From left to right, we can see the
a fire truck (the heavily modified rocket transport truck from
a trailer (the rocket transport trailer from Day of Disaster
), and the
the Hover Bed is equipped with powerful air compressors which produce a cushioning bed of high pressure air into which persons can safely jump from high places. The Hover Bed is transported into action in Thunderbird 2 Pod #1.
The Hover Bed appears to have been made from wood with various unidentifiable plastic model kit parts and other things added to it for detail. The compressed air jets at the back of the model were actually props which had been recycled from Stingray
(visible on the oil rig deck in Sea of Oil
). Two Hover Bed models were made. These were a 1/24th
scale model which was used for long shots, and a much larger puppet sized version which was used for close up shots. The 1/24th
scale model was fitted with tiny hidden wheels to give the impression that it is an air cushion vehicle. Like most ground vehicles used in Thunderbirds
, the Hover Bed was fitted with downward facing
which kicked up a cloud of Fuller's Earth which had been placed on the miniature set. The model was also fitted with a plasticine driver.
The Bomb Neutralizer was featured in Move and You're Dead. It apparently generates an electromagnetic or ultrasonic signal which temporarily renders explosive devices inert. The Bomb Neutralizer is transported into action in Thunderbird 2 Pod #1.
The Bomb Neutralizer appears to have been built directly on top of the framework of a
motorized toy tractor.
The same toy tractor was incorporated into the Restraining Unit (reworked as the Drilling and Crushing Excavator), Radio Transmitter Truck, Rescue Pack Vehicle, Mole, Firefly, Recovery Vehicle, Laser Beam Cutter and Tunnel Exploration Vehicle models (see below). A 1/24th
scale Bomb Neutralizer was built for use in long shots. A much larger puppet scaled control and transmitter section was built for close up shots with the Brains puppet. The 1/24th
scale model was fitted with a plasticine figure.
A tiny (very poor) plastic model kit of the Bomb Neutralizer was made by Imai as part of their Thunderbird 2 accessory pod kit series.
The Elevator Cars were featured in
Three of these vehicles were used to help the
nuclear powered supersonic airliner, which could not lower its landing gear due to sabotage, to land safely at London International Airport. There were four Elevator Cars, one manned vehicle and three radio controlled slave units. The Elevator Cars are transported into action in Thunderbird 2 Pod #3.
A number of models were built in two different sizes and in two slightly different versions (manned and unmanned). At least two models were built to the standard 1/24th Thunderbird 2 pod scale and at least three others were built to a much smaller scale to match the Fireflash airliner model. The models were fitted with interchangeable signs and numbers. All of the models were made out of wood with kit part detailing (the Airfix Box Girder Bridge kit was one of the kits used on the larger models) and other bits. The wheels on all models were actual rubber wheels for flying model aircraft. The famous smoking brake scene as the Fireflash airliner is brought to a halt on the London International Airport runway was achieved through the use of Titanium Tetrachloride, a corrosive fluid which smokes in contact with the air.
Three tiny (poor quality) Elevator Car kits were included in Imai and Bandai's 7" Thunderbird 2 model kits. Additionally, Furuta produced a very highly detailed 2½" model which was included as a premium in packages of chocolate covered puffed wheat.
The Restraining Unit was featured in
This piece of rescue equipment uses powerful suction cups on the ends of its hydraulic arms to keep weakened structures from collapsing. The Restraining Unit is transported into action in Thunderbird 2 Pod #3.
The 1/24th scale model was about 14" long. It had had a wooden body fitted on top of a motorized toy tractor. The same toy tractor was also used in other vehicles (see above). The body was detailed with a number of model kit parts including the engine block from an AMT Silhouette, bumper and tail lights from an AMT El Camino, and numerous parts from the AMT 1965 Pontiac. This model was later redressed and reused as the Drilling and Crushing Excavator in
A small kit of the Restraining Unit was included with Imai's recent 1/350 scale Thunderbird 2.
The Radio Transmitter Truck was featured in
It is transported into action in Thunderbird 2 Pod #3.
The 1/24th scale Radio Transmitter Truck was a wooden frame built on top of the same toy tractor was also used in other vehicles (see above). A different toy tractor provided tracks for the front bogie. Many plastic kit parts were used in the construction of this model, including an automobile kit (the back half of the kit it appears) which provided the cab. The radio transmitter dish, which appears to have been made from a metal lamp reflector, was fitted with a working electric light bulb. The 20" model was redressed for use as the Gray & Houseman truck in
and also appeared as a fire truck in Security Hazard.
A tiny model kit of the Radio Transmitter Truck was made by Imai as part of their Thunderbird 2 accessory pod kit series.
The Rescue Pack Vehicle was featured in
It is equipped with a small mortar which can be used to fire rescue equipment (such as rocket belts) to people trapped on high towers or other structures. The Rescue Pack Vehicle is transported into action in Thunderbird 2 Pod #3.
This model appears to have been a wooden body mounted on top of the same motorized toy tractor that was also used in other vehicles (see above). The wooden body shell was detailed with kit parts and other things and was equipped with a plasticine driver figure. The 1/24th scale model was about 10" long. This model was later reworked into the Laser Beam Cutter for
A tiny Rescue Pack Vehicle was made by Imai as part of their Thunderbird 2 accessory pod kit series.
The Mobile Crane was featured in
This piece of rescue equipment has a long articulated crane mounted on its back. In Path of Destruction, the Mobile Crane was used to lift Virgil Tracy and Brains to the cab of the tall Crablogger vehicle. The Mobile Crane is transported into action in Thunderbird 2 Pod #3.
This 1/24th scale model appears to have been made of wood and detailed with numerous kit parts and other things. Some of the plastic kits which contributed parts were the Airfix Signal Gantry, Airfix 15 Ton Crane, and AMT 1965 Pontiac. It used real rubber wheels made for radio controlled flying model aircraft.
This model was later reused as a fire truck in the Captain Scarlet episode Seek and Destroy.
The Mole was featured in
The Duchess Assignment and Security Hazard. The Mole is a two part vehicle. The drill part is transported into position by a tractor, elevated to the vertical, and then goes on its way, drilling through the earth to rescue trapped people. The Mole is transported into action in Thunderbird 2 Pod #4 and Pod #5.
The 1/24th scale Mole drill was made of wood and a plastic tube. It was fitted with a motor which permitted the drill bit to spin. The tractor was a combination of kit parts and a toy tractor was also used in other vehicles (see above). Many plastic model kit parts were used to construct and detail the Mole, most notably the Airfix Box Girder Bridge which supports the drill vehicle. Other kits which donated parts to the Mole include Revell's Atlas Missile and B-58. The front of the drill bit was made from a cut-down flying model aircraft propeller and spinner. The Mole was rebuilt and redetailed several times during the filming of Thunderbirds.
The Mole appears to have been the most popular subject for Thunderbirds model kits. Imai and Bandai produced a number of different scaled kits. Additionally, small plastic candy premium models kits were available from Bandai, Furuta, and Morinaga.
The Drilling and Crushing Excavator was featured in Martian Invasion. This vehicle uses the power shovel mounted at its front to move rock and rubble rearward where it can be pulverized into dust and expelled. The Drilling and Crushing Excavator is transported into action in Thunderbird 2 Pod #5.
The 1/24th scale Drilling and Crushing Excavator was of course recycled from the Restraining Unit featured in The Duchess Assignment. Basically, a new power shovel part was added to the front of the Restraining Unit. Because of the new power shovel parts, the Drilling and Crushing Excavator was about 6" longer than the Restraining Unit. The power shovel was detailed with a number of parts from the Airfix SRN-1 Hovercraft kit.
A tiny model kit of the Drilling and Crushing Excavator was made by Imai as part of their Thunderbird 2 accessory pod kit series.
The Firefly was featured in
and City of Fire. This vehicle uses its heat resistant shovel, turret mounted water cannon (at the rear), and front mounted nitroglycerin shell firing cannon to fight raging fires. The Firefly is transported into action in Thunderbird 2 Pod #5 and Pod #6.
The Firefly model, which actually can be seen burning on TV, appears to have been a fiberglass body shell mounted on top of a motorized toy tractor that was also used in other vehicles (see above). The model's body shell was detailed with many plastic kit parts and other bits. The shovel blade and supporting structure were probably made of metal. The 1/24th scale model was about 15" long.
A tiny model kit of the Firefly was made by Imai as part of their Thunderbird 2 accessory pod kit series and they made a larger clockwork powered kit as well. Bandai produced a slightly deformed kit as a candy premium.
The Recovery Vehicles were featured in Pit of Peril. One was manned and the other was a radio controlled slave unit. They are transported into action in Thunderbird 2 Pod #5.
Two 1/24th scale Recover Vehicles models, about 17" long, were made of wood on top of a motorized toy tractor, the same one which was also used in other vehicles (see above). The models were detailed with a number of kit parts and other things. A large nose section was built for use in scenes where the magnetic grabs are fired.
A tiny Recovery Vehicle was made by Imai as part of their Thunderbird 2 accessory pod kit series and they also produced a larger clockwork powered version too. Bandai, Furuta, and Morinaga all produced small kits of the Recovery Vehicle as candy premiums.
The Laser Beam Cutter was featured in 30 Minutes After Noon. This vehicle is fitted with an articulated laser beam which can cut through nearly any material. The Laser Beam Cutter is transported into action in Thunderbird 2 Pod #5.
This model was rebuilt from the Rescue Pack Vehicle described above. The only change appears to have been the insertion of the laser beam emitter to the barrel of the mortar.
The Tunnel Exploration Vehicle was featured in
This low-slung tracked vehicle was used in this episode to find some people who were trapped in a long railway tunnel. The Tunnel Exploration Vehicle is transported into action in Thunderbird 2 Pod #6.
The 1/24th scale model was about 16" long. It appears to have had a wooden body fitted on top of a toy tractor which was also used in other vehicles (see above). The wooden body was detailed with a number of unidentifiable model kit parts and other bits. It was also equipped with a plasticine driver figure.
As can be gathered from this listing, both the Firefly and the Mole can be seen emerging from two different pods. It may be assumed that not too close an eye was kept on such continuity details during production [which is also evident when one compares the different inside decorations of the pods].
However, putting either machine in another Pod would give rise to serious story difficulties since in the episode Pit of Peril both the recovery vehicles and the Mole can be seen coming out of Pod #5 and the Firefly and the Mole are established as being both in Pod #5 in the City of Fire episode. Had either one been in a different Pod, Virgil would have had to leave the site of the rescue to get the other one!
Another oddity that comes to light thanks to this listing is that pod #2 was never used during the recording of the series.
This page published originally at
the Supermarionation sfx WebSite
Marc J. Frattasio;
not for reproduction for profit without his express permission