Thunderbird 2 pod vehicles

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Thunderbird 2, which carries rescue equipment via six interchangeable pods.

Thunderbird 2, a fictional heavy-duty transporter aircraft depicted in the 1960s television series Thunderbirds, is designed to carry specialised rescue vehicles and equipment to disaster sites in one of six interchangeable pods. The pod vehicles were stored within the aircraft's cavernous hangar (as seen in the episode "Cry Wolf") or kept on standby within the pods themselves. The only pod never used to contain equipment is Pod 2 (though it was used to transport a boy back home in "Security Hazard"), and the most common pods used are 3 and 5.

Active pod vehicles[edit]

The Mole[edit]

A high-speed, manned 30 ton tunnelling machine capable of boring through even the hardest rock to rescue individuals trapped underground. A serial number of "56156" can be seen on the top rear port side of the Mole. Due to an inbuilt thermal-imaging system in its drill bit, the Mole can be operated with acute precision to ensure that buried individuals are not endangered from rockfalls caused by drill movement despite the fact that the drill screw rotates in the wrong direction. The Mole is carried to rescue sites on its trolley, then tilts to commence drilling. Caterpillar tracks on both sides enable it to return to the surface.[1] The vehicle is often carried in Pod 5, and is notable for being one of the few pod vehicles to appear in multiple episodes; it also appears in the closing credit sequence with the five main Thunderbirds machines and FAB1. It appears in "Pit of Peril", "City of Fire" and "The Duchess Assignment", and is glimpsed in the pod vehicle bay in "Cry Wolf". It is generally regarded as the most popular Thunderbird machine after Thunderbird 4 and has had more replicas made than any other pod vehicle.


One of International Rescue's primary pod vehicles.[2] Firefly is a fire-proof vehicle used for demolition and fire fighting work, fitted with a large Cahelium Extract-X built blade and armed with a nitroglycerin cannon to fire shells to extinguish fires at their source. A rear gun can also be used to extinguish fires using foam or water. Firefly is often carried in Pod 3 or Pod 6. Appears in "City of Fire" and "Terror In New York City" and is glimpsed in the hangar in "Cry Wolf". Like The Mole, Firefly has been issued as a model by many toy manufacturers.


A low-slung search and recovery utility vehicle capable of either travelling along monorail tunnels or, by using its front-mounted telescopic arm, can be attached to an overhead monorail line for greater speed. Due to its low height, the Monobrake can remain in a monorail tunnel and have a train pass over it without incident. The vehicle has seating for two people. The Monobrake appeared in use in the episode "The Perils of Penelope", is glimpsed in the vehicle hangar in "Cry Wolf" and can be seen in Pod 1 in "Security Hazard". Both Konami and Bandai produced models of the vehicle.


The DOMO (Demolition and Object Moving Operator) is a restraint vehicle with three suction arms that, by using artificial-gravity fields[3] can restrain or lift unstable structures (up to 50 ton in weight) or clear the disaster zone of heavy objects prior to the use of other pod vehicles. Appears in "The Duchess Assignment". Konami produced two models of the Domo (one in a diaroma set from "The Duchess Assignment") and Bandai also produced a die cast model. The DOMO is a name for this vehicle popularuized in TV21 comics and annuals. in the episode where the vehicle appears, Scott Tracy (pilot of Thunderbird 1) refers to it as 'The Restraining Outfit'.

Elevator Cars[edit]

The Elevator Cars are built for use at airports to enable stricken aircraft to land safely by way of being manoeuvred beneath a plane to act as replacement landing gear.[2] The Elevator Cars are capable of matching the speed of most incoming aircraft, with each car having twelve wheels and heavy braking systems. Initially four were built; one master elevator car (with a number one label) and three remote controlled cars (numbered 2-4). However number 3 car was destroyed when it lost control and crashed during the rescue of Fireflash. The Elevator cars were seen in the first episode of Thunderbirds, "Trapped in the Sky", with their rescue of Fireflash becoming probably the most iconic in the show's history. As such, many models of the cars - though often just the Master Elevator Car - have been issued, though the Konami pod vehicle range included car number 2. The Konami Fireflash model also containing three miniature in scale Elevator Cars (numbered 1,2 and 4 as per "Trapped In The Sky"). Carried in Pod 3.


The Excavator is a high-powered rock-crushing machine used to clear rough terrain or unblock caves with people trapped inside, often being used for areas affected by landlsides. Similar in design to the DOMO. The Excavator appears in the episode "Martian Invasion" and a diaroma of its use in the episode was re-created by Konami in addition to a standard pod vehicle miniature. Bandai and Takara also issued models of the vehicle. In the epiosde 'The Martian Invasion' where this vehicle is seen, Scott Tracy (pilot Thunderbird 1) refers to this machine as 'The Drilling and Cutting Excavator'.

Fire Truck[edit]

The Fire Truck is adapted from the same vehicle as the Transmitter Truck. Powered by means of twin gas turbine engines, it has a width of 6.5 metres, a length of 15 metres, and can fire nitro-glycerine shells to extinguish blazes as well as pumping water and foam onto blazes. The vehicle has a water capacity of 3,100 litres and when connected to external hydroports can pump water at a rate of 9,000 litres per minute. Like the Transmitter Truck, the lettering 'IR3' is on a nameplate above the cabin. The Fire Truck appears in the opening sequence of "Security Hazard". Bandai is currently the only company to have manufactured a model of the vehicle.

Jet Air Transporter[edit]

The Jet Air Transporter is an air-cushioned vehicle which uses a combination of high-powered vertical turbo fans and anti-gravity technology to allow people jumping from buildings or structures to be caught safely and gently lowered to the ground. A catchment area of 20 feet around the vehicle allows a safety margin for jumpers. The Jet Air Transporter features in the episode "Move – And You're Dead". The only model to have been made of this pod vehicle is a miniature model issued by Konami in the pod vehicle range.

Laser Cutter Vehicle[edit]

The Laser Cutter is a small tracked vehicle with a powerful front-mounted laser that can gain precise and rapid entry to secure buildings such as vaults and bunkers. The laser gun has a number of settings from single beams to pulsed energy bursts[4] as well as an onboard timer and a high powered fan to blow away cuttings. The vehicle is seen in action in the episode "30 Minutes After Noon" but can be seen in the Pod in "Sun Probe". Numerous models of the vehicle exist including Konami and Bandai models.

Mobile Crane[edit]

A six-wheeled "cherry picker" vehicle used primarily to lift rescue personnel up to 100 feet into tall structures, transmitter masts, trees and even moving structures.[4] The three seat vehicle features in the episode "Path of Destruction". Thus far, only Bandai have produced a model of it.

Neutraliser Tractor[edit]

The Neutraliser Tractor is a small tracked mobile device used to disable the radio control systems and electronics of explosive devices through the use of sonic waves. It can also be used to disrupt computer systems by overriding the incoming data signals transmitted by the carrier. The Neutraliser Tractor is seen in action in "Move And You're Dead" and can be seen in the pod in "Sun Probe". No manufacturer has yet issued a model of the vehicle.

Recovery Vehicles[edit]

The Recovery Vehicles are one manned (#1) and one remote-controlled (#2) vehicle equipped with magnetic grappling lines to haul large weights such as aircraft or trains out of lakes, rivers or pits. They are seen emerging from Pod 5 in the episode "Pit of Peril" when they are used to haul the Sidewinder army vehicle out of a fiery pit. Although only seen once, most model manufacturers have issued models of them. Like the Elevator Cars, it is often just the master vehicle, though the Konami series did also produce a miniature of the remote controlled car.

Booster Mortar[edit]

The Booster Mortar (sometimes erroneously referred to as the "Thunderiser") is a small tracked vehicle, similar in design to the Laser Cutter Vehicle. The Booster Mortar has a front-mounted cannon which can, through computer controlled precision, fire steel-cylinder rescue packs to assist people trapped in tall buildings via upper floor windows. The cylinders contain a variety of equipment such as oxygen tanks, anti-gravity jet packs and hand-held fire fighting tools. If need be, explosive projectiles can be fired. The Booster Mortar appears in the episode "Edge of Impact" and can also be glimpsed in the pod vehicle bay in "Cry Wolf". Takara, Konami and Bandai have all issued models of the vehicle.

Transmitter Truck[edit]

The Transmitter Truck is adapted from a heavy-duty commercial vehicle and uses a Jodrell Six multi-use dish that can transmit tractor beams and safety beams in addition to communications and computer data to inaccessible locations. Its traction and high-performance engine allow it to be used in virtually all terrains, as seen in the episode "Sun Probe" when it is used to project a safety beam to the stricken Thunderbird 3. Many models have been made of the truck, though some of them named the truck either 'Jodrell 6' or 'IR3' due to the nameplate above the cabin. The Transmitter Truck can also be glimpsed in the episode "Cry Wolf" in the pod vehicle hangar.

Unused pod vehicles[edit]

International Rescue has a number of other pod vehicles that were seen in the Thunderbirds series, but not seen in active rescue missions.

Fire Tender[edit]

The Fire Tender is another adapted commercial vehicle which serves as a backup to both the Firefly and the Fire Truck. It was bought by International Rescue from a manufacturer of fire-fighting equipment and upgraded.[2] Like the Firefly, it can fire nitroglycerin. The Fire Tender is seen in the Tracy Island tour of the pod vehicle bay in "Cry Wolf" and also seen in the episode Terror In New York. The original commercial vehicle is seen fighting the blaze in the episode "City of Fire". Only one model has ever been produced of the Fire Tender which was made by the Japanese company, Takara, as part of their 1/144 scaled Thunderbird 2 line of models.

Red and Black Truck[edit]

The Red and Black Truck is a HGV style front truck section vehicle with single front wheels and double back wheels. It can be seen in the pod vehicle bay in the episode "Cry Wolf". Its use is, presumably, to transport or tow materials around danger zones - or within the pod vehicle bay - possibly in conjunction with the Yellow Trailer Truck. Despite it only being glimpsed once on screen, Konami issued a miniature model of the vehicle in its Pod Vehicles collection.[5]

Mobile Command Centre[edit]

The Mobile Command Centre is a hover-powered vehicle used in inhospitable environments. If the mobile control unit carried aboard Thunderbird 1 is unable to be used due to bad conditions (for instance, high levels of radiation), the command centre serves as an alternative means of providing the same functions as the unit.[6]

Yellow Trailer Truck[edit]

The Yellow Trailer truck is seen in the pod vehicle hangar in the Tracy Island tour in "Cry Wolf". It is adapted from a commercial vehicle and as it is not a flatbed truck, is presumably used to transport cylindrical heavy objects to and from disaster zones. The original design on which the vehicle is based can be seen in the episode "Day of Disaster" transporting the rear of the Martian Space Probe to its destination. As seen in the episode, the vehicle appears to be buoyant in water and thus can presumably be used to transport over land and sea. No models have been made of this vehicle.

Pod devices[edit]

Diacetyline Cage[edit]

The Diacetyline Cage is a piece of equipment that can be mounted in elevator shafts, allowing a small red cage to be lowered or raised to rescue people trapped in elevator shafts. The cage is fireproof and is capable of spraying diacetylene out of side and base panels in case of the shaft being on fire. Attached to the bottom of the cage is a grab which can be used to haul broken lift compartments back up. The Diacytelene Cage is seen in action in the episode "30 Minutes After Noon". According to the Haynes manual, the cage is transported by means of a vehicle that shares its chassis with the Thunderiser/Laser Cutter. No models have been issued of this device.

Electromagnetic Grabs[edit]

The Electromagnetic grabs, according to the Thunderbird 2 cross-section, are housed in all six pods of Thunderbird 2 and are hydraulically lowered from a hatch in the base of the pod. However, in the Haynes Thunderbirds Manual (Agents' Technical Manual), the grabs take up the whole of Pod 2. The Grabs are used to grab and lift heavy vehicles out of disaster areas and, as seen in "Brink of Disaster" are strong enough to tear an individual carriage from a monorail out of the whole train. They are also seen in "End of The Road". No model manufacturer has yet made a Thunderbird 2 model which incorporates these grabs.

Sealant Device[edit]

The Sealant Device is an underwater machine capable of sealing cracks in the sea bed or underwater air pockets. The device is initially buoyant but can be submerged and towed underwater by Thunderbird 4 to a disaster zone. Four steel pins are then activated which cement themselves into the ground whilst the central section acts as the sealant. The Sealant Device is seen in the episode "Atlantic Inferno". No models have been produced of this device.

Other equipment[edit]

Thunderbird 2 is used to transport other smaller items of equipment to danger zones such as the mobile computer and Braman in "Sun Probe" and the hoverbikes used in numerous episodes. Pod 5 is seen to have an onboard lab in "Pit of Peril". Thunderbird 2 also has a front missile launcher on its top (seen in "Alias Mr Hackenbacker" and another version in Thunderbird 6) and base. Also on its base above the retros are tranquilliser guns (featured in "Attack of the Alligators!"). There is also a magnetic winch used to move people from TB to another airborne vehicle seen in Thunderbirds Are Go.

Though not pod vehicles as such, Alan's racing car ("Move – And You're Dead") and Brains and Tin-Tin's truck and caravans ("Desperate Intruder") are seen exiting from one of the Thunderbird 2 pods. Thunderbird 2 also has at least two large tents in its storage compartment ("The Uninvited").

Thunderbird 2 also has a selection of other electromagnetic grabs in its front section including:

  • A Hauser cable rocket launcher consisting of two electromagnetic grabs used to slow down fast moving objects as seen in "The Cham-Cham"
  • A three pronged electromagnetic grab used to move small stationary objects as seen in "Day of Disaster"
  • A three pronged claw used to carry small objects away from the danger zone as seen in Atlantic Inferno"
  • A grappler device used to clear debris from a disaster area as seen in "Day of Disaster"
  • A small circular electromagnetic grab used to move awkwardly shaped objects such as satellite dishes as seen in "Lord Parker's 'Oliday"
  • Small rocket-clamp wire gun and machine guns seen only in Thunderbird 6.

Next to the grabs is a four person heatproof rescue cage[7] as used in the episode "Lord Parker's 'Oliday" and "Operation Crash-Dive". The Takara 1/144 Thunderbird 2 model is the only model to feature all these grabs apart from those from Thunderbird 6.[8]


  1. ^ Bleathman, Graham: FAB Cross Sections, p. 13.
  2. ^ a b c Bleathman, p. 10.
  3. ^ Bleathman, p. 11.
  4. ^ a b Bleathman, p. 11.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Thunderbirds Agents' Technical Manual, p. 62
  7. ^ Bleathman p. 9.
  8. ^