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Fireflash is a hypersonic airliner, capable of travelling at six times the speed of sound. It can carry a maximum of 600 persons (passengers and crew).
Its luxurious interior contains a comfortable lounge in each of its two main wings; its cargo area includes a vehicle garage (seen in The Impostors); and its cockpit is located, unconventionally, in the tail fin.
The Fireflash fleet has been the target of at least two separate sabotage events - both of which required the intervention of International Rescue...
Fireflash's nose cone contains landing sensors as well as radar and tracking systems. The main wings begin roughly halfway down the fuselage, and sweep back to the very end of the plane. Each wing contains a cocktail lounge, with Cahelium Extract X-strengthened windows that offer panoramic views.
The wings each have an aileron and a leading edge flap - when the plane is landing, the ends fold down 90 degrees to deploy the nacelle undercarriage; and then, when it takes off and is in the air, the undercart is closed and the end of each wing folds back up 90 degrees.
The Fireflash's cockpit is located in its tail fin - which allows its flight crew the advantage of a completely-unobstructed, linear view of the massive aircraft.
The top of the tail fin splits into two branches - each one housing three "Atomus" engines, that give Fireflash a cruising speed of 3865 mph (Mach 6 at an altitude of 250,000 feet). There are two sets of horizontal stabilizing fins: one pair near the front of the fuselage, the other attached to the engines.
Forward Passenger Lounge
The fuselage houses the forward passenger lounge, which has two decks (indicated by the two rows of windows, seen in close-ups).
Loading is done by a hydraulic lift, that is built into parking bays at airports.
While the reactor itself is capable of running for up to six months, the shielding around it requires servicing at the end of every flight - thus limiting the aircraft's flight time to around 3-4 hours, before everyone aboard is exposed to lethal levels of radiation.
- Flight deck crew: At least 1 pilot and 1 co-pilot
- Manufacturer: New World Aircraft Corporation
- Maximum operating altitude: 250,000 feet
- Length: Estimated at 300m (984 feet) based on actual film shots
- Passenger deck crew: At least 20
- Power source: Atomic reactor powering six "Atomus" engines; three are in each tail fin
- Top speed: Not known precisely, but at least Mach 6 (4,604 mph at 250,000 feet)
- Wingspan:180 feet
- Weight: 1,806 tons
- Main article: Fireflash (1)
- The Impostors (cameo)
- The Duchess Assignment (cameo)
- The Man From MI.5 (cameo)
- Security Hazard (flashback)
- Fireflash 1 was piloted by Captain Hanson. His co-pilot was unnamed.
- Fireflash 3's pilot was unnamed.
- Fireflash 4's pilot was also unnamed. His co-pilot was Bob.
- There was a waiter in the cocktail lounge on board Fireflash 1 (Trapped in the Sky), and another when Lady Penelope flew to Nice, France, to meet with British secret agent Jimmy Bondson (The Man From MI.5).
The Fireflash fleet has been subject to a number of sabotage attempts - the first of which came during its maiden flight; and was a particularly notable incident, due to the fact that the rescue of the aircraft, its crew and passengers, introduced International Rescue to the world...
The Hood had planted a bomb in the airliner's undercarriage, inhibiting its ability to land. Early rescue attempts included the flight crew carrying out violent manoeuvres to loosen the bomb (to no avail); and putting a man aboard the plane to remove the bomb - which also came to nothing when he fell from the aircraft, parachuting to safety...
International Rescue - already monitoring the situation - arrived on the scene with a rescue plan, involving Elevator Cars to stabilize Fireflash's compromised undercarriage and to act as its landing gear. And it worked - notwithstanding damage to Fireflash's nose as it scraped along Runway 29, as well as to the Elevator Cars themselves (Trapped in the Sky)...
Two other Fireflash craft - 3 and 4 - later went missing, disappearing without trace into the sea. Scott Tracy of International Rescue and Captain Hanson of Air Terrainean teamed up on Fireflash 5, to not only save the aircraft (and themselves), but to discover the cause: sabotage, again; this time by an international gang of spies. (Operation Crash-Dive)
At least three cutaway drawings of Fireflash - all of which were illustrated by Graham Bleathman - are known to exist:
- The first appeared in a Thunderbirds Fleetway comic.
- The second appeared in a Thunderbirds Redan comic.
- The third was featured in the 50th Anniversary edition of the Haynes Thunderbirds manual.
- Main article: History of the Cutaway Drawings (Classic Thunderbirds)
- Fireflash is noteworthy for being the only non-International Rescue machine to appear in the closing credits of the TV series.
- There was to have been a scene in the movie Thunderbirds Are Go, showing Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward and Parker on board Fireflash, flying to the United States. However, it was deleted.
- Six months before the official launch of Thunderbirds, Fireflash appeared in the TV Century 21 comic-strip "Curse of the Crustavons", which was a 'Stingray' story. Moreover, an image of Fireflash taking off from Trapped in the Sky was used in the comic-strip.