The Pod Vehicles are the true "workhorses" of International Rescue.
These specialised vehicles - many hued in vivid yellow and/or red - are transported to the danger zone in one of Thunderbird 2's six pods.
Many of them serve very specific purposes, and appear in the show only once. Others, though, are capable of greater flexibility; and are able to be utilized in a number of different situations - from the most common rescue scenarios, to the most complex.
Following is an overview of these ingenious creations of engineering and function, that truly put the "GO" in Thunderbirds...
- 1 Recurring Pod Vehicles
- 2 Non-recurring Pod Vehicles
- 2.1 Pod 1
- 2.2 Pod 2
- 2.3 Pod 3
- 2.4 Pod 5
- 2.5 Pod 6
Recurring Pod Vehicles
Carried in (appropriately) Pod 4, Thunderbird 4 - IR's yellow mini-sub - is the most-often-utilized of the pod vehicles. Pod 4 provides room enough, if needed, to also accommodate other underwater-rescue-specific equipment (eg the sealing device, in Atlantic Inferno).
Carried in Pod 3 (City of Fire/The Duchess Assignment) or Pod 5 (Pit of Peril), the mighty Mole is a colossal drilling machine - used for tunneling past, and/or through, subsurface obstacles, to reach those in need of rescue.
On at least one occasion, the Mole could not be used, due to incompatible conditions at the danger zone; a different means of rescue was eventually identified, and a trapped Bank of England employee was successfully saved (Vault of Death).
Carried in Pod 3 (City of Fire) or Pod 6 (Terror in New York City), Firefly is IR's firefighter par excellence - a powerful bulldozer that can clear a path through burning rubble - capable of firing explosive shells to either blast obstacles out of the way, or to extinguish localized fires by removing the surrounding oxygen.
Carried in Pod 6 (The Perils of Penelope) or Pod 1 (Security Hazard), the Monobrake is one of IR's more intriguing rescue machines - a low-riding caterpillar-tracked car that can cling on to overhead monorail lines with its telescopic arm, and travel across them at great speeds.
Non-recurring Pod Vehicles
Some Pod Vehicles are commercially-available models that IR has modified and/or adapted for its own use. The Fire Truck is a good example. With its all-terrain and rapid-response capability, it can extinguish fires with its rear-mounted, foam-and-nitroglycerin gun.
In Security Hazard, the Fire Truck is on the scene of a major fire at a mine, some of whose workers are trapped below-ground.
Mobile Control Vehicle
Not all Pod Vehicles are enormous and visibly-muscular. Some are small, but mighty - like the Jet-Air Transporter. Its two jet-turbines can generate a powerful "cushion" of air, that can catch falling people.
It's also notable in that its operator usually stands, rather than sits.
The Neutralizer Tractor is capable of generating a targeted electromagnetic pulse.
Electromagnetic Pod Grabs
The DOMO (Demolition and Object Moving Operator) comes equipped with three enormous, powerful suction pads mounted on its three big front-loaded arms; and is capable of moving large and heavy objects.
There are four of them (so far as is known): one manned Master Elevator Car, and three same-size radio-controlled subsidiaries. Each is a rugged twelve-wheeled vehicle, capable of travelling at speeds up to 180 mph; and is topped by a large, flat platform that can support great weight.
Virgil, driving/controlling three Elevator Cars - along with Captain Hanson and his co-pilot, aboard Fireflash - manages to bring the huge airliner safely down on Runway 29 at London International Airport...without triggering the bomb hidden aboard.
The Mobile Crane is a six-wheeled truck fitted with a 'cherry picker,' used to get people up to high places such as trees...or, the out-of-control Crablogger as it barrels through the South American jungle, destroying all in its Path of Destruction.
Scott, giving chase in the Mobile Crane, lifts Virgil and Brains to Crablogger's roof so they can set about trying to halt the powerful machine before it can smash into a dam - and trigger a huge explosion...
The Booster Mortar - another small-but-mighty Pod Vehicle - is fitted with a highly-accurate cannon, which can fire light-weight equipment and supplies to people in hard-to-reach places - like the soon-to-fall British Telecom Tower, in Edge Of Impact.
In a driving rainstorm, Alan sharp-shoots specialized escape gear up to the two men trapped in the tower, so they can jump to safety.
The Excavator - similar in appearance to the DOMO - is equipped with rock-crushing grinders and a long drill; and is used to clear rocky paths and to drill through stone. While this might invite comparisons to the Mole, the two machines are in fact quite different and are used for different rescue situations.
Two trapped actors, on a movie location in the Nevada desert, are freed by the Excavator's timely use - and close-quarters precision - in Martian Invasion.
The Laser Cutter is a near-twin of the Booster Mortar. It sports a large laser device, capable of cutting through thick metal - as it does in helping Scott and Virgil rescue a trapped British agent whose mission has gone very wrong, in 30 Minutes After Noon.
Thunderbird 6 is - of all things - a commercially-produced, vintage Tiger Moth Biplane, which Alan has restored and is keen to fly.
How it became the most-unlikely of the Pod Vehicles, is chronicled in the film of the same name...
The Transmitter Truck is a caterpillar-tracked lorry mounted with a parabolic dish. Its radio transmitting equipment is extremely powerful - and, literally, makes the difference between life and death for the crew of Thunderbird 3, in Sun Probe.