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The Recovery Vehicles are two powerful pulling machines that fire magnetic grapples capable of pulling heavy weights, such as planes or trains, out of places like pits or rivers. One of them is manned, the other remote controlled. The Recovery Vehicles only appear in the episode Pit of Peril, where they are used to pull the massive Sidewinder out of a burning pit. The quartz windscreen is Cahelium- strengthened.

Recovery vehicle 2

Master Recovery Vehicle interior

Technical Data

Each clamp is capable of hauling a maximum weight of 75 tons. (Thunderbirds Manual (Agents' Technical Manual))
Cable Length: 800 feet
Length: 50 feet
Power Source: 900 bhp power turbine
Top Speed: 50 mph
Weight: 40 tons
Width: Unknown

How it Works

A master recovery vehicle and remote subsidiary can be co-ordinated as a pair, to fire clamp-tipped lances connected to 800-foot hawsers at an imperilled vehicle or hazardous structure in order to drag it from a dangerous position. The clamps are launched by powerful compressed-air cannons and are electro magnetic, capable of hauling weights up to 75 tons.

Recovery Vehicles in Action

The electromagnets are fired at the Sidewinder and the Recovery Vehicles begin to haul it up the side of the pit. One of the electromagnets fails and becomes detached from the Sidewinder, so Virgil has to winch it in and fire again. This time, the magnet holds firm and on the second attempt the Recovery Vehicles finally manage to pull the Sidewinder up to the surface.

Cross-sections (Cutaway Drawings)

As far as is known, only two cutaway drawings of the Recovery vehicles exists. Both were illustrated by Graham Bleathman. One appears in a Redan comic that was published in the 2000s, and the other featured in the Haynes Thunderbirds manual. The former cutaway drawing is of the Master recovery vehicle.

Main article: History of the Cutaway Drawings (Classic Thunderbirds)

Redan edition

Haynes edition


The cutaway was republished by Redan in issue number 76, the only difference being the data was changed to metric.