The Thunderbirds are the six main machines of International Rescue. Each one except Thunderbird 6 is specially designed to fill a certain requirement in the organisation's operations and has a dedicated pilot from among the sons of Jeff Tracy and the inhabitants of Tracy Island, including Brains and Tin-Tin.
Thunderbird 1 is piloted by Scott Tracy. It is a hypersonic, atomic-powered rocket with retractable wings for travel at slower speeds within the atmosphere. Its purpose is to carry its pilot to the danger zone in as little time as possible to assess the situation and establish a control centre for directing the rescue.
Thunderbird 2 is piloted by Virgil Tracy. It is a supersonic freight plane with a huge carrying capacity. Thunderbird 2 is the workhorse of International Rescue, generally used to transport any heavy equipment, along with the extra personnel, that may be needed to carry out the rescue.
Thunderbird 3 is piloted by Alan Tracy and John in monthly shifts, usually joined by Scott and Tin-Tin. It is a one-stage space rocket. Its main use is that of general maintenance to Thunderbird 5 and to provide Alan and John's shifts, although it proves invaluable in performing any rescue missions that need to be conducted outside of Earth's atmosphere.
Thunderbird 4 is piloted by Gordon Tracy. It is a small, short-range submarine that needs to be transported to the danger zone by Thunderbird 2 via Pod 4, but its multiple tools grant it great flexibility in effecting rescues in aquatic environments.
Thunderbird 5 is piloted by John Tracy and Alan in monthly shifts. It is a manned space station in orbit of the Earth, containing the sensitive detection equipment that allows International Rescue to pick up any requests for help transmitted from anywhere on Earth.
Thunderbird 6 is, mainly, piloted by Brains. It is a Tiger Moth Biplane that was improvised as a rescue vehicle and kept as one. Although it is technologically inferior to the other Thunderbirds, it is still used in situations when the other craft are not suitable for the rescue.
2015 RebootEditThunderbird Shadow is piloted by Kayo Kyrano. It is a stealth aircraft, used for missions concerning the security of International Rescue and the thwarting of extreme villainy, such as the dangerous plans of the Hood.
- In the 1970's, Japanese company Imai marketed a model kit called Thunderbird 7. It was an amphibious mobile rocket launcher carried in Thunderbird 2.
- The Japanese anime Thunderbirds 2086 featured 17 different Thunderbirds.