The Sidewinder is a US Army all-terrain four-legged walker vehicle. It was involved in International Rescue's second mission, where it fell into a buried dumping ground due to the crew's ignorance of its presence.

Built by Universal Engineering Incorporated, the gyroscopically balanced Sidewinders can clear whole areas of jungle, creating landing sites for helijets and troop-carrying aircraft. Several improvements have been made since the initial prototype, including the addition of emergency vertical-thrust hover devices, that stabilize the progress of the machine through rough terrain and stop it sinking into soft or unstable ground. Armaments include missile launchers and energy pulse cannons.

There are 20 known to exist.

Technical DataEdit

  • Length: 295 feet
  • Height: 100 feet
  • Maximum Speed: 50 m.p.h
  • Weight: 500 tons (when anti-gravity hover devices are not in use)
  • Crew: 20, but can carry 300


The Sidewinder in ActionEdit

Into the PitEdit

Unbeknown to the crew, the clearing in the jungle, was in fact a second world war dumping ground for unwanted military equipment. A crust of earth had formed over the top and spontaneous combustion had caused the wreckage in the pit to burn up. The weight of the Sidewinder was too much for the ground and it caved in taking the Sidewinder with it. The three man crew were trapped 300 feet below ground.

Crew SurvivalEdit

The Sidewinder laying on its side 300 feet below ground, the temperature out side reach over 200 degrees. Colonel Sweeney and his crew regain consciousness, as the heat inside the machine begins to rise.

The Rescue AttemptEdit

Lieutenant Mead, a member of the relief crew, was lowered into the pit from a helijet to assess the situation, he is badly burned but able to report on the condition of the vehicle. A second man , Sergeant Reynolds, is lowered into the pit to attach a line to one of the Sidewinder's legs to haul it upright, but he too is badly burned and the line slips off during the rescue attempt.

General Peters calls in International Rescue.

Dragged out of the PitEdit

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. Once the giant machine was freed, the crew inside reactivated it, and the Sidewinder got back to its feet.

Cross-sections (Cutaway Drawings)Edit

At least three cutaways of the Sidewinder, 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.
  • And finally, the third cutaway drawing featured in the 50th anniversary edition of Haynes’ Thunderbirds manual.
Main article: History of the Cutaway Drawings (Classic Thunderbirds)

Behind The ScenesEdit

  • The Sidewinder was primarily built out of wood and card.
  • The legs were manipulated by means of an elaborate scissor mechanism under the set.
  • The model was suspended on wires.
  • The Sidewinder came about following a suggestion by Desmond Saunders, director of the episode it featured in.
  • The Sidewinder was designed by Derek Meddings.


  • In France, the name of the "Sidewinder" (which is a species of snake) was changed to the more fitting "Sauterelle" (i.e. grasshopper).
  • In TV Century 21 comics, the Sidewinder is also known as "the Jungle Cat".
  • In the German localization, the Sidewinder is called "Sturmkäfer" (assault beetle).