Thunderbird 6 was the name given to a vintage Tiger Moth biplane. The movie Thunderbird 6 tells its story...
Jeff Tracy tells Brains that he wants him to design a sixth rescue vehicle for the International Rescue organization - however, he provides no specifications to work to. Nonetheless, Brains sets himself to the task. In due course, he submits at least three different designs for Jeff to consider (see gallery, below). But all are rejected...
Elsewhere, his high-tech airship, Skyship One - nearing the conclusion of its first round-the-world automated flight - is imperiled when a gun-battle erupts in its engine room, damaging the Gravity Compensator that keeps the ship aloft. Smashing uncontrollably through a complex of radio towers, the huge vehicle becomes stuck, balanced precariously, atop one of them.
The only way to save Skyship's passengers - Alan Tracy, Tin-Tin Kyrano, Parker and Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward - is not by Thunderbirds 1 or 2, both of which are fully engaged, trying to keep Skyship from toppling to a certain crash-landing...but by a very different sort of rescue vehicle...
The Tiger Moth biplane Edit
Having restored the vintage aircraft, and painting it in bright hues of red and yellow, Alan decided he'd use the vintage Tiger Moth as an unconventional means of flying to England - where he and Tin-Tin would then meet up with Penelope and Parker, for their trip aboard Skyship One...
Tin-Tin wanted to go with him, but Jeff was cool to the idea - explaining that spending two weeks in a small biplane was no way for a young lady to travel in the current day and age. But she is nonetheless undeterred; for, later on - after Alan and the Tiger Moth have departed Tracy Island - Brains finds a note from her in his laboratory, explaining she'd stowed away aboard the biplane!Two weeks later in England, Penelope and Parker, in FAB 1, were escorted to New World Aircraft Corporation (Skyship's builder) by the Tiger Moth, as well as by Scott and Virgil Tracy, aboard Thunderbird 1 and Thunderbird 2...
Unfriendly Fire... Edit
With Skyship One effectively immobilized atop a crumbling radio tower, and its four IR passengers held at gunpoint by hijackers, a means of rescuing them - before Skyship finally crashes to earth and into a missile base, that's being hurriedly evacuated, far below them - must be found. Virgil diverts Thunderbird 2 and, declaring he's "got a Tiger in the tank," collects the Tiger Moth...with Brains, having donned his own IR uniform, at the controls...
As he lands the biplane on Skyship's roof, chaos ensues as passengers and hijackers alike scramble to get aboard the little ship. Penelope's held at gunpoint in the cockpit, as the overloaded plane manages to take off. The hijackers, one by one, fall to their deaths, and Alan manages to get in the plane to help Penny fly it. With everyone hanging on - somehow - for dear life, the Tiger Moth swings and slides crazily through the air as it loses fuel after a bullet punctured its tanks. Finally, it makes a landing in the open countryside. Landing their own craft, Scott and Virgil hurry to the scene. Everyone's shaken, but all right - even Parker, who'd fallen from the landing gear, to end up in a tree!
"Built, Tested and Approved!" Edit
Time has passed, and everyone's safely home once again on Tracy Island. To their surprise - especially Jeff's - Brains announces that he's ready to reveal the new Thunderbird 6 - proudly declaring it to be "built, tested and approved..."
As they all watch from the Cliff House observation deck, the new vehicle rolls out onto the island's runway...and it's none other than the little Tiger Moth biplane! As Jeff agrees that it's indeed a worthy addition to the IR fleet, the newly-minted Thunderbird 6 powers down the runway, and launches itself high into the air.
- TB6 is the only Thunderbird to appear in only one movie or episode.
- Like Thunderbird 4, TB6 - carried in Pod 5 - would have to be transported to danger zones by TB2.
- Altogether, four different-size versions of TB6 were used in the making of the film:
- A miniature version: used for example when Thunderbird 6 lands on the roof of Skyship One.
- Six radio-controlled versions: seen flying over the "fake" M1 Motorway. These was flown by Eric Faulkner.
- A puppet-size version: used in the close-ups.
- A life-size version: used in a lot of the stunt-flying scenes. It was piloted by Joan Hughes MBE.
- The miniature and puppet-size models later also appeared in More Haste Less Speed, the final episode of Gerry Anderson's last Supermarionation series, "The Secret Service" (1969).