Captain Scarlet

Spectrum vehicles

Marc J. Frattasio


Spectrum's headquarters is called Cloudbase. Cloudbase is a huge flying aircraft carrier that cruises the stratosphere at an approximate altitude of 40,000 feet. Cloudbase hovers by means of four large nuclear powered 'hover combine' lift engines which are mounted on pylons outboard of the flight deck. Cloudbase has a number of jet engines which are employed for horizontal flight.
Cloudbase is the operational headquarters of the Spectrum organization under the command of Spectrum Commander in Chief Colonel White. As all the senior Spectrum operatives are assigned to Cloudbase, it is usually the staging area for Spectrum's most important missions. Cloudbase is protected from aerial attack by the Spectrum Angels, five female fighter pilots who fly hypersonic Angel Interceptor jets.
A 6 foot model of Cloudbase was made from wood with a few found pieces (such as some parts on the bottom which appear to have been made from plastic containers) used for details. Like most models used in Captain Scarlet, the Cloudbase model was painted with automotive cellulose paints. Cellulose paints dry very quickly and can easily be rubbed down with sandpaper. Such qualities made the quick repair of damaged models possible.
For filming, the Cloudbase model was generally suspended in front of a painted sky backdrop. White cotton wool was piled below the Cloudbase model to hide the studio floor and dry ice was used to further simulate the effect of heavy cloud cover over the ground. Because of its large size and heavy weight, the Cloudbase studio model was difficult to suspend from the ceiling with wires thin enough not to show up on camera. Because of this, the Cloudbase model was sometimes supported for filming using a sturdy metal pole that stuck out through the painted sky backdrop.
Several larger scale sections of the Cloudbase runway were constructed for use with miniature aircraft models. It is possible that a large scale section of the Cloudbase control tower was built for use in cut-scenes.

Angel jet

Angel Jet
Here is one of the Angel Interceptor jets flown by the Spectrum Angels. The Spectrum Angels are a group of five female pilots assigned to defend Cloudbase. Three Angels are on alert at any time on Cloudbase with one pilot always sitting in the cockpit of an Angel Interceptor positioned on the catapult ready for immediate launch.
The Angel Interceptors are single seat hypersonic strike aircraft. Built to special Spectrum specifications, they are derived from the International Engineering Viper jet in service with the World Air Force. Powered by a ramjet engine fed by a pair of turbojets, the Spectrum Angel Interceptors are capable of speeds in excess of 3,000 miles per hour and are armed with air to air missiles and cannon.
The actual Angel Interceptor studio models were made in at least two different sizes, about 7 inches and 26 inches (1/16th scale?) in length. At least three examples were made in each size for regular filming requirements and some extra models were made for use as the Mysteronized Angel Interceptors seen in Seek and Destroy. The Angel Interceptors were made from a combination of fiberglass castings, thermoformed plastic, and wood. Pilot figures were sculpted from plasticine clay. The colorful Spectrum markings were all decals which were provided by long-time Anderson contractor Space Models. In fact, some or all of the Angel Interceptor models were built by Space Models.
It would appear that the 7 inch Angel Interceptors were used on the Cloudbase model and for most flying scenes. The 26 inch models were used in close-ups shots on the large scale Cloudbase flight deck sections and suspended behind the puppet sized cockpit set to provide an illusion of formation flying.
Some of the larger Angel Interceptor models were only finished on one side (the side that was filmed). Additionally, some of the Angel Interceptor models had Spectrum logos on the underside and others did not. For night scenes, small grain-of-wheat light bulbs were taped to the wings and if you look closely you can see the wires leading to the electrical power source.
The Angel Interceptor models were manipulated on thin wires over miniature sets, stationary painted backdrops, and the famous rolling sky backdrop.
A few Angel Interceptor models were converted into Soviet MIG-242 jets for use in the first Joe 90 episode.

Spectrum Patrol Car

The Spectrum Patrol Car, or SPC, is the standard highway vehicle used by Spectrum personnel for ground transportation. The five seat car is powered by a gas turbine engine and is capable of speeds in excess of 150 miles per hour. Of special note are the SPC's magnetic braking system and the infra-red headlights which permit visibility in the dark.
A number of SPC studio models were made in at least two different scales using fiberglass castings for the bodies, wooden underframes, turned metal wheel hubs, and rubber or nylon tires robbed from model car kits. At least a few of the SPC models were made to 1/25th scale as this was the AMT Corporation's standard car kit scale and AMT models were used to make most of the civilian automobiles seen in Captain Scarlet.
Metallic trim on the larger SPC models was made from thin strips of metal foil attached with double faced tape. The tape did not stick very well and in still photographs of the SPC and other model vehicles which used used such trim, like the MSV and SPV, you can often see the metal foil strips peeling away.
At least one SPC model was fitted with an operating door on the right side. This door can be seen in still photographs to have been secured shut with a piece of red painted adhesive tape!
The SPC and other ground vehicle models used in Captain Scarlet were pulled across roadway sets with wires, manipulated from the bottom of roadway sets using a pin stuck in a slot (like a slot car), and were also used on the famous rolling roadway. All of the Captain Scarlet ground vehicle models were fitted with functional suspension systems made of wire and sponge rubber. Some or all of the ground vehicle models were fitted with Jetex devices which disturbed a layer of Fuller's Earth scattered on the miniature roadway to simulate road dust or exhaust smoke.

Maximum security vehicle

The Maximum Security Vehicle, or MSV, is a heavily armored car used by the Spectrum organization to transport up to four persons in complete security and comfort. The MSV is considered essentially impregnable and is equipped with advanced radar, video, radios, weapons, and a complete survival food kit. Powered by a transverse rotary diesel engine, the MSV is capable of speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour. Of special note are the MSV's dual wheels and the fact that the passenger compartment can be sealed off from the outside environment in case of nuclear, biological, or chemical attack.
A number of MSV studio models were made in at least two different scales using fiberglass castings for the bodies, wooden underframes, turned metal wheel hubs, and rubber or nylon tires robbed from car kits. Some of the MSV models were made to 1/25th scale.

Spectrum Pursuit vehicle

Spectrum's standard ground combat vehicle is the Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle, or SPV. The SPV is a special modification of the standard World Army Zeus combat tank. Armed with a heavy cannon and powered by a special chemical fuel cell, the SPV is capable of speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour. Tracks on the back of the SPV can be lowered to provide additional traction on unprepared surfaces or when ascending steep hills.
A special feature of the SPV is the fact that the driver sits backwards and steers by means of a television monitor. This is done for safety reasons as the SPV is designed to ram other vehicles at high speed if necessary. Note the heavy white bumper at the front of the vehicle.
Several SPV studio models were made in sizes ranging from 6 to 24 inches long. The models used fiberglass castings for the bodies, wooden underframes, turned metal wheel hubs, and rubber or nylon tires. At least a few of the SPV models were made to 1/25th scale. On one of the larger scaled SPV models, the rear tracks were robbed from a Japanese tinplate tank toy.
Some of the SPV models were fitted with functional sliding doors and such doors can be seen in still photographs secured with a strip of blue painted adhesive tape.

Radar van

Spectrum Radar Van
The Spectrum Radar Vans were featured in Manhunt. They were used to pinpoint the location of Mysteron agent Captain Black, who had become radioactive during a raid on the Fulmer Atomic Center. Powered by hydrogen fuel cells, the Spectrum Radar Vans are equipped with a multi-wavelength radar scanner and sensitive Geiger counters.
It would appear that only one Spectrum Radar Van model was made, probably in the standard 1/25th scale used for most minor ground vehicles used in Captain Scarlet. The model was probably made from wood and used rubber 'balloon' tires of the kind used for radio controlled model aircraft. The appearance of several different Spectrum Radar Vans was simulated in Manhunt through the simple trick of employing interchangeable numbered panels on the side of the model.

VIP transporter

Secret VIP Transport Truck
Spectrum uses seemingly conventional fuel tanker trucks to secretly carry VIPs from one location to another. The 'fuel tank' is actually fitted out as a comfortable and armored VIP passenger compartment. These special vehicles were seen in Winged Assassin and Dangerous Rendezvous.
The Spectrum fuel tanker was a hollow fiberglass casting mounted on top of a wooden chassis with rubber wheels of the type used for radio controlled model aircraft. The model was probably made to the standard 1/25th AMT vehicle scale.
The Captain Scarlet Spectrum fuel tanker was actually modified from a standard truck model design that was used in many episodes of Thunderbirds. Trucks based upon this design can be best seen in the Thunderbirds episode Path of Destruction. A fire truck based upon this design was also used in the Captain Scarlet episode Seek and Destroy.


Spectrum Hovercraft
The Spectrum organization uses hovercraft for cadet training purposes at their Koala Training Base in Australia. Such hovercraft were featured in The Traitor. Powered by a nuclear jet engine, the Spectrum hovercraft are crewed by a pilot, copilot and two observers.
At least one and probably two Spectrum hovercraft models were made. These models were apparently made from a combination of wood and plastic with a rubber bicycle inner tube used to make the skirt. A large scale rear section was made for use in scenes showing an oil leak.

Passenger jet

The turbojet powered Spectrum Passenger Jet, or SPJ, is used to transport Spectrum agents and their equipment over long distances. Crewed by a pilot and co-pilot, the SPJ can transport up to seven passengers at speeds of over 1500mph. With fewer passengers on board, the passenger compartment can be fitted out into a conference room.
The SPJ's most distinctive feature are its swept forward wings and control surfaces. Such forward sweep provides for a high degree of control throughout the aircraft's speed envelope.
It would appear that only two SPJ models were built, probably out of fiberglass but possibly out of wood. A large scale cockpit section was constructed for use in scenes where a character had to eject from the aircraft. Wheeled landing gear was made which could plug into small holes for scenes showing the SPJ model on the ground or on the Cloudbase runway.


Spectrum Helicopter
The Spectrum helicopter can transport up to four passengers and a pilot over short distances where the terrain is such that ground transportation is inconvenient or impractical. Turbojet powered, the Spectrum helicopter is capable of speeds in excess of 302 miles per hour and is armed with a nose mounted cannon. Ruggedly constructed, it can land on any area its own size and with its wide twin floats is completely amphibious.
It would appear that only two Spectrum helicopter models were built, probably out of fiberglass but possibly out of wood. The rotors were made from thin metal sheet and the pontoons were covered in what appears to have been black electrical tape. Note that the clear cockpit canopy appears to have been attached to the models with plasticine clay.
One of the Spectrum helicopter models was destroyed in an explosion during the first Captain Scarlet episode.
This page published originally at the Supermarionation sfx WebSite
text ©1996 Marc J. Frattasio; not for reproduction for profit without his express permission