Out of the (dark) blue - the International Rescuer

Started by CammNut, April 12, 2021, 08:44:59 AM

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Sqn Ldr Jessica "Doc" Hu 'tapped the brakes' and commanded the vehicle to begin the descent from its stratospheric cruise at close to five times the speed of sound.

The Thunderbird SC.1 began decelerating toward its destination, the devastated remains of a popular tourist resort half a world away from Britain. This was the exactly the type of mission for which the UK's Rapid Response Force (RRF) - inevitably nicknamed "International Rescue" - had been created.

The RRF has been forged out of necessity. As the latter half of the century degenerated into a succession of terror attacks and small but vicious wars, the need to act fast to protect and repatriate UK citizens caught up in disasters overseas had become acute.

The result was Project Anderson, named in homage to Gerry Anderson, creator of the Thunderbirds - a popular children's TV series about International Rescue, a small but superbly equipped team that stood ready to respond at a moment's notice to any emergency, anywhere in the world.

The project resulted in a small fleet of suborbital transports – the first SCs, or Space Carriers, to be operated by the Royal Air and Space Force (RASF). Boosting into the stratosphere, they able to fly medical facilities, decontamination units or stabilization forces over long distances at high speed.

The SCs – and there was never any doubt that they would be christened Thunderbirds – were designed to take off from a conventional runway under turbojet power, igniting liquid-oxygen/kerosene rocket engines during climb-out to accelerate to hypersonic speed and then cruise on ramjet power.

After landing on turbojet power, the Thunderbird would raise its nose, kneel its gear and lower its ramp to offload modules specially designed for disaster response. Since it entered service, the fleet had been launched a dozen times, saving thousands of lives. Now, once again, more thousands were at risk.

The Thunderbird descended and decelerated, propulsion transitioning from ramjet to turbojet mode as speed dropped below Mach 3. Doc checked on her crew, a quick reassuring glance over her shoulders. In reality, they were in different locations across the UK, sharing the same simulated cockpit via their virtual-reality headsets.

During the cruise, from a launch tube on its back, the Thunderbird had lofted a flock of cubesats into low Earth orbit. Called Angels, these nanosats began collecting imagery of the disaster area. Doc's intel officer, Flt Lt Simon Hurley, pushed the first shots of the landing zone to her display. Good, the runway looked clear, the once-bustling international airport appearing eerily abandoned. Hurley virtually flagged a likely safe parking position.

Also during cruise, the Thunderbird had launched another rocket onto a depressed trajectory. Once over the target area, its payload fairing had jettisoned to release a solar-powered unmanned aircraft into the stratosphere. Called Cloudbase, the UAV had unfolded its long wings and begun orbiting over the disaster zone, becoming a flying cell tower to restore mobile communications.

Doc's comms officer, Flt Lt Grace Washington, reported Cloudbase was online and lasercomm links back to the UK were solid. Turrets on the Thunderbird's shoulders kept laser beams tightly focused on the UK's strategic satellites in geostationary orbit, providing the high-bandwidth, low-latency datalinks needed to remotely pilot the big, fast suborbital transport. All was go for landing, Doc decided.

She was flying the second of the five Thunderbird SC.1s to be built, the iconic "TB2" tailcode emblazoned on its twin fins. She would be first on site, carrying the initial stabilization force of 75 soldiers and their robotic squad mates. They would quickly secure the landing zone and begin scouting the disaster area with drones while the other Thunderbirds flew in close behind.

TB1 was carrying a small modular reactor to restore power and TB3 was bringing "Module 5". Once connected to the reactor, Module 5 - officially called Alchemist – would begin producing clean water, as well as synthetic kerosene and liquid oxygen to refuel the Thunderbirds. TB4 and TB5 were following with medical and decontamination modules, each flight also bringing more first responders.

Doc and TB2 would be gone before they arrived. A short subsonic hop on turbojet power to a nearby friendly airport to refuel and take on liquid oxygen, then the Thunderbird would make the hypersonic dash back to the UK to pick up the next critical elements required to get disaster relief and recovery under way.

Doc would be on board TB2 for real on its flight back to the disaster area. By then air traffic would be building up at the once-deserted airport and the risk of collision in busy airspace would be too great to allow remote piloting. Hurley and Washington would still be with her virtually, but she would have a real loadmaster because she would also being bringing back the first survivors – the critically injured, children, other priority cases.

So the model is the Hasegawa Creator Works 'Minerva' shuttle from the Crusher Joe anime series. The model is 1/400, so I rescaled it to have a similar cargo capacity to the RAF's Boeing C-17s, which makes it about 1/144.

I also de-anime-ed it to the extent possible, which mainly involved removing the conning-tower thing on top and the large box-like shapes at the back and fitting rocket nozzles from a Shuttle. The decals are mostly self-printed, with some from the model itself.

This was first posted over in Sci-Fi, but happy to see it here among such lunatic creativity!


That is really cool!  Great back-story and great-looking model.   :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
Thistle dew, Pig - thistle dew!

Where am I going?  And why am I in a handbasket?

It's dark in the dark when it's dark. Ancient Ogre Proverb

"All right, boyz - the plan iz 'Win.'  And if ya lose, it's yer own fault 'coz ya didn't follow the plan."

Old Wombat

Has a life outside of What-If & wishes it would stop interfering!

"The purpose of all War is Peace" - St. Augustine

veritas ad mortus veritas est


She's a looker! wooooow. Exceptionally well done!

Is it already nominated for Whiffy award?

David aka 63cpe


Quote from: 63cpe on April 12, 2021, 10:11:09 AM
She's a looker! wooooow. Exceptionally well done!

Is it already nominated for Whiffy award?

David aka 63cpe

It is!  I nominated it within moments of reading the post.
"If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you....."
It  means that you read  the instruction sheet




"Sticks and stones may break some bones but a 3.57's gonna blow your damn head off!!"


Awesome Work :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: why do i picture some Command Type calling out,"Thunderbirds Aer GO!"? You did a Top Notch Job :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: Keep up the Superb Work :cheers: :cheers: :cheers: :cheers: :cheers: Dan

Rick Lowe

Very nice.  :thumbsup:
And the whole RRF concept is a cool idea, too.
Yeah, the 'conning tower' gives the original craft a strange and unwieldy appearance. Good to see how much better it can look without all that... makes me wish I hadn't given mine away all those years ago...  :-\



Decals my @r$e!


Thanks folks, and thank you for letting me gatecrash the GB!

Old Wombat

You didn't gatecrash, you were invited to attend! ;D :thumbsup:
Has a life outside of What-If & wishes it would stop interfering!

"The purpose of all War is Peace" - St. Augustine

veritas ad mortus veritas est