Pit Of Peril
Season 1, Episode 2
Original Transmission October 7 1965
Written by Alan Fennell
Directed by Desmond Saunders
Edited by Harry MacDonald
Production Order
Trapped In The Sky
City Of Fire
Broadcast Order
Trapped In The Sky
The Perils Of Penelope

Pit of Peril is the 2nd produced episode and the 2nd broadcast episode of the first series of Thunderbirds.


After a lengthy tour of duty in the African jungle, the crew of a prototype all-terrain US Army vehicle become trapped in the scorching depths of a mysterious pit. Can International Rescue recover the Sidewinder before the men are lost to the heat?


Having completed an extensive test of the US Army’s prototype Sidewinder – a gyroscopically-balanced walking transport vehicle, intended for use in bush fire wars – the three-man crew are looking forward to meeting a relief team in the African jungle. However, while crossing a plain, a huge fissure opens up in the ground and the Sidewinder is suddenly engulfed by an unseen crater. Surrounded by flame and thick smoke, it rolls to the bottom and comes to rest on its side.

With the crew having missed their rendezvous with the relief helijet, General Peters tries unsuccessfully to contact the Sidewinder from supervising helicopter, Copter Watchdog. His colleague, Ralph, notices a rising column of smoke in the distance. Colonel Sweeney, commander on board the Sidewinder, tells Peters from the control room that the vehicle has fallen 300 feet below ground. He and his subordinates, Johnny and Frank, are unhurt, but the temperature inside the pit is 220 degrees Fahrenheit.

Landing beside the crater, Peters briefs the relief crew consisting of Lieutenant Mead, Sergeant Reynolds and Pilot Charlie and insists that the 500-tonne vehicle cannot be lifted without special equipment, which would take weeks to arrive. Mead suggests that he could be lowered by the helijet into the pit to carry out reconnaissance, and Peters reluctantly agrees. However, Mead is only able to catch a glimpse of the Sidewinder through the smoke before he is overwhelmed by the heat and swiftly hoisted up by Charlie. John Tracy, having monitored Mead’s radio transmissions from Thunderbird 5, informs Tracy Island about the events taking place in the jungle. Although Jeff places Thunderbird 1 on standby, he is hesitant to send out Scott in case the Army is involved in a top-secret operation.

Bandaged and severely burned, Mead believes that the Sidewinder could be hauled out of the pit. As Reynolds descends into the pit to attach a snare to one of the Sidewinder’s legs, the vehicle’s cooling plant is under pressure and the external temperature has risen to 265 degrees. Reynolds is raised from the pit just as the heat becomes unbearable. Charlie detaches the cable from the helijet and then airlifts Mead and Reynolds to field hospital.

With the cable attached to Copter Watchdog, the pilot tries to drag the Sidewinder up the side of the pit. However, the machine is simply too heavy and the line slips off. Ralph is suddenly reminded of International Rescue and Peters calls John in Thunderbird 5. Knowing that the Army wants International Rescue’s assistance, Scott blasts off, accompanied by Virgil and Brains in Thunderbird 2 . Meanwhile, the hull of the Sidewinder is breaching and Sweeney orders for the air purifier to be activated.

Upon landing at the scene, Scott uses Thunderbird 1’s remote-controlled hover camera to survey the pit. Brains identifies US Army wreckage in the recordings, concluding that the pit was once a dump for old army equipment and that the Sidewinder crew fell in when they disturbed the layer of topsoil forming over it. Brains resolves that the remainder of the topsoil must be removed before the Sidewinder can be hauled out of the pit.

Donning protective clothing, Virgil is lowered into the pit to strategically plant charges around the crater. Scott drives the Mole out of Thunderbird 2’s pod and burrows through the earth, emerging inside the pit to collect Virgil. Brains then detonates the charges, blowing away the last of the topsoil. The Sidewinder crew now have only two minutes before the cooling plant backs up.

Virgil drives a Recovery Vehicle to the lip of the crater and remotely steers an unmanned counterpart alongside. Firing magnetic clamps onto the Sidewinder’s hull, he puts both vehicles in full reverse and the Sidewinder begins to turn upright. One of the clamps fails and Virgil is forced to reattach it. Eventually, with much effort, the Sidewinder is pulled over the rim of the pit to safety. Astounded and delirious, Sweeney passes out.

As Sweeney regains consciousness in an emergency helicopter and thanks Scott, Virgil and Brains lift off in Thunderbird 2. As Scott prepares to depart, Peters declares that he would give a lot for International Rescue to join his force.


Regular CastEdit

Guest Voice CastEdit



  • When the Mole resurfaces after Scott picks up Virgil, surrounding sand and dust flies upwards onto the tracks (indicating that footage of the Mole burrowing into the earth has simply been reversed).
  • Thunderbird 1's downward thruster sets fire to a tree trunk as Scott blasts off for home after the Sidewinder crew have been rescued.
  • As the Sidewinder fell into the pit upside down, shouldn't Sweeney, Johnny and Frank be on the ceiling?

Previous episode: ThunderbirdsNext episode:
Trapped In The SkyCity Of Fire