Thunderbird 2
by logandwj
uploaded 2016-03-14
mod aircraft
#Thunderbirds #Cargo #Supersonic #Heavy #Large


A mod aircraft called Thunderbird 2. Built with 82 of the finest parts, its root part is mk4cockpit-1.

Built in the SPH in KSP version 1.0.5.


  • Type: SPH
  • Class: aircraft
  • Part Count: 82
  • Mods: 7


  • Adjustable Landing Gear
  • B9 Aerospace Procedural Parts
  • Lack Luster Labs
  • Magic Smoke Industries Infernal Robotics
  • Mark IV Spaceplane System
  • Squad (stock)
  • TweakScale - Rescale Everything!

I was determined to make TB2 work RIGHT this time. Not just fly - but fly much more like in the source material. And that meant being able to VTOL as well as take off and land conventionally. 

Well - I succeeded! This time Thunderbird 2 CAN take off vertically! Mind you, you do have to be about 60% fuel load on an empty cargo bay to so so. Varying Fuel loads will be necessary for heavier payloads. But it CAN be done! 

(I really REALLY recommend both TAC Fuel Balancer and Thorttle controlled avionics for flying this beast. Not so necessary in normal flight. But almost mandatory when trying to VTOL. I also recommend Mechjeb for further fine control.)

This version of TB2 is a little beefier than my last version. In terms of proportions, I was inspired both by the original and the new TB2 from the current Thunderbirds are Go! series currently playing on ITV. She sits very low to the ground on her landing gear. Not quite as low as either of the originals. But about as low as possible and practical. And she has larger sides and air-scoops. She’s got the piston jacks and the underside bay of course. And 8 powerful VTOL thrusters to get her off the ground.

Not just a lumbering beast, either. Thunderbird 2 has some real control authority in flight. Enough to instill some real confidence that she’s going to go exactly where you point her.

Top speed is over Mach 4 with minimal heating issues.

ADDENDUM: Reaching the top end flight speed I’ve found is a bit tricky. Particularly when carrying a load. There’s a hill you have to climb in terms of power and thrust. But once you’re over the top then the power and speed build on their own naturally. That speed threshold appears to be around Mach 1.50 to Mach 1.60 (if you’re using Flight engineer.)

Getting up to that speed just on the rear jets alone in level or slightly climbing flight takes is difficult. You can either gain some altitude and gain some speed in a shallow dive and then rinse/repeat in a series of climbs and dives until you get to the threshold.

OR -

Try a trick I’ve discovered that’s possibly unique to VTOL jets such as this. It works as follows:

Go as fast as you can in level flight. You’ll probably be able to get to just under Mach 1.

Then - turn on the VTOL jets. And have a window open to watch the power levels on the rear jets. As the VTOL thrusters reach near peak power, you’ll also see the power on the rear jets begin to increase and push you faster. Then you’ll begin to see the power curve begin to fall off. Turn the VTOLs OFF and the power curve on the main jets jumps and keeps climbing for a bit longer. As soon as they begin to falter, turn the VTOLs on again.

Rinse and repeat until you reach the Mach 1.5-1.6 zone, then let TB-2 gain power and speed on her own. I recommend getting to an altitude of about 15,000 - 18,000 meters. No higher is necessary.

What’s the reason for the increase in power on the main jets while the VTOLs are on? I have no real answers. My personal theory is that the VTOLs are forcing more air through the intakes and that’s helping the main jets. It also doesn’t hurt anything that you can be at a much shallower angle and gain significant altitude while the VTOLs are on, and during the off phases, the ship goes into more level flight which is also better for gaining power and speed than climbing.

The downside is that it’s not the most fuel efficient method of gaining speed. Running 10 engines rather than just 2 impacts the fuel use. But hopefully the trade-off in speed and distance makes up for it.

Besides - you’re not doing this for the entire flight - only the part where you’re trying to climb the hill to get over the hump of the power curve to reach supersonic/hypersonic territory on the flight envelope.

And besides, you want to burn off your fuel to about 50% or less to make a VTOL landing anyway. Particularly if you’re carrying a load. So you may as well burn it to get to your destination faster!

Comment below if you have a correction or an alternate flight plan which you think is more efficient.

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