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Thunderbirds are GO!


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Who doesn't love the original puppet show from the 60s by Gerry Anderson? And if you've seen the recent -very faithful - remake series: Thunderbirds are Go! then you may have received either a boost of nostalgia or a bit of inspiration! Because - hey - while we all like the characters in Thunderbirds, let's face it - when it comes to KSP, you KNOW who the real stars are. The Thunderbirds craft themselves. It's been possible to do vague recreations in KSP starting with some of the earliest versions of the game, but we've come a long LONG way since it was possible to do a version of TB3 with 3 engine pods linked by girders angled up to the nosecone and not able to do much beyond sub-orbital lawn-dart practice and take a few screenshots on the way up and down. The use of mods and even stock features in vanilla KSP has advanced to the point that it's actually conceivable to design craft that emulate Thunderbirds 1, 2, 3, and 5. Yes - even Thunderbird 4 is possible to do now that we have water physics in the game!

For me it really started when the Mark IV spaceplane parts mod set came out. Nertea's parts pack was a straight-up salute to Thunderbird 2 if ever there was one in KSP, and of course, I couldn't resist trying it out to make my own. And I did a pretty passable job at it too. Amazingly enough, at least in KSP aerodynamics, it doesn't take much tweaking to make TB2 fly. (Then again, KSP physics are more forgiving than ours, Kraken aside...) 

Inspired by that, I experimented with trying to emulate Thunderbird 1, and though I liked what I eventually got out of it, it really wasn't practical as a design. It took off vertically just fine, but I still couldn't make the thing VTOL and taking off from a runway was dicey to say the least. Landing? Pffft... there was a REASON I kept the parachutes on the cockpit and a decoupler right behind it!  But it did FLY nicely once in the air and it could orbit. But In so doing I eventually realized what I really had was a too-big version of TB1 or a too SMALL version of TB3 combined into a package that didn't really do either's jobset at all well. Still - it looked pretty. 
 

So what am I doing in this thread? I've decided to rework this into a showcase thread for development, testing and design for making WORKING versions of the 5 classic Thunderbirds vehicles! At the very least I want to them to fly (or orbit - or swim) well enough to be fun to use. And maybe, just maybe, even be able to do useful stuff! (Latest version of TB2 makes a fine cargo transport as she is already)

BUT - I don't want to be exclusive about this. If YOU have ideas for designs, or want to chip in a suggestion for how to make the existing ones work better, by all means, join in! The whole point in KSP is to have fun, after all. And I'll shamelessly stealborrow ( :D ) any good ideas I can just to make stuff work. Just like I'm sure you'll steal a few bits from my ideas to make stuff work better in your designs. 


Anyway - For now - I'm dividing this up into sections based on each major Thunderbirds machine. 

THUNDERBIRD 1: 
Initial Prototype testing done in KSP .25 and KSP 1.04 - 1.05. Promising techniques, but design is too large. Size and performance should be comparable with a fighter/bomber, not an ungainly space shuttle with pretensions of grandeur. Also - based on the source material, I'm not sure if it needs to be orbit capable or not. I think it should be, if only for short trips to low orbit and back. But that's not it's primary job. TB1 is supposed to be very, very VERY fast in atmospheric flight, with rocket assisted speed boosts and at least 2 modes of VTOL. (Rocketship tail landing and classic VTOL).

Addendum: After completely re-thinking almost everything about this build, I now have a new working prototype that not only has almost all the features of the original from the show, but actually LOOKS the part even better than my other craft do! It's now posted at Kerbal X. 
Prototype 1 - Deemed non-usable for intended role.
Prototype 2

 

 

THUNDERBIRD 2:
Initial Prototype in KSP 1.04. STOL with Large cargo capacity. Successful design overall. Not balanced as well as it could be. Prototype #2 made in KSP 1.05 and fully balanced with full VTOL capability (though not a full fuel capacity and range). Needs more work on VTOL testing. Able to land well. Difficult to make pinpoint landings for delivery of payloads. (Possible use of Quiztech air thrusters for turning while hovering?)
Prototype 1
Prototype 2


 




THUNDERBIRD 3:
Initial Prototype testing in KSP 1.05. Promising start. Launches to orbit well with fuel to spare for operations. Need to work on possible trade-off between fuel and cargo capacity. Massive failure during de-orbit testing could be due as much to pilot inexperience with design and flight plan design as to any failure in actual design.
Prototype 1 destroyed. Prototype 2 in construction. 
 





THUNDERBIRD 4:
Prototype released in KSP 1.05. Fits inside TB2's cargo bay for transport to any ocean on Kerbin. Successful design. May evolve a bit over time. But the basic design is sound. Grapplers,supplementary equipment bay and airlock for rescuing Kerbals make this a versatile design. 

Prototype 1


 




THUNDERBIRD 5:
It's a Space Station. As for flying, it's only got to do so ONCE, then it gets to stay up there. What features should a KSP Thunderbird 5 station have, anyway? Communications hub, obviously. Remote tech parts mods? Fuel depot for TB3 would be obvious. Anything else? I'm actually more partial to the new Thunderbirds are Go style than the original for this one. 


Anybody got anything that they want to load onto Thunderbird 2 for transport? As long as it fits in the bay, it ought to work. :)


Lastly - anybody game to recreate Thunderbird S from the new series? 

Edited by Logan.Darklighter
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Well I was determined to make TB2 work - and 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, not just STOL. 

Well - I succeeded! 

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. 

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She's got the piston jacks, and an underside bay. This time around, I'm considering making pre-made containers that'll fit inside on rails or some other IR Robotics contrivance. 

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And 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 Throttle 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.)

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TB2 is not just some lumbering beast barely able to fly though. Oh no - this baby has plenty of control authority just from the aero surfaces alone! Enough for me to feel confident in some low pass maneuvering! 

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If you can buzz the tower, you've got the Jebediah seal of approval! :D

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Now taking off on is one thing - LANDING VTOL is quite another, especially on jets alone with no rockets. But TB2 can pull it off with style!

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But the real acid test for any cargo hauler is the orange tank. My new version of TB2 is very much capable of lifting off with one in a conventional take-off. But VTOL? 

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It's a massive struggle, and TB2 burns off over 90% of her fuel while trying to get light enough to lift the massive load. 

In the end, I had to dump the oxidizer out of the load, and at 4.5% of it's own fuel, TB2 finally lifts off! 

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All things considered, I'll take that as a moral victory, if nothing else. It at least proves that MOST loads can be lifted, if not in VTOL mode, than certainly with a conventional take-off. 

I think this one's ready for posting at Kerbal X. 


Here you go: 

https://kerbalx.com/logandwj/Thunderbird-2_2

Edited by Logan.Darklighter
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On 14/03/2016 at 6:27 AM, Logan.Darklighter said:

Well I was determined to make TB2 work - and 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, not just STOL. 

Well - I succeeded! 

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. 

MsAnzcy.png

ZD281Sl.png


She's got the piston jacks, and an underside bay. This time around, I'm considering making pre-made containers that'll fit inside on rails or some other IR Robotics contrivance. 

FiTq5Yz.png


And 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 Throttle 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.)

SL8vwJ0.png

3a8wHVv.png

GlZGx78.png

Ta447TQ.png

TB2 is not just some lumbering beast barely able to fly though. Oh no - this baby has plenty of control authority just from the aero surfaces alone! Enough for me to feel confident in some low pass maneuvering! 

9egUBB3.png

W4OKJja.png

0GkKLbH.png

nn2gDq4.png

DKFbRIc.png


If you can buzz the tower, you've got the Jebediah seal of approval! :D

9jhsfhU.png

gPhN63A.png

 

Now taking off on is one thing - LANDING VTOL is quite another, especially on jets alone with no rockets. But TB2 can pull it off with style!

X58PBCA.png

Bjc7Nyt.png

xvljqlm.png

 

But the real acid test for any cargo hauler is the orange tank. My new version of TB2 is very much capable of lifting off with one in a conventional take-off. But VTOL? 

G3m1Sdg.png

wZMH3nc.png

It's a massive struggle, and TB2 burns off over 90% of her fuel while trying to get light enough to lift the massive load. 

In the end, I had to dump the oxidizer out of the load, and at 4.5% of it's own fuel, TB2 finally lifts off! 

OqspSyc.png

All things considered, I'll take that as a moral victory, if nothing else. It at least proves that MOST loads can be lifted, if not in VTOL mode, than certainly with a conventional take-off. 

I think this one's ready for posting at Kerbal X. 


Here you go: 

https://kerbalx.com/logandwj/Thunderbird-2_2

Thanks for this , time to relive my childhood..............again , I was 6 years old when the Original Series was released lol :lol:

it was premiered on British television on 30 September 1965...............eek

Edited by Puggonaut 2
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The Spectacular Failure of Thunderbird 3!! 

...or at least the first prototype - to de-orbit and land successfully! 

As Adam Savage (Mythbusters) famously said once - "Failure is ALWAYS an option!"   And failure can lead to success. 

Well - this was a spectacular failure - ALMOST a success! And I think I can learn some useful things from it that will make the next version of TB3 a success!


Previous versions of TB3 were "simulations" - in other words, I just tested the launch and orbit, and then reverted to the spaceplane hanger for more tinkering. 

This was going to be the first true test flight of the beast. And of course, Jebediah has to be our chief test pilot! 

 

A Kerbal's-eye view of Thunderbird 3 from the launchpad. JEEBUS that's a big ship! 

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Below shows the main ground hatch and ladders. Once in, I use Ship Manifest to transfer Jeb to the cockpit. 

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And we're off! 
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The launch is a go and once in orbit I fine tuned the apoapsis and periapsis to be just above the 70KM mark. This is going to be a test of the re-entry and landing capabilities. 
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Belatedly I realized that if I wanted to do a dangerous test like this, that I wanted ONLY ONE Kerbal aboard the ship, because then I could easily bail out and parachute to safety (Vanguard parachute mod) if things go badly wrong. But bailing multiple Kerbals is difficult to pull off when things are falling apart. So I sent up a shuttle to collect the 2 extra Kerbals and bring them back before starting the test. This also shows off the new nose docking port on TB3. 

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The test begins and Jeb de-orbits TB3 and starts down towards the KSC. 

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Well - things are getting hot. VERY HOT. In fact the ship was near the redline...

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So Instead of my original plan of going for an SSTO style re-entry, I decided to try something radical to cool things off and slow down...

FLIP THE SHIP WHILE IN RE-ENTRY!!   That this is even POSSIBLE with a beast this size is... impressive to say the least! 

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...And now fire up the engines... 

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But... I've obviously started this procedure WAY too late. I am SO going to overshoot! 

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But it did reduce my heat and I'm slowing down now. 

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Oooooh crap... this is not looking good at all... 

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I am SO far off the mark. This is gonna be a water landing no question about it. 

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Incidentally - other than the initial rocket firing in the upper atmosphere, I've switched over to purely air-breathing jet engines now. They weren't able to lift me on take-off, but I'm SO light now after burning off most of the fuel that they are actually doing a good job of decelerating me! 

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And below, I'm actually STOPPED and starting back up again on just the jets! So I decided to try and angle for KSC, hoping I could hover back over and land on solid ground.

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NOT SHOWN - a large scale flip-out and frantic recovery as I discover that I should have moved more of the fuel toward the back end of the ship for stability... Here's the recovered TB3 getting back up-right again. 

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OKay - so... water landing after all. But maybe Jeb can still soft-land it. He's at least optimistic! He's lowered the landing gear! 

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Hey! This might actually WORK... 

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The sound of silence as the last of the fuel gutters out of the jets is the sound of inevitability though... CRAAAAAAP!!!!

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The instant before impact... 

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It may look like a peaceful settling into the water, but trust me - everything below the surface is GONE and smashed... 

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A view from below the waterline shows the truth as TB3 just kind of... goes away... 

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... 
...
...

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BUT!!! Jeb got out at the last second!  Jebediah proves again why he is a bad-ass! :D

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SO! What did we learn here? 

AIRBRAKES!!! That's the main one. Airbrakes around the nose for stability and deceleration. And airbrakes around the base of the engines - I'll test both configs and see which works better. 

Start braking earlier! I'd rather land ANYWHERE but in the water with something this heavy! I think TB3 very much CAN land properly with the right descent profile. I'll work it out. 

What's good? Thunderbird 3 has enough control authority to turn 180 even in the face of re-entry speeds. Not bad! With Airbrakes I'd be able to save engine fuel JUST ENOUGH to land. I ALMOST had enough even with all the mistakes I made! 

SSTO style entry and pitch up to vertical landing IS possible, if I can slow down enough. Rear airbrakes might work in that config. 

 

Overall - I came SO CLOSE to success that I KNOW this can work with some minor tweaking! 

And man - as failures go, that was FANTASTIC! :D 

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On 3/7/2016 at 0:58 AM, Logan.Darklighter said:

 

In previous iterations of KSP, I've done recreations of Thunderbird 1 - 

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And Thunderbird 2 - 


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Both of which at least partially matched the capabilities of the originals. I'm currently in the process of re-working TB-1 and TB-2 for KSP 1.05. Both still work, but they need some tweaks. And I've come to the opinion that my version of TB-1 above is too large. Thunderbird 1 should be a craft about half the size I currently have it. And I think I now have the whole swing-wing and VTOL capabilities better sussed out. (Plus VTOL will work better with a smaller plane). TB-2 is almost fine as she is. But I'm experimenting with better VTOL capabilities and balance. 

But this thread is about my current newest homage to the Thunderbirds machines - Thunderbird 3. I've finally - FINALLY - found a balance between fuel, engines, and TWR that will allow TB-3 to work much as the original does! And looks the part!

And here she is on the test launchpad, ready to go. Doesn't even need braces to stand up - landing gear and able to stand on her own!  

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- and WHOOSH! 

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I found out that the trick to TB-3 is - yes, you can launch like a rocket (and presumably land - though I haven't tried that just yet... A little scared to, actually. That's my next goalpost... ) 

But - BUT!  You turn over QUICKLY and then turn from rocket mode to air-breathing and take a more SSTO profile until you gain a LOT of speed, THEN pitch hard up to orbital velocity. 

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And voila! Orbit as easy as you please! 

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I took some inspiration from the recent remake of Thunderbirds currently running on ITV - they made Thunderbird 3 MUCH more interesting and able to do some neat tricks. 

So getting to orbit easily and with enough reserve fuel to manuever - and look the part of TB-3, yeah, that's impressive. But that's NOT the real party trick!

THIS IS: 

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Oh yes - she's a GRABBER ship! Want to go move an asteroid or rescue a tumbling chunk of spaceship with Kerbals in it? This baby can do it! 

So yeah - still working out some bugs and considering some tweaks to the design - I might be able to replace some of the engines on the inner ring with Nukes for extended range and efficiency. And I'm trying to figure out some way of making the nose into a clamshell that can retract to reveal a docking port and/or mining equipment and still keep the same sleek profile. 

But the main hurdles are done! It's just refinement now - just like the other previous Thunderbird machines. 

And yes - I fully intend to design TB-4 and TB-5. After these three, they ought to be comparatively easy! 

This is just an archive post of the original OP. I'm editing the OP into something new. I'll likely remove the pics and replace them with links when I'm done.

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Thunderbird 4 is almost ready! 

 

Well! I hadn't actually intended to go this direction quite so soon. I was planning some more VTOL tests on TB2 today and another attempt at TB3 re-entry, but I think the spirit of a certain submersible Thunderbird has it's own sneaky ways of arranging an entrance. 

So I did a landing/ditch test of TB2 in the ocean. Very nice! Floats like a cork! 

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That's when things got a bit strange. I EVA'd a Kerbal to test egress and something went a bit wonky. The hatch is on the underside of the nose. But I thought there might still be clearance between it and the water enough for a Kerbal to swim out. And I've seen them do it before. 

Not this time. The nose gently but firmly nudged the poor Kerbal beneath the waves and she just kept on sinking. Very... VERY... slowly. Like an average about about .5 meters per second at first. But she couldn't swim to the surface (water-logged suit like Gus Grissom and Liberty Bell?). 

Intrigued I decided to let this play out and see what happened. The sink rate began to slowly increase a bit over time. So I popped her Vanguard parachute - and yes - I found out that those DO open underwater! The sink rate steadied at 1.5 per second. 

So I left the game running and went to do other things. 

When I came back 2 hours later, I found the Kerbal had reached the ocean floor safe. 

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So... I say to myself. There's a Kerbal that could be "recovered" the usual way - OR - I could have the perfect excuse to make Thunderbird 4 to go rescue her the old-fashioned way! 

 

C'mon!!! What do you THINK I did? :P

 

So - I went to the SPH and got serious and buckled down to design my first version of Thunderbird 4 (I have no doubt I'll tweak it at some point). 

Here she is: 

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I had to learn the ballast system - I used Jatwaa's simplified ballast tanks - along the way. But eventually after a few tests where things went... rather badly,  (I don't have screens of those - but trust me, you're not missing much.) I got a good, stable version. 

Here's TB4 doing a standard land to water entry using landing gear. 

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And now bring on some ballast water and sink out of sight. 

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I really like the new underwater in KSP. 

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TB4 looks right at home, here. She sort of "flies" through the water like a plane. 

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I got quite deep with no problems. Down to 700 meters. 

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NATURALLY I had to try an "emergency surface" test. 

Jebediah: "Okay Valentina, put us on the roof!" 

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So what do you think? Ready for prime time? 

 

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Thanks! I'm doing just a BIT more testing - including rescuing that stranded Kerbal - before I commit to posting the design. But I'm already pretty confident in it. I think it'll be up on Kerbal X before the day is out. 

I actually like most of the design changes in the new series. They make loads of sense. That whole business with the arms on TB3 just makes that machine SO much more useful. Same with TB-4 - If you stop to think about it, the light bar isn't really permanently gone. It's just one of several tools TB-4 can now hold in it's manipulators! 

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Okay! Had to mess with the dimensions a bit. But I think I've got a solid TB4 now and she fits inside TB2's cargo bay just fine. 

There was a very strange glitch that prevented TB4 from just dropping out of the bay. I would release docking ports and all struts expecting to just drop out from under TB2 into the water. Never happened. Totally stuck. 

So - solution is to mount the docking clamp onto a collapsing piston jack inside the bay. Lower THAT out of the bay, then release. THAT works! 

I still need to test it in the water (again). But I think this will work. Later today I'll post TB4 and a version of TB2 with TB4 inside for people to mess around with. 

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By the way - On the surface with ballast tanks dry - TB4 makes a very respectable speed boat. Gets up to around 30-35 Mps! 

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HA!!! 

OMG I can't believe this actually WORKS! 

I think I'm suffering from the sin of hubris just a bit. Designing a package to work together that VTOLs, flies, lands amphibiously, and then releases a submarine? Oh... YEAH... 

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And this baby is officially ready for release! :D 

https://kerbalx.com/logandwj/Thunderbird-4

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15 hours ago, TopHeavy11 said:

GRRRREAT! Now we just need ThunderBird 5 and your savegame!

Thanks! But there's still a lot of work to do on TB1 and TB3.

I just saw some features of TB3 from the new series that surprised me - that ship is more tricked out than I thought it was! The middle section - the bit with the "fluting" on the sides? That's a cargo bay! And the nose splits in 3 pieces to slide away and reveal a GIANT DRILL!! That last part I think I'll have to forego because there's no point. (Maybe someday when KSP adds litho-physics to the game... heh...)

But even so - I'd love to try and figure out a way to let the nose be a set of giant fairings that open to reveal a bay for things like mining drills and such. I don't know how to do it, though. I mean - fairings - even procedural ones - yeah. That can be done - but entire sections that slide open and then come back? That's a WHOLE lot of Infernal robotics work and I think would need curved pieces that I haven't yet seen either stock or mod. I mean - you could DO it with existing wing pieces and such... but I think it wouldn't look anything like as smooth and polished as I'd like. Functional? Yes. Pretty? Noooo... 

And I'm still re-thinking my designs in regards to TB-1. Again - the new series gives me ideas. But at the same time, it's a more complex shape and functionality than you'd think. One of the more interesting things I've noticed from the TB-1 of "Thunderbirds are Go" is that the entire rear thruster section rotates 90 degrees for different aspects of flight. Apparently the classic configuration is only for the ballistic vertical or really high speed flying. But for normal cruising and landing, the rear section rotates so that the engines and rear fins form and "X" pattern rather than a "cross" vertical. That certainly makes the landing gear placement easier for horizontal landings than the original! The fact that they don't depend on a SINGLE VTOL engine but have them spaced around the ship also works better and would be easier to implement. 

But as I've said above - the original designs I made were far too large. I've got to make the new version of TB-1 much smaller. And I've got to consider what kind of cockpit/nose to make. Making the ship smaller actually makes that part tougher in some ways. There's fewer options for cockpit pods in the 1.25 size variety. 

And I think when it comes to Thunderbird 5, the original and the one from TAG are SO radically different that I'm inclined to build BOTH versions and let people have the option of which to use. I love them both, but for entirely different reasons! 

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