Terrahawks - Behind The Scenes Special
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OVERLANDER - Concept design and final SFX model photos
The episode 'Close Call' introduced a new vehicle to the Terrahawk organization, the all-terrain Overlander. This was the vehicle that brought the vital supplies that kept the Terrahawks operational. In this episode a reporter, trying to expose the secret organization, gains control of the vehicle and attempts to ram the Battlehawk at the rendezvous point. However the vehicle itself meets a violent end when it is blown up by the Battletank. The impressive model was such a success that a second appearance very quickly followed in the episode 'Thunderpath', and then much later in 'Zero's Finest Hour'.
In the series the vehicle was normally operated automatically, by a control system that followed a laser-rail. However a drivers cabin was also there for manual control. For those wondering how the driver ever got up into the vehicle we can see from the design above that the section on the front right is supposed to be an elevator.
By this stage Steven Begg had been promoted from designer to Special Effects Supervisor.
Steven: 'By the time the episode with the Overlander appears I'd been given full reins on the model effects. I'd been a fan of all the multi-tracked/wheeled vehicles that had appeared in the earlier Gerry Anderson shows, so this was my pent-up appreciation of all those designs!
The Overlander was great fun to shoot. Its suspension was a brilliant idea by a chap called Peter Bohanna, where he used rubber erasers as suspension in its chassis! It gave it terrific scale and action - and luckily all the cabs followed each other.

The three-bodied five foot long model is carved from wood and detailed with numerous model kit parts; the front section was built by John Lee whilst the two trailers were built by Steven Woodcock.
The nine very heavy brass axles were constructed by Pete Bohanna and then outfitted with 36 old-style rubber balloon tyres from a Tamiya radio-controlled toy.

Above: The Overlander is again destroyed in the episode 'Thunderpath' after the structurally weakened bridge it has to travel over finally collapses. Below: For later episodes more wires had to be run between the three bodies to keep them inline, possibly due to damage caused by the wear-and-tear of filming such scenes. (picture thanks Anderson Entertainment)
Above & below: The Overlander's last appearance was for the episode 'Zero's Finest Hour', which was one of the few episodes that took place at night. As a result two main headlights were installed, together with numerous small lights embedded in the three wooden hulls.
Below: Steven Woodcock adds detail to the rear section.
Steven Woodcock, Terrahawks model department -
'When we made the Overlander - in fact when we made any model that was carved from wood - after carving, and before artworking and final detailing, we used to spray them with a substance called Lesanol. This was like the car filler-primer that you can buy in spray cans and was exactly that - a grey spray filler primer. But it was thicker and came in a one-litre can and was applied by spray gun. If I remember correctly, you mixed a clear setting agent into the filler and this enabled the consistency to be varied for spraying.
Pete Bohanna introduced it to us because he used to be a boat builder. It was a quick way of getting models ready to finish and was very easy to sand. As you know, filling wood grain and getting it smooth can be quite time consuming. I remember when I first did it in my teens and it took forever. But Lesanol settled evenly and helped to smooth out the surface and didn't need much sanding when it had dried. You didn't even need to get the surface of the woodgrain glass smooth before spraying because the Lesanol evened it out. It was one of the things that worked in our favour because of the tremendous speed with which we had to work'.
The detail on the top of the model is all done using plastic parts, which are assembled on Perspex boxes that fit into openings in the wooden hulls.
The model's design does make it slightly nose heavy, resulting in the front wheels splaying out more.
Below: Filming the model in 'Close Call'.
See 'Restoring the Overlander'

My thanks to Steven Begg for providing his preproduction artwork for this article.
Thanks also to Philip D Rae & Gary Tomkins for the use of their photographs.
Other photographs by Anderson Burr Pictures Ltd & Anderson Entertainment.
'Terrahawks' is copyright by Christopher Burr
No infringement of copyright is intended - non-profit fan interest site only.

'Terrahawks' is a Gerry Anderson and Christopher Burr Production.

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Article David Sisson 2013

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