|Terrahawks - Behind The Scenes
SPACEHAWK - Interview with designer/builder Philip D Rae
David: So how did the Terrahawks
job come up?
|Above left: Preproduction Spacehawk sketch that was actually done after the model had been built. Above Right, Phil's design for the new front end piece.|
David: Did they give you a description of
the craft, what it was supposed to do, or look like?
So I just asked them to send me the script and I read through it and the basic idea was that Spacehawk was a gigantic battleship, a huge destroyer type thing like the Star Destroyers in Star Wars. So I came up with an idea - actually an idea that I had for a while so this was an opportunity to finally build it - and so I went round the shops looking for these vacuum cleaner plastic cases that I had seen and bought a few, then came back and started assembling this craft with the intention of cladding it all up in kit-part detail.
|Above: Spacehawk version one - The main structure of Phil's initial Spacehawk build takes shape - with the help of vacuum cleaner parts and steel tube.|
Well a week had gone by now and I realised that
this model was going to take me a lot longer to build so
I was completely stuck, how could I build a complete
spaceship in a week!
So it was just these old models?
|Above and Below: In desperation an existing model, that Phil had built in the mid 1970s, was stripped down and rebuilt as the basis for a new Spacehawk design.|
|Phil: For the kit
spotters I can tell you that the front section was one
"new" section and is basically 3 cut down
Airfix Hercules fuselages, with some Airfix Space Shuttle
and truck bits left over from 'Alien'. The core
tube is basically Airfix Saturn V and Lunar Module with
some plastic containers, a yoghurt pot, and disposable
razors chucked in.
The rear "engine" is a tea dispenser...Auto-Caddy I think. The V-shaped wing sections are made from a plastic sunglasses stand, with Saturn V, and 1/24 scale Harrier parts. There's also a lot of railway tanker truck parts, and many, many other kit-part bits in there too. And more disposable razors too (laughs). Of course the whole thing was totally re-painted, and weathered.
|Phil: I took it
down to London on the Saturday and the Japanese party
arrived on the Monday, so it was a pretty close thing.
Even the paint was still wet; I mean the model was such a
rush job that I was still painting it that morning, so by
the time I got there it was pretty much touch dry but
still a bit tacky and smelly.
Oddly enough I think I was responsible for the Terrahawk craft being orange and silver, because a short while after I delivered it to the studio Ian Scoones rang me to ask what specific colours I had used.
|Above and Below: Spacehawk as delivered to the studio, still featuring the probes.|
|David: Did the
model get altered at all?
Phil: When I delivered the model it had a cluster of probes extending off the front of the three side modules, which I thought looked really aggressive. Id first built these using some left-over probes from Alien but had swapped them for some kit parts good idea really as those Alien bits are worth a fair bit today! Anyway the SFX director at the time was Ian Scoones and he just didnt like the probes, so he stripped them off for filming, although they do appear on the prototype toy so the Japanese people obviously saw it with them on.
They also added the Scotchlite reflective
tapes to create the lights on the ship - someone once
asked me how I had done that thinking that there was a
light inside the model but there wasnt. The people
at the studio added those, they basically stuck on strips
of tape and then painted over them just leaving small
exposed areas to scale the lights down in size.
scale was the model supposed to be?
Phil: I dont really know just BIG. The model was 5-foot long! The idea was that it was so big that you would not be able to pick out the airlocks etc. They were just there somewhere in all that detail. I have a small ZEAF somewhere that I think scales quite well to it, but thats just my opinion and I kind of invented a scale when I drew up the Terrahawk blueprints that David Nightingale published.
I also quickly drew the supposed pre-production art which was needed for that project, but after the model was built! (laughs).
did you end up doing the 'Official Terrahawk Blueprints'?
understand you were also offered a job on the show
|Above and Below: Studio profile photographs|
|Below: Spacehawk hanging in the studio model workshop (Picture Anderson Entertainment) The reflective tapes create the illusion of internal lights.|
|David: What did
you think when it appeared on screen?
Phil: I thought it looked all right actually I never really liked the previous old models before, as I just saw them as a bunch of old plastic margarine tubs and disposable razors stuck together, but the Spacehawk looks OK.
But even if some of the crew did refer to it as the 'Razor-hawk' (because of all the Bic razors I'd used) I still realIy wish I hadn't used the Tie Fighter wing panels ...as they are just too obvious.
David: How much did you
get paid for it?
Im surprised that you managed to get it back
So I just drove down there and grabbed it quick, but of course while I was there I saw all the other models lying about and so later I rang Gerry and asked what was happening to them? He basically said that if I wanted them then I could have them all - just ring Bob Bell to arrange it. So I rang Bob and talked to him and remember asking him How big a van should I bring? (laugh)
Anyway I hired a van and drove down there with a friend to help me carry them all and surprise, surprise, the models had gone! There were just a few bits of scenery left and that was about it so I have no idea where the models are today, someone must have a few, probably the people who last worked on the show.
|Below: Phil displaying his model having rescued it from the studio.|
Left: Phil arrives
at Bray Studios
thanks to Philip D Rae for the interview and use of his
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.
Article and other photographs David Sisson 2020