The 1970 television series UFO is considered a cult classic, famous for its superb visual effects and production design. One of the highlights of the series was the Interceptor, a one-man spacecraft designed to stop alien invaders before they reached earth. Three interceptors were housed in an underground hangar at SHADO’s Moonbase facility, ready to leap into action whenever the enemy appeared.
Sixteen 12’s limited edition UFO SHADO Interceptor With Launch Crater Display captures the look of the Interceptor as it appears on the launch pad ready for lift-off. It’s a relief to see that they finished this diecast miniature in white (as it appears on the show) rather than the metallic green featured on the decades-old Dinky Toys version. Sixteen 12’s rendition of the Interceptor appears to have accurate proportions, and they got both the missile and cockpit canopy right (unlike the Dinky Toys and Bandai kit versions). The launch pad is surrounded by the walls of a protective crater and a photo of Moonbase is provided as a backdrop.
Ambitious modellers may wish to go a step further and build a lift mechanism to raise and lower the launch pad. Part of the underground hangar could be built up as well.
The Interceptor is one of the great sci-fi spacecraft designs of all time. It began as a sketch by Mike Trim that was tweaked and finalized by UFO effects director Derek Meddings. The craft has a compact and efficient layout, with wide track landing skids for good stability, rocket engines for forward and vertical flight, and one large atomic missile on the nose. The design is not only functional, but attractive: a medley of soft, flowing curves that brings to mind the sensuous look of a Ferrari coupe.
The Interceptor has been called impractical (by Meddings himself) since it carries only one missile. However, there are three short barrels on the fuselage just in front of the cockpit that could be additional weapons. One illustrator suggested that these are ‘high velocity machine guns’ in a cutaway drawing of the Interceptor from a 1973 publication called Countdown For TV Action. In addition, a Century 21 Tech Talk on the Interceptor (currently on YouTube) describes a rarely used ‘autocannon’ which can be used to pursue damaged UFOs. Here is a screenshot from the video:
This is pure speculation since no weapons other than the missile were used during the course of the series. At any rate, short range weapons would be of little use. Being much slower than the alien ships, the Interceptors would have no hope of engaging them in a dogfight and bringing guns to bear at close range. A guided missile, launched from a distance under computer control, is the only practical way to stop the invaders.
Fans of UFO might want to check out SHADO Yards, a diorama that features two Interceptors. This work is the subject of a detailed case study in Diorama Design . SHADO Yards is a conjectural design that speculates as to how the Interceptors were assembled before being delivered to the moon for front line service.