Cloudbase is the fictional skyborne headquarters of the international security organisation Spectrum, from Gerry Anderson's science-fiction television series Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (1967–68). In the 2005 computer-animated remake, Cloudbase is re-imagined as Skybase. In both series, the base's design is that of an airborne aircraft carrier, stationed in either Earth's high troposphere (1960s series) or low stratosphere (2005 series).
Cloudbase as seen in Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons
|First appearance||"The Mysterons"|
|Combat vehicles||Angel Interceptors|
|Auxiliary vehicles||Spectrum Passenger Jets, Magnocopters, Gyroscopic escape capsules|
|Propulsion||Hover combine jet thrusters|
|Length||630 feet (190 m)|
|Width||330 feet (100 m)|
While developing the series' premise in 1966, creator Anderson remembered that during the Battle of Britain, the RAF's task of countering the Luftwaffe quickly had been complicated by the delay caused by launching from the ground: "... it took [the Spitfire squadron] about 20 minutes to climb high enough to intercept the bombers that were already at 16,000 feet." Thus, he resolved to make the headquarters of the fictional Spectrum Organisation a hovering, airborne aircraft carrier: "This could launch aircraft that would then climb to 100,000 feet and intercept extraterrestrial invaders within minutes."
Resembling an aircraft carrier, complete with flight deck and powered by jet engines, Cloudbase hovers at a fixed altitude of 40,000 feet (7.6 mi; 12 km). Although normally geostationary, it can be moved to any point above the Earth's surface as and when required. It was constructed in Earth orbit and has a crew of 600. The whole structure is pressurised; pilots entering or exiting aircraft on the flight deck do so via airtight shafts and docking ports. Cloudbase's primary defence is its squadron of three Angel Interceptor fighter aircraft, flown by five female pilots (who have faster reflexes than men). One fighter is manned around the clock, with the others on continuous standby. Auxiliary aircraft include Spectrum Passenger Jets and Magnocopters, which are launched from a separate part of the flight deck.
Areas onboard Cloudbase include:
- The Control Room, containing Colonel White's desk and Lieutenant Green's computer, which is used to operate the base's public address and other systems
- The Amber Room, the standby post for the Angel pilots
- The Spectrum Information Centre, comprising "Seventh Generation" supercomputers
- The Observation Room, containing atmospheric and space monitoring equipment
- The Room of Sleep, where hypnosis and gimbal-mounted beds minimise the time required for personnel to rest
- The Sick Bay, manned by chief medical officer Dr. Fawn
- The Conference Room
- The Generator Room
- The Radar Room
- The Lounge
Cloudbase was realised as a scale filming model over 6 feet (1.8 m) in length, designed by special effects director Derek Meddings. It was the simplest Captain Scarlet vehicle to design, and typically appeared in a stock long shot filmed against a sky backdrop (comprising a background painting, cotton wool clouds in the foreground, and dry ice). Too heavy to be supported by thin wires, the model was sometimes fixed to a metal pole, which was concealed from the camera's view by the filming angle. Larger sections of the flight deck were built for scenes showing aircraft taking off and landing.
In the computer-animated remake series Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet (2005), Cloudbase is re-imagined as Skybase. The updated headquarters, now situated at 60,000 feet (11 mi; 18 km), resembles the original Cloudbase both in appearance and function. Robotic deckhands are stationed on Skybase's flight deck to assist in the take-off and landing of aircraft. Skybase is protected by a fleet of Falcon Interceptors (updated Angel aircraft) and, in addition to the facilities featured previously, is now also equipped with squash courts.
The CGI Skybase was realised using LightWave 3D software under the supervision of Ron Thornton, co-founder of animation studio Foundation Imaging (whose commissions included the Star Trek TV series and films). The large computer model, which at three million polygons (described by Thornton as "way over the top") was originally three times the size of Foundation's model of Enterprise NX-01 for Star Trek: Enterprise, could not be rendered in one step.
Actor Cy Grant, who voiced the original Lieutenant Green and praised Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons for conveying positive, multicultural values, also believed the series to be religiously allegorical. Christian symbolism is heavily implied, with Colonel White being representative of God; meanwhile, Cloudbase serves as a Heaven allegory, guarded by a fleet of fighter aircraft called the Angels.
The Valiant, seen in the Doctor Who episodes "The Sound of Drums", "Last of the Time Lords", "The Poison Sky" and "The Stolen Earth", resembles the Cloudbase airborne aircraft carrier. Also similar to Cloudbase is the SHIELD Helicarrier which appears in Marvel Universe comics and films (designed by Jack Kirby in 1965) and the mobile airstrip from the film Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004). A secret project in the expansion pack for the 1999 video game Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri is called Cloudbase Academy.
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