Archive for April, 2014

Unusual buses – Zuyih Spacecar

April 30, 2014

At the 1974 Commercial Motor Show in UK, Willowbrook launched a new coach called the Spacecar :
The name Spacecar was thought up by the Director of Willowbrook, who loved cars and the TV series Star Trek. The design was replicated by Zuyih, a bus and coach builder based in Taiwan. This is one of the Zuyih Spacecar coach on Fuso BM115L chassis used by one Hong Kong tour operator photographed at the old Kai Tak international airport :
 photo HK1_zps8d4d4d84.jpg
One of the Zuyih Spacecar body also found its way to Singapore. The chassis used was a Mercedes LP1113. Unlike the all Spacecars which were normally used as a tour coach, this Mercedes was used as a bus, with a single two leaf folding door located at the centre. The bus was non aircon and three quarter depth sliding windows were installed. Unfortunately, no photo of this unique bus exist.

Acknowledge : Wikimedia Commons.

Airplanes at Paya Lebar

April 23, 2014

The place I stay when I was a kid was directly under the flight path of planes landing and taking off at Paya Lebar Airport. The time when most plane land is around 5 to 7pm. One of the favourite pass time was looking out for my favourite British Caledonian plane landing. I like the design of the lion painted on the tail fin:
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These are some of the 1970s defunct airlines and airlines which no longer fly to Singapore which used to land at Paya Lebar :
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Most of them used Boeing 707, which is an extremely noisy aircraft. Other planes include Douglas DC-8, Ilyushin 62, Vickers VC-10, De Havilland Comet, Sud Aviation Caravelle, Fokker Friendship and occasionally an odd Douglas DC-3.
Alitalia Douglas DC-8 :
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Aeroflot Ilyushin 62 :
 photo aeroflot_zps5047456b.jpg
BOAC Vickers VC-10 :
 photo BOAC_zpsfcce7d4e.jpg
MSA De Havilland Comet :
 photo MSA_zps69f5baa7.jpg
Finnair Caravelle :
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Olympic Airways Boeing 707 :
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Air Ceylon Hawker Siddeley Trident :
 photo Ceylon_zps13b2171e.jpg

Acknowledgement : Plane photos from Wikimedia Commons

Sci-fi vehicles Part 2

April 16, 2014

These are some of other the sci-fi shows which feature land vehicles.

1. Damnation Alley
This is a B grade movie of post-apocalyptic earth. Part of the earth was devastated by nukes and the other areas remained a land of milk and honey. I thought the wind will carry the nuclear contaminants all over the earth, how nuclear fallout remained only on one part of the earth is puzzling. Separating the two sides is an area of super storms, giant mutated insects and treacherous terrains. Anyone entering that area will be damned, hence the name Damnation Alley. The survivors living at the nuclear wasteland built two vehicles and tried to get to the other side. The vehicle is the Landmaster :
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The vehicle is amphibous and equipped with tri-star wheel clusters which enable it to climb deep gullies and over rocks. The vehicle is steered by bending the mid section, something like the articulated section of a bendy bus. This is a real vehicle specially built for the movie. One of the vehicle was bought by a collector and preserved. Boring movie, no surprise that it was a flop at the box office.

2. Prometheus
The prequel to the Aliens series of movies. The aging and dying Mr Weyland is desperate to find a cure for old age and send a space ship to the distant stars to look for the “Engineers”, a giant human-like species which created life on earth eons ago. This is the RT01 transporter based on a Czech built Tatra military chassis used for ferrying the crew on the planet :
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The vehicle is now housed in a mueeum in United kingdom.

3. Last days on Mars
Zombie movie about a bunch of explorers on Mars. Nasty things happened to the explorers on their last day just before they were about to leave for the mother ship orbiting above the planet. The crew explored the area in a solar powered rover vehicle. Each of these vehicles had a pair of solar panels sticking up rear at the rear roof. They discovered some kind of alien bacteria life form which eventually infect and turn them into zombies. All of them were killed and only one survived.
 photo scifi6_zps1a535abe.jpg
This vehicle is not real, created by CGI effects.

Acknowledgement : TheBusDude

Sci-fi vehicles Part 1

April 9, 2014

Sky is the limit for imagination as far as science fiction shows are concerned. Most of these shows feature fancy flying machines : space ships, fighters, transporters, battle cruisers, shuttles,…etc, machines which defy gravitational forces of stars and planets and can go anywhere in the universe. The land based machines were not as well known in sci-fi shows and were not given as much screen time as the flying machines. Here are some of the not so famous land based sci-fi vehicles :
1. Lost In Space
One of the early sci-fi TV series I watched was Lost In Space. The show is about the Robinson family, an air force pilot and a robot sent out to a planet in the Alpha Centauri with the aim of colonizing it. On board was also the trouble maker Dr Smith, who causes the space ship to got lost and crashed onto an unknown planet. The land vehicle was this “Chariot” used by the survivors to explore the planet. The vehicle is an actual snow mobile rebuilt for filming the show :
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The vehicle can seat 6 persons and is amphibious. On the roof were cluttered with some stuffs, most of which were practically useless in my opinion. The only useful thing on the roof was the cargo rack on the back end of the roof. I assume that the thing which stood at the back of the roof is the solar cell panel. Other than that, the bubble glass and the cone shape thing at the front of the roof served no purpose other than to make it look “sci-fi-ish”. Those where the un-sophiscated times, with black and white images and non-stereo sounds.

2. Space 1999
This is a 1975 TV show. Story of an accident in a nuclear dump site on the far side of the moon causing a huge blast which throw the moon out of earth’s orbit and send it hurdling into deep space. The survivors on Moon Base Alpha encountered various adventures on the journey. The main machine featured most of the time were the flying Eagle Transporters. In one (and only one) episode, two land vehicles appeared. They were Laser Tanks armed with big laser cannons to protect Moon Base Alpha from some alien threats. The vehicles were actually modified Tamiya toys :
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3. Battlestar Galactica
In the Battlestar Galactica series, most of the time it feature the gigantic Battlestar spaceship and fighters from both the Cylons and the humans. Land based vehicles appeared only in a few episodes. This is the Colonial LandRam used by the good guys :
 photo scifi3_zps620dd856.jpg
It is a tracked vehicle which was used as a transporter. Some of them were armed with twin laser cannons mounted on an open platform at the rear. I like the design of the vehicle but I find it ridiculous that the operator of the laser cannon was exposed. Given the advance technology at the time of Battlestars, I would expect an enclosed gun system where the gunner is protected from the environments or a sophiscated gun pod operated remotely by a crew inside the vehicle. Not sure if real vehicles were built for this show.

4. Aliens
Giant space ship and badass aliens dominate the show. In the second film, it featured a M577 armoured personnel carrier used by the United States Colonial Marine Corps :
 photo scifi4_zps1fba12c8.jpg
The design is sleek, the top gun turret can be retracted to the rear to give it a low profile. The wheels are as tall as a person’s height. In addition to the gun turret on the roof, there is a twin gun mini turret on the front. The vehicles carry 12 troopers, 1 commander and 1 driver. A real mean looking machine. The only disappointment is that during the show, the guns were never fired to blast all the damned aliens to smithereens, only some were crushed by the massive big wheels. The vehicle is built from the chassis of an aircraft tow tractor.

Acknowledgement : TheBusDude


April 3, 2014

Jurong Birdpark’s monorail closed without fanfare and announcement in November 2012. The system was built in 1991 to replace the trams pulled by diesel powered tractors. This is the first tram used :
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Swiss company Von Roll supplied the four air-conditioned trains, each train comprise of four cars :
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The length of the track is 1.8 kilometers long looping around the park. It has three stations. One of the station was built inside the open air waterfall aviary. Special gates open and close when the train enter and exit the aviary to prevent the birds from escaping. Trams pulled by “airport baggage type tractor” replaced the monorail, reverting to the system that was first used by the park.

Acknowledgement : Old tram photo from National Archives Singapore