Badass by design, this Autobot is a six-wheel fire fighting titan in real life
In the 2011 film, Transformers 3 – Dark of the Moon, a “prime” predecessor to Optimus drops into the story. Sentinel Prime, voiced by Leonard Nimoy, the legendary StarTrek character Spock, transforms into a child-loving fire truck. After nearly 50 years of being stranded on the dark side of the moon, he crash lands on Earth to join the fight between the Autobots and the Decepticons, but not always on the right side.
Known in real life as the Panther 6X6, this most-popular fire-fighting vehicle is built by Wyoming manufacturer Rosenbauer America. The Panther was chosen by director Michael Bay personally, for it’s tough, massive, and contemporary stature. Rosenbauer was excited to lend it’s powerful vehicle to the movie.
While the manufacturer did not have to provide any transform-able vehicle parts, the film’s special effects team requested blueprints of the Panther, so they could create dimensionally correct transformations from the fire truck to Sentinel Prime.
Good thing, because the Panther is over 40 feet long, 12 feet wide, and 10 feet tall. It can hold 3,000 gallons of water with a highly-concentrated foam. Fully loaded, it checks in at over 40 tons!
The production company designed and built a 54 foot extendable turret for the top of the Panther, the only other prominent change to the stock fire truck was the color scheme. While the signature Panther yellow and green was eye-catching, Bay wanted a more traditional red. The ultimate color chosen was a red tone indicative of a vehicle that sat in the sun for 20 years.
Other minor changes to the cosmetics of the fire truck included blue emergency lights, instead of red, the boom ladder was changed from white to metallic gray, the windows got a nice dark tint, and the Autobots logos were prominently painted on the sides.
The Transformers Sentinel Prime Panther made appearances, like a typical movie star, in downtown Chicago, Detroit, Los Angles, Washington D.C., and the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Despite its immense size, the Panther is surprisingly easy to drive. The Transformer’s stunt driver noted it was like a massive minivan on steroids.
The Panther 6×6 is a beast, and the best-selling aviation rescue vehicle available. Among features like a CleanAir cabin recirculating system, onboard EMS equipment storage, electric ladder deployment, and multiple birds-eye view cameras, the technical specifications include three wheels on each side. (There is an 8×8 version.)
It has a 760 horsepower Detroit Diesel engine, a twin-disc electronic transmission, two exterior water cannon turrets, and at 8,500 libs., can still go from 0-60 in 45 seconds.
Sadly the manufacturer was sworn to secrecy, and never received any footage or stills of the Panther on the set. They first saw it on YouTube, like everyone else. But luckily, they licensed the fire truck to Hasbro, would produced over 3 million Sentinel Prime toy Panther Fire Trucks, making it the most widely known fire fighting vehicle.
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