The Tornado (トルネード,Torunēdo?) is a vehicle that appears in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. It is a red and white biplane owned by Sonic himself, but he freely allows Tails to use it as his own. During their many adventures together, Sonic and Tails have used the Tornado as their main air transportation for long-distance travels around the earth or high altitude flights. Usually, Tails is the one piloting it while Sonic fearlessly stands on its top wing.
The biplane is involved in regular in-game Zones usually set in the Sky. The biplane is known to be armed with projectile weapons such as machine guns and homing missiles. Having been shot down multiple times, Tornado has been repaired or replaced with different variations of the biplane.
Early on, the Tornado was an old vintage biplane with a red fuselage and two grey main wings attached with a pair of poles on both sides. The red fuselage has a power plant with a grey tractor screw, small orange forward-pointing arrows close to cockpit, and the word "SONIC" written in white on both sides with stretchy F-letter labels underlining them. The cockpit has only one seat. Its empennage has two small horizontal stabilizers and one vertical stabilizer, the latter emblazoned with an emblem of a Bumper with wings. It also has three wheels, two under the lower main wing and one below the empennage. Occasionally, the Tornado has a custom booster engine on the bottom, which was tuned by Tails. This design has been reused in recent games, including Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II, Sonic Lost World and Sonic Runners, although with small changes such as short red ends on the wings and a yellow three-headed tractor screw.
The Tornado from Sonic Adventure onwards became more detailed with completely red wings and fuselage outlined with yellow and white lines. It also received a three-headed tractor screw and a black power plant. For this design, the cockpit has either one or two seats and a small windshield. Above the top wing and vertical stabilizer, the Tornado got emblazed with Tails' symbol, and behind the cockpit on the fuselage is the word "SONIC" written in white. The Tornado also got a small jet engine between the front wheels and machine guns on both sides of the fuselage.
Features and abilities
The Tornado's usual top speed is 450 kilometers per hour, but with a custom booster engine tuned by Tails installed, it can exceed the speed of sound. As shown in Sonic & Knuckles, the Tornado can also be fitted with a grappling tether for pulling larger objects behind it. In Sonic Adventure, the Tornado was also outfitted with homing missiles and a machine gun. In Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II, the Tornado can also perform a maneuver named the Tornado Boost where it spins horizontally while boosting through obstacles.
When using auxiliaries: Beyond the speed of sound
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
The Tornado was first introduced to the series in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, under the ownership of Sonic. In the game's Japanese storyline, Sonic flies in it as he was trying to find new adventures after defeating Doctor Robotnik in the previous installment. He then discovers an island known as West Side Island and decides to land the plane there and relax. There, he also meets Tails for the first time.
In the game, Tornado is featured prominently in Sky Chase Zone. The Zone consists of only one act with no boss to fight and the player can move the playable character on the top wing of the Tornado, piloted by Tails (or Sonic if playing as Tails). When the player moves forward, the Tornado follows him, but the player is able to fall off the biplane if he/she is moving too fast. When the player progresses to Wing Fortress Zone, the Tornado gets shot down by lasers while pursuing Dr. Robotnik and his flying battleship. After Robotnik gets away with his space shuttle, the Tornado rises up repaired and fitted with a custom booster engine. After reaching Robotnik's space shuttle, the playable character jumps off the Tornado and hangs onto the space shuttle.
After the destruction of the Death Egg, Tails flies the Tornado to rescue Sonic as he is plunged from the sky (or the other way around). In the regular ending, a Flicky/Cucky herd is flying behind the biplane, while a Locky herd appears in the good ending with Super Sonic flying alongside the biplane.
An unnamed blue and red floatplane with a pusher configuration appears in the opening and ending cutscenes of Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball. Sonic is seen riding on the wing as usual when the plane is shot down, depositing him into the waters outside Toxic Caves. Later, in the game's ending, Tails saves Sonic as he falls from the sky, while Robotnik falls to the remains of destroyed Veg-O-Fortress.
In the 8-bit version of the game the plane has a different design. Instead of a floatplane, it is a regular monoplane with a tractor configuration, it is predominantly silver and has the letter "S" emblazoned on the vertical stabilizer. In the opening, Sonic hangs from the plane's bottom rope as he infiltrates the fortress.
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles
The Tornado was featured in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and the add-on continuation Sonic & Knuckles sporting the custom booster engine from the previous game. In the beginning, Sonic and Tails are seen landing on Angel Island after detecting a large chaos energy reaction on it. While Tails lands the Tornado, Sonic transforms into his super form and lands on the island himself. At the end of Sonic & Knuckles, if the player hasn't collected all of the Chaos Emeralds, Tails is seen catching Sonic from the sky with the Tornado (or vice versa if Tails is played) without getting the Master Emerald, which falls down to the ocean. When getting all of the Emeralds, the Master Emerald is caught using the Tornado's mechanical tether as the plane catches the respective character. Sonic and Tails then head to Angel Island and leave the Master Emerald on the island (where Knuckles later finds it), before continuing their journey to new distances.
In the ending of Knuckles' story, Sonic is seen saving Knuckles with the Tornado from the destruction of Sky Sanctuary Zone after his duel with Mecha Sonic's Super State. If the player got all of the Chaos Emeralds with Knuckles, it is shown that Knuckles lands on the Tornado while also holding the Master Emerald. If all of the Super Emeralds were obtained, Knuckles is in his Hyper form during the scene. After this, Sonic brings Knuckles and the Master Emerald to Angel Island and leaves the island, which starts flying up or down, depending on whether all of the Emeralds were collected or not.
Sonic Triple Trouble
The Tornado appeared on three Special Stages in Sonic the Hedgehog Triple Trouble, where Sonic or Tails has to pilot the biplane and collect a certain amount of Rings in the sky in order to face Fang the Sniper and then collect one of five Chaos Emeralds. Sonic and Tails are also seen riding on Tornado towards the sunset in the game's end credits.
The Tornado had made a brief cameo appearance in Knuckles' Chaotix. It appears only in the good ending and is shown in the background of the credit roll with Sonic on its wings and Tails as the pilot, hovering behind Knuckles and his crew.
Sonic the Fighters
The Tornado appears briefly during the opening demo of Sonic the Fighters, as Sonic and Tails arrange the tournament to win the Chaos Emeralds in order to reach to the Death Egg II with the Lunar Fox shuttle.
The Tornado is used during the mini-game for Sky Chase Act 1. This mini-game involves shooting down robotic planes with the Tornado's machine guns and homing missiles. After the Act is completed, the Egg Carrier fires a giant laser which blows off the Tornado's right wings, making it spin out of control and crash. As Sonic and Tails are separated, Tails decides to find a Chaos Emerald and build the Tornado 2. The original Tornado was apparently repaired as it is seen in the post-credits after clearing Tails' story.
After clearing the final boss of Last Utopia Zone, Tails saves Sonic with the Tornado after he falls down in the game's normal ending. In the extra ending, Sonic lands on the Tornado after clearing Chaotic Space Zone. The Chaos Emeralds will then appear around Sonic before dispersing.
The Tornado's next appearance is in Sonic Advance. Sonic (Tails if playing as Sonic) would fly it catching the player after finishing a Special Stage and after finishing the game with the normal ending without getting all Chaos Emeralds. After finishing The Moon Zone, Tails is also seen piloting the Tornado later as he is searching Sonic and discovers Super Sonic flying back into the Earth's atmosphere.
In Sonic Rivals, although it is not known whether it was the Tornado or another variant of it, Tails used the Tornado to escort himself, Sonic and Knuckles to Meteor Base Zone to chase Dr. Eggman who fled there (who is actually Dr. Eggman Nega in disguise).
Sonic Rush Adventure
In the opening cutscene of Sonic Rush Adventure, Tails and Sonic appear flying during a thunderstorm while searching for an anomaly. The Tornado appears to have been modified to fit two passengers, as Sonic sits behind Tails. The Tornado crashes after being hit by lightning and losing engine power, where it is then sucked into a cyclone and transported to Blaze's world. What happened to the Tornado afterwards is unknown, though it was presumably lost at sea following the storm.
During the ending of Episode Metal, Metal Sonic notices Sonic and Tails flying away in the Tornado and takes Tails' rocket to follow them. This is followed up in the opening of Episode II, where Sonic and Tails are landing in Sylvania Castle Zone Act 1 in the Tornado. The duo later used the biplane to chase down Eggman with his slightly damaged Egg Mobile at the beginning of Sky Fortress Zone Act 1 and during the boss act against Metal Sonic in the Metal Carrier. During the first and boss acts, the second player takes the control of the Tornado which can perform the Tornado Boost to break through wooden crate walls or attack the Metal Carrier. After the boss battle, Sonic and Tails again land on the Sky Fortress and start chasing after Eggman and Metal Sonic.
Sonic Lost World
In Sonic Lost World, the Tornado returned with a slight redesign, appearing closer to its original incarnation while having sleeker edges. At the beginning of the game, Sonic and Tails used the Tornado to chase down Dr. Eggman in the sky, who had a capsule full of imprisoned Animals attached to the Egg Mobile. After Eggman dropped the capsule and had Sonic and Tails chase after it, he shot the Tornado's top wing, causing them to land on the Lost Hex. After defeating Zazz, Sonic meets with Tails who has repaired the Tornado.
In gameplay, the Tornado appears in Hidden World Zone 2, where the player can control the biplane with Tails piloting it and Sonic standing on the top wing. In this Zone, the player has to collect Time Bonuses and Dash Rings, and at the same time avoid getting hit by Badniks or edges of the cloud tunnels. Getting hit once will make the player loses all Rings and another will make the Tornado crash and Sonic will fall off into the clouds.
Sonic Runners series
In Sonic Runners, the Tornado makes an appearance as an S Rare Fly Type Buddy called the RC Tornado. It is one of the smaller RC Vehicles that are available on the Premium Roulette. When the player gets hurt, the RC Tornado restores up to 1200 Rings and 1250 for the Fly Type character.
Sonic Runners Adventure
The Tornado reappears in the sequel to Sonic Runners, Sonic Runners Adventure, where it is once again referred to as the RC Tornado. The RC Tornado can fly ahead for the next ten seconds, collecting Rings if the player's character is defeated. It does not work in boss battles. The RC Tornado can be bought for 2, 500 Rings.
During Sonic Adventure the Tornado gets shot down by the laser cannon of Dr. Eggman's Egg Carrier. After this accident, Tails headed back to his workshop and finishes the construction of his new blue-tinted experimental biplane, the Tornado 2. Unlike the original Tornado, it required a Chaos Emerald to function. Tornado 2 has been also capable of folding its wings into an X-shape to reach extreme speeds.
By Sonic Adventure 2, Tails has built the Tornado 3 which he primarily dubs the "Cyclone". Unlike the previous Tornadoes, it is a monoplane and carries a large missile launcher behind the single seat. In addition to its default plane setting, the Cyclone can also transform into either a battle-ready mech walker or a car. The walker was Tails' main mode of transportation and offense in the game.
In Sonic Unleashed, Tails volunteers the use of his Tornado-1 for the team's transportation. Not to be confused with the first Tornado, it is a completely new construction with a more notably streamlined and futuristic design. "Tornado 03" can be found inscribed near the rear, when the plane transforms during both of the Tornado Defense Acts of the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version. The Tornado-1 also combines features of previous Tornado incarnations: the red paint job and outward construction of the original Tornado, the ability to transform into an X-shape like the Tornado 2, and the homing missiles found on the Cyclone.
In Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, Tails has built a now land-based iteration of the Tornado series called the "Tornado Racer", capable of making fast turns with its short wing span. It was built with parts found after an attempted invasion by Dr. Eggman, and has a special move called the Tails Tornado capable of removing other vehicles and items on the path in front of him by summoning a miniature cyclone.
The Tornado Racer's engine output most likely was limited on purpose by Tails as if it were faster it would take off like a normal plane seeing as it already has enough speed to hover over the ground. This theory is further evidenced by the fact that when it gets launched off of a hill, it has a very slow descent suggesting its capabilities of flight. During Tails' Tornado, the Tornado Racer flies in the air along with the tornado that the technique creates.
In the Sonic the Hedgehog comic series and its spin-offs published by Archie Comics, the Tornado originally resembled the Tornado 2, but would later come to resemble its game counterpart after the storyline was rebooted.
An agile biplane, the Tornado was perhaps the most famous of the Knothole Freedom Fighters' vehicles. Tails took the position of the pilot, maintaining his place since the earliest versions of the Tornado. Armed with short range homing missiles, twin blasters and a massive thrust engine, it could take on even the fighters of the G.U.N. air force. The Tornado has gone through many iterations; a predecessor was known as the "Winged Victory".
In the Sonic the Hedgehog comic series and its spin-offs published by IDW Publishing, the Tornado resembles its video game counterpart. It was recently used by Sonic and Tails in a reconnaissance mission where they found the Egg Fleet.
The Tornado was used by Sonic and Tails to enter the Land of Darkness, although it got damaged in the process. Tails and Knuckles later got it back to home, where it is repaired and used to go to the North Pole where is destroyed by a missile from the Egg Mobile.
In the anime series Sonic X, the Tornado originally belonged to Sonic. It was eventually discovered by Tails after meeting Sonic for the first time, and began refitting and repainting it. When Sonic saw Tails' doing, he told him that he liked the new colors for Tornado and made friends with the timid fox. Tails would afterward continue to upgrade it into its Tornado 2 motif.
In the Sonic Boom series, the Tornado is a plane-like vehicle created by a long-lost civilization known as the Ancients. In this media though, it bears a stronger resemblance to the Tornado 2.
After being abandoned for over a millennium, the Tornado was found by Team Sonic who used it during their adventure to stop Lyric the Last Ancient. However, the Tornado was seemingly lost when it sank into a frozen lake during a battle with Dr. Eggman's Burnbot.
Though the original Tornado is owned by Sonic, it is unknown who built it. All subsequent Tornado machines are created and owned by Tails.
In the Sonic the Hedgehog serialized manga published by Shogakukan, Nicky's father Paulie, who is a qualified pilot for the air mail, pilots a red biplane similar to the Tornado. Unlike the Tornado, Paulie's aircraft is a seaplane.
In Knuckles' Chaotix, unused in-game sprites of Tails piloting Tornado exist in the game's code.
In real life, there have been several aircraft with the name "Tornado": a variable wing fighter/bomber/electronic warfare aircraft series called the Panavia Tornado, a fighter prototype called the Hawker Tornado from the 1940s, and an early jet bomber called the B-45 Tornado.
The original Tornado's design does not seem to come from a specific aircraft; however, following its redesign from Sonic Adventure onwards, the Tornado 2 bears a striking resemblance to the Polikarpov I-153, a 1930s Soviet biplane fighter.
At the end of Sonic & Knuckles, the Tornado is shown with "SONIC" written in reverse due to it facing the opposite way it usually is. This is because the sprite is simply flipped horizontally, instead of entirely new sprite being created.
"Wing walking" is an actual stunt that is historically associated with biplanes.
In Sonic Lost World, Tails is seen fixing the propeller of Tornado, even though before Dr. Eggman is seen shooting the top wing of the biplane. Although it is possible that the propeller was damaged when the plane crash-landed.
A LEGO version of the Tornado appears in LEGO Dimensions. Its appearance is based on its design in Sonic Adventure. Upgrading it changes its design to the Tornado Racer, Tornado-2, and the Tornado used in the Genesis games.