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“I'm sending you to Crewe, a fine place for sick engines. They'll give you a new shape and a large firebox. You'll feel a different engine and won't need special coal anymore. Won't that be nice?"
"Yes, sir.”
―The Fat Controller and Henry

The Flying Kipper is the nineteenth episode of the first series. It is based on the story of the same name from the Railway Series book Henry the Green Engine.


One winter evening, Henry is told by his driver that they will be leaving early in the morning to pull the Flying Kipper, a special goods train that carries fish from the harbour to the Mainland. He also says that they might be allowed to take the express if they pull the Kipper nicely, which makes Henry excited.

At five o'clock the next morning, Henry enters the harbour, couples up to the heavily loaded vans and carefully starts. Although it is difficult at first, the journey goes very smoothly and Henry enjoys running through the snow-covered countryside as the sun rises. Soon, they near a yellow home signal, indicating "caution" and prepare to stop until they notice the signal is down, assuming that the line ahead is clear. Little do they know however that ahead of them, the points to the main line have frozen towards a siding and the home signal, which is supposed to be up, has been forced down by the snow.

On the siding is a goods train, waiting to let Henry pass. The driver and fireman are enjoying hot cocoa in the guard's van when they learn that the Flying Kipper is due, so they decide to head back to their engine. Even though the fireman does not care as he is enjoying the cocoa. Their exit comes just in time as Henry rushes onto the siding and unable to stop in time, crashes straight into the back of the train, destroying the brake van and landing on his side, while his crew manage to jump clear before the collision.

When daylight comes, the Breakdown Train is brought in to clean up the mess. The Fat Controller comes up to a distraught Henry and kindly reassures him that the accident was not his fault, it was due to the weather. He then tells Henry that he is arranging for him to be sent to Crewe, where he will be given a brand-new shape and a larger firebox so that he will not have to run on Welsh coal anymore.

Henry is doubtful at first, but when spring arrives, he returns from Crewe feeling better than ever. Everyone is delighted to see Henry in his new shape and he looks so splendid and strong that the crowd gives him three cheers. Even the children wait to see Henry in his new shape, making them late for school. Before long, Henry even gets to pull the Express, which he does so well that Gordon becomes jealous.




  • One of the workmen at the harbour just before Henry sets off resembles Ringo Starr.
  • While the narrator talks about the harbour, there is an engine seen moving in the background; this is the unmodified Märklin Engine.
  • The Brake Van that Henry collides with has additional side windows.
  • The two shots where the narrator says, "The Fat Controller came to see him," and when the Fat Controller said, "won't that be nice?" are both freeze frames.
  • Thanks to the increased clarity of the restored footage, it shows the engine at the front of the goods train to be James. It is confirmed that James was pulling the goods train that Henry crashed into the brake van of at the time, since he is nowhere to be seen at the sheds at the beginning of the episode. The shape of his cab windows just as Henry approaches the goods train from behind also gives this away. This is also coupled with the fact that he can be seen pushing some trucks at the scene of Henry's accident.
  • This was the only episode to keep its two yellow splits transitioning from the intro when it was aired individually.
  • Henry loses his wheel splashers after his rebuild, but he later regains them in the second series.
  • In the restored version, all of the nighttime footage from Henry passes Knapford Sheds to when he lands on his side during the accident is framed lower than on the original print. While thought to be due to film deterioration it would not make sense as the camera recorded vertically and any damage to the tops of the frame would show on the bottom of the next one. It was likely done to hide the top of the set backdrop which is visible as Henry passes through a station in the original print. The rest of the footage was possibly left lower by accident when trying to correct the framing of this one scene.
  • This was one of the few episodes in the US dubs where the word "caboose" was used instead of brake van.
  • When Henry flies off the rails, his impact with the ground very obviously jars the surrounding trucks and crates; this effect was not simulated but was instead a direct result of his very heavy Märklin chassis slamming onto the set.
  • A deleted scene from the previous episode is used.
  • This and Whistles and Sneezes were the last two episodes of the first series repeated in 1987 on Children's ITV until Thomas' Christmas Party on Wednesday 30th December.
  • This is the first episode to feature an on-screen derailment.
  • This episode marks the only appearance of Killdane in the television series before the tenth series.
  • This episode and the next episode are the first episodes being introduced by Matthew Kelly from 2nd December 1984. Kelly also introduced the following two episodes before his departure from Children’s ITV as the remaining two episodes were used as standalone episodes on Christmas Day of that year. Due to this, Children’s ITV briefly ended until 7th January 1985 with constituent programmes all introduced by Roland Rat, who introduced the final episodes on 8th January, thus finally ending the series since its debut.
  • The JEI TV version of the Korean dub added subtitles to inform viewers what a yellow signal is.
  • The sound effect when Henry crashed into the brake van was heard in the 1983 film The Wind In The Willows.


  • Henry's eyes jitter in the close-up of him in the shed.
  • When Henry is waiting at the Harbour, one of his eyes are wonky.
  • Henry arrives at and departs from the Harbour with a "pick-up goods lamp," instead of the "perishables" ones. He then gains the correct lamps as he begins to pass the bus depot.
  • In two scenes, Henry's lamps are obviously small light bulbs as they stick out. Some blue wires can also be seen attached to the lights.
  • Henry's lamps are removed for the crash and then put back on after he derailed.
  • The track besides the goods train disappears and reappears several times.
  • In the two last close-ups of Henry, he is in his old shape. In the previous episode, there was a nearly identical close-up of Henry in his new one. From this, it can be judged that the episodes were filmed concurrently, and the editors mixed up the footage. In the same shot, a small gap can be seen between Henry's eyes and his face mask and some sticker lining on his cylinder is peeling off.
  • The arrangement of the trucks in the Flying Kipper changes when Henry is diverted onto the siding.
  • Henry is partially in his new shape with his top feed when he crashes.
  • As Henry approaches the green light, the edge of the set can be seen ahead.
  • A crew member's hand can be seen pushing Henry by the tender when he crashes into the goods train. This is immediately visible in both the original and restored footage.
  • In both US dubs, the term "guard" is used at one point when Henry's train with the Flying Kipper was ready to go, marking this the first time in the US dub a conductor is called by its original British and international term.
  • In the original version, when the Fat Controller says to Henry "Won't that be nice?", James can be seen behind them, but in the very next shot, he dissapears.
  • The edge of the set can be seen in the top left corner when Henry goes back over the viaduct.
  • During Henry's crash, the transition from his impact with the goods train to him leaping off the rails is very delayed. As a result, he appears to suddenly jump off the rails whilst stationary.


In Other Languages

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Language Title
Brazilian Portuguese O Peixe Voador
Chinese Mandarin 飞行鳟鱼号
Croatian Leteći Bakalar
Czech Létající Ryba
Danish Flyvefisken
Dutch De Vliegende Vis
Finnish Sähäkkä Silli
French Le Hareng Volant
German Der fliegende Bückling
Greek Ο Τσάρλι και το Παστό Ψάρι
Hebrew דג מעושן מעופף
Hungarian A Száguldó Hering
Italian Lo Scambio Ghiacciato
Japanese フライング・キッパー
Korean 새롭게 변신한 헨리
Latin American Spanish El Pez Volador
Norwegian Den Flyvende Laks
Polish Latający Śledź (Original)
Latający Pikling (Alternate)
Romanian Scrumbia Zburătoare
Romansh Camiun cun punt cupitgabla
Russian Летучий лосось
Serbian Leteča Haringa
Slovak Lietajúci Kipper
Slovenian Leteči Slanik
Swedish Den Flygande Laxen
Ukrainian Летючий лосось
Welsh Y Trên Penwaig

Home Media Releases


DVD Packs



  • Tenders and Turntables and Other Stories (Ringo Starr's dub)
  • Thomas' Christmas Party and Other Favorite Stories
  • A Big Day for Thomas
  • The Early Years (UK dub)

DVD Packs


  • Coal and other stories
  • The Biggest Ever Christmas Collection
  • The Complete Series 1

DVD Boxsets

  • Complete Series 1-10
  • Classic Collection
  • Series One and Series Two Double Pack







  • The Flying Kipper




DVD Boxsets







DVD Packs




  • Thomas and Friends Season 1-4