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This article is about the episode. You may be looking for the train or the magazine story.

“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?”
―The Fat Controller

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 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 signal, indicating "caution" and prepare to stop until they notice the home signal is down, assuming that the line ahead is clear. Little do they know, however, that they have been diverted onto a siding because the points to the main line have frozen towards the siding, and the home signal, which is supposed to be at "danger" 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. 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 they will give him a brand new shape and a larger firebox so that he will not have to run on Welsh coal anymore.

Henry is initially doubtful, 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 cheers for him. Before long, Henry even gets to pull the Express, something he is able to do 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 two shots where the narrator says "The Fat Controller/Sir Topham Hatt came to see him," and "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. 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 night time footage 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 Coal 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 crash.
  • This is the only appearance of Killdane in the Television Series before Series 10.


  • 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 versions, 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 version a conductor is called by its original British and international term.
  • 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

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  • Coal and other stories
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  • Complete Series 1-10
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  • The Flying Kipper




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