The Helicarrier, a flying aircraft carrier, is the signature capital ship of the fictional intelligence/defense agency S.H.I.E.L.D., appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics.
Originally designed by Jack Kirby for the Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. serial in Strange Tales #135 (August 1965), the Helicarrier concept has survived multiple redesigns while rarely straying from its originally depicted role as a mobile headquarters of S.H.I.E.L.D. until recent years.
The S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier appears in the Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends episode "Mission: Save the Guardstar".
The S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier also appears in Spider-Man: The Animated Series. Besides being the S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, it also served as a prison for high-risk individuals, such as the Chameleon. It was eventually destroyed by Electro.
Another version of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier appears in the final episode of X-Men Evolution.
A version of the Helicarrier appears in The Super Hero Squad Show, and serves as the base of operations for the Super Hero Squad. It is usually piloted by S.H.I.E.L.D. leader Ms. Marvel, who reluctantly allowed the Squad to move in. Since then, it has been nearly destroyed on two occasions.
The Helicarrier was featured in the Iron Man: Armored Adventures episode "Technovore", but instead of propellers keeping it aloft, it has jet engines (designed by Howard Stark).
S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarriers appear in the animated series The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
The Helicarrier appears in Ultimate Spider-Man. It served as the training area for Spider-Man's team. In "Rise of the Goblin", the Helicarrier is destroyed by Green Goblin and crashes into the harbor. It was also revealed that Power Man, Iron Fist, Nova, and White Tiger lived on the Helicarrier. In "The Man-Wolf", the Helicarrier is rebuilt as the more versatile Tri-Carrier which can divide into three different ships: an Astro-Carrier (a space variant of the Helicarrier), an Aqua-Carrier (an underwater variant of the Helicarrier), and a Dragon-Carrier (a sky variant of the Helicarrier). In "Ultimate", Green Goblin salvages the Helicarrier as his "Hell-Carrier" as part of his plot to use Goblin Gas to turn everyone into Goblins. Green Goblin self-destructs the Hellcarrier in order to get it out of the Tricarrier's tractor beam. In "Agent Venom", S.H.I.E.L.D. has Agent Venom kept on the Tri-Carrier so that Nick Fury can have the latest young superheroes reside there, only to be moved to the Triskellion in "New Warriors" and "S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy".
The S.H.I.E.L.D. Tri-Carrier appears in the Avengers Assemble episode "Bring On the Bad Guys". The Avengers apprehend Red Skull and have him incarcerated on the Tri-Carrier. It is hijacked by the Cabal. After the Cabal gets away, it is revealed that they stole the special prison that is holding Hyperion.
A Helicarrier makes a flashback appearance in the episode "Scars" on season 2 of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. After being alluded to throughout the season as "Theta Protocol", the episode reveals that Phil Coulson used his position and resources as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. to secretly repair and maintain the Helicarrier that was subsequently used by Nick Fury in Avengers: Age of Ultron, which had premiered in U.S. the week before the episode first aired.In the Marvel Universe context of the various Nick Fury/S.H.I.E.L.D. series, the original design is attributed to a co-operative effort by Tony Stark, the mutant inventor Forge, and Reed Richards. According to one account in Amazing Fantasy vol. 2, #10, the first Helicarrier was proposed by Stark Industries as a political compromise among the signatories of the treaty in response to fears that any nation hosting the Directorate's main headquarters would be subject to attack by organizations such as HYDRA, with domestic political fallout sure to follow immediately thereafter.
The Helicarrier is a seaworthy ship capable of VTOL flight by way of four huge lift fans mounted on the sides. It has two runways, one with direct access to a hangar at the rear is aligned along the spine of the vessel and is used for forward launches of aircraft, and the other diagonally aligned runway above is suitable for landings.
The Helicarriers created under Project Insight were next-gen and more advanced than the original. They had more offensive capabilities than the original did and were heavily armed with long range dorsal and ventral guns and cannons and have repulsor-powered engines instead of the old turbine-powered engines. Fury commented that this was done due to input from Stark "who had an upclose look at the old turbines".
S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarriers have retro-reflective panels lining their hulls, making them invisible to normal human vision below a certain elevation. They also possess radar cloaking capabilities, making them difficult to detect by other means. Helicarriers were the only known S.H.I.E.L.D. vehicles to receive such extensive cloaking capabilities, unlike the smaller vehicles, such as The Bus.
however, after the HYDRA Uprising, small vehicles, such as Quinjets, were fitted with this technology.