I am sorry.
It is with a heavy heart, hat in hand and tear stained cheeks that I grovel before you. I have spoken irresponsibly, making wild statements such as “KITT from Knight Rider has no offensive capabilities, Airwolf would destroy it every time.”
I have searched my heart, the television archives and numerous fan made wikis to set the record straight.
Of course KITT has offensive capabilities. Not only does it have a flamethrower and tear gas launcher, it has a frikkin’ laser!
I don’t know why I forgot this, as everything in the 80’s had mandatory lasers. Had G.I. Joe, M.A.S.K. and Rick Springfield’s music video for ‘Bop ‘Til You Drop’ taught me nothing?
To be sure, the laser was rarely used. It struggled with its power supply, calibration and range. While it may have failed to destroy the evil KARR, it did bullseye a weakspot the size of a quarter on Goliath.
How could a horizontal mounted short distance, 3 shot capacity laser possibly take down a super helicopter like Airwolf? Let’s start slicing apples and oranges (not with a laser, though. We only have 3 shots).
Let’s start with Defense:
KITT has the vaunted Tri-Helical 1000 MBS, the ‘Molecular Bonded System’ that makes it indestructible. It has been claimed to be resistant to everything except for heavy artillery and missiles. This is largely true – it has even shrugged off rounds from a gatling gun and high speed head on collisions (RIP KARR).
With its upgraded super pursuit mode, KITT can travel at 420 mph.
In addition to physical defenses like magnesium flares, smoke screens and oil jets, KITT has a dizzying array of electronic warfare capabilities including long distance sensors, and an almost magical electronic jamming systems that could control other machines. In Episode 26, “Merchants of Death” the Microwave Jammer’s power has been increased 3 times than its normal strength, strong enough to bring down a helicopter, but only when KITT managed to jump over it.)
Airwolf is bullet proof and armored, though not to the extent that KITT is. It does have enough of its own electronic counter measures that we may assume that it would not be the deciding factor in a confrontation.
Airwolf has 30mm cannons, .50 cal chain guns, and dozens upon dozens of missiles, all sufficient to exceed KITTS threshold of invulnerability. With a cruising speed of 350 mph and the option to kick it up to Mach 2 (over 1,400 mph) there is no way KITT could outrun it. With a flight ceiling of 89,000 ft and up, KITT’s short range laser won’t be very useful.
If ‘The Firm’ orders Airwolf to destroy KITT from on high with extreme prejudice, it would be over in minutes. Even with KITT’s anti-heat seeking flares, smoke screens and faster than human reflexes, the battle would be determined by overwhelming air superiority.
But let us imagine that the Foundation for Law and Government gets wind of The Firm’s hostile intentions. What advantage could a car possibly have over a supersonic high altitude weapons platform?
KITT possesses advanced, general artificial intelligence. In retrospect, the fact that this was used to drive a Pontiac instead of irrevocably transforming the fate of mankind is insane, but perhaps there is a long game here that has yet to be revealed. I digress.
The important thing is that Airwolf’s crew members are confined to one vehicle, while KITT and Michael can operate independently.
Why would Airwolf ever give up its decisive advantage and get close to the ground? That’s just how its pilot, Stringfellow Hawke, rolls. He’s not the type to use chainguns on a man fleeing on foot. His preference is always low and slow, map of the earth stunt flying.
If KITT were to play dead, perhaps after a spectacle of smoke screens and evasive driving, Michael could get out and run from Airwolf.
If Airwolf took the bait and came down low, KITT could turbo boost upto 40 feet in the air and either use its laser or simply ram its indestructible body into the helicopter.
If you really want to think outside the box, KITT could use his Surveillance Mode to hack into The Firm’s systems and then use his Voice Synthesizer and Voice Stress Analyzer to call Archangel to coerce, threaten and blackmail him into calling off the attack.
So the next time you are at one of your glitzy cocktail parties and a group of people are debating 80’s action properties and dismissing Knight Rider, remember the frickin’ lasers.
Will I ever get back the time I spent researching this? Will you ever get back the time you spent reading it?
And for that, I am sorry.
If you do like to go deep on pop culture action, perhaps you’d like my dark superhero novel CRITERION.
CRITERION is available now in print and digital at