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SkyShip 500 A View to a Kill - "Zorin Industries"

Not often does a modern airship have such a lead role in a film. This page describes the role of the Skyship 500 in the James Bond Film "A View to a Kill with two airships making a integral part of the film

 

In 1984 Airship Industries managed a major marketing coup with the inclusion of their Skyship 500 series airship in the James Bond Film, "A View to a Kill". The original story coming from a short story by Ian Flemming was adapted, and the use of airships in the plotline came from the finale of the 007 continuation novel written by John Gardener called Role of Honour, which was published in 1984.

The film was to be the last outing for Roger Moore, who was completing his seveth Bond adventure over a 13 year period.

 

 

At the time Airship Industries had produce a fleet of ships which were recognizable over many capitals of the world offering tours, or advertising sponsorship deals. As the producers of the Bond film franchise always wanted to include the most current technology, this included the lighter than air interest.

In the film the first introduction to lighter than air travel is when the, villain Max Zorin, played by Christopher Walken, made an appearance in airship used as a "mobile" flying headquarters and conference suite, in a planned but currently nonexistent Skyship 6000. In a interior scene within the airship, a which was used as a floating boardroom, a map of his plans emerges from the boardroom table, a nice homage to the scene where a 3D diarama map emerges from the pool table in the 1964 film, "Goldfinger". Again the villain of the peice, explains to his co-horts how the plan is unveilled.

A mock up model had been made showing a larger Skyship 5000 with a double decked gondola and four ducted propulsion units. This was shown floating over San Francisco Bay, and cleverly disposing of a conference passenger. The ship was similar to the designs at the time of a larger skyship 5000 and the envelope and shape of the gondola can be seen as almost direct copies of the designs. The ship was mocked up in green Zorin Industries livery. See the Skyship 5000 project page. As the ship flies in to San Fransico for the final half of the film, our Villain's assistant, May Day, portrayed by Grace Jones, looks out of the front of the ship's gondola exclaims "What a View.." and Christopher Walken finishes the line "... to a Kill".

This was an initial taster for choice of travel made by the villain the later inclusion of an airship in the the climax of the film on the Golden Gate Bridge.

For the finale, the ship in question was in fact a very real Skyship 500 registration G-B1HN. At the time a similar skyship, SK 500 -004 (G-SKSB) the was operating a promotional tour of the U.S. and Los Angels and had played a major part of the opening ceremony of the 1984 Olympic Games.

For that the Skyship SK500-04 had a "WELCOME" banner across the side of the hull and flew over the stadium at the start of the ceremony. On board, the ABC camera crew provided the only air to ground shots, broadcasting throught the ceremony. The Skyship also carried security and surveillance personnel attracting government agency interest in the role of airshps. At the time it was the only aircraft permitted to fly in to the airspace around the stadium.

During the 1984 season, the ship was in predominantly green and red livery of Fuji Film sponsorship for Fuji Tape. As the film was set around California, the Bond Production team were also able to utilize the ship and shots of the ship over San Francisco and famous land marks. Full co-operation had been grated by the Mayor of San Fransico for the fliming.

The iconic and dramatic "A View to A Kill" film poster showing the Golden Gate Bridge and Skyship 500.
A series of shots of the model Skyship 6000 from the film "A View to a Kill"
Some of the scenes showing how some of the live action was filmed using full sized mock ups, smaller flying models, plus the actual ship. The first two photos show the Skyship G-B1HH in Zorin Industries livery at Cardington, prior to flying down to Amberley in West Sussex for locatiton filming and Pinewood.
The Skyship to be used in the fim ship was adapted with a similar livery, bearing the factitious Company of "Zorin Industries" and various smaller scale yet perfectly working models of the ship were used at various stages. In the film, the ship is used as an escape vehicle for Max Zorin and his assistants to observe the destruction of Silicon Valley from above.

In the film, the Skyship is used as an escape vehicle for Max Zorin and his assistants to observe the destruction of Silicon Valley from above. The escape airship was hidden inside a portable contractors office (portacabin) where the top extension collapsed down. In the film, this allowed escapees to enter the office door, and clever camera angles do not reveal fully what is hidden inside. A few valves are opened, and the villains sit inside a gondola then start up the engines. The gas begins to inflate the envelope and the roof of the building collapses open, allowing the envelope to inflate through the top.

This is shown for wonderful dramatic effect as In real life, this is not possible as an inflation can take up to 24 hours, however with the benefit of Pinewood magic, this inflation takes approximalty 2 minutes.

It does, however provide a striking effect showing the fin structure and also an excellent vectoring of the engines as the "ship" provides a vertical take of and landing (VTOL) takeoff out of the cabin.

A very good action sequence takes place with the ship used as a kidnap vehicle where Stacy Sutton, our Bond Girl for this film, played by the late Tanya Roberts is kidnapped and dragged in to the airship. The sequence was filmed at the Amberley Mine Musem in Sussex, which had been used as the scenes of Zorin Industries Californian mine on the San Andreas Fault. For the shots the Skyship 500 flies down in to the quarry pit.

Our hero James Bond dramatically grabs the bow mooring lines, and is carried off over the San Francisco skyline, narrowly missing some of the famous buildings including a close encounter with the TransAmerica building.

 

The final sequence takes place on the Golden Gate Bridge where James Bond manages to curtail the villains get away by tying the mooring lines to the superstructure.

During this time a very convincing Skyship 500, show the airship in view during the whole sequence. However this is of course a very impressive mock up filmed on the back lot of Pinewood Studio, filmed in October 1984, with a scale model replica of the top of the Golden Gate Bridge. The scenes are inter-cut between shots of models, the actual Skyship and impressive convincing gondola closeups.

During the final act on the top of the Golden Gate Bridge, our hero, James Bond has fought off the villan Max Zorin, but his henchmen, still on the ship reach for the weapons locker.

Rather than attemp to shoot James Bond, who had previously hidden under the bridge pipe, more drastic weapons were chosen. As the ship had been at Max Zorin's Californian mine, where much high explosives were used in the film , some were contained in the weapons locker. The clumsy use of dynamite was lit by an assailant, but was dropped as the James Bond cuts the ship free from it's moorings.

As with all the James Bond movies in the franchise, the ending had to be dramatic and thus normally show a large explosion. A View to a Kill was to be no exception. The ending had to be dramatic but also be careful not to totally discredit the fledgling industry who was always trying to move away from this historical stigma. Within the terms of the leasing contract with the 007 production company, it was stipulated that the airship could not be shown as exploding in the similar expectations as airship disasters in the past, notibly the LZ-129 Hindenburg. It was known that this would the image and sales potential.

The special effects are impressive and in keepin with the leasing contract, the film shows the gondola, and not the envelope of gas exploding. This of course showing that the inert helium being safe as the envelope is seen deflating and slowly sinking to the sea below, and indeed any airborn vehicle with a large pack of dynamite rolling around the cabin, would have suffer the same fate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

Related ships: SkyShip 600, SkyShip 5000

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