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SkyShip 500 "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 also took on the use of Airships by the later Bond Novelist John Gardener in "Role of Honor" .

At the time Airship Industries were producing a fleet of ships which were recognizable over many capitals of the world offering tours, or advertising sponsorship deals. As all Bond films have included 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, made an appearance in airship used as a "mobile" HQ and conference suite, in a planned but currently nonexistent Skyship 6000.

A mock up model had been made showing a larger Skyship 500 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.


A series of shots of the model Skyship 6000 from the film A View to a Kill (1985)

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 which at the time was operating a promotional tour of Los Angels and had played a major part of the


opening ceremony of the 1984 Olympic Games. For that the ship has WELCOME painted across the side of the hull. During the 1984 season, the ship was in predominantly green and red livery of Fuji Film sponsorship. 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.

The 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. The escape airship was hidden inside a portable contractors office (portacabin) where the top extension collapsed down. This allowed escapees to enter the office door, and dramatically press a few buttons, and the roof of the building would collapse open, allowing the envelope to inflate through the top.

In real life, however 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 VTOL takeoff out of the cabin.

A very good action sequence takes place with the ship used as a kidnap vehicle where our hero James Bond dramatically grabs the bow mooring lines, and is carried off over the San Francisco skyline, narrowly missing some of the buildings. 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 a ship in almost in view during the whole sequence. However this is of course a very impressive mock up.

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 demise of the ship is, like almost every airship in movie history, by an explosion. The clumsy use of dynamite which was dropped as the ship is cut free from it's moorings. 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. The special effects are impressive and is true to a modern airship design with 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.

The Skyship 500 airship was a major feature in the film with the movie poster depicting it's modern role.

Related ships: SkyShip 600, SkyShip 5000

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