Now that we have gone over The Ten Largest Aircraft Ever Built, I'd like to re-introduce you to the largest fictional aircraft ever conceived - at least in the eyes and skies of James Bond.
In 2006's Casino Royale, James Bond's first mission as the famed codename-007 starts out as a foot chase in Madagascar and quickly escalates into a high-stakes poker game valued at $100 Million with the credibility of Bond and MI6, as well as the safety of Britain and the World from high-financed terrorism hanging in the balance. MI6 sends in Bond as he is, rather conveniently, the best hand in poker at the agency. Enjoy a mental image of Britain's deadliest group all hanging out into the early morning after work, using an old map of Argentinian invasion plans as poker felt, a pack of Saddam Hussein's political playing cards, and bullets in ranging caliber as currency while they share stories heard from their buddies over at the Palace's personal guard.
The high-stakes game is initiated by the bad guy's paymaster Le Chiffre, who we know is bad because he is French, asthmatic, and sometimes weeps blood from his left eye, or something. He is also a terrible paymaster in that he bets his clients money opposite that of other investors in the stock market, counting on his low-level gun-for-hires to rig World events, suddenly swinging the market in his favor.
One of his schemes involves the fictional prototype airliner S570, which is being unveiled at Miami International Airport by the fictional aircraft manufacturer Skyfleet. The aircraft is mentioned in the film simply as "The largest airplane in the World.." by M.'s secretary. Le Chiffre purchases $100 Million in put options in Skyfleet stock - using money he handles for unknowing African warlords, corrupt bureaucrats, and the type - meaning his share values are not effected by any potential failures of the company. He intends to guarantee that failure by sending a terrorist to Miami with intent to destroy the aircraft, thus increasing the value of his put options. Bond manages to stop the plot, and suddenly a lot of important, dangerous people lost a lot of important, dangerous money. Hence a high stakes poker game quickly established and unsurprisingly rigged, despite Le Chiffre's convenient poignant poker skills.
In reality the filmmakers used a combination of scale models and an actual Boeing 747-236B - G-BDXJ for the scenes at Miami International Airport, which was actually doubled in part by tarmac in Prague and England for the shoot. The actual Boeing 747 was flown to Dunsfold Aerodrome in England (home of BBC's Top Gear), where it's outer-wing turbines were replaced with artificial external fuel tanks and inter-wing pylons were fitted with two dual-turbine mockups (similar to those of a B-52), one on each wing. Clever angling (see top image) and special effects were used to sell the effect of a 747 appearing much larger in the fictional plane's debut scene. The prop plane was later used in a Volkswagen marketing campaign where it was towed by a Touareg SUV, in both a traditional commercial as well as on an episode of the automotive program Fifth Gear. It can now be seen parked in the background of the Top Gear television show's runway test track.
Ironically, the previous Bond film Die Another Day features an even larger aircraft. Bad guy General Moon / Gustav Graves uses an Antonov AN-124 as a mobile base of operations towards the end of the film, and serves as the setting of the final climatic battle where the plane flies into a beam of concentrated solar energy from Graves' own mirror-satellite, as the crazed North Korean-turned-British billionaire kills his father and attempts to fight off James Bond while wearing a Robocop-like mechanized suit. I'm serious.
James Bond will take back to the skies in the upcoming film Spectre, which will feature a chase between a few members of the Land Rover lineup and Bond in a small private aircraft up in the Austrian Alps. You can read more about the upcoming film, and follow BeyondJamesBond on Instagram and Kinja for up to date information on all things James Bond.