Website last updated: 9-4-2022

Book review: James Bond's Aircraft by Mark Ashley

By: Brian Smith
Published:
2021-07-05
James Bond's Aircraft by Mark Ashley
Fasten your lap-strap as we board JAMES BOND’S AIRCRAFT, a comprehensive guide to the planes, helicopters, airships, space craft and other assorted flying machines that have featured in the 007 movies.

So hold on tight, let the flight begin…

The take-off is turbulent. There are more inaccuracies in the author’s preface than Miss Moneypenny had typing errors in Licence to Kill (1989). The year 1985 given for Never Say Never Again (1983) is not a typo, though, as later the author incorrectly states that the film went up against A View to a Kill (1985). It was a nervous first few minutes but I loosened the grip on my armrest when it became apparent that author Mark Ashley knows a lot more about planes than Bond.

Ashley takes us on a film-by-film journey, discussing the aircraft that appeared in the Eon film series, where many of them are now, and those which are long gone through decommissioning or, in some cases, destroyed in accidents. He even includes all those aircraft you see in the background of airport scenes. The book is extremely well illustrated with a collation of photographs from professional photographers, aviation enthusiasts, and behind-the-scenes shots from people involved in the making of the films.


I love the detail in this book. Ashley identifies the airport doubling for Palisadoes when Bond arrives in Kingston, Jamaica in Dr. No (1962). (The same stock footage was used by Eon Productions for their follow-up film.*) Some of the stories behind the aircraft are fascinating too, particularly the Sky Hook system used in ‘Operation Coldfeet’ - the real-life mission to extract equipment and American spies from a drifting Soviet ice station in 1962 - which appears as a throwaway moment at the end of Thunderball (1965). It also never occurred to me that the prop Chinese fighter salvaged by the Royal Navy in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) was repurposed as the jet Bond sabotages in the pre-title sequence of Octopussy (1983). The participation of some of the people involved in the films helps greatly in the behind-the-scenes aspect of the book, and Ashley also includes those aircraft created as models only, such as the Skyfleet S570 from Casino Royale (2006).

The back cover of James Bond's Aircraft by Mark Ashley
The back cover of James Bond's Aircraft. Copyright © 2021 Mark Ashley. All rights reserved.

As far as I am aware, JAMES BOND’S AIRCRAFT is only available as an e-Book. There is a small problem with the formatting - there is no discernible distinction between picture captions and text - but I have to say, the book is fascinating, original and the core subject is thoroughly well researched. At no point reading it did I feel I wanted to bail out. Happy landings!

*Call Me Bwana (1963)

Review by Brian James Smith. Copyright © 2021 From Sweden with Love. All rights reserved.

>Order JAMES BOND’S AIRCRAFT from Amazon UK
>Order JAMES BOND’S AIRCRAFT from Amazon.com

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