Sunday, 22 January 2012

The story of the Disco Volante, Mr. Largo´s ship in the fourth Bond movie

The Disco Volante in the Caribbean night

Thunderball, the fourth James Bond film starring Sean Connery was a huge success already in its opening year 1965 and is, to date, the most financially succesful movie in the series. (Adjusting for inflation the movie had made $966.4 million in 2008 currency).

Mr. Largo´s ship Disco Volante plays an important role in Thunderball. A recent viewing of the beautifully restored blu-ray version of the movie, made me curious about the ship´s story.

Thanks to Wikipedia it did not take more than a few seconds to find out:

The real craft used in the film was a hydrofoil ferry, The Flying Fish, built by Rodriquez Cantieri Navali, who had built the first successful one at Freccia del Sole. The "cocoon" was built on set. It was purchased for the film for $500,000 and brought from Puerto Rico to Miami for refitting and refurbishment. The hydrofoil never sailed again after the filming. It was rented as a stationary houseboat, docked at a marina on Miami's MacArthur Causeway, until it sank at the dock in the early 1980s.

A sad end to the Disco Volante, both in the movie and in real life.

The Disco Volante was able to reach a decent speed even with the "cocoon"

Here Mr. Largo gets rid of the $500,000 "cocoon"
This is the real hydrofoil in good speed somewhere in the Bahamas

This is the moment when Bond and his lady partner jump into the water before the ship hits the rocks


  1. I believe that most of the stock shots of the boat at anchor are not of the ferry, but but of an old yacht called the "Natoya", originally from Great Lakes and built by Defoe shipyards in 1947. I sailed on her and know her lines so I recognized her in the movie. Why her instead of the ferry I don't know. After the movie, I believe she was sunk in the ocean on a reef.

    Email with questions at

  2. I have now double checked and the Natoya is in two stock scenes, in which she is at anchor.
    >> I will find the timings in the movie and post them.
    She is recognizable by the straight drop of her bow, instead of the curve of the ferry. Also, the sheer line from the bow back is straight and does not have the drop curve about 30' back from the bow like the ferry.

  3. I always wondered why the "Disco" on certain backround shots didn't quite look like the two-piece main hydrofoil.
    And why was that yacht there in the first place? Was it the inspiration for the "Flying Fish" conversion?