James Bond’s badass helicopter: the AW101 Skyfall

The AgustaWestland AW101, a new generation all-weather medium-lift three-engine helicopter is among the “main characters” of Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond movie, which premiered in London on Oct. 23, 2012.

Known as “Merlin”, the large chopper used by 007’s villain is an evolution of the EH-101 multi-role helicopter operated by the military of several nations around the world (including the UK, Italy and Canada).

It can be configured to meet several different roles.  The cabin can carry up to 38 troops on crashworthy seats or 16 stretcher patients (or 10VIP seats). In armed configuration, gunners can operate Crew Served Weapons (3 x 12.7mm/7.62mm machine guns) from the cargo door and the two side positions.  Its maneuverability, range, endurance and avionics enable the chopper to perform tactical transportation, MEDEVAC (Medical Evacuation) and CASEVAC (Casualties Evacuation) amphibious support, combat SAR, disaster relief, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, airborne mine countermeasures, long range search and rescue (SAR), maritime interdiction and airborne surveillance and area control (ASAC).

The AW101 is the chopper on which the US101 project for the replacement of the U.S. Marine One helicopter is based.

[Read also: James Bond daredevil chopper leap, helicopter’s eight billion confetti air drop: some of the Olympic opener highlights]

Flown by AgustaWestland test pilots, the modified AW101 spent 15 flight hours rehearsing and shooting the action scenes (that appeared on Youtube well before the movie was released) with the aircraft as the following behind-the-scenes video illustrates.

As happened with the Stealth Black Hawk disclosed by the Osama Bin Laden raid, even 007’s helicopter has quickly turned into a scale model.

Italian model manufacturer Italeri has produced the Skyfall AW101 helicopter in both 1:72 model kit and 1:100 die cast version.

Images: courtesy of Italeri


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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.