13/4-2004, updated 1/9-2019 by PS
This spectacular yacht is owned by SPECTRE and is used by Emilio Largo, SPECTRE's no 2, as part of his disguise and to transport the stolen atomic bombs. When attacked by US Navy vessels, the yacht parts in two. After separation the cocoon then revealed its secondary function as a weapon platform and armour-plated battlestation. Equipped with an anti-aircraft cannon and machineguns it tried to cover the escape of the hydrofoil.
The PT 20 hydrofoil is the worlds first ever commercial hydrofoil, and went into regular passenger service in 1956. It was first used on the route Messina - Reggio Calabria, and the route was driven by the company Società Aliscafi partly owned by Rodriquez. The type PT 20 stands for "pesa tonnellate 20" - i.e. weighing twenty tonnes. Similar models has been build on license by yards in Japan and Norway.
Rodriquez has build a total of 46 PT 20's in the period 1956 to 1971. The hydrofoilsystem used for the PT 20 is licenced from the Swiss company Supramar.
The boat used in 'Thunderball' is the second hydrofoil build by Rodriquez and its original name is 'Flying Fish'. It was modified by 3M Shipyard in Miami Yard and equipped with a 50 ft cocoon, a katamaran, which could be separated from the hydrofoil. The boat costed $10.000, but the total including the cocoon and modifications was arround $500.000. Several large scale models was build for filming.
For the final blow-up of Disco Volante, experimental rocket fuel was used as main explosives. The explosion was so powerfull that it broke windows in Nassau's Bay Street 30 miles away, and sent the boat skyhigh.
For the filming three different boats were used. The hydrofoil 'Flying Fish' got the most screen time. An unidentified boat is only seen in a very very short clip before it is blown up. And the third Disco, a yacht 'Natoya' is seen in distance in short scenes.
It was during extraction of new pictures we suddenly discovered the long sleek yacht posing as 'Disco Volante' in some of the scenes. We call her the 'Third Disco', but in fact her name was 'Nataya'. Unfortunately she does not exist any more, but ended her days as a reef.
She was one of six Cruisemaster yachts build by Defoe Shipyard in 1947/8 and sailed the Great Lakes for about 20 years. Her owner was Harold DuCharme of Grosse Pte. MI. She was sold and sailed to Florida in the 1960's. The Cruisemasters were equipped with four General Motors 6-71N Diesels, mounted 2 in-line on a side. Length: 36m (188'). Beam: 5,64m (18'6").
We have tried to track the current location of the 'Flying Fish' and the cocoon. But our conclusion of all the information we have gathered is the boat has been scrapped somewhere in the 80's. During our search we got a lot of interesting stories and sightings. And we would like to thank you all very much for sharing your information with us. The following is the information we gathered.
The cocoon was used a houseboat in Griffin Mariner, Daina Florida, and was sold in 1974 by Gary W. to Marvin Taylor. Thanks to Gary W. for contacting us.
In 1974-76 it was moored on the south side of the Miami River near 36 Street still being used as a houseboat according to Jorge.
The hydrofoil was sold after the filming as stated in an advertise in Miami Herald (see the advertise at the website of International Hydrofoil Society).
An observation in the early 1980's. It was resting for years next to the Chalk's Ocean Airways airbridge facility on Watson island in Miami Florida--between the Miami seaport and South Beach.
A confirmation names Watson Island as the location.
1983: Spottet on blocks at the Port Everglades container storage area in Fort Lauderdale. Condition was very poor, it might be bound for the scrap yard.
The International Hydrofoil Society has no trace of her. And neither has Rodriques.
A sistership is located somewhere in the Philipines.
You'll find more Disco Volante Stories in the Related BMT 216A pages.
Special thanks to Rodriquez Cantieri Navali SpA, Messina for their kind cooperation and for supplying the specifications.
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