Wednesday, 25 December 2019

Broken Arrow 1996

There are a number of impressive miniature aircraft and rotorcraft effects shots in this film as well as a miniature train explosion.
A B3 stealth bomber crash sequence starts the miniature action and employed two 1/6th scale bomber miniatures with a wingspan of 18 feet (5.5m) , a length of 14 feet (1.2m) and weighing  around 500 lbs (227 kgs). The models were molded from fibreglass over a steel frame and were designed to have breakaway wings which shear off through the course of the crash. The models were constructed by John Stirber with crash effect shots supervised by Eric Durst and produced by The Chandler group.

The sequence was shot at the Disney ranch and a miniature landscape was constructed with many truckloads of sand and a rock facade made from cement. The models hung on wires connected to a flying fox type rig which travelled down a 140 foot cable raised at one end from a crane. The cameras (usually about 5) shot at between 96 and 120 frames per second for the pyrotechnic effects so the model had to travel really fast. The pyrotechnics designed by John Stirber and Roy Downey used primer cord to cut the wings and petrol to produce the fireball.


For shots of the fuselage sliding along the desert the model was attached to a cable buried in the ground  pulled by a car. Rubber cement was poured onto the sand and ignited by the flaming fuselage as it skid past leaving an effective fire trail.

The flying shots of the bomber were produced with computer graphics except for the interior bomb bay which was a miniature built by Hunter Gratzner Industries.

There are three miniature helicopter crash sequences as well. Two involve military Bell UH-1 Hueys in different liveries supervised by Jack Sessums. The first pitches over into the ground and the second flies straight into a cliff overhanging a train tunnel complete with a miniature train moving underneath. Jack Sessums is also responsible for the very effective miniature train explosion seen near the end of the movie.

 A third miniature helicopter crash produced by The Chandler Group also shows a helicopter pitching forward after losing control and crashing complete with snapping rotor blades.


Source Cinefex  number 64 December 1995 Article by Jody Duncan.

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