There are a couple of miniature sequences in this film, concerning the Royal Canadian Navy Corvette of the title and an aircraft attack as well as the sinking of a submarine and the subsequent surface attack of another. The visual effects were supervised by John P. Fulton, legendary for the depiction of the parting of the red sea for Cecil B. DeMilles’s Ten Commandments.
The model aircraft are shot against rear projected sky plates, which to my mind is never particularly successful. I much prefer the results the Lydecker brothers achieved shooting their models outdoors in sunlight against a real sky.
This was a difficult film to track down and unfortunately the copy I have is pretty poor (found in a dvd market stall) and you can barely see anything ( the night shots don’t help) let alone the quality of the miniature effects, however there is a marginally better, less murky version viewable online at the link below and from which I have taken the screen grabs.
This is really a very unconvincing film on every front, from the cornball story, the casting of the actors playing navy types and Nazis and regrettably the miniatures which are very studio bound in their action and cinematography. On many shots there appears to have been not enough light leading to depth of field problems, the tell tale sign of a miniature, with large parts of the image in soft focus. The other issue with the lack of light is that the cameras were not turning over with a high enough frame rate so many of the miniatures and particularly the pyrotechnic smoke and explosions are very fast and look the small scale that they actually were. See the post Camera Lighting and Lens for more on this topic.
Unusually, for a film made during the height of the Second World War, some live action scenes were shot on a real aircraft carrier (the ship with wings of the title), the Royal Navy’s Ark Royal, which even gets its own star billing in the opening credits.
There is a huge amount of miniature work in the film, from the aircraft carrier and its compliment of aircraft, Italian attacking aircraft, a dock facility and ships getting bombed, and a fictional Greek island which looks somewhat like Tracy Island from the Thunderbirds puppet series. There is even a dam burst sequence with miniature German tanks and vehicles being inundated by the water.
One thing to note about the miniature Island is what looks like milk in the water around parts of the Island to represent surf.
The film can be found on DVD among a series of Ealing Studios’ releases but also in its entirety in a low resolution on YouTube.
The photograph below is the legendary Visual Effects supervisor John P. Fulton in his waders (not to mention jacket and tie) in a tank with a model ship. Does anybody know what film this is from? I have looked through his IMDB entry but cannot seem to match a title to this photo. Any clues or suggestions please use the comment system and thanks in advance.
This was a Republic picture and so is interesting to the miniature buff solely because the visual effects were by the Lydeckers, Howard and Theodore.
For a reel of more of their visual effects mostly collected from the Republic Serials there is a great compile on YouTube;
For this film they did a ship wedged on an iceberg and its subsequent freeing. According to IMDB, there is also some stock footage (which may well be the night miniature shots at the start of the movie) from the 1934 movie “Whom the Gods Destroy”.