The Mayflower was built in two scales. The largest was at 3" to the foot or 1/4 scale, the smaller was half that at 1/8th scale. This smaller model was used for the extreme weather and large wave shots. The row boat miniature in the foreground of the image above was mechanised so the rubber figures appear to row. The background ships are smaller scale models to look more distant.
This film has one of the most violent storm at sea model ship sequences ever captured on celluloid, which deservedly won MGM's effects chief, A Arnold Gillespie, the Oscar for Special effects in its year of release. It is the film that many more recent visual effects supervisors would cite as the shining example of miniature water effects done right. The simply overwhelming force of the blast engineered for the sequence obliterates any chance of an over scale water drop ever forming. The only film to produce a sequence that displays anything close to this fury is Ridley Scott's "White Squall" which used a jet engine to whip up the spray. Along with the rest of the cast the ship gets a credit at the end of the movie.
|This photo shows the model heeled over with the wind machines at full blast but between wave dumps. You can see the flat bottom of the model where the hull is not to scale. This is not visible in the movie.|
|This series of pictures comes from the Buddy Gillespie Archive courtesy of Robert Welch. See his blogsite for more...Wizard of MGM|
Rear projected process backgrounds were also shot on the deck of the 1/4 scale miniature for use in the storm sequence.
|Plymouth Adventure 1/4 scale miniature deck for rear screen process.shot|
|The ship gets a credit after the end title.|