U571 - Filming Miniature Road Find

This is a blast from the past that got brought back to mind when I connected with an old friend from Washington via email a few days ago. The story is just too cool not to dig back up again. I hope you enjoy!

Back in 2006, a Mr. Jim Rhode emailed me with a question about a submarine that he'd seen sitting on the side of the road in Oregon. Without pictures, there was not much that I could do for him to help identify it, so he set out to get some for me. Much to my surprise, what was sent to me was an astounding replica of what appears to be a German Type VII submarine in a huge scale! Here are some of the original photos that he sent to me:

Only a few weeks later, I met a new friend at an RC submarine regatta in Oregon by the name of Jason Milsom. He and I got to talking about this mystery sub, and what a shame it was that it was just sitting on the side of the road and rotting. Jason did a ton of research into this model submarine, putting in dozens of phone calls to the local counties, the Sheriff's department, and anyone else that he could think of. Finally, his perseverance paid off, and he was rewarded when a Sheriff called him from his cell phone while standing right in front of the sub! Mystery Sub located! Apparently the sub had been sitting there on the side of the road for nearly six years, slowly rusting away. Many of the locals had complained about it to the authorities, but due to its size, no one was willing to take responsibility for it. Before it got chopped up and hauled to the dump, Jason grabbed a truck and picked it up. It took a lot of work, as the sub is just over 40 feet in length and weighs around 6,000lbs.

What he ended up with is what you see below. I took a trip out to meet with Jason a few weeks after he took delivery of the boat, so I've seen this wonder in person. What is it? Jason is 90% sure that its one of the 1/5 scale models used in the filming of U-571 starring Matthew McConaughey (2000). There are many unique "fingerprints" on this sub that show it to be so, the most prominent of which are the odd slanted lines running downwards from the fore and aft ends of the ballast tanks. This is not a feature found on the real Type VII u-boats. Apparently the builders took some creative license to build this model.

So, what happened to this amazing piece of movie and modeling history? Well, it sat in Jason's yard for years. He originally had thoughts about turning it into a display for his yard, but he never had the chance to do much with it.

People saw it in his yard and in photos and many inquired as to whether they could purchase it. No one came through on their promises, however.

Finally, just a few weeks ago, Jason ended up including this amazing boat in a deal that he made for some cars that he was selling. The people that ended up with it have told him that they plan to fix up this old boat and bring it to the Burning Man. Burning Man 2017 takes place August 27 – September 4, 2017 in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. Participants join in the effort to co-create Black Rock City, a temporary metropolis dedicated to art and community. This boat definitely belongs in an event like that. Hopefully it sees itself returned to its former glory (or close to it).

That's it for now! I hope you enjoyed this story of a great submarine, an amazing model, and the strange story about how a famous movie prop ended up on the side of the road in Oregon.


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