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Tatra T815 "The War Rig"

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You're sitting on 2000 horse power of nitro-boosted war machine...

– Furiosa

Fury Road WarRig 001

The War Rig

The Tatra T815, aka the "The War Rig", is a custom vehicle driven by Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max Fury Road.

Technical spec.

Apart from the actors, this is the thing we're most going to be looking at in the movie, so let's make it as beautiful, in its own way, as it can possibly be.

– George Miller

Base Vehicle

The vehicle commonly referred to as "The War Rig" is a 78 foot 18 wheeler based on a Tatra T815[1], an all-wheel drive truck manufactured in Czech Republic. It has undergone heavy modification, however. The originally placed cab was moved from over the engine to the middle of the chassis.[2] A custom front was fabricated and additional passenger space was added to the back of the cab, built from a widened 1947-48 Chevrolet Fleetmaster Sedan[3]. Three "War Rigs" were created for the movie. All of the trucks were identical and used interchangeably. Two trucks survived filming.

Cabin and Interior

The cabin of the vehicle is a combination of the original Tatra T815 cabin with a widened rear half of a Chevy Fleetmaster. The front windshields have been modified along with doors that are rear-hinged (aka. suicide doors). There is a skeleton arm painted on the side of driver's door signifying that the vehicle belongs to Imperator Furiosa as she is missing her left arm. There is a custom removable steering wheel with a skull motiff. The accelerator is made of a foot measuring device and is capable of locking at full throttle. Inside the cabin there are approximately ten firearms placed within comfortable reach distance. The center console is littered with a variety of gauges and switches at the bottom. The top of the center console holds space for useful items and tools. The dashboard has a number of gauges and switches as well including revs for both engines, temperature and fuel gauges. Underneath there are hidden switches used for the start sequence. On top of the dashboard is the SKS sniper rifle on the passenger side and a 9mm magazine on the driver's side strategically mounted for one-armed reloading. The stick shift has a supercharger switch and a hidden dagger disguised as a bone gear stick knob. On the side of the driver's seat is the Cow Catcher lever decorated with an 8-ball. The passenger space in the Fleetmaster section is occupied by a makeshift rear seat built from two seats with improvised seatbelts made from rope. The doors have additional compartments built inside them. There is a custom sunroof built into the cabin and the roof itself is decorated with Immortan's skull motiff. The cabin has a built-in roll-cage. The bonnet is decorated with a Motometer emblem.

Engine and Cow Catcher

Two out of three War Rigs were originally equipped with a stock, air-cooled V8, 275hp Tatra engine with a massive turbine fan hidden behind a custom front grille. Unfortunately it was under-powered so to adequately haul heavy tankers over rough terrain, the third War Rig it was equipped with a 600hp Deutz engine used in Dakar racing[4][5]. Only the front engine powered the vehicles, behind them were fiberglass dummy engines. There are two dummy (non functional) Holley superchargers powered by an electric motor. Both surperchargers are protruding through the bonnet to give the appearance of being powered by two engines, the 2nd supercharger was in fact installed on half of a beer keg to give it the right height. Two pairs of exhaust stacks are installed, presumably one for each engine. The truck has a fully functional hydraulically operated plow moved by two Taesung TS2485 tractor attachment digger arms. In an earlier version of The War Rig the plow arms were fixed in place and the plow was moved with a hidden mechanism.

Tanker & Fuel Pod

"The War Rig" hauls a tanker and a fuel pod, both of which act as a platform for the War Boys to carry out attacks and defend the vehicle. The main tanker has two turrets, the rear one made of a chopped Volkswagen Type 1 (aka. VW Beetle). Both front and rear turrets are armed with harpoon guns. The rear turret has two swing arms that allow for War Boys to move around the tanker quickly and mount the pod. The fuel pod is armed with a harpoon gun and a flame thrower. The sides of the main tanker are protected by spikes and slanted sharp pieces of metal combined with circular saw blades that are running around the tanker. The main tanker is decorated with skulls and doll heads. Inside the main tanker is a hidden living quarters section accessable from underneath.

The main tankers were fully dressed inside and also had a large generator in it. The fuel pod was actually filled with 2 tonnes of concrete to stop it from bouncing.

History of The War Rig

The War Rig is probably, after the human characters, the next most important character.

– George Miller

The history of the War Rig was presented as a bonus in paper edition of Mad Max comic books and shows a detailed description of the events that lead up to building the vehicle seen on screen in Mad Max: Fury Road.

Tatra T815

43 days after the 'fall', quartermaster Aubrey Mace deserted from his barracks in a truck full of supplies. He was attacked on the road and killed by Major Kalashnikov of the Colonel Joe Moore's gang. Joe Moore ordered the truck to be cleaned up and taken with them. The truck was much later heavily damaged by an IED.

The Tanker

In the weeks after the power failed thousands fled down the highways to escape from the dying cities. One of them was Brad Hopper, a truck driver experienced in transporting illicit goods before the apocalypse. He built a hidden compartment in the tanker - then used for smuggling - but after the fall it carried his family. Hopper was lucky enough to travel far enough to escape the vermin that plagued the roads but eventually his truck ran out of fuel. He went on to search for more, leaving his family hidden inside the tanker where they would be safe. He had never returned as he was killed by marauders lured by empty jerrycans he was carrying. Several months later the tanker was found by Joe Moore's armada and became its valuable asset. But it was two years later that someone made the grisly discovery about Hopper's hidden compartment.

The Twin Engines

Jared and James Voeten were identical twins that loved cars, engines and working together on their custom twin-engine called "Double Jeopardy". Unfortunately, their father was shot and killed by a refugee fleeing the city, his car stolen. The twins ran down the killer and took revenge. Something snapped in them. They fortified themselves on their ranch and would kill any trespassers that would come sniffing around. As for those who would even come close - they would chase them down the road in their twin-engined car. For 512 days after the fall they would continue to protect what they had until eventually they bit off more than they could chew. They were attacked by Joe Moore's gang. Both of them hung by their side on a tree, their twin-engined car taken away.

The Chevy Fleetmaster

A man called 'The Donk' was a skilled mechanic who built a powerful vehicle out of a Chevrolet Fleetmaster. Colonel Joe Moore laid eyes on that vehicle - dubbed 'Baby Donk' - and incorporated it into his armada. It was Joe's favorite vehicle for hit-and-run attacks against those who held The Citadel. It was famed for its speed. But unfortunately, the vehicle could not outrun a rocket-propelled grenade and was severely damaged. After the Colonel took the Citadel he came and found The Donk. He offered him work as The Citadel's main mechanic, requesting him to build vehicles to cause fear and awe. And that's what The Donk did. He resurrected Baby Donk that was installed atop the chassis of the Tatra 815. The twin engines of the Double Jeopardy found a new home. 

The Volkswagen Beetle.

Six months before the fall, one day, Annette Lehmann and Janine Kwong decided to drive north in their VW Beetle to 'find some serenity'. They drove until they ran out of fuel and where they stopped was where they made their new life. They took no phones, no computers, not even a radio. So when the bright lights flared up over the horizon, they didn't realize what it meant. They had no idea they were camped near a secret military site that was a nuclear target. Oblivious to the black snow and radiation, it took some time for the effects of the fallout to be noticed. Radiation sickness was slowly ending their lives, as they both stayed inside the car with no fuel or nowhere to go. They were found 3267 days after the fall by a party of War Pups. The younger boys thought the dead girls were the greatest heroes of all time, but the oldest war boy - old enough to to remember before the fall - was not so sure. Instead he saw that the car the bodies were in was in surprisingly good condition, so it was towed back to The Citadel. The Donk saw its value as a gun emplacement on the tanker. The girls' skulls were honored - covered in pitch and added to the rig in memorium.

The Babies

Leanne Bart always had a thing for baby dolls. A passion in direct opposition to her deep mistrust of people. As soon as she was able, she moved out, went as far as she could go and made a new home for herself and 532 dolls in the cellar of the old bluestone house. She had names for them all and they kept her better company than any human ever could. She wasn't overly concerned when the electricity went off. The gas stopping was a nuisance but she ate her tinned food cold. Eventually the water ran out as well and such was Leanne's end. 4864 days after the fall, the young Rictus Erectus, bored by his father studying old maps decided to explore the ruined farmhouse, only to find Leanne surrounded by her dolls in the hidden cellar. It made quite an impression on the simple mind of the ten-year old Rictus. It took some persuasion to convince him that she wasn't where babies come from. In the end it was simpler to let Rictus add Leanne's head to the display decorating the tanker along with her dolls. The preserved dead and never aging plastic infants together pleased Immortan Joe - a reminder to the world of his immortality.

The Skull Wheel

The things The Wretched desperately attempt to trade under The Citadel all ended up sorted through by the War Pups, placed in bins and plastic baskets and taken to the "Galleria Immortum". There a handful of The Wretched kept chained in the dark chamber labor to make objects of art in testament to the might of Immortan Joe. They toiled night and day, using anything and everything to make fetishes, car ornaments, even steering wheels. Working until their hands bleed to produce something - anything - that would please the tyrant, for if he approved, at least they would be given sustenance to last them until his next visitation. If not, they were cast out from The Citadel, usually from a height of several hundred feet. One of those pieces of art was a steering wheel for The War Rig.

Furiosa

After fulfilling her obligations as the protector of The Five Wives, Imperator Furiosa was given another job - a driver of The War Rig - a vehicle used for trade and supply runs between the Gas Town and the Bullet Farm. After performing her duty for several months she unsuspectingly decided to escape in The War Rig seeing it as her best chance to return to her home. She took The Five Wives along with her for the sheer purpose of taking the most valuable thing she could think of away from Immortan Joe - to hurt him as much as he had hurt her.

Appearance on screen

In the movie, The War Rig is driven by Imperator Furiosa and bears various markings signifying its belonging to Immortan Joe's vehicular fleet. A familiar burning skull motif is scattered all across the vehicle, both on the exterior and the interior. There is a skeleton arm painted on the side of driver's door indicating that it is in fact Furiosa's vehicle as she is missing her left arm. The tanker carries water and breast milk, pumped from Joe's mother milk production plant. The pod at the back carries 3000 gallons of guzzolene. The front wheels of The War Rig are reinforced and puncture-proof.

The War Rig has a kill switch preventing it from being driven by unwanted individuals. The kill switch sequence was set by Imperator Furiosa herself. The ignition sequence consists of toggling seven switches as follows: 1st switch - 2nd & 3rd simultaneously - 1st switch, red switch, black switch and ignition switch. Trying to drive the War Rig without engaging the correct sequence will halt the flow of fuel to the engines, allowing the driver only a short jaunt before the engines burn up what remains of the gas within the throttle body. The vehicle sustains significant damage throughout the movie and is repaired many times, including repairs on the run. It is destroyed after Nux flips the vehicle to block the canyon pass.

The War Rig roll stunt

Initially the final stunt involving flipping and rolling The War Rig was going to be done with computer graphics. This idea was abandoned because according to Miller "You couldn't do a CG climax in a movie where everything else was real". Then the stunt was going to be performed with a model, but again "models don't work in day time, you can get away with them at night" according to George. A third option was a remote controlled vehicle but the stunt could not be performed precisely enough. Ultimately, the stunt was performed with a stunt driver (Lee Adamson[6]) behind the wheel of The War Rig, the difficulty being able to land the vehicle exactly between two big rocks and stop right in front of the camera. The stunt was filmed with 8 cameras simultaneously but Lee Adamson's amazing stunt driving skills allowed for the stunt to be performed perfectly on the first take.[7] Initially George Miller - who was watching the stunt on monitors from afar - was worried that Adamson landed on his head as the truck rolled over, thinking that the stunt driver shaved his head to look like Nux. It turned out, however that what Miller had seen on the screen was Nux's dummy visible through the sunroof of The War Rig and the stunt driver was steering the vehicle from the safety of a roll cage on the passenger side of the cabin.[8]

Mad Max Fury Road - Tanker Stunt02:19

Mad Max Fury Road - Tanker Stunt

After filming the tanker roll, the Doof Wagon was filmed crashing into The War Rig and the raw footage was then brought in for post-processing. Additional shots of the flying Peacemaker steering wheel were shot on green screen as well as the Doof Warrior's swinging guitar. The remaining elements of the Doof Wagon's sound system were tracked for 3D processing. The completed final sequence of The War Rig stunt was composited from real elements shot separately with minimum usage of computer generated imagery.[9]

Original design

The War Rig by Tony Wright 1999

The War Rig concept art by Tony Wright, 1999

War rig concept art

War Rig Concept Art by Peter Pound, 2001

The original design of the War Rig was conceived by Tony Wright in 1999.[10] Unfortunately the artist had to leave the project early on, but his original concept was used and refined by Peter Pound in 2001. That version of the War Rig was ever so slightly adjusted for the movie.

Notes

Although Mad Max: Fury Road is set in Australia, the steering wheel is on the left. Manufactured in the Czech Republic where left drive is standard, Tatra trucks are found in both left and right drive in Australia.[11]

There is a set of kill switches with a sophisticated launch sequence that is only known by Imperator Furiosa, later by Max Rockatansky, and presumably Nux.

During the build of the vehicle, director George Miller could not decide on the length of the front end of The War Rig which made the mechanics come up with a catch phrase in the workshop: "WELD IT ON! CUT IT OFF! WELD IT ON! CUT IT OFF! WELD IT ON! CUT IT OFF!... RAWHIDE!" (To the Rawhide theme music of course)[12]. In the final product seen on screen the grille is in fact wrapping around the engine in the lower half of the grille.

Gallery

References

  1. http://autoweek.com/article/car-news/jacinta-leong-building-beastly-machines-mad-max-fury-road
  2. http://autoweek.com/article/car-news/jacinta-leong-building-beastly-machines-mad-max-fury-road
  3. http://www.ew.com/article/2015/04/09/mad-max-fury-road-preview
  4. http://madmaxmovies.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=10820&start=20
  5. http://www.streetmachine.com.au/news/1504/street-machine-may-2015/
  6. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2796888/
  7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nvyJNaXkTU
  8. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifLRtcWOJB8
  9. http://www.fxguide.com/featured/a-graphic-tale-the-visual-effects-of-mad-max-fury-road/
  10. http://tonyvwright.tumblr.com/post/119108870127/back-in-1999-i-was-invited-to-australia-to-start
  11. http://www.offroadtrucks.com.au/tatra-in-action/
  12. http://madmaxmovies.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=10820&start=20

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