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The "Dragon" or "Dragon Tank" first appeared in the 1958 Ian Fleming novel Dr. No and went on to appear in its 1962 film adaption. The dragon is a flame-throwing armored vehicle (painted with dragon decals) which was employed by Dr. Julius No to keep inquisitive locals away from his operations on Crab Key.
James Bond creator Ian Fleming based the Dragon Tank on a marshlands swamp jeep with very large wheels which he had seen in 1956 on the island of Inagua in the Bahamas.
In the novel, the dragon was used to No to devastate a bird sanctuary on Crab Key. In the film adaptation the charred trees in the area where Bond confronts the Dragon Tank are part of the sanctuary for rare birds that Dr. No has disrupted. All mention of the sanctuary was deleted from the final film.
Investigating the disappearance of British Secret Service operative, John Strangways, Bond discovers a link between the missing man and radioactive rocks taken from Crab Key - a private island belonging to the reclusive Dr. Julius No. 007 asks local fisherman Quarrel to take him there under the cover of darkness. However, Quarrel is reluctant to do so, stating that there is a dragon on the island. Despite his initial reluctance, he agrees to take Bond to Crab Key.
After arriving on the island Bond and Quarrel meet shell diver Honey Ryder. After inadvertently alerting the Doctor's security forces to their presence on the Island, Honey guides them to a hiding place up stream. Arriving at the hiding spot, they agree to take turns watching out for the dragon, which Honey claims to have seen. When Quarrel spots tracks, Bond insists they follow them to the dragon.
The trio follow the tracks until night falls. Eventually they come across a barren swamp, where they are spotted by the "dragon" - an armored vehicle painted with teeth and armed with a flamethrower. As it approaches them Bond and Quarrel attempt to shoot out its tires and lights. They fail and Quarrel is torched to death. Bond and Honey are apprehended by the tank crew and are taken to a compound.
Behind the scenes
For the 1962 film, the Dragon Tank was designed by uncredited art director Syd Cain. When Cain found out his name was not in the credits, Broccoli gave him a golden pen to compensate, saying that he did not want to spend money making the credits again.