Shadow in the Cloud: Is Fool’s Errand Based on a Real WWII Plane?

‘Shadow in the Cloud’ is a World War II action-adventure film that charts the tale of a female pilot’s danger-filled mission aboard a service aircraft. Carrying some top-secret cargo, Maude Garrett boards the Fool’s Errand vessel, captained by John Reeves and populated with misogynistic soldiers who undermine her capabilities at every turn. Nevertheless, the same becomes the least of Maude’s problems once she realizes a winged, clawed beast is circling the Fool’s Errand as the Allied aircraft face danger from Japanese forces. Consequently, stuck between a rock and a hard place, Maude finds herself fighting for her survival as well as the protection of her precious cargo.

Within this fantastical period-setting film, the narrative unfolds almost entirely within the Fool’s Errand aircraft, with its gunner hatch becoming a significant central location. For the same reasons, fans are bound to grow curious about the vessel and wonder about its connection to reality. SPOILERS AHEAD!

Fool’s Errand: A Fictional Aircraft From a Historical Time Period

‘Shadow in the Cloud’ features a fictitious take on a World War II story that revolves entirely around protagonist Maude Garrett’s misadventures. Therefore, the story’s base premise— including the addition of an inexplicable antagonist gremlin— remains tied to fictionality. As a result, the film’s various elements, such as the characters, events, and other details, also end up sporting fictitious roots. Consequently, the central aircraft within the film, Fool’s Errand, is rendered similarly fictitious.

In the film Fool’s Errand, a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress becomes the breeding ground for the central toxic masculinity that plagues much of Maude’s storyline. With a crude painting of a highly sexualized woman on its exterior and a band of sexist men as the crew inside, the ship remains a fitting physical manifestation of its contribution to the thematic narrative. Aided by the context of the story’s period setting, the plane instantly establishes itself as a challenging environment for the female protagonist. As such, within the confines of the vessel, the film gets to delve into a fascinating exploration of the gender dynamics that existed in the military during the 1940s.

Furthermore, Maude’s isolated positioning within the gunner’s hatch further highlights the character’s social isolation, allowing the viewers to experience the majority of the story through her sole perspective. The film adds a layer of realism to the same with its filming techniques wherein Chloë Grace Moretz performed her scenes inside the hatch’s set while her co-stars communicated with her through headsets. Moretz discussed the same in a conversation with Flicks and said, “The only time I could hear them [co-actors] was when my headsets were on. If I took my headsets off, like in reality in the film, I completely lost connection with the boys. It was so realistic in the way that we filmed it.”

Nonetheless, despite the visual and thematic realism that Fool’s Errand brings to the film, the vessel remains a fictional addition to the similarly fictional period piece. Even though the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress was a common aircraft equipped by the United States Army Air Corps during the 1940s, Fool’s Errand’s encounter with a fantastical gremlin firmly deports it from a realm of historical realism. Ultimately, the aircraft remains reminiscent of the film’s historical setting but lacks a basis in the same due to its outlandish adventures.

Read More: Where Was Shadow in the Cloud Filmed?