Just how long is Smaug from nose to tail?
Unfortunately, the prologue doesn’t give us clear images where we see the head (even silhouetted) in a way that allows us to set up a comparison with either the wing, body or tail. Or indeed the claws that we see when Smaug destroys Erebor’s gates.
So any work here is much less rigorous, less easily defensible, and much more likely to be incorrect.
My gut feeling is that John Howe’s works remain our best baseline for Jackson’s Smaug. So let’s just run with that for the moment and use his example art to make some educated guesses.
Now, the image that I believe offers the best insight and opportunity for guesswork is actually the embroidered image that can be found on the crew’s shirts.
The shirt image on the other hand, is very clear-cut, though obviously stylised. For the sake of argument, I am going to assume that Jackson’s Smaug will posses a similar set of body proportions while acknowledging that the ultimate look of the body will ultimately differ somewhat.
Initially I thought I might Photoshop it straight to work out its length, but a few minutes’ work starkly exposed the pitiful nature of my image manipulation skills. So I pulled out a tailor’s tape measure instead and started measuring up the various key bits.
Once we have the length of the head from the image, we can quite easily use the previously derived size of Smaug’s head to extrapolate the “true” size of Smaug the Magnificent.
Here are the body part, with their relative measurements, followed by the derived “true length” in centimetres:
* Head: 3.5cm | 671.47 (previously pre-established baseline)
* Neck + body: 10.0cm | 1918.48cm
* Tail: 17.7cm | 3395.72cm
* Nose to tail: 32.2cm | 6177.52cm
* Wings (from “thumb” to wingtip): 12cm | 2302.18cm
So, from these extrapolated measurements, Smaug is more than 60 metres long, and has a wingspan well in excess of 50 metres!
That’s five buses, or (wait for it!) quite close to two-thirds the length of the Old Trafford football pitch (home to Manchester United FC).
The conclusion about the wingspan probably deserves a little more explanation. The measured length in the table above doesn’t reveal the full length of one wing, as the wings in the image are folded in on themselves (as if you’d tucked your arm in at your side and drawn your hand up to your shoulder).
So the true wing length is longer. How much longer is a guess, but I would imagine no more than twice as long and perhaps as little as half. That would make the guesstimated wingspan of Smaug in the vicinity of 75 to 100 metres. And that would pretty much cover Old Trafford end-to-end.
No wonder he eats so many ponies.
* Claiming “true” precision here is a mug’s game. For example, a small error in estimating the coin size would necessarily translate into a larger error in the size of everything else.