Aliens

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Aliens (1986)

Aliens is the 1986 sequel to Alien. The now classic science fiction film was only the third feature directed by James Cameron (following Piranha and The Terminator). Sigourney Weaver returns as Ripley, who travels with a platoon of US Colonial Marines to investigate a loss of contact with the colony established on the same planet discovered by the crew of the Nostromo in the original film. For Aliens, the majority of the weapons seen in this film were actual firearms visually modified for the production.


The following weapons were used in the film Aliens:

Contents


SPOILERS.jpg WARNING! THIS PAGE CONTAINS SPOILERS!


Colonial Marine Weapons

M41A Pulse Rifle

The Marines of the USCMC (United States Colonial Marine Corps) famously carry the M41A Pulse Rifle as their standard issue weapon. In the film, the weapon is described as a futuristic assault rifle with a magazine capacity of 99 rounds (loaded to 95 to prevent jamming, according to the Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual by Lee Brimmicombe-Wood) of 10mm caseless armor-piercing ammunition with a pump action 30mm grenade launcher mounted underneath the barrel. The pulse rifle was constructed from an M1A1 Thompson submachine gun fitted with a cut-down Remington 870 shotgun with the heat shield and foregrip of a Franchi SPAS-12 covering it. This rifle is also fitted with the LED readout that displays the number of rounds in the rifle's magazine. At the end of the film, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) fastens one of these rifles to an M240 Flamethrower in her attempt to rescue Newt (Carrie Henn).

M1A1 Thompson with 30-round magazine - .45 ACP
M41A Pulse Rifle - right side. This weapon is constructed from an M1A1 Thompson and a cutdown Remington 870.
M41A Pulse Rifle - left side.
Private R. Frost (Ricco Ross) loads an M41A Pulse Rifle.
"I want to introduce you to a personal friend of mine." Corporal Dwayne Hicks (Michael Biehn) instructs Ripley on how to use an M41A Pulse Rifle.
Ripley holds an M41A Pulse Rifle for the first time. The LED readout is visible in the middle of the weapon.
Hicks fires his M41A Pulse Rifle before retreating back.
Pvt. Hudson (Bill Paxton) before letting loose with his M41A Pulse Rifle. Hudson also lets loose a record number of f-bombs as well.
Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) fires the M41A Pulse Rifle. Note the shells ejecting despite the fact the rifle was supposed to fire caseless ammunition. Also note how Vasquez is keeping her eyes open in spite of the low-light conditions and the high muzzle flash.
Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) loads a magazine into the pulse rifle while in the dropship.
The LED readout displaying the 95 rounds in the magazine.
Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) prepares to enter the fray with the pulse rifle and flamethrower together. Note the LED readout here only reads "42" instead of "95".
A closeup of Ripley's pulse rifle and flamethrower.
A closeup of the 30mm pump action grenade launcher.

Special

Armorer Simon Atherton displays the M41A in a behind the scenes clip.

M56 Smart Gun

Both PFC J. Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein), and Private M. Drake (Mark Rolston) use a heavy machine gun system designated the "M56 Smart Gun" (the weapon's designation comes from the Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual). These weapons were constructed from German MG42 machine guns with the grip and stock removed. The body-mounting apparatus was constructed from the arms of a "Steadicam" camera stabilization system, with other various attachments constructed from various motorcycle parts, most notably the handlebars used for the weapon's trigger and grips. The weapon is also paired with a special sighting system worn on the operator's head. This particular device was inspired by the targeting devices mounted on the helmets of US Apache helicopter pilots. When the Marines are ordered to unload their weapons, Vasquez is seen removing a module to "clear and lock" her weapon. According to the Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual, this is a battery unit that can be disconnected in order to prevent the weapon from firing. The battery prop was constructed from a toy pop gun.

MG42 Machine Gun - 7.92x57mm Mauser
M56 Smart Gun. This particular version is the one carried by Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) in the film. Note that a linkage is visible running from the rear handlebar to the MG42's real trigger; the red toggle on the front handle is purely cosmetic, and does nothing.
M56 Smart Gun - Top View.
A closeup of Vasquez's M56 Smart Gun. Note 'Adios' on receiver.
Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) and Drake (Mark Rolston) show off their Smart Guns.
PFC J. Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) wielding an M56 Smart Gun as the Marines investigate the base.
Private M. Drake (Mark Rolston) with an M56 Smart Gun.
Some detailing seen on the M56 Smart Gun carried by Private M. Drake (Mark Rolston).
"Let's rock!" Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) opens up with the Smart Gun.
Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) raises the Smart Gun.
Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) fires the Smart Gun.

Special

A pre-production sketch of the Smart Gun.
Another sketch shows off the detailing of the weapon.
The magazine drum of the Smart Gun.
Atherton shows off the steadicam mechanism for Vasquez's gun.
The handlebar grip.
The handlebar trigger for the gun.
The targeting system used for the Smart Gun.
Closeup of the targeting system worn by Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein). The system was inspired by the targeting devices mounted on the helmets of US Apache helicopter pilots.
Closeup of the battery that must be connected in order for the Smart Gun to be fired.

M240 Flamethrower

Another weapon used by the Marines is the M240 Flamethrower, most notably used by Sergeant A. Apone (Al Matthews), Corporal Dietrich (Cynthia Dale Scott), Private Drake (Mark Rolston), and Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) when she famously tapes it to an M41A Pulse Rifle before she goes to rescue Newt (Carrie Henn). These flamethrowers were created from parts from M16 rifles with the M203 handguard. The 'faux' flamethrower used the upper receiver assembly of an M16A1 - cut into two parts, using the top handle facing forward, but the section with the ejection port turned backwards.

Aliens is notable as being one of few films to employ military-spec liquid-fueled flamethrowers in its production, as opposed to the vastly more common (and far safer) gas-powered models usually seen in films (although some gas-burning models are also used in the movie, usually in scenes with actual actors using the weapons). The liquid fuel flamethrower is most notably seen in the sequence where Ripley incinerates the Alien nest.

M240 Flamethrower
Pvt. Wierzbowski (Trevor Steedman) holds the Flamethrower.
Pvt. Wierzbowski (Trevor Steedman) and Frost with the M240 Flamethrower before loading up.
The flamethrower is deployed by Sergeant A. Apone (Al Matthews) and Pvt. Dietrich (Cynthia Dale Scott.
Sergeant A. Apone (Al Matthews) wielding an M240 Flamethrower.
Pvt. Dietrich (Cynthia Dale Scott) holds the M240 Flamethrower.
Private M. Drake (Mark Rolston) uses an M240 Flamethrower when his Smart Gun runs dry.
Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) pulls a Flamethrower off the weapons rack in the dropship. In the original releases for the film, an editing mismatch was long present in this scene, when in the very next shot the first weapon laid down on the deck is the Pulse Rifle.
Flamethrowers seen on the right, as Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) then grabs a Pulse Rifle.
This was originally the next shot following the above screenshot, as the flamethrower is placed down in a continuity error. This goof has been fixed in recent Blu-ray releases of the film. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) then attaches the M240 Flamethrower to an M41A Pulse Rifle.
Closeup as Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) ignites the pilot on the flamethrower.
Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) with her flamethrower and pulse rifle combo.

UA571-C Remote Automated Sentry System

In the extended version of the film, the Marines set up sentry turrets in the hallways leading to their refuge. In the Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual, this weapons system is designated as the "UA571-C Remote Automated Sentry System". These were built upon WWII German MG42 machine guns, the same weapons used for the M56 Smart Guns and provided by Bapty's (movie armorer of the UK). The ammo drums on the side are from WW1 German Spandau Maxim LMG 08/15 machine guns.

MG42 - the basis for the sentry turrets
Screen used sentry turret. Image from Prop Store of London.
In the extended version of the film, Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) and Hudson (Bill Paxton) observe the sentry turrets firing during a test.
Sentry turrets firing at approaching Aliens in the extended version of the film.
Behind the scenes photo of two sentry turrets.

Multi-barreled Cannon

The Cheyenne dropship, a fictional VTOL aircraft in the Aliens universe, can be seen with a multi-barrelled, chin-mounted cannon of some kind. Some of the barrels appear to be chambered for different calibres of ammunition, and the weapon would appear to operate "Gatling"-style (owing to the circular arrangement of the barrels). Similar weapons are seen dual-mounted in the front of the Marines' APC.

A chin-mounted minigun on the Cheyenne dropship.

Shotguns

Ithaca 37

Corporal Dwayne Hicks (Michael Biehn) keeps a hunting variant of the Ithaca 37 with a cut down barrel and MP40 pistol grip wrapped in tape handy for "close encounters". In one memorable scene, Hicks sticks the barrel of the weapon in an Alien's mouth, and yells "Eat this!" before blowing its head off off. The resultant acid spillage apparently destroys the weapon, as it is never seen again.

Ithaca 37 "Stakeout" - 12 gauge. The shotgun in the film closely resembles this version.
Screen used Ithaca 37 shogun from Aliens. Image from Prop Store of London.
Screen used Ithaca with the grip wrapped in tape.
"I like to keep this handy.." [pumps shotgun]... "for close encounters."
Hicks (Michael Biehn) picks up a dead Facehugger with the barrel of his Ithaca 37 "Stakeout".
"Eat this!" Hicks (Michael Biehn) blows the back of the Alien's head off.
The resultant acid spillage apparently destroys the weapon, as it is never seen again.

Remington 870

The "Over/Under 30 millimeter pump action grenade launcher" seen underneath the M41A Pulse Rifle is in reality a cutdown Remington 870 shotgun with what the heat shield and foregrip of a Franchi SPAS-12. This particular weapon uses grenade rounds that are roughly the shape of shotgun shells (the props were constructed from a 12 gauge snap cap with various cuts and a button added on top - In the film, the button on top can be depressed to detonate the round by hand).

Serbu Super Shorty Shotgun made from a Remington 870 - 12 Gauge. This cutdown version of the Remington 870 is representative of the version seen in the film.
Private R. Frost (Ricco Ross) works the action of the "grenade launcher" mounted underneath the M41A Pulse Rifle. The distinctive ejection port of the Remington is seen.
Newt (Carrie Henn) tries to pick up one of the grenade rounds. Note the green safety cap.
Closeup of the grenade round. It appears once the safety cap removed, a button at the top of the round can be depressed to detonate the round.
Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) takes up a few of the grenade rounds.
A closeup of the 30mm pump action grenade launcher.

Special

A closeup of the modified Remington.
Simon Atherton shows off one of the grenades used in the launcher, which is just a 12 gauge snap cap with various cuts and a detonation button on top.

Handguns

Heckler & Koch VP70

The Heckler & Koch VP70 is the service pistol of the Marines in the movie. This gun is notably seen in the hands of Private Frost (Ricco Ross) just before the Aliens attack. Cpl. Ferro (Colette Hiller) attempts to draw hers from its holster, but is unable to in time when an Alien gets aboard her ship. Lieutenant Gorman (William Hope) uses one to shoot at Aliens during the airshaft scene. Another VP70 is seen given by Vasquez to the synthetic droid Bishop (Lance Henriksen), who then declines to take it and passes it back to Ripley (Sigourney Weaver). Sergeant A. Apone (Al Matthews), Corporal Dietrich (Cynthia Dale Scott), Private Spunkmeyer (Daniel Kash), and Private Crowe (Tip Tipping) keep theirs holstered throughout the film.

In the special features included with the Collector's Edition DVD, it is mentioned by one of the film's armorers that the VP70 was chosen as the standard issue sidearm for the Colonial Marines because of its "futuristic look" as well as its relative obscurity.

Heckler & Koch VP70 - 9x19mm
Private Frost (Ricco Ross) holding his Heckler & Koch VP70.
Cpl. Ferro (Cynthia Dietrich) attempts to draw her VP70 after an Alien gets aboard her ship.
Another VP70 is seen given by Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) to the synthetic Bishop (Lance Henriksen), who then declines to take it and passes it back to Ripley (Sigourney Weaver).
Lieutenant Gorman (William Hope) with his VP70 drawn as he and Hicks (Michael Biehn) wait for Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) to bring up the rear. Also note Hicks' rubber stunt pulse rifle, evidenced by its filled-in barrels.
Lieutenant Gorman (William Hope) fires the VP70.

Special

Atherton displays one of the VP70's.

Smith & Wesson Model 39

PFC Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) uses a blued Smith & Wesson Model 39 with ivory grips as her sidearm. She most notably uses it to kill an Alien while moving through the vents, but burns her foot from the creature's acidic blood in the process.

The pistol was referred to as the M4A3 in the Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual. It was supposed to be a 10mm cased-ammo pistol with a 12-round magazine that had been recently replaced in service by the VP70.

Smith & Wesson Model 39 - 9x19mm
PFC Vasquez's Smith & Wesson Model 39 in the holster.
PFC Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) moving through the vents with her Smith & Wesson Model 39 drawn.
A closeup of the Vasquez's S&W as she takes out an Alien. A bit of trivia that in this closeup, the hands firing the gun are actually that of Aliens producer Gale Anne Hurd. Hurd explained in the audio commentary that Jenette Goldstein had little firearms experience prior to filming and her portrayal of the gun's recoil wasn't accurate enough for the director, so Hurd was asked to get into costume and fire the weapon for the closeup.

Rifles

M16A1

Seen on the gun racks in the USS Sulaco's armory.

M16A1 with 30 Round magazine - 5.56x45mm
M16A1 seen in the rack behind Private Frost.
In this behind the scenes photo shows the best view of the M16A1's.

L85A1

Several L85A1 rifles are seen on the gun racks in the Sulaco's armory.

L85A1 with SUSAT scope - 5.56x45mm
Several L85A1's next to some pulse rifles.

Colt Commando

Seen on the gun racks in the USS Sulaco's armory.

Colt Commando - 5.56x45mm
Colt Commando rifles briefly glimpsed in the gun rack behind Frost.
In this behind the scenes photo shows the best view of the Colt Commandos. (far right)

Machine Guns

Lewis Gun (Modified)

What appears to be modified versions of the Lewis Gun are seen on the weapons racks in the USS Sulaco's armory. In a production image, it appears that these machine guns have their barrel shrouds removed.

Lewis Gun - these machine guns appear to have their barrel shrouds removed for the film.
On the left, a brief glimpse of the Lewis Gun .303 British as the Marines prepare to board their dropship.
Behind the scenes image better showing the tell tale details, barrel shroud has been removed revealing the 'radiator'.


See Also

Alien & Predator Franchise
Films
Alien Alien (1979)  •  Aliens (1986)  •  Alien³ (1992)  •  Alien: Resurrection (1997)  •  Alien vs. Predator (2004)  •  Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007)  •  Prometheus (2012)
Predator Predator (1987)  •  Predator 2 (1990)  •  Alien vs. Predator (2004)  •  Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007)  •   Predators (2010)
Video Games
Alien Aliens vs. Predator 2 (2001)  •  Aliens: Colonial Marines (2012)


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