Raiders of the Lost Ark
Raiders of the Lost Ark is the now classic 1981 adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by George Lucas. Set in the year 1936, the film stars Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, an intrepid archaeologist who is asked by the US government to locate the biblical Ark of the Covenant before it is found by Hitler and the German Army. The film, which was also released on video under the title Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, would spawn a feature film franchise, several videogames, as well as a television series.
The following weapons were used in the film Raiders of the Lost Ark:
Smith & Wesson M1917
Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) carries as his primary sidearm in Raiders a large frame Smith & Wesson revolver of the "Hand Ejector, Second Model" type. Two similarly-modified prop weapons with barrels cut down to about four inches were employed by the production company—the first being a Smith & Wesson M1917 provided by Stembridge Gun Rentals, in California. This was used for studio work in the U.S., and is the gun Indy turns over to arch rival Belloq (Paul Freeman) after barely escaping a booby-trapped Peruvian temple with the golden idol. The same prop shows up again in a scene when Jones is packing his suitcase, where several identifying marks can be clearly seen in closeup, including the unique sight blade, and corner chunk missing from the grip.
The actual production-used "Stembridge" .45 ACP Smith & Wesson M1917 Revolver, shown directly below, is now in private hands.
Smith & Wesson Mk II Hand Ejector
The second Smith & Wesson revolver used onscreen is a blank-firing British-issue Mk II Hand Ejector Model chambered in .455 Webley, again with shortened barrel. According to research done by members of the www.indygear.com web site, this was loaned from Bapty and Co. (U.K.) for U.K. production and Middle East location filming. These two revolvers are differentiated by the front sights: the M1917 sight is rounded (with bluing removed from the barrel underneath), and the one on the "Bapty" Mk II ramps up at an angle. The M1917 also lacks round S&W medallions on its checkered grips, with simple smooth round tops.
This gun was used in the Ravenwood bar shootout (filmed at Elstree Studios, England), and Cairo, Egypt street scenes (filmed in Tunisia), where it was fired several times. Jones uses it famously to clear his path when confronted by a giant, menacing Arabian swordsman (Terry Richards). He then shoots several thugs, including the driver of a truck full of explosives that careens out of control, rolls over and explodes.
Below is the actual modified 'Bapty' Smith & Wesson Mk II Hand Ejector used in the Cairo street scenes, and for all shooting action. It is also now in private collection.
As seen in the Raven Bar shootout, Jones's secondary handgun is a Browning Hi-Power. It was one of Browning's last designs and was on the drawing board in 1925. The P35, made by Fabrique Nationale in Belgium, was a fairly common gun in the hands of the Nazis but not until WWII broke out. It is unlikely but not impossible that Jones would carry this gun in 1936, just one year after manufacturing began (it would be twenty years before the Hi-Power would be comercially available for sale in the United States). Indy was originally envisioned as carrying a Colt 1911. At the time, 9mm blanks were the most reliable, so the filmmakers used a Hi-Power instead. Jones loses this particular gun in the fire at the Raven Bar in Nepal.
When the German U-boat stops the Bantu Wind, Indy is seen with a Hi-Power pistol manufactured by Inglis of Canada. The Inglis Hi-Power version has a distinctive rear sight "hump" and a lanyard ring just above the magazine well. Although the FN Hi-Power was introduced in 1935, the Inglis Hi-Power did not start production until early 1944, making its appearance anachronistic.
The Walther P38 9mm Parabellum 8-round pistol is seen in the hands of several Germans in the film, notably Toht (Ronald Lacey). In reality, this Walther was not produced until 1938, two years after the film's setting. A few hammerless prototypes existed in 1935, but it is still very unlikely any Germans would have had this gun.
The MP40 submachine gun is seen used by German soldiers as well as Nepalese and Arab henchmen. The MP40 is anachronistic since the film is set in 1936 and neither the MP40 nor its more expensive predecessor, the MP38, existed at the time. In reality, the Germans should be using Haenel-Schmeisser MP28/IIs or Bergmann MP35/Is instead. Surprisingly, the Arab thug that fires on Indy during the street chase holds the weapon in the preferred way, while the well trained German soldiers hold the weapon by the magazine, which is the way most often seen in films, but in reality would often lead to misfeeds.
Mauser Karabiner 98k
A bolt action rifle used by German soldiers and Egyptian henchmen in the film. The Mauser Karabiner 98k began manufacture in 1935 so it is conceivable that it would be out of the country by 1936, however the German soldiers would more likely be carrying Gewehr 98s.
Dual MG 81Z Machine Gun
A dual or "Zwilling" mount MG 81Z machine gun (incongruously fitted with an MG 15 saddle drum) is seen mounted at the rear turret of the 'Flying Wing' plane, and while trapped inside, Marion (Karen Allen) commandeers the weapon and guns down a squad of Nazi soldiers sent after Indy.
This weapon is an MG 81 Zwilling (twin mount) with a Doppeltrommel 15 saddle drum "attached." The Doppeltrommel saddle drum was used exclusively with the MG 15 machine gun and would not function on the MG 81 as shown, due to a completely different belt feed system. The one on this weapon appears to have been cosmetically widened by propmakers to accommodate its seating on the dual MG 81. This MG 81 also has non-typical flash hiders fitted, along with MG 15 "style" targeting sights making it vaguely resemble a twin mounting of the longer barreled MG 15's (a configuration that never existed.) Of note is that the Doppeltrommel only held a maximum of 75 rounds, which, at the MG 15's 1000+ rounds a minute (the MG 81 was even higher at 1500+) fired through dual barrels, it is highly likely Marion would have run out of ammunition within approximately two seconds. The gun in the film actually fires acetylene blasts at a much lower rate of fire.
RPG-2 (mocked up as a German anti-tank rocket launcher)
Near the climax of the film, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) points a shoulder-fired anti-tank weapon at the ark while it is being transported by Belloq and the Germans. The weapon was custom made for the production by the movie's armorer, Simon Atherton, who has stated that the weapon is actually a Chinese Type 56 copy of the Soviet RPG-2 made to look like a WWII-era German anti-tank weapon. The launcher also appears to be outfitted with a shoulder grip similar to an M9 Bazooka's. The Germans had no such rocket launching weapons in 1936 (when the movie takes place); both the Panzerschreck and Panzerfaust would be developed later, during the war. As such, this launcher can be looked at as a handy plot contrivance.
Intentionally or not the mock launcher resembles the conceptual Panzerfaust 250 which was designed with a reloadable tube, a pistol grip and a venturi tube in the rear end for decreased recoil. The weird metal rod behind the rear sight resembles the Panzerfaust 30.