Blue Thunder

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Blue Thunder (1983)

Blue Thunder is a 1983 thriller directed by John Badham and stars Roy Scheider as a Los Angeles police helicopter pilot who is assigned to a top secret military weapons program that involves flying an armed superhelicopter over the city. There is a title card at the beginning of the film that states all of the technology portrayed in the film is real and currently in use in the United States military. The film would inspire two television series: a direct adaptation that aired in the US on ABC and the CBS series Airwolf.


The following weapons were used in the film Blue Thunder:

Contents


Heavy Weapons

M61 20mm Vulcan Cannon

What appears to be a M61 Vulcan is the main offensive weapon of the Blue Thunder helicopter. The army weapons officer states that Vulcan's six barrels are capable of firing 4000 rounds a minute. The weapon is seen chin-mounted on a turret in the front and is able to be guided by pilot's helmet movements. According to an article from American Cinematographer, the weapon seen on the flying version of Blue Thunder was actually a mockup comprised of six broomsticks painted black. For the closeups of the weapon firing, this also was a mockup consisting of six hollow barrels fitted with spark plugs to ignite bursts of acetylene blown through.

The GE M61 Vulcan 20mm Cannon.
The army weapons officer states that Blue Thunder's six barrels are capable of firing 4000 rounds a minute. The weapon seen here was actually a mockup comprised of six broomsticks painted black.
The weapons officer shows that the Vulcan is able to be guided by pilot's helmet movements.
Closeup of the Vulcan cannon firing. The weapon was specially constructed for the production, consisting of six hollow barrels fitted with spark plugs to ignite bursts of acetylene blown through.
The turret shows that the Vulcan can be fired at a 90 degree angle.

M230 Chain Gun (mockup)

Twin cannons which appear to resemble Hughes 30mm M230 Chain Guns are mounted on Col. Cochrane's Hughes 500 helicopter. Because these are only seen fired in closeup, these weapons are also likely mockups.

Hughes/Alliant Techsystems M230 Chain Gun - 30mm
Twin mocked up cannons which resemble M230 Chain Guns are seen mounted on the Cochrane's Hughes helicopter.
The guns being fired.

Handguns

Smith & Wesson Model 10 HB

Several police officers are armed with the Smith & Wesson Model 10 HB. They are seen using them when responding to the 211 at the liquor store.

Smith & Wesson Model 10 - .38 Special.
Several police officers are armed with the Smith & Wesson Model 10 HB when responding to the 211 at the liquor store.

Smith & Wesson Model 10 .38 Snubnose

Colonel Cochrane (Malcolm McDowell) takes out his Smith & Wesson Model 10 snubnose and fires at Murphy as he takes off with Blue Thunder. Officer Frank Murphy (Roy Scheider) points his .38 snub at an angry mechanic while he sits in Blue Thunder. Fletcher (David Sheiner) draws one as well when trying to steal the surveillance tape at the TV station.

Smith & Wesson Model 10 snub nose revolver - .38 Special. Same frame, but with smaller grips and 2 inch barrel.
"You talkin' to me?" Murphy aims his .38 at a helicopter mechanic.
Closeup of the S&W revolver carried by Officer Lymangood (Daniel Stern) before it's taken away.
"You son of a bitch, I'll blow your head off!" Fletcher pulls his revolver.
Fletcher is knocked out with a blackjack from the television station guard before he can fire.

Smith & Wesson Model 15

The Smith & Wesson Model 15 is drawn by the LA police officer (James Read) who stops Kate on the bridge. In some shots, the revolver appears to have changed into a Colt Python.

Smith & Wesson Model 15 - .38 Special
Kate (Candy Clark) is stopped by police officers carrying the S&W Model 15.
In this shot, the revolver appears to have changed into a Colt Python.

Smith & Wesson Model 60

A robbery suspect opens fire on Murphy's police helicopter with a Smith & Wesson Model 60.

Smith & Wesson Model 60, stainless variant of the model 36 - .38 Special.
A robbery suspect opens fire on Murphy's police helicopter with a Smith & Wesson Model 60.

Colt Detective Special

One of the men who attacks the councilwoman is armed with a Colt Detective Special that he fires before he's taken down by police officers.

Colt Detective Special 1st Gen - .38 Special
An attacker opens fire with the Colt Detective Special.
The attacker (Thomas Rosales Jr.) with the revolver.

Machine Guns

M60 Machine Gun

SWAT officers try to knock down Blue Thunder with their M60 machine guns.

M60 machine gun - 7.62x51mm NATO
SWAT officer fires his M60 at Blue Thunder. The M60 appears to have a brass catcher.
Another SWAT officer with his M60.

Rifles

M16A1

SWAT officers fire M16A1 rifles as they attempt to take down Blue Thunder during the chase in the Los Angeles river basin.

M16A1 with 20 round magazine - 5.56x45mm. What distinguishes it from the original M16 was the addition of a raised rib around the magazine release button, changing of the forward Receiver pins, and the addition of the forward assist button on the upper receiver.
A SWAT officer fires an M16A1 at Blue Thunder from his police helicopter.
Another shot of the officer firing his M16A1.

MGC Replica M16 rifle

A SWAT officer is briefly seen with an MGC M16 replica when exiting the SWAT van.

The MGC M16 Assault rifle: a non firing metal replica built by the Model Gun Corp of Japan and one of the most used non firing replicas of the M16 in movies and television
A SWAT officer is briefly seen with an MGC M16 replica when exiting the SWAT van.

Winchester Model 70

Another SWAT officer exiting the van is seen with the Winchester Model 70.

Another SWAT officer exiting the van is seen with the Winchester Model 70.

Shotguns

Remington 870

The standard police riot Remington 870 is seen being carried and fired by LA police officers.

Remington 870 Police Magnum Riot Shotgun - 12 Gauge
An LA police officer fires his Remington 870.

Trivia

"Blue Thunder" in reality is a French Aerospatiale Gazelle with the cockpit section modded. The modified helicopter would also be used in other media including the 1982 film Firefox, where the cockpit section was used as part of a Mil Mi-24 Hind; the 1987 miniseries Amerika, where these helicopters were used to represent Soviet attack helicopters, and the 2011 videogame Homefront, where the helicopter was briefly incorporated in the introduction.

The Blue Thunder cockpit as seen in Firefox.
Blue Thunder seen in the intro to Homefront.

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