Casualties of War

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Casualties of War (1989)

Casualties of War is a 1989 Vietnam War drama starring Michael J. Fox as a young US Army private who decides to stand up to his commanding sergeant (Sean Penn) when he and his men kidnap a Vietnamese girl and threaten to rape her. The film was directed by Brian De Palma and was based on an actual incident during the war.


The following weapons were used in the film Casualties of War:

Contents


SPOILERS.jpg WARNING! THIS PAGE CONTAINS SPOILERS!

Rifles

M16A1

The M16A1 rifle is standard issue amongst all of the soldiers seen in the film. In Eriksson's squad, the members cross utilize the different weapons from time to time, usually manning a weapon when another is reloading, or injured.

M16A1 Assault rifle - 5.56x45mm. Used by the United States military from 1967 to 1989.
Lieutenant Reilly (Ving Rhames) hunkers down in the jungle at night with his M16A1.
Private First Class Eriksson (Michael J. Fox) fights with his M16A1.
PFC Herbert Hatcher (John C. Reilly) struggles to clear a jam on his M16A1.
An unusual shot as seen through the rifle sights of the M16A1. This was obviously done by using an adapter in front of the camera lens as it is well out of scale for a real M16A1 backsight.

Fake Colt XM177 Commando

Sergeant Tony Meserve (Sean Penn) uses a fake XM177, built up from an Colt Sporter II Carbine. What makes it weird is the unusual flash hider/muzzle brake which is too long for an XM177, the wrong diameter and has holes on one side only (the left side).

Actual XM177E2 Carbine aka Colt Model 629 - 5.56x45mm. This was the last variant of the XM177 rifle used in the Vietnam War.
SGT Tony Meserve (Sean Penn) carries a weird fake XM177. Here it looks to have an 11.5" barrel like an E2 model, but the upper and lower receiver are the M16A1 style. It looks like an Sporter II Carbine that had it's barrel chopped and a strange muzzle brake installed. At this angle, we can see the right side of the flash hider has no holes.
SGT Meserve carries a weird fake XM177. At this angle we can see that the left side has strange 'lightning cut' compensator holes in the side. The fact that the flash hider only had holes on one side makes it a very unusual muzzle brake.
SGT Meserve fires the fake XM177. Here we can see a very strange flash coming out of the gun. After the initial flash there are no other flashes as Penn "mime fires" the carbine in 'semi automatic mode' only. Also in this night-firing shot, the strange pattern of the lopsided flash holes can be seen in this muzzle brake.
SGT Meserve carries a weird fake XM177 in daylight. Here we can clearly see the strange 'diagonal' flash holes which are on one side of the muzzle brake only.
Another shot of the receiver of the fake XM177, which indicates it is a Sporter II carbine (which came out in 1987) or an SP1 Barrel attached to an A1 Style upper receiver.
Another interesting shot showing that the metal heat shield in the handguards don't have holes to bleed out the heat from rapid fire. Yet another unusual aspect of this custom carbine.
Meserve fires the fake XM177 in the daylight ambush. Again the rifle only fires semiautomatic.
A still of Sean Penn as Tony Meserve posing with his fake XM177.

Type 56/AK47

The Viet Cong guerrillas use both full stock and folding stock AK47s (which are most probably Type 56 rifles) however in the real war, despite the fact that the majority of AK rifles were Chinese Type 56s, there were some original Soviet AK47s given to the NVA who supplied them to the VC.

Norinco Type 56 (fixed stock variant) with under-folding bayonet ("pig sticker") - 7.62x39mm
Norinco Type 56-1 (under-folding stock variant) - 7.62x39mm
VC creeps forward in a tunnel, crawling by a Type 56-1 Underfolder AK - 7.62x39mm
VC shot as he emerges from a tunnel hole, dropping his Type 56-1 Underfolder AK - 7.62x39mm
A VC unloads a bundle from a boat, a full stocked AK slung on his back.

Machine Guns

M60 machine gun

The M60 machine gun is carried by every squad gunner in the film. Again, the members take turns carrying and using the weapon, especially during "Mad Minute" fights.

M60 machine gun - 7.62x51mm
SGT Tony Meserve (Sean Penn) fires his M60 Machine Gun.
Corporal Thomas E. Clark (Don Harvey) carries an M60 Machine Gun when returning from a long range patrol.
The squad uses an M60 Machine gun and M16A1 rifles during a 'mad minute' firefight.

M60D Machine gun

M60D Machine Guns are seen used by all of the door gunners on the UH-1D Hueys in the film.

M60D machine gun - 7.62x51mm NATO
Doorgunners with the spade grips M60D Machine gun.
Doorgunners with the spade grips M60D Machine gun.

Handguns

M1911A1

The standard sidearm at the time, the M1911A1 is carried by all NCOs and officers and used by some Enlisted men during certain circumstances. Both CPL Thomas E. Clark (Don Harvey) and PFC Eriksson (Michael J. Fox) are seen carrying and using the M1911A1 for protection.

War-time issued (WW2) Colt M1911A1 Pistol - .45 ACP
CPL Clark (Don Harvey) (right) fires his M1911A1 pistol.

Other

M79 grenade launcher

The M79 grenade launcher is carried by PFC Max Eriksson (Michael J. Fox). It is notoriously seen used to blow away an incoming grenade thrown at him, which in reality did happen to PFC Max Eriksson during the Vietnam War.

M79 grenade launcher -= 40x46mm
Production image of Erikkson (Michael J. Fox) carrying the M79 Grenade Launcher. It should be noted that Erikkson's grenade vest appears to be made out of the external liner of a flak vest M1952-A with some pouches of M79 bandolier sewn on it. This was likely done because during the '80s it was impossible to obtain an original "Vest, Carrier, Grande, M-79" or a "Vest, Ammunition, Carrying", model issued after the war which was similar to the one used in Vietnam. However, in 1966, year of the incident on Hill 192, the M79 vest wasn't available, except for a few models of its previous experimental vest. In this picture of the first night mission in the jungle, the customized M1952 vest can be seen between the harness, paradoxically worn on a M1955 flak vest (wrongly because this vest was used only by Marines).
PFC Eriksson with his M79 Grenade Launcher.
Erikkson's custom grenade vest.
Another view of Erikkson with the custom vest.
PFC Max Eriksson (Michael J. Fox) fires his M79 Grenade Launcher at an incoming grenade and hits it.
CPL Thomas E. Clark (Don Harvey) carries the M79 later in the film, as many of the squad members swap weapons during battles.

M26 Hand Grenade

An unseen perpetrator uses an M26 hand grenade to attempt to blow up PFC Max Eriksson in the Latrine.

M26 "Lemon" hand grenade.
An unidentified hand holds an M26 while lying in wait for Eriksson. Why the perpetrator chooses to wear the yellow chamois gloves (issued to M60 gunners along with their asbestos mitt) is unknown - Avoiding fingerprints on a grenade that is about to be detonated would be pointless.
Eriksson sees the M26 Grenade at the last moment. Note that this grenade has an unusually shiny off color bright green paint job, and no lot nor armory markings.
The barracks toilets explodes. Hollywood's gift to the public, standard Fragmentation grenades that explode like howitzer rounds. Actual live grenades (in military service) don't have the power to obliterate an entire building.

M29 81mm Mortar

M29 Mortars are seen in the fire base in the background and are featured when the VC use captured ones for an attack.

M29 Mortar - 81mm
VC use a captured U.S. M29 81mm Mortar in one of their attacks.

M72A1 LAW Rocket

M72A1 LAW Rockets are seen slung on the backs of U.S. Soldiers during marches or massing scenes. Also seen being uncrated by VC who are sorting captured weapons.

M72 LAW - 66mm
VC guerrilla uncrate a captured box of M72A1 LAW rockets.

Trivia Special

Base Camp Wolf

In the days before CGI, filmmakers had to build the massive sets and use actors (not CGI composites) to populate those sets. In this film, Base Camp Wolf is an impressive and massive Army encampment with many REAL UH-1D Huey Helicopters taking off and landing every few minutes.

Impressive shot of Base Camp Wolf as a Huey Helicopter Lands.

Period Beer Cans

Kudos to the Art Designer/Prop Master for coming up with period Beer Cans. PFC Eriksson (Michael J. Fox) sits at a bar with a bunch of empty Budweiser cans. Despite being a wee bit too large for the beer cans of the day, they are the correct straight side, removable tab beer cans that existed in the 1960s.

PFC Eriksson (Michael J. Fox) talks with Chaplain Kirk (Sam Robards) as he downs another Budweiser. The cans and designs are correct for the 1960s, in contrast to the tapered aluminum drink cans used from the 1970s to today.


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