Red Dawn (1984)
Red Dawn is a 1984 action war film that dramatizes the possibility of a Soviet invasion of the continental United States. Directed by John Milius, the film stars Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, Lea Thompson, and Jennifer Grey as a group of mostly teenagers who become resistance fighters against the occupying force. The film is notable for the amount of effort put into accurately depicting modern Soviet armor and weaponry of the era, particularly for a production made during the time of the Cold War. A remake of the film was released in the US on November 21, 2012.
The following weapons were used in the film Red Dawn (1984):
Colt Single Action Army
Jed Eckert (Patrick Swayze) is seen using a Colt Single Action Army revolver with ivory grips as his sidearm in the film. The revolver is mentioned to have been previously owned by Jed and Matt's grandfather. The revolver used was a personal piece owned by director John Milius.
The Nicaraguan Captain (Judd Omen) holds a Walther PP Pistol as he hunts for Jed and Matt during the final engagement. In reality, the pistol was probably supposed to be a Makarov PM, but that is explained below.
Smith & Wesson Model 15
A Smith & Wesson Model 15 (denoted by its tapered barrel) with Pachmayr grips is the 'survival pistol' carried by USAF Colonel Andrew Tanner (Powers Boothe) before it is taken away from him by Erica. Interestingly enough, the Model 15 was the issued revolver to USAF Security Police from 1962-1985 so it is feasible for a USAF Colonel to wield one. Combat pilots were given a wide latitude of the personal sidearm they could carry, with many opting for small revolvers, like the Airweight, or traditional semiauto pistols like the M1911.
Smith & Wesson Model 19
What appears to be a Smith & Wesson Model 19 is seen in the back of the waistband of Matt Eckert (Charlie Sheen). Matt also is seen checking the revolver right before he and Jed make the final assault. It's possible that this is the ".38 Special" Mr. Morrison briefly mentioned when the boys take the supplies from the store. It's very likely that this is the revolver used by Daryl during the Wolverines' first confrontation with Soviet soldiers in the forest.
An M1911A1 pistol is first seen in the "cold dead hands" of an American who resisted the Soviet invasion. The pistol is pulled from the hand of the man and inspected by a Soviet Paratrooper who stuffs it behind his webbing belt. Later in the film, despite having his Smith & Wesson Model 15 revolver, Colonel Tanner ends up with a military M1911A1 pistol with parkerized finish, seen during the snow battle. USAF planes during the Cold War were equipped with a survival pack that included a ".45 CALIBER AUTOMATIC" and 2 boxes of ammo. Colonel Tanner's Model 15 was most likely kept in his holster at all times and retrieved the 1911 from the survival pack in his downed plane.
The leader of the Soviet Paratroopers, in the attack on Calumet High School, motions to his troops with an original CZ 75 handgun, and not one of the later "B" models.
Tokarev TT-33 Pistol
During the initial attack, one of the officers does have an actual Tokarev TT-33 Pistol (several viewings of the clip verified it, even though the actor whips it back and forth). He stands next to another paratrooper firing an RPG - with those bright yellow and blue rockets. A Tokarev also is seen in the hands of Toni (Jennifer Grey) when the Wolverines interrogate a captured Spetnaz soldier.
Jatimatic Submachine Gun
The Jatimatic SMG is the sidearm carried by Colonel Strelnikov (William Smith), which he keeps in a custom hip holster. He is seen using the SMG when he is hunting Matt and Jed at the end of the film. This SMG was was most likely used as a substitute for the Polish manufactured PM-63 machine pistol, as none were available in the country at the time of filming due to the Cold War.
Winchester Model 1912
The Shotgun that Robert takes from his father's Gas Station/General Store is initially a Winchester Model 1912 with a field barrel (28"). Robert Morris (C. Thomas Howell) uses it in the first encounter with Soviet soldiers in the National park.
Remington 870 Wingmaster
In a continuity break, the Winchester Model 1912 previously seen morphs into a Remington 870 Wingmaster with non-ribbed barrel. The Remington 870 Wingmaster is first seen when Robert is sawing down the long barrel to make a short barreled shotgun. The cut down 870 is used pretty much exclusively by Robert for the rest of the film.
Rifles & Carbines
The AKM is the standard weapon used by the Soviet paratroopers and the Wolverines throughout the movie. According to Long Mountain Outfitters, the AKM rifles used in the movie were actually Egyptian Maadi MISR (imported into the US as the ARM) semi-auto rifles, some of the first semi-automatic Kalashnikov-type rifles ever imported into the United States (besides the Clayco AKM copies). 53 such rifles were used in the movie, 32 of which were converted to full-auto by Class 3 manufacturer Pearl Manufacturing specially for the film. These guns were later used in numerous other movies. These weapons are not to be confused with the post-1989 imported firearms called "MISR" which were modified to comply with the federal import ban.
Several AKS-74 mockups are used by Soviet paratroopers in the first attack on the school and Soviet Spetsnaz during the battle in the snow. They are actually Maadi ARMs that were very cleverly fitted with bakelite plastic magazines, skeleton stocks, and custom-made muzzle brakes that resemble that of the AK-74.
Cuban and Nicaraguan soldiers can be seen carrying FN FAL rifles as their main weapons.
Ruger Mini 14 GB
A Ruger Mini-14 GB is briefly seen being handed out to freed prisoners at the re-education camp, and later seen obviously by an escaping 'political prisoner' during the night raid.
A few M16A1 rifles can be briefly seen being handed out to freed prisoners at the re-education camp, and later seen by another running 'political prisoner' during the night raid.
Marlin Model 336C
The Marlin Model 336C lever action rifle was picked up from the store just after the invasion. Arturo "Aardvark" Mondragon (Doug Toby) fires a single shot from the back of a pickup truck at Soviet troops, after an American UH-1 helicopter attacks the Soviets on the ground using rockets. He also uses it in some of the ambushes later in the film.
Ruger Model 77
Remington Model 572 Fieldmaster
Seen in the gun rack above Jed's Ruger M77 Ultralight bolt action rifle is a Remington Model 572 Fieldmaster pump action rifle. The 572 is a pump action 22 that will shoot .22 shorts, .22 long, or .22 long rifle cartridges. Ammunition is supplied by a tubular magazine under the barrel which holds 15-20 rounds depending on the caliber used. This ability to use all three cartridges is a major difference with other pump action .22s which use only the long rifle cartridge. The Remington 572 is a popular plinker and small game rifle which would be ideal as a survival weapon although it did not see additional use in the movie.
The Valmet M78 LMG stands in for the Soviet RPK since none were available in the US when this movie was filmed. The M78 LMG was used by Soviet paratroopers in the beginning of the movie and, and later by several of the Wolverines including Erica Mason (Lea Thompson), Toni Mason (Jennifer Grey) and Jed (Patrick Swayze). The LMG is seen fitted with a 30-round "curved" magazine as well as a drum magazine.
At the time of filming, there were no authentic DShK heavy machine guns available for use in movies, so the armorers mocked-up DShKs from M60D machine guns (apparently the size difference between a 7.62mm gun and a .50 cal gun wasn't enough to distract people during the movie). The DShK mockup is seen being fired throughout the film by Erica (Lea Thompson). These particular mockups would be re-used in the films Rambo: First Blood Part II and Heartbreak Ridge, as well as several 1980's television series including Magnum P.I., MacGyver, and Airwolf.
Fake Goryunov SGM
Yet another Soviet-era machine gun that was mocked up from the venerable (and available) M60 machine gun is the Goryunov SGM machine gun. This is primarily seen used by Robert (C. Thomas Howell) during the ambush on the Spetnaz troops. These machine guns also appear to be mounted in a Soviet armored carrier that is used for a firing squad.
When Matt, Jed and Robert walk across a battlefield, a disabled Browning M2HB heavy machine gun is seen briefly seen mounted on a destroyed M42 "Duster" anti-aircraft vehicle. What appears to be an M2 also is seen mounted atop an M1 Abrams locked in a tank battle with the Soviet T-72's.
An unmodified M60 machine gun appears to be used as a door gun on a US Army "Huey" helicopter that opens fire on a Soviet roadblock at the film's beginning.
GE M134 Minigun
An abandoned GE M134 Minigun, possibly from a crashed vehicle/chopper can be seen on the abandoned battlefield. It is noteworthy that there seem to be many 'abandoned' weapons, from .50 cal machine guns to .30 cal machine guns, however, it must be assumed that these are damaged and inoperable, or else the Soviets would never just leave them for anyone to pick up.
Fake Afanasev A-12.7 Heavy Machine Gun
The fake Mi-24 Hind-A helicopters in the film appear to have a mocked-up Afanasev A-12.7 mounted in the nose. This machine gun is not seen firing.
RGD-5 Hand Grenade (mockup)
In the film, both Soviet troops as well as the Wolverines use mocked-up RGD-5 hand grenades. Given the difficulty of acquiring an authentic Soviet hand grenade of any kind in the 1980s, they were mockups built by the props department based on photos of the RGD-5.
Fake RKG-3 Stick Grenade
Colonel Tanner uses a stick grenade to destroy a YAK-38 VTOL fighter parked near the re-education camp. Though it is cool, it seems strange that the Soviet Navy would have VTOL fighters parked so close to an internment camp, unless they were using the Americans as human shields against long range missile strikes or aerial bombardment. The stick grenade is a mockup of a RKG-3 anti-tank grenade.
RPG-7s are used by Soviet and Communist Bloc soldiers, and later Matt (Charlie Sheen). The weapon itself is a fabricated prop, utilizing a vintage 1950s era RPG-2 as a base. A flared rear blast cone and a second 'fake' pistol grip was added as well as a fake PGO-7 scope that was fabricated out of plastic (it's a bit too large and wrongly shaped for the real PGO-7 scope). The rocket warhead is a plastic and rubber fabrication and not an RPG-2 rocket head. The fuse tip itself is the cap from a Crest toothpaste tube!
On another note, the rocket of the fake RPG-7 (like many other films that use rocket launchers) is a foam rubber fake when firing around actors. Prior to the advent of CGI in films, they were fired with real Estes rocket motors and guided along wires to their targets. Below, a frame of film is seen where the wire can clearly be seen that will guide the foam rubber rocket head to its intended target.
Fake SA-7 Grail
A SA-7 Grail mockup (built from metal tubing and plastic) is used by a Cuban soldier to fire at an attacking American UH-1G "Huey" Helicopter (The "G" model was the post-Vietnam model Huey with twin turbines). The mock-up of the SA-7 is quite accurate. It is a little particular, however, that the soldier firing a heat-seeking surface-to-air missile cannot hit a slow moving UH-1G helicopter. (Unless the weapon was fired in completely the wrong direction!)
Fake UB-32 Rocket Pods (on Fake Hind Gunship)
Fake 32-round UB-32 rocket pods for the Soviet S-5 unguided air-to-ground rocket are seen on the mocked up Hind-A helicopter gunship, along with wing mounted hardpoints with mocked-up twin launch rails for fake AT-2 "Swatter" anti-tank missiles.
Soviet Armor and Aircraft
"Faux" Mil Mi-24 "Hind" Gunship
The "Mil Mi-24 Hinds" seen in the film are excellent mockups of Hind-As (painted with winter camo). These helicopters were built up from French Aérospatiale Pumas and were later used again in other movies such as Rambo: First Blood Part II and Rambo III. The version depicted was the earliest incarnation of the Hind, the Model-A with the blunt angular "greenhouse" side-by-side cockpit rather than the later twin in-line "double bubble" canopy. The Hind-A was also seen in the film Firefox, however those were 1/12th scale radio controlled flying models. For the film Red Dawn, three Pumas were modified (and all seen on film) and all had a fake Hind-A 'nose' sections built with darked tinted windows that slipped over the front end of the real Puma helicopter. (If you look closely, you can see the real nose of the Puma 'underneath' the Hind nose section through the tinted windows in some shots.) However, this modification limited pilot vision and also restricted motion - quick turns were not possible lest the fake nose front end be ripped off the helicopter. Later incarnations of the same modified Puma helicopter removed the extended Hind-A nose sections, but kept the fake wings and rockets pods (as these were sturdy modifications and didn't adversely affect the aerodynamics of the helicopter.)
In several shots, we can see the actual nose assembly of the original PUMA helicopter underneath the tinted glass windows of the extended "faux" nose.
"Faux" Soviet ZSU-23 Self Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun
A Fake Soviet ZSU-23 Self Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun was built on an American M8A1 Cargo Tractor chassis by Veluzet Armored Vehicles, out of Newhall, California. This ZSU-23 replica was also used in 1988's Rambo III as well as the 1991 John Milius-directed film Flight of the Intruder.
"Faux" Soviet T-72 Main Battle Tank
The Fake T-72 tanks from the film were built on the chassis of a surplus M8A1 Cargo Tractor, which itself was a stretched version of the M41 Walker Bulldog with four return rollers and six roadwheels per side instead of three return rollers and five roadwheels. The mockups were so realistic that the production mentioned that they were trailed by the CIA, who wanted to know where the tanks came from. These mockups would later be reused in several films including 1988's Rambo III, 1999's Three Kings as well as the series Tour of Duty.
During the Wolverines' raid on the re-education camp, a full size mockup of a YAK-38 VTOL strike aircraft is seen. In reality, this plane was mainly used by Soviet Naval Aviation.
M42 "Duster" 40mm Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun
An M42 "Duster" SPAAG that has been knocked out of action is prominent in the ghost battlefield sequence. Of course what is noticeably missing from the plethora of destroyed vehicles on the battlefield are main battle tanks like M1 Abrams or infantry fighting vehicles. The M42 "Dusters" were built on obsolete M41 Walker Bulldog light tank chassis that were outfitted with twin 40mm AA guns and were used by ground troops in Vietnam, before being retired from regular Army service in 1972. The M42 was then only found as a Corps Level asset in National Guard units until it was fully retired in 1988.
Fake M1 Abrams
Like the T-72s, the M1 Abrams seen in the film was a full-size mockup. Unlike later mockups of this tank, this Abrams was not built up from a Centurion or Chieftain tank. It was only seen in long shots.
As many viewers remember, there was a large rack of sporting/hunting long guns in Mister Morris's Gas Station/General Store and Mister Morris hands out food, guns and ammunition to the boys and tells them to leave and "don't look back." However, the long guns in Mister Morris's gun rack are difficult to be accurately identify due to the dark lighting in the shot.
Inaccurate Captioning on the DVD
During the planning of the attack on the re-education camp, Col. Tanner mystifies most of the Wolverines with his military jargon. Apparently the jargon is unknown to the people doing the captioning of the DVD as well. He refers to grazing fire at a defilade (using the verb as a noun to refer to an area which the Soviets have prepared in such a way as to protect the position from enfilading fire). Erica Mason (Lea Thompson) responds with "Devolay?". The Closed captions on the DVD incorrectly quotes Tanner as saying "duffle-A" which makes no sense.