Final Countdown, The

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The Final Countdown (1980)

The Final Countdown is a 1980 science fiction film that follows the crew of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz as they find themselves mysteriously transported back to 1941 just prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The cast included Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen, and James Farentino. Made with the cooperation of the United States Navy, the film is notable for being one of the first to feature actual F-14A aircraft as well as filming carrier operations aboard the actual Nimitz carrier.

The following weapons were used in the film The Final Countdown:



U.S. Marine guards can be seen carrying M1911A1 pistols as their sidearms throughout the film. During the hostage situation aboard the U.S.S. Nimitz, a captured Japanese Zero pilot (Soon-Tek Oh) commandeers an M1911A1 in the Nimitz sickbay. Another Marine responding to the crisis is also wielding an M1911A1, but doesn't fire it during the incident. It should also be noted that the M1911A1's have a gloss blued finish like a civilian pistol, instead of the military parkerized finish.

M1911A1 .45 ACP
A Marine Captain holds his M1911A1 as he responds to the hostage situation in the sickbay of the Nimitz.
The Japanese Zero pilot (Soon-Tek Oh) holds Laurel Scott (Katharine Ross) at gunpoint with a commandeered M1911A1. Note that the thumb safety is engaged!

M16A1 Rifle

The M16A1 assault rifle can be seen wielded by Marines several times during the film; first when the Nimitz goes to General Quarters following the first time storm, then when guarding the Japanese Zero pilot. The pilot then gets ahold of one of these weapons in the Nimitz's sickbay. In the sequences that did not require live firing, these weapons are replaced with MGC replica rifles.

M16A1 with 20 round magazine - 5.56x45mm
The Japanese Zero pilot (Soon-Tek Oh) opens up with an M16A1 taken from a Marine guard.
U.S. Marines open up with their M16A1 rifles.
MGC M16 replica
U.S. Marines armed with MGC M16 replica assault rifles take a captured Japanese Zero pilot into custody.

M8 Flare Pistol

While being dropped off on a remote island near Hawaii, Senator Samuel Chapman (Charles Durning) takes an M8 Flare Pistol from the helicopter's emergency gear and threatens to fire it if he isn't taken to Pearl Harbor.

M8 flare pistol - 37mm
Senator Samuel Chapman hijacks a U.S. Navy helicopter toting an M8 flare pistol.

Type 99 Cannon

The Japanese A6M "Zero" fighters that destroy the yacht and are in turn destroyed by the F-14A Tomcats are armed with Type 99 cannons mounted in the wings. When the Tomcats are "playing" with the A6M's prior to being cleared to shoot them down, one of the Zeroes fires a burst at one of the F-14's, though the agile jet fighter easily evades the burst. In reality, these planes were American-made T-6 Texan trainers mocked up to look like Japanese-made Zeroes (a common practice in older films) owned and operated by the Commemorative Air Force, the cannons also being acetyline-firing mockups meant to simulate the Zero's armament.

Type 99 cannon 20mm
The mocked-up A6M Zero is seen firing one of its simulated Type 99 cannons

M61 Vulcan

The M61 Vulcan appears as the secondary weapon of US Navy F-14A Tomcats in the film, one of them being used to down one of the Japanese Zeroes during the dogfight scene. Unlike the Zeroes in the film, the Tomcats were completely genuine, including their weaponry. That said however, the effects of the Vulcan on the Zero are rather underwhelming; causing a trail of smoke from the disabled plane which plunges into the ocean largely intact, when in reality the 20mm shells fired by the M61 would have shredded the notoriously fragile Zero.

M61 Vulcan 20mm
A pair of F-14A Tomcats flying in formation, with the firing ports for their M61 Vulcans visible near the nose of each aircraft
One of the Tomcats "splashes" a Zero with its M61 Vulcan.

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