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Platoon is a 1986 Vietnam War film written and directed by Oliver Stone, who based his screenplay upon his own experiences as a combat infantryman in both the 1st Cavalry Division and the 25th Infantry Division. The film follows a rifle platoon in Bravo Company, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, primarily through the eyes of Private Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen), a young idealistic soldier on his first tour of duty in 1967. Throughout the film, Taylor experiences the conflict between two competing senior NCOs - the brave and compassionate Staff Sergeant Elias (Willem Dafoe) and hardened, ruthless Staff Sergeant Robert Barnes (Tom Berenger). The film is notable for its realistic depiction of soldiers fighting the war (up until then, the war had been depicted in a more surrealistic and stylized fashion in such films as Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter) and for being the first movie for which the actors were put through a "boot camp" (organized by technical adviser and Vietnam veteran Dale Dye) to gain experience on proper weapons handling and the day-to-day existence of a soldier fighting in Vietnam. It was filmed in the Philippines on the island of Luzon: local Vietnamese refugees played extras, and like Apocalypse Now, the production received assistance from and was loaned equipment by the Philippine military.
Released to widespread critical acclaim, the film was nominated for eight Academy Awards and received four, including the awards for Best Picture and Best Director. While the Vietnam War had been portrayed or referenced in several films prior, the success of Platoon helped usher in a new era of more serious and realistic depictions of the conflict. Among the films of this era would include Full Metal Jacket and Hamburger Hill (both released in 1987), Platoon Leader and BAT*21 (both released in 1988) as well as The Iron Triangle and The Siege of Firebase Gloria (both released in 1989). Platoon was also the first in Stone's unofficial "trilogy" of Vietnam War-themed films which included 1989's Born on the Fourth of July and 1993's Heaven & Earth. In 2019, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
The following weapons were used in the film Platoon:
Rifles / Carbines
Crawford (Chris Pedersen) is briefly seen using what appears to be an original M16. The rifle has an A1 flash hider, but lacks a forward assist. It could also be an AR-15/SP1 rifle, but since he is not seen firing it, it is unknown.
Soldiers of the 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 25th Infantry Division "Tropic Lightning" carry M16A1s, most commonly seen in the hands of PVT Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen). M16A1s are also carried by Big Harold (Forest Whitaker), Manny (Corkey Ford), Francis (Corey Glover) and Sergeant Red O'Neill (John C. McGinley).
Colt Model 653P
SSG Elias (Willem Dafoe), SSG Robert Barnes (Tom Berenger), and Lieutenant Wolfe (Mark Moses) are armed with Colt Model 653P carbines, noted by their rounded forward assist buttons and 14.5" barrels, as the 653Ps were 653 export models sent to the Philippines. They were probably meant to stand in for the XM177E1 or XM177E2 Carbines. It is thus anachronistic to see these in the movie, as they were not used during the Vietnam war.
Norinco Type 56
The Norinco Type 56 is the weapon of choice of the NVA soldiers, many of which feature "pig-sticker" under folder bayonets. They are noted as Chinese Type 56 rifles based on their hooded front sights. Only the milled receiver variant of this rifle was actually used during the war. Towards the end of the film, both SSG Robert Barnes (Tom Berenger) and PVT Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen) are seen using these rifles, picked up from dead Vietnamese soldiers.
The M60 machine gun, sometimes affectionately called "The Pig" by US soldiers in Vietnam, is carried primarily by King (Keith David) in the film. As was typical in Vietnam, the M60 is seen in the film operated by two soldiers, a gunner and an assistant gunner who "feeds" the ammo.
A Browning M2HB heavy machine gun is seen mounted on for use on an M113 Armored Personnel Carrier after the final stand.
FN MAG 58
When the soldiers are digging through the weapons cache found in the village, what appears to be an FN MAG can be seen briefly.
Remington 870 Wingmaster
Bunny (Kevin Dillon) uses a Remington 870 Wingmaster shotgun with open blade sights throughout the film.
The M1911A1 is the standard sidearm for all of the NCOs and Officers in the film. It is most prominently seen used by SSG Elias (Willem Dafoe) when he does tunnel rat duty and SSG Barnes (Tom Berenger) when he uses it to threaten a little girl in the village to get her father to talk. Historically the M1911 was also carried by private soldiers in the field as a backup weapon - Though this was technically a breach of the military rules of the times very few serious attempts were ever made to prevent the practice.
M72 LAW launchers are seen strapped on several of the soldier's packs, notably the pack of PVT Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen). It is also seen used by SSG Robert Barnes (Tom Berenger) during the final stand.
M79 grenade launcher
While never seen used in the film, the M79 grenade launcher AKA the "Blooper", is carried by several soldiers in the film, including Tubbs (Andrew B. Clark), a member of Red's squad. The weapon is never seen fired during the movie.
Several NVA soldiers are armed with B-40s, a Vietnamese copy of the RPG-2.
M26 Hand Grenade
The M26 hand grenade is seen as the standard issue grenade carried by the members of 1st Platoon.
M15 White Phosphorous Grenade
Ebenhoch (Mark Ebenhoch) is seen throwing an M15 White Phosphorous grenade (also called "Willy Pete" - slang for White Phosphorous) in one of the rice wells during the raid of the village. SSG Robert Barnes (Tom Berenger) also uses an M15 Grenade handed to him by Tony (Ivan Kane) to destroy one of the underground tunnels, this time yelling "Willie Pete!" when he throws the grenade.
Type 67 Stick Grenade
The Chinese Type 67 stick grenade is seen also carried by NVA forces in the film. Several grenades are seen in a hidden weapons cache that is being prepared to be detonated.
The Platoon use the M18A1 Claymore during the night ambush and the final battle.