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Rescue Dawn

From Internet Movie Firearms Database - Guns in Movies, TV and Video Games
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Rescue Dawn
Movie Poster
Many critics and viewers noticed that one of the helicopters
on this poster is a modern UH-60 Blackhawk,
which did not exist in 1965, the time frame of the movie.
Country Flag of the United States.jpg United States
LUX.jpg Luxembourg
Directed by Werner Herzog
Release Date September 9, 2006
Language English
Studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Distributor Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Main Cast
Character Actor
Dieter Dengler Christian Bale
Squad Leader Zach Grenier
Admiral Berrington Marshall Bell
Lt. Spook Toby Huss
Norman Pat Healy

Rescue Dawn is a 2006 war film by director Werner Herzog, based on Herzog's 1997 documentary Little Dieter Needs to Fly. The film tells the story of German-American fighter pilot Dieter Dengler, who was shot down over Laos during the Vietnam War and escaped from a prisoner-of-war camp of the Pathet Lao, who were allied with North Vietnam and the Vietcong, at great risk to his life.

The following weapons were used in the film Rescue Dawn:



A large number of the Vietcong carry what appear to be milled receiver AK-47s. Gene DeBruin (Jeremy Davies) later acquires one during the escape from the POW camp in Laos.

Poly Technologies AK-47 - 7.62x39mm
A female Laotian Communist fighter stops to rest with others, the side of her milled AK visible (but here it looks like a replica gun).
Gene DeBruin (Jeremy Davies) looks confused as he holds a milled receiver AK with very dark wood. Most of the Milled receiver AKs had very dark brown wood in the film.
Past the two female fighters, two uniformed Pathet Lao Soldiers (with the NVA style sunhelmets) hold a milled receiver AK and a stamped receiver Norinco Type-56 rifle.

Type 56

The Chinese version of the Russian AK-47, the Type 56 rifle is most seen in the film, usually by Pathet Lao troops and later acquired by the escaping American Prisoners.

Norinco Type 56 - 7.62x39mm
Type 56 assault rifle aka M22, early milled receiver model without under-folding ("pig sticker") bayonet.
Dengler (Christian Bale) smirks when a sadistic guard, known to the prisoners as 'Little Hitler' points the barrel of his Chinese Type 56 rifle at Dengler's forehead.
Dengler (Christian Bale) fights with a captured Chinese Type 56 rifle with full stock.

Type 56-1

Used in great numbers in the film are the Type 56-1 variant, aka the underfolding stock version of the Type 56 rifle.

Norinco Type 56-1 - 7.62x39mm
Pathet Lao regulars and irregulars dismount from a truck, some carrying Chinese Type 56 rifles. Note the muzzle.
While relaxing in a village, a Pathet Lao soldier checks the rifle sights on his Chinese Type 56 rifle.
During the long ride from the capture point the prison camp, a Laotian guard sleeps with his Chinese Type 56 rifle resting on his chest. Once again, note the elongated muzzle.

Type 56 SKS

Another weapon used extensively by the Pathet Lao are SKS semi-automatic rifles. An interesting note is that the majority of them do not have the under-folded bayonets attached. One is later acquired by Duane Martin (Steve Zahn) during his escape from the POW camp with Dengler.

Type 56 Carbine aka the Chinese SKS rifle - 7.62x39mm
When Dengler is first captured, the Laotian militia carry Type 56 SKS rifles with the pig sticker bayonets removed.
To torment Dengler, the Laotian militia leader shoots at the jungle around a bound Dengler. In the film, the squib and sound effects sound like a full auto gun firing, which is incorrect for an SKS.

Simonov Type 45 SKS

Simonov SKS - 7.62x39mm
The one time we see a hardwood Russian style SKS is in the hands of one of the camp guards and he has a blade bayonet installed (which the Chinese SKS didn't have).

Mosin Nagant M44

A skinny villager is seen wielding a Mosin Nagant M44 Carbine with the bayonet removed.

Mosin Nagant M44 Carbine - 7.62x54mmR

M16 (SP1)

When Dieter Dengler finally gets picked up by American forces, one of the soldiers on board the helicopter can be seen with a slab side M16 (aka SP1) with a three-pronged flash hider.

M16 (aka SP1) with 20 round magazine and slab side upper receiver - 5.56x45mm
A delirious Dengler still manages to repeat his 'verification codes' to prove his identity, a soldier to the right holds an M16 (SP1) rifle with slab side upper receiver and three-prong flash hider.


Only seen in the film at the Thai Army base, all of the Thai soldiers have M16A1 Rifles. Since the film takes place in 1965, this is a complete anachronism. Historically the XM16E1 was introduced in 1965, however, these have birdcage flash hiders and the more similar M16A1 was not introduced until 1967.

M16A1 with 20 round magazine - 5.56x45mm
A platoon of real Thai Soldiers march with M16A1 rifles wearing the Thai version of Woodland BDUs which is anachronistic. What is noteworthy is that most of the soldiers wear only the helmet liner rather than the full M1 steel pot style helmet, whereas we can see two soldiers with Modern Kevlar Helmets weren't introduced until 1983.

Submachine Guns


A PPS-43 is seen briefly in the hands of a Laotian fighter.

PPS-43 - 7.62x25mm Tokarev
Three Laotian guerrillas walk through the rice paddies, the one in front is armed with a Soviet PPS-43.

M3A1 "Grease Gun"

An M3A1 "Grease Gun" is seen in the hands of a female Pathet Low soldier. The extended dust cover/ejection port distinguishes it as the A1 variant.

M3A1 "Grease Gun" - .45 ACP
A female Pathet Lao Soldier (following her squad leader) carries an M3A1 submachine gun.
A female Pathet Lao Soldier carries an M3A1 submachine gun. It is seen when she finds a glass shard amongst the prisoners and demands to know what it is for. Despite her suspicions that it is a part of a makeshift weapon, Dengler manages to convince her that it is merely used for shaving.


Another weapon seen was the French MAT-49. In an interesting scene, one of the prison guards is playing around with the gun and he accidentally fires it and drops it to the ground with the gun still firing causing bullets to fly all around the vicinity nearly hitting everyone close by.

MAT-49 - 9x19mm
Local villager prison guard test fires the MAT-49.
The MAT-49, suffering a firing malfunction, discharges its entire magazine while spinning on the ground.


Tokarev TT-33

Seen from a distance, a Laotian officer wields a TT-33 pistol.

Tokarev TT-33 - 7.62x25mm Tokarev
Seen in the background, the Laotian officer points his TT-33.

Colt M1911A1

An M1911A1 pistol is seen in the holster of a rescue pilot rushing Dengler to the hospital. It is seen in the black leather issued holster, it is also seen ditched by Dengler early in the movie.

Military M1911A1 - .45 ACP
Seen in the holster of a rescue pilot rushing Denglers' gurney to the hospital, we see the recognizable butt of an M1911.

Colt Official Police

Seen only briefly and between blurry shots, another pilot has what appears to be a vintage Colt Official Police in his shoulder rig, evident by the older style grips and frame.

Colt Official Police - 4" Barrel - .38 Special
Colt Official Police is seen in a quick shot of the pilot as he runs alongside the gurney.


Type 69 Rocket Launcher

A guerrilla fighter runs through the forest with a Type 69 Chinese Rocket Launcher, with RPG-2 style rocket-heads. This is another anachronism since the only rocket launcher available to these forces in 1965 would be the RPG-2 aka the Chinese B-40 rocket.

Type 69 RPG
Guerrilla fighter runs with a Type 69 launcher (with RPG-2 rocket heads)

Model 24 Stielhandgranates

Rather anachronistically, the Pathet Lao soldiers don't carry the shorter Chinese Type II stick grenades, but the longer German Model 24 Stielhandgranate stick grenades of World War II vintage.

Model 24 Stielhandgranate with Frag Sleeve
Laotian soldiers stand ready with chest pouches filled with M24 German Stick grenades.


When Dengler finally gets picked up by American forces, an M60D can be seen mounted on board the helicopter that picks him up.

M60D - 7.62x51mm NATO
Out of the door of a UH-1D Huey with USAF markings, a door gunner fires at Pathet Lao troops with his M60D Machinegun - 7.62x51mm. What is curious is that he is bareheaded. He is not wearing a helicopter helmet nor the 'chicken plate' armor that door gunners would have.
Again, we see the door gunner (with no helmet) manning his M60D machine gun as his helicopter lands at an indigenous Military Base.


Huey Helicopters

When Dengler is rescued, the helicopters are UH-1Ds which were correct (they were introduced in 1963) and supplemented the A,B & C models operating in Vietnam. However, their paint job is woodland camo, which is not correct.


In a continuity error, however, the helicopters change into UH-1N twin turbine variant from the 1970s (first introduced in late 1969), when they approach the Thai Army Base. Note: In the film, Dengler is trying to reach Thailand via the Mekong River. However, exactly where the base is at the end of the film is not clear, but technically Thailand tried to maintain its neutrality during the conflict and it is doubtful they would have a large military base with so many Americans openly working there.

The rescue helicopter changes into a twin turbine UH-1N, a variant of the Huey that was not introduced until the 1970s.
The Rescue helicopter (likely provided for the production by the Royal Thai Army) touches down with nonstandard markings for an American gunship. Also the indigenous soldier standing at attention is wearing a helmet liner and modern woodland camouflage BDU, which is anachronistic to the time period.

SPH-4 Helicopter Pilot Helmets

Inexplicably, the Skyraider pilots wear SPH-4 Helicopter Pilot helmets from the 1970s, all missing their visor assemblies. Not only is this anachronistic, it makes no sense, as the pilots have no eye protection.


Modern Footwear

Being that boots are such a strong plot point in the film, the film falters in showing obviously modern boots. The jungle boots have the thick Panama Tread (which is circa 1980s), the black leather boots are Corcoran soft leather duty boots and Dengler's boots are brown civilian lumberjack boots. The only period footwear is the black low quarters boots (center of image) which actually look like German NATO boots.


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