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Apocalypse Now is the 1979 Vietnam War epic directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The screenplay was co-written by Coppola and John Milius and was based on the Joseph Conrad novel Heart of Darkness. The film stars Martin Sheen as Captain Benjamin Willard , a Special Forces officer sent on a mission upriver to terminate Walter E. Kurtz (Marlon Brando), a rogue American colonel who is waging an unsanctioned war against the enemy with his own army. Coppola encountered several production problems while making the film, much of which was documented in the acclaimed 1991 documentary Hearts of Darkness. Coppola would release two more versions of the film: an extended cut under the title Apocalypse Now Redux and then in 2019, another version dubbed Apocalypse Now: The Final Cut.
The following weapons were used in the film Apocalypse Now:
WARNING! THIS PAGE CONTAINS SPOILERS!
An M1911A1 is seen on the nightstand of the Saigon hotel bedroom of Captain Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen). Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore (Robert Duvall) is seen carrying one with pearl grips that have a Air Cavalry symbol imprinted as his sidearm throughout the movie. In a deleted scene, Colonel Walter E. Kurtz (Marlon Brando) aims Willard's 1911 at him when he's caged.
Smith & Wesson Model 10
Chief Phillips (Albert Hall) draws his Smith & Wesson Model 10 with a 3" barrel while the fisherman's boat is being searched.
One of Kurtz's men is armed with a Madsen M50 submachine gun.
In "Apocalypse Now Redux", a French Colonist is seen armed with a MAT-49 submachine gun.
Rifles / Carbines
M16A1 rifles fitted with 30-round "curved" magazines are used by various characters throughout the film. The 30-round magazines would technically not be anachronistic (since the film takes place in 1969), but would not be as prevalent as seen in the film.
Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore (Robert Duvall) is seen briefly holding an M16 (SP1) rifle noted by its "slickside" upper receiver (lacking a forward assist) after the battle at Vihn Din Drop. The gun notably has an A1-style lower receiver, as evident by the fencing around the magazine, meaning this is likely a "franken-gun". The combination of a slickside upper receiver and a full fence A1 lower receiver is correct for USAF issued version of the M16, the Colt Model 604 (as the movie is set in 1969 Colt would have started producing Model 604s with the full fence lower used in the M16A1) although its use by an Army officer is inaccurate.
When the PBR boat is taking incoming tracer rounds, two MGC M16 replicas are shot up, standing in for real M16s.
In "Apocalypse Now Redux", most of the colonists are armed with M1 Carbines loaded with 30 round magazines.
Norinco Type 56
NVA are seen using Norinco Type 56 assault rifles throughout the film, and they are also seen in the hands of Kurtz's men. It is noteworthy that this film was released in 1979 and took nearly three years to complete (thus photography started in 1976). During the 1970s, the Norinco Type 56 were not being imported into the U.S., and none were in U.S. Armorer inventories. The only reason Coppola's film had them was because they were supplied by Filipino armorers in Luzon.
One of Kurtz's men is armed with a Remington Model 700 bolt-action rifle.
An M60 machine gun is seen carried by one of LTC Kilgore's (Robert Duvall) soldiers that rides in the helicopter with Chef and Clean. Clean (Laurence Fishburne) is the M60 gunner on the Navy PBR. Chef (Frederic Forrest) is seen firing the M60 briefly while taking incoming arrows from natives, but switches to the single mounted M2. During the same sequence, Chief Phillips (Albert Hall) also handles the M60, although he had just been seen handling an M16A1.
M60D machine guns are mounted on LTC Kilgore's (Robert Duvall) choppers during the battle at Vinh Din Drop.
One of the UH-1 Huey helicopters mounts M60C machine guns controlled by the pilot.
Browning M2HBs are single and double hand mounted on the Navy PBR. Jay 'Chef' Hicks (Frederic Forrest) is the rear gunner with the single mounted M2HB (nicknamed after the band "Canned Heat"). Lance Johnson (Sam Bottoms) is the front gunner with double hand mounted M2's. While traveling on the river through the Do Lung Bridge two soldiers are seen firing an M2 trying to kill a single VC under all the dead VC bodies.
GE M134 Minigun
A GE M134 Minigun is seen door-mounted on one of the UH-1 Huey choppers during the famous raid scene. Being that the movie was filmed in the Philippines, they also supplied the helicopters which were outfitted with real guns. Since the weapons require no blank adaption to fire, all they needed was lots of blank ammunition to get the guns running.
Fake DShK heavy machine gun (mock up)
What appears to be a DShK heavy machine gun is used by the NVA during the Kilgore's helicopter assault. Pilots over the radio is heard calling the weapon a "50 cal". In reality, the machine appears to be a mocked up Browning M2HB machine gun.
Browning Automatic Rifle M1918A2
In the "Redux" version of the film, a Browning Automatic Rifle M1918A2 is seen resting on the shoulders of one of the French colonists confronted by Willard and the crew.
Captain Colby (Scott Glenn) carries an Ithaca 37 fitted with a heat shield and bayonet lug. In a deleted scene, he uses it to kill the photojournalist (Dennis Hopper) for taking Kurtz's picture only for Willard to throw his knife hitting him in the gut, killing him.
M79 grenade launcher
The M79 grenade launcher is primarily seen used in the film by The Roach (Herb Rice) to kill an NVA soldier hiding in the barbed wire during the scene at the Do Lung bridge. This grenade launcher has been customized with a tiger-stripe paint job. A regular M79 is seen in the hands of Willard (Martin Sheen) and one of Kurtz's men.
2.75" rocket launcher
7-round rocket pods for 2.75" (70mm) rockets are mounted on the sides of the UH-1 Hueys in the film. The launchers, which do not match those actually used in Vietnam, probably came with the UH-1s mounting them from the Philippino military.
During the helicopter assault, Kilgore calls in an airstrike which is conducted by Air Force F-5A & F-5B Freedom Fighters, complete with Pontiac M39 cannons, though the fighters do not fire their guns during the attack.