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Casualties of War

From Internet Movie Firearms Database - Guns in Movies, TV and Video Games
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Casualties of War (1989)

Casualties of War is a 1989 Vietnam War drama starring Michael J. Fox as a young US Army private who decides to stand up to his commanding sergeant (Sean Penn) when he and other men in his unit kidnap a Vietnamese girl with intentions to commit rape. The film was directed by Brian De Palma and was based on an actual incident during the war.

The following weapons were used in the film Casualties of War:




The M16A1 rifle is standard issue amongst all of the soldiers seen in the film. In Eriksson's squad, the members cross utilize the different weapons from time to time, usually manning a weapon when another is reloading, or injured.

M16A1 Assault rifle - 5.56x45mm. Used by the United States military from 1967 to 1989.
Lieutenant Reilly (Ving Rhames) hunkers down in the jungle at night with his M16A1.
Private First Class Eriksson (Michael J. Fox) fights with his M16A1.
PFC Herbert Hatcher (John C. Reilly) struggles to clear a jam on his M16A1.
An unusual shot as seen through the rifle sights of the M16A1. This was obviously done by using an adapter in front of the camera lens as it is well out of scale for a real M16A1 backsight.

Fake Colt XM177 Commando

Sergeant Tony Meserve (Sean Penn) uses a fake XM177, built up from an Colt Sporter II Carbine. What makes it weird is the unusual flash hider/muzzle brake which is too long for an XM177, the wrong diameter and has holes on one side only (the left side).

Actual XM177E2 Carbine aka Colt Model 629 - 5.56x45mm. This was the last variant of the XM177 rifle used in the Vietnam War.
SGT Tony Meserve (Sean Penn) carries a weird fake XM177. Here the carbine looks to have an 11.5" barrel like an E2 model, but the upper and lower receiver are the M16A1 style. This weapon resembles a Sporter II Carbine that had its barrel chopped and a strange muzzle brake installed. At this angle, we can see the right side of the flash hider has no holes.
SGT Meserve armed with the weird fake XM177. At this angle we can see that the left side has strange 'lightning cut' compensator holes in the side. The fact that the flash hider only had holes on one side makes it a very unusual muzzle brake.
SGT Meserve fires the fake XM177. Here we can see a very strange flash coming out of the gun. After the initial flash there are no other flashes as Penn "mime fires" the carbine in 'semi automatic mode' only. Also in this night-firing shot, the strange pattern of the lopsided flash holes can be seen in this muzzle brake.
SGT Meserve carries a weird fake XM177 in daylight. Here we can clearly see the strange 'diagonal' flash holes which are on one side of the muzzle brake only.
Another shot of the receiver of the fake XM177, which indicates it is a Sporter II carbine (which came out in 1987) or an SP1 Barrel attached to an A1 Style upper receiver.
Another interesting shot showing that the metal heat shield in the handguards don't have holes to bleed out the heat from rapid fire. Yet another unusual aspect of this custom carbine.
Meserve fires the fake XM177 in the daylight ambush. Again the rifle only fires semiautomatic.
A production still of Sean Penn as Tony Meserve posing with his fake XM177.
Meserve with his fake XM177.
Closeup of the carbine's flash hider as Eriksson holds Meserve's fake XM177.

Norinco Type 56 / AK-47

The Viet Cong guerrillas use both full stock and folding stock AK-47s (which are most probably Norinco Type 56 rifles), In actuality, despite the fact that the majority of AK rifles used in the war were Chinese Type 56s, there were some original Soviet AK-47s given to the NVA who supplied them to the VC.

Norinco Type 56 (fixed stock variant) with under-folding bayonet ("pig sticker") - 7.62x39mm
Norinco Type 56-1 (under-folding stock variant) - 7.62x39mm
VC creeps forward in a tunnel, crawling by a Type 56-1 Underfolder AK.
VC shot as he emerges from a tunnel hole, dropping his Type 56-1.
A VC unloads a bundle from a boat, a full stocked AK slung on his back.

Machine Guns


The M60 machine gun is seen primarily carried by Corporal Thomas E. Clark (Don Harvey) in the film. However, nearly all of the members of the patrol take turns carrying and using the weapon, especially during "Mad Minute" fights. Sergeant Meserve (Sean Penn) fires the M60 during the firefight on the bridge. An M60 also is seen on the PBR that encounters the bridge firefight.

M60 machine gun - 7.62x51mm
CPL Thomas E. Clark (Don Harvey) carries an M60 machine gun when returning from a long range patrol.
Hatcher (John C. Reilly) uses the M60 during the bridge firefight.
SGT Tony Meserve (Sean Penn) fires the M60 during the bridge firefight.
Closeup of the M60.
SGT Tony Meserve (Sean Penn) with the M60.
An M60 also is seen on the PBR that encounters the bridge firefight.


M60D machine guns are seen mounted on the UH-1D Hueys in the film.

M60D machine gun - 7.62x51mm NATO
Doorgunner with the spade grips M60D Machine gun.
Doorgunner with the spade grips M60D Machine gun.

Browning M2HB

Browning M2HBs are seen double hand mounted on the Navy PBR that encounters the firefight at the bridge.

Dual Browning M2HB in PBR - .50 BMG
Browning M2HBs are seen double hand mounted on the Navy PBR.



The standard sidearm at the time, the M1911A1 is carried by all NCOs and officers and used by some Enlisted men during certain circumstances. Both CPL Thomas E. Clark (Don Harvey) and PFC Eriksson (Michael J. Fox) are seen carrying and using the M1911A1 for protection.

War-time issued (WW2) Colt M1911A1 Pistol - .45 ACP
On the right, Corporal Clark (Don Harvey) fires his M1911A1 pistol.
The holstered M1911A1 is seen as PFC Eriksson (Michael J. Fox) talks with Chaplain Kirk (Sam Robards).


M79 grenade launcher

The M79 grenade launcher is carried by PFC Max Eriksson (Michael J. Fox). It is notoriously seen used to blow away an incoming grenade thrown at him, which in reality did happen to PFC Max Eriksson during the Vietnam War.

M79 grenade launcher -= 40x46mm
Production image of Erikkson (Michael J. Fox) carrying the M79 Grenade Launcher. It should be noted that Erikkson's grenade vest appears to be made out of the external liner of a flak vest M1952-A with some pouches of M79 bandolier sewn on it. This was likely done because during the '80s it was difficult to obtain an original "Vest, Carrier, Grande, M-79" or a "Vest, Ammunition, Carrying", model issued after the war which was similar to the one used in Vietnam. However, in 1966, year of the incident on Hill 192, the M79 vest wasn't available, except for a few models of its previous experimental vest. In this picture of the first night mission in the jungle, the customized M1952 vest can be seen between the harness, paradoxically worn on a M1955 flak vest (wrongly because this vest was used only by Marines). There is a possibility that the vest build for the film has been recreated in this unusual way to resemble the experiamental vest that mentioned above.
PFC Eriksson with his M79 Grenade Launcher.
Erikkson's custom grenade vest.
Another view of Erikkson with the custom vest.
PFC Max Eriksson (Michael J. Fox) fires his M79 Grenade Launcher at an incoming grenade and hits it.
CPL Thomas E. Clark (Don Harvey) carries the M79 later in the film, as many of the squad members swap weapons during battles.

M26 Hand Grenade

An unseen perpetrator uses an M26 hand grenade to attempt to blow up PFC Max Eriksson in the Enlisted Men's Latrine.

M26 "Lemon" hand grenade.
An unidentified hand holds an M26 while lying in wait for Eriksson. Why the perpetrator chooses to wear the yellow chamois gloves (issued to M60 gunners along with their asbestos mitt) is unknown - Avoiding fingerprints on a grenade that is about to be detonated would be pointless.
Eriksson sees the M26 Grenade at the last moment. Note that this grenade has an unusually shiny off color bright green paint job, and no lot nor armory markings.
The EM latrine explodes. Hollywood's gift to the public, standard Fragmentation grenades that explode like howitzer rounds. Actual live grenades (in military service) don't have the power to obliterate an entire building.

M29 81mm Mortar

M29 Mortars are seen in the fire base in the background and are featured when the VC use captured ones for an attack.

M29 Mortar - 81mm
VC use a captured U.S. M29 81mm Mortar in one of their attacks.

M72A1 LAW Rocket

M72A1 LAW Rockets are seen slung on the backs of U.S. Soldiers during marches or massing scenes. Also seen being uncrated by VC who are sorting captured weapons.

M72 LAW - 66mm
VC guerrilla uncrates a captured box of M72A1 LAW rockets.

Trivia Special

Base Camp Wolf

In the days before CGI, filmmakers had to build the massive sets and use actors (not CGI composites) to populate those sets. In this film, Base Camp Wolf is an impressive and massive Army encampment with many REAL UH-1D Huey Helicopters taking off and landing every few minutes.

Impressive shot of Base Camp Wolf as a Huey Helicopter Lands.

Period Beer Cans

Kudos to the Art Designer/Prop Master for coming up with period Beer Cans. PFC Eriksson (Michael J. Fox) sits at a bar with a bunch of empty Budweiser cans. Despite being a wee bit too large for the beer cans of the day, they are the correct straight side, removable tab beer cans that existed in the 1960s.

PFC Eriksson (Michael J. Fox) talks with Chaplain Kirk (Sam Robards) as he downs another Budweiser. The cans and designs are correct for the 1960s, in contrast to the tapered aluminum drink cans used from the 1970s to today.

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