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Hell Is for Heroes

From Internet Movie Firearms Database - Guns in Movies, TV and Video Games
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Hell Is for Heroes
Movie poster
Country Flag of the United States.jpg United States
Directed by Don Siegel
Release Date 1962
Language English
Studio Paramount Pictures
Distributor Paramount Pictures
Main Cast
Character Actor
Pvt. John Reese Steve McQueen
Sgt. Bill Pike Fess Parker
Sgt. Jim Larkin Harry Guardino
Pfc. James E. Driscoll Bob Newhart
Cpl. Frank Henshaw James Coburn
Supply Sergeant Frazer L.Q. Jones
Homer Janeczek Nick Adams
Pvt. Stan Kolinsky Mike Kellin

Hell Is for Heroes is a 1962 World War II film directed by Don Siegel and stars Steve McQueen as Pvt. John Reese, a disillusioned U.S. soldier (Reese a former master sergeant, demoted to private after a court martial) who joins a rifle squad as a replacement. The cast included James Coburn, Bobby Darin, Fess Parker and Bob Newhart in his feature film debut. Hell Is for Heroes was co-written by Robert Pirosh, who served in in World War II as an infantryman with the 320th Infantry Regiment, 35th Infantry Division and saw combat in the Alsace-Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe campaigns. Following the war, Pirosh would also write the 1949 war film Battleground, for which he received the Academy Award for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay and subsequently created the WWII television series Combat!. The movie was filmed in the summer of 1961 around Redding, California. It was a very hot summer so many of the scenes were filmed at night; for the comfort of the crew and cast. Though a troubled production with a miniscule budget (McQueen allegedly hated working on the movie and butted heads with director Don Siegel repeatedly) the movie has gone on to become something of a cult classic. It is consistently rated among the better World War II movies to come out of Hollywood.

The following weapons were used in the film Hell Is for Heroes:

Submachine Guns

M3 "Grease Gun"

Pvt. John Reese (Steve McQueen) uses the M3 "Grease Gun" throughout the film. He tapes three of his magazines together "jungle style" for faster reloading. Interestingly, Reese only has M1 Garand ammunition pouches, and not any box magazine pouches, as there was no pouch made for the M3 magazine and M3 magazines did not fit in a Thompson magazine pouch.

M3 "Grease Gun"
Pvt. John Reese (Steve McQueen) assembles his M3 "Grease Gun" during a conversation with Homer. Interestingly, Reese only has on his belt M1 Garand ammunition pouches, and not any box magazine pouches.
Reese turns his M3 towards a clumsy soldier. Note the three mags taped together "jungle style".
Reese prepares his M3 for the final assault on the pillbox.
Reese firing at the pillbox.

Note: As is common in firing blank ammunition, many weapons used in the film experienced malfunctions. The M3 submachine gun Steve McQueen uses in the film appears to have to be cleared constantly of jams by the actor, notably in the final battle.

Pvt. John Reese (Steve McQueen) in the center is seen trying to clear the jammed M3.
Having to clear another jam.


The MP40 is used by German troops.

German soldier with holding a MP40.
Another shot of the soldier's MP40.


M1 Garand

The M1 Garand by various characters including Pvt. Corby (Bobby Darin), T/Sgt. Pike (Fess Parker), Sgt. Larkin (Harry Guardino), Homer Janeczek (Nick Adams) and Pvt. Driscoll (Bob Newhart).

M1 Garand
The M1 Garand is seen in the hands of (from left to right) Sgt. Larkin (Harry Guardino), Pvt. Corby (Bobby Darin) and Pvt. Driscoll (Bob Newhart).
Pvt. Driscoll (Bob Newhart) holds the M1 Garand after experiencing an accidental discharge with it.
Pvt. Corby (Bobby Darin) and Homer Janeczek (Nick Adams) firing their M1 Garands to cover Pvt. Reese and the others.
Sgt. Larkin (Harry Guardino) armed with the M1 Garand with bayonet affixed.
Cpl. Henshaw (James Coburn) armed with the M1 Garand.
Pvt. Corby (Bobby Darin) armed with the M1 Garand during the final battle.
T/Sgt. Pike (Fess Parker) armed with the M1 Garand during the final battle.
Pvt. Corby (Bobby Darin) reloads his M1 Garand during the final battle.
Homer Janeczek (Nick Adams) picks up an M1 Garand towards the end of the movie.

M1 Carbine

The M1 Carbine is seen carried by the mortar crews. The M1 carbines are fitted with the anachronistic bayonet lug.

Korean War Era M1 Carbine, with Birch Stock, Adjustable sight, bayonet lug, and twin magazine pouch - .30 Carbine. Most of the World War II variations of the M1 Carbine were sent back to the Military Arsenals and retrofitted with the Bayonet Lug and adjustable rear sight. This is the version seen after late 1945 and all the way until the 1960s. This version is seen most often in World War II movies, despite being anachronistic for most World War II battles
Mortar crew with M1 carbines slung.
The M1 carbines are fitted with the anachronistic bayonet lug.
Another shot of the M1 carbines carried by the mortar crew.

Browning Automatic Rifle

The Browning Automatic Rifle is seen in the hands of both Cpl. Henshaw (James Coburn) and Pvt. Kolinski (Mike Kellin) throughout the film.

Browning Automatic Rifle "B.A.R."
The Browning Automatic Rifle is seen carried by Cpl. Henshaw (James Coburn).
Pvt. Kolinski (Mike Kellin) escorts a prisoner with his B.A.R.
Pvt. Kolinski (Mike Kellin) holding the B.A.R.

Karabiner 98k

The Karabiner 98k is used by opposing German forces. After killing a charging German, Reese picks up the dead soldier's Karabiner 98k rifle and disables it by removing the bolt.

An advancing German soldier carrying a Karabiner 98k.
Reese picks up the dead German's rifle.
The rifle is disabled as the bolt is seen in Reese's right hand.
German soldier on the left fires the Karabiner 98k.

Machine Guns

ZB 53 / Vz.37

The ZB-53 / Vz.37 is seen during the final assault. This is actually stock footage of German soldiers using the machine gun.

Czech ZB 53 / Vz.37 machine gun on tripod - 7.92x57mm Mauser
Stock Footage showing the ZB 53 / Vz.37 in action.


A broken MG42 is seen on the ground early in the movie. The MG misses the rear stock and has it's bolt removed and barrel hatch open.

MG42 Machine Gun - 7.92x57mm Mauser
The MG42 wedged in between the rocks. The distinct charging handle sticks out.

Browning 1919

The Browning M1919A4 is seen being carried by a soldier in the beginning of the movie, and later on during the final attack.

Browning 1919 machine gun
Soldier carrying the Browning 1919 on his shoulder.
Machine gun teams lay down fire with their Browning 1919's during the final assault.
Browning 1919 stirring up some dust.


M2 Mortar

The M2 Mortar is used by the U.S. troops in the film.

Soldiers firing the M2 mortar.
M2 mortar in action.

M1A1 Flamethrower

The M1 Flamethrower is used notably by Cpl. Henshaw (James Coburn) and Pvt. Corby (Bobby Darin).

Cpl. Henshaw (James Coburn) uses the M1A1 flamethrower to flush out some Germans.
Homer helps Corby retrieve the M1 flamethrower.
Pvt. Corby (Bobby Darin) uses the flamethrower.

M2-2 Flamethrower

The M2 Flamethrower is used by two soldiers in the final assault

Two soldiers advance with the M2 Flamethrower. Note the nearest of the two soldiers is climbing with his right hand on the rear trigger. This could easily allow for accidental discharge, while the fuel would not ignite from the back trigger alone it's still bad technique. The farthest soldier is holding the weapon correctly.

Mk 2 hand grenade

Mk 2 hand grenades are used by Reese and various soldiers.

Mk 2 Hand Grenade
Capt. Loomis (Joseph Hoover) with the MKII Hand Grenades on his belt.
Reese with a Mk 2 Hand Grenade.
Closeup of the prop Mk 2 grenade.

Satchel Charge

Reese also is seen with a satchel charge during the final assault.

Reese reaches for the satchel charge.

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