The film industry is in the business of recreating reality while actually employing it as little as possible. Yet sometimes, especially in the past when film technology was not as effective as it is today, filmmakers were forced to take greater risks to make a scene appear real. It shouldn’t need to be said that with greater risks comes more accidents, more injuries and more deaths. Serious accidents on the set of film may be rare, but they do happen. You might find it interesting to know that a disproportionate amount of these injuries appear to happen while filming war movies. Is this because there are more war films than any other category? Or maybe it's because war films use so many different types of weaponry? We're not sure what the answer is. It does, however, seem that the props used on the set of war films are more real and more dangerous than the props on most sets. In many of the examples on this list, real military weaponry and aircraft were simply repurposed for use in film, so maybe that is the reason for the high amount of injuries relative to other genres. Whatever the reasoning behind it is, there is no doubt that military props and machinery are always dangerous, even when you're just playing war.
Times have changed. As our technology advances, green-screen and CGI war films are becoming pretty much just as safe as all other films. But, as you'll see by our list, this doesn't change what's happened in the past. We've gone through and collected the worst of the injuries, many leading to deaths, caused by military props on the set of films. Our goal isn’t to shame military films, just to highlight the inherent risks that these props seemed to carry with them. We will, however, look back together and shake our heads at the numerous tragedies that have occurred on set judgingly, thinking to ourselves, tsk tsk, you're better than that. If nothing else, this list might highlight and remind people just how dangerous the mechanisms of war are. Here are 15 prop military weapons that caused serious injuries or death.
15 Fokker D-VII Plane – Wings
14 Simulated Stinger Missile - Charlie Wilson's War
13 B-25 Mitchell Bomber - Catch-22
12 Musket - Gettysburg
11 Vultee BT-13 - Tora! Tora! Tora!
10 Civil War Cannons and Firearms - The General
9 Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 - The Red Baron
8 Explosives - G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
7 Nieuport Biplane - The Great Waldo Pepper
6 Bayonet – Fury
5 Sikorsky S-29-A Aircraft - Hell's Angels
4 Bomb - Haunted Spooks
3 SE5 Biplane - Zeppelin
2 Curtiss JN-4 Aircraft - The Skywayman
1 Bell UH-1 Iroquois Helicopter - The Twilight Zone
The Bell UH-1 Iroquois Helicopter first saw military action in the Vietnam War. That was exactly the scene that filmmakers of The Twilight Zone movie were trying to set when the helicopter's rotor was interfered with, causing it to fail and detach. Once the rotor was gone, the aircraft toppled down on top of actors Vic Morrow (Jennifer Jason Leigh's father) and two child actors, 7-year-old Myca Dinh Le and 6-year-old Renee Shin-Yi Chen, killing them all instantly. Between 1980 and 1990, 24 of 37 deaths that occurred on the set of a film were caused by helicopters. After this incident and the resulting court case, many of the safety standards on a film set were changed to better protect everyone involved with making a film.
Sources: Wikipedia; IMDB; MoviePilot
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