Opening 35 years ago this week, the film Red Dawn brought World War III to a small American town.
Of course, as actual Warsaw Pact military gear was hard to come by in 1984 California, director and directed by noted Hollywood gun guy John Milius — legend has it that 1911-toting bowling purist Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski was partially based on him — had to improvise. This meant that semi-auto Egyptian Maadi ARMs and Finnish Valmet M78s were made up by Stembridge to look like Soviet AKMs (although the Reds at the time had been increasingly switching to the super-secret AK74) and RPKs. Likewise, even though you can buy MiG-29s and T72s for chump change today, they were hard to find during the Reagan years, which led to some very unusual vis-modded vehicles and aircraft.
Even the smocks worn by the faux Russki Guards Airborne troops were something unique to the movie. While at the time the VDV was heavily involved in Afghanistan and did indeed wear camo smocks (the one-piece KLMK), Milius and the gang only had access to grainy photos that left shading and color up to the imagination.
Example: Actual Soviet KZS “Sun Ray” pattern camouflage of the late 1970s and early 1980s, seen in two different lights.
And the late pattern KLMK over-suit, which is a little brighter.
Contrast this with the Red Dawn film camo:
Of interest, Kaplan’s in South Africa used to make the Milius-pattern stuff in the 1990s.