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Movies for Gun Guys: Six Days

Overview: The Special Air Service Regiment raid on the Iranian embassy in London has been covered in documentaries, print, film, and tabloids since 1980, and for good reason. It marked the very public beginning of modern counter-terrorist operations and cemented the reputation of the regiment as subject matter experts when it came to shooting motherf*ckers in the face. Six Days looks at the operation through the eyes of Rusty Fermin, an NCO who participated in the op, though watching the movie, you’d be forgiven for thinking he was chief cook and bottle washer, rather than one of the assaulters. In actuality, more than 40 members of B Squadron led by Maj. Hector Gullan participated in the raid, including an assault team who breached through the wall of the adjacent Ethiopian embassy, something entirely missing from the movie version. RECOIL readers will probably chuckle at the scene where the Pagoda Troop’s pagers go off as they conclude a live-fire hostage rescue drill inside a shoot house. Made of plywood.

What We Like: Despite taking liberties with contributions of the rest of the squadron and training for the op, the timeline is broadly true to life. The film captures the reality of both boredom and anxiety as the clock ticks toward the various deadlines issued by the terrorists, who are unaware that their demands cannot possibly be met. When they finally realize their plan isn’t going to result in the Iranian government releasing their comrades in arms, they still don’t believe the British government will take direct action, right up until the point they do. Rappelling from the embassy roof, one assault team breaches the rear second floor windows with sledgehammers, after one of the assaulters gets tangled in his rope, preventing the original plan to place a frame charge. A frame charge is successfully placed on the front of the building, which acts as the signal for the rest of the teams to enter and mag dump 30 rounders into all but one of the terrorists, who only escapes the same fate due to the presence of TV cameras.

Gun Guy Highlights: It would have been easy for the production’s prop master and armorer to simply give the Iranian hostage takers AKs, because that’s what bad guys use, right? Instead, the correct Polish PM63 RAK machine pistol makes a rare appearance on screen, wielded by one of the terrorists, and a Czech vz61 Skorpion is instantly recognizable by firearms aficionados. SAS troopers are kitted out with MP5s and S6 respirators, along with their frickin’ enormous MagLite WMLs. Black coveralls and body armor set the de facto wardrobe for all action movies well into the ’90s, while the interaction between the terrorist and the Metropolitan police hostage negotiator is a good case study into the TTPs of the day. Fun facts — the commanding officer of the SAS involved in the raid, Lt Col Mike Rose, went on to run SF operations in the Falklands War and commanded UN forces in the former Yugoslavia during the ’90s, while the Director of SF, Gen Peter de la Billiere, was CinC of British forces during Desert Storm.

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Editor's Note: This is a Section of the Article Movies for Gun Guys Published in RECOIL Issue #55.


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