Military blunders of “5 Days of August”
Society has now had the opportunity to watch the Georgian-American feature film entitled 5 Days of August. Without having any pretence of being a film critic and without speaking about the cinematographic qualities of the film, it can be said that a more thorough and interesting film (in terms of its content) could have been created from the August tragedy, especially with the funding (officially announced) that the film had.
In the film there are many cadres of armaments and military machines where several inconsistencies are noticed. Not aiming to necessarily find any faults with the film itself, it is interesting to discuss some of the military scenes.
Five minutes into the film, Georgian soldiers in an Mi-24-type military helicopter are shown. The helicopter lands in one of the settlements of Iraq to evacuate U.S. journalists. During the period that Georgian soldiers were serving in the cities of Iraq (2003-2008), they certainly found themselves in similar battles. However, Mi-24s of Soviet production have never been flown in to help them. The U.S. “Black Hawks” and “Apaches” – yes, but the appearance of the “flying crocodile” in that episode is real nonsense intensified by one more detail – the Mi-24 has the Georgian seven-edge star on it, which is absolutely impossible, as no one has ever sent Georgian military helicopters to Iraq.
In the 33rd minute of the film, the cars holding the U.S. journalists and the Georgian girl heading towards the conflict zone are accompanied by three U.S. armored Humvees in which Georgian soldiers were sitting. During the August 2008 war, there were no HMMWV type M1151A1 modification armored cars in the Georgian army (the first batch was received only after the war in spring 2009; the second batch of 40 cars was received only two weeks ago), thus, this scene stands far from reality.
However, it should be said in favor of the film’s script writers that they did not show the American automatic M4 gun anywhere in the film, as neither in Iraq nor during the August war (apart from small exceptions) did the Georgian military units use it.
In the 45th minute of the film, a “Russian” Mi-24 helicopter opens fire on a column of IDPs. Although the “rain of fire” is not relevant to the explosion of the 30-mm shells fired by the helicopter’s double-tube gun. But this is not the main point, in the film the Mi-24 has the gun mounted on the left side not the right side, which in fact is not the case.
Presumably, the film’s editors made the mistake. During the shootings the helicopter was flying from left to right and firing, but during the editing process it became necessary to show that the people running from the right to the left were followed by the “flying crocodile” and shooting them mercilessly. This is why they used the mirror effect and rotated the cadre horizontally. As a result, the helicopter gun appeared on the left side.
In the 43rd minute of the film (and often throughout the film) “Russian” T-72 tanks come into view. They have a Latin D in front of the three-digit number on their tower (D428). Either during the August war or before and after it there was no such inscription on either tanks or other armored vehicles of the Russian armed forced. Three-digit number – yes, but no Russian military chief will allow writing a Latin letter on a tank.
In the 46th minute of the film, the armored car MTLB with double-tube zenith guns ZU-23-2 installed on it appeared. When attacking the Georgian villages during the August war, the Chechen battalion was truly using MTLBs but there were no zenith guns installed on them. On the other hand, guns of that type were in the armament of the Russian landing troops entering Samegrelo but they were installed on the armored cars BTR-D of the landing unit.
To diversify the armaments in the film and to make the attack of the Russians more impressive, one of the MTLB vehicles was used (with ZU-23-2 installed on them), these vehicles are in the Georgian army. The same explanation works for the “monster” BAT-2, a vehicle of strange shape in the line of the “Russian” tanks (it is a road-clearing engineering vehicle). It is not armored and it is hard to imagine that any reasonable officer could send the car together with the tanks.
In the end, the most spectacular cadre of the film – the Russian helicopter, which attacked the journalists and destroyed their car, is shot down by a Georgian officer.
In the 83rd minute of the film, the officer – with a one-shot anti-tank hand bomber RPG-18 MUKHA and with precise aim- he shoots down the Russian Mi-24. It is truly possible to shoot down a helicopter flying low with an unguided anti-tank bomber, but it is hard to do and seems unconvincing in the film. Was it that difficult for the authors of the script of the film with a multi-million dollar budget to get one “Strela”, “Igla” or “Grom” from the storages of the Georgian army? Especially since they were able to shoot Georgian tanks, bombardier airplanes and helicopters without any problem and, probably, without any cost.
Let us leave it to the conscience of the script writers and their military consultants. The real circus begins afterwards: the military M-24 is shot down but in fact the film shows the transport Mi-8 fall to the ground!
The Mi-8 helicopter, which served in the civil aviation during the Soviet period, first fell in 1989 in Gudauri, then in 2007 on the Kutaisi car-factory airport. The video of the second fall was spread throughout the Internet and was viewed by about as many people as Andy Garcia’s fans.
Therefore, the damaged Mi-8 helicopter belonging to the Georgian army acted out its final and most impressive role in the film – the effective fall to the ground in a fiery explosion.
At the moment of the explosion, the suffering Mi-8 is playing the role of something else. When watching the video in slow motion, you noticed how the Russian Mi-24 hit by the shell explodes with the help of computer graphics- after which the real shooting starts – from the roof of a five-story house where the burning Mi-8 is thrown down (it was taken to the roof with a crane). Its front part is mended (there is a pipe put to its front part, which should create an imitation of Mi-24’s gun). However, several seconds before the explosion the helicopters round illuminators (Mi-24 has square illuminators) are shown closely in the cadre, which turns the attempt of the film-makers to mask the transport helicopter as the “flying crocodile” into a failure.
The film-makers avoided many problems while shooting the film, including the problem of finding the armaments and aviation reflecting Russian military aggression.
Almost every military machine used by the Russian army three years ago is in the armament of the Georgian army, including the T-72 tanks, infantry fighting cars, BMP, armored vehicles BTR and bombardier airplanes (Su-25). This is why the mentioned armament in the film was depicting either the attacking Russian side or the withdrawing Georgian army. As for the armored cars, helicopters and airplanes, mostly Georgian drivers and pilots who actually participated in the August war were driving them in the film.
When shooting block-busters with many weapons and military machines, film producers usually rent the armament from special firms or from the armies of the countries. It is quite a profitable business. For example, the armed forces of Great Britain lent each corporal for 250 USD per day and a military base – for two- thousand USD.
Judging by the multitude of military machines used in the 5 Days of August, the Georgian army could receive a good income and fill the loss of the August war with the profits. But due to certain reasons no rent was paid to the Georgian side. On the contrary, during the shootings the limited motor-resources of tanks, armored cars, helicopters and airplanes of the Georgian army were used.
Editor’s Note: Irakli Aladashvili is
Editor-in-chief of Arsenali, the military analytical magazine
By Irakli Aladashvili