"Drake, check your camera. There seems to be a malfunction."
[Drake hits camera]
"That's better. Pan it around a bit... Good."
―Pvt. Drake and Lt. Gorman, regarding the camera on Drake's HMS (from Aliens)
Head Mounted Sight

The Head Mounted Sight.[1]

The Head Mounted Sight (HMS),[2] also known as the Helmet Mounted sight,[1] was a headset-like device worn by the operator of an M56 Smartgun.[2] Incorporating an eyepiece, camera and microphone,[3] the HMS allowed users to see targets detected by the Smartgun's infrared tracker.[4]

The Head Mounted Sight was used by Smartgunners in the United States Colonial Marine Corps in 2179. Notable users include Private First Classes Jenette Vasquez and Mark Drake[5] and Private Peter O'Neal.


Vasquez and Drake with sights

Private First Classes Jenette Vasquez and Mark Drake with their Head Mounted Sights.

The Head Mounted sight was one of the 4 major components of the M56 Smartgun, the other being the M56 combat harness, stabilized articulation arm and the gun itself.[2] The right side of the band of the HMS incorporated a tactical camera,[3] which could transmit video to one of the monitors in an M577 Armored Personnel Carrier,[5] and a posable[5] eyepiece with screen, while the left side of the band featured a boom microphone.[3]

When the infrared tracker mounted above the M56 Smartgun's barrel detects a target, it will flash a red Moving Target Indicator (MTI) light in the headset's eyepiece.[6] A small video screen beneath the MTI light relays images from the headset's tactical camera, and when the camera is pointed at the gun's target, the tracking system will overlay a set of cross-hairs, in the form of a lighted box or rectangle, onto the screen over the target's centre of mass.[6] At the same time, the articulation arm self-steers the gun to aim at the target, and, as soon as it had done so, a target lock circle lights on the screen to indicate that the target was boresighted.[4] In the case of multiple targets or infrared false-target decoys appearing in the sight, the operator can simply steer the lighted box to bracket whichever target they actually wish to engage.[4]

To use the HMS, it must be plugged it into the tracking and comms system in the M56 combat harness.[2]

Behind the scenes

Beyerdynamic HM 560

A Beyerdynamic Headmicrophone HM 560 with M 560, box and sheet.[7]

The Head Mounted Sights used in Aliens were modelled after contemporary helicopter pilot sights.[8] The props themselves were made by Pinewood Studios' Otter Effects,[9] who made the majority of the Marine equipment for the film,[10] out of metal and cast plastic pieces.[11] The base of the headset is a Beyerdynamic Headmicrophone HM 560 headset with M 560 microphone,[7] while the "knuckle"[12] of the screen arm is part of an Olympus OM T28 Macro Twin Flash 1 with a blue, circular part from the hinge of a Vivitar 2500 Zoom Thyristor Electronic Flash on it. The output connector is a Neutrik NCLNECF connector.[7] The eyepiece features a miniature TV screen and a small hole to facilitate stereoscopic vision for the actor.[10] The camera on the headset is smaller and has different detailing than the cameras on the standard Marine helmet.[10]

While only 1 of the headsets made for Jenette Goldstein (Private Vasquez) is known to have survived filming[10] and was sold by the Prop Store (missing a piece on the microphone and with some residue from Goldstein's makeup still on the temple foam cushions),[11] 2 of the ones made for Mark Rolston (Private Drake) are known to have survived,[10] with one in the possession of Alien prop collector Harry Harris[12] (with a reproduction microphone boom).[13]




  1. 1.0 1.1 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood. Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual, p. 36 (2012), Titan Books.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood. Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual, p. 18 (2012), Titan Books.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood. Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual, p. 17 (2012), Titan Books.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood. Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual, p. 20 (2012), Titan Books.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 James Cameron (writer and director). Aliens (1986), 20th Century Fox [DVD].
  6. 6.0 6.1 Dave Hughes, Lee Brimmicombe-Wood. Aliens, Vol. 2 #22, p. 35 (1994), Dark Horse International.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2
  8. Robert Greenberger, Kim Howard Johnson. Aliens: The Official Movie Book, p. 21 (1986), Starlog Press.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4
  11. 11.0 11.1
  12. 12.0 12.1
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