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At the time M*A*S*H was being written and produced,  the Korean War  was already more than twenty years old. So it is perhaps understandable that anachronisms should appear. Anachronisms denote references and objects in the show which do not belong to the 1950s Korean War era in which the show is set. Collecting anachronisms is a fun topic of research among many M*A*S*H fans. This article aims to be a comprehensive tabulation of anachronisms in M*A*S*H.

Season 1Edit

  • In the Pilot episode, Henry Blake and Scorch depart for Seoul in a Bell 47J helicopter which was not introduced until 1956. The Bell 47J is a variant of the familiar and chronologicaly correct Bell 47D (military designation H-13D) medevac choppers seen in the opening sequence. The Bell 47J (known in the military as the Bell UH-13J) had a enclosed tail boom and a larger enclosed cabin with a pilot in front and a second row of seats behind for 3 passengers.
  • In Henry Please Come Home, Radar is shown reading Captain Savage #10, a comic from January 1969.
  • Also in Henry Please Come Home, the helicopter Henry uses to get back to the 4077th is a French Aérospatiale Alouette II which only came out in 1955 was never used by the US armed forces.
  • In Tuttle, Radar is seen reading the same anachronistic copy of Marvel's "Captain Savage and His Leatherneck Raiders" #10.
Radar-Captain Savage-Tuttle

Radar with the anachronistic Captain Savage #10 which appeared in two Season 1 episodes.

  • Close. In Sticky Wicket, Trapper tells Hawkeye the night's movies are "Bride of the Gorilla" and "Bonzo Goes to College". "Bride of the Gorilla" was released in October 1951 and "Bonzo Goes to College" was released in September 1952. So they are in the right time period but that means pushing the timeline very far into 1952 when Season 1 is meant to be set in the early part of the Korean War, 1950 to 1951.

Season 2Edit

  • For the Good of the Outfit
    • The Stars and Stripes newspaper which Trapper reads has the headlines "Reds Shell Rail Junction, Tighten Shanghai Noose." This is from the Pacific edition May 3, 1949. The story is about the Chinese civil war which ended in 1949.
    • A Bell Huey UH-1 helicopter model can be seen hanging from the ceiling in Henry Blake's office. The UH-1 did not enter service until 1959. The model is also seen in some later episodes. Larry Gelbart later explained that the model had been built by his son Adam and he hung it in the office. It was taken down when someone pointed out that it was anachronistic.[1]
For the good of the outfit

The anachronistic Huey model dangles from the ceiling of Henry's office.

  • About the movies in "L.I.P.". The mention of the movie "Flying Leathernecks" (released August 1951) is appropriate. For "Bonzo Goes to College" see comments above. "Bonzo Runs for President" and "The Thing That Ate the Bronx" do not exist.
  • In The Incubator, Colonel Lambert (played by actor Logan Ramsey) makes reference to the B-52 bomber, which made its first flight in 1954 (a year after the war ended) and did not enter service until 1955.
  • In Operation Noselift Henry Blake mentions the movies "The Thing" and "The Blob". "The Thing from Another World" was released in April 1951 and so is plausible. "The Blob" was released in September 1958 and so is anachronistic.

Season 3Edit

  • In the Officers Club a sign on the wall that reads "Air Ambulance" has a silhouette of a Huey UH-1 helicopter on it. The Huey wasn't used until the Vietnam War. This can be first seen in The General Flipped at Dawn.
Huey in O club

The drawing of the chopper on the poster looks nothing like the H-13 or H-23s which the US used in the Korean War. It most resembles a Huey UH-1 which did not enter service until 1959.

  • Maybe. In Life With Father there is footage of an aircraft carrier, supposedly the USS Essex. The USS Essex did serve in the Korean War. The ship in the footage does look like one of the Essex class before they received their angled flight deck modernizations, which would put it in the correct time period. In the first sequence, the number 10 is visible on the superstructure, which would make it CV-10, the USS Yorktown and not USS Essex (CV-9). The Yorktown was recommissioned for the Korean War but arrived two months after the armistice had been signed. The aircraft landing on the flight deck appears to be a Grumman F-9 Panther which would be appropriate to the era. There's a tandem rotor helicopter in the second sequence. This would be about right timewise if it is a Piasecki HUP Retriever but if it is a CH-46 Sea Knight, then it would be anachronistic as this type entered service in 1960. It is hard to tell the type given the poor quality of the footage.
  • In Springtime, Radar mentions the movie "Firstborn of Godzilla". The first Godzilla movie did not come out until 1954, after the Korean War. Nor was there a movie by that name although there is a "Son of Godzilla".
  • In Check-Up, Radar mentions that the night's movie is a double feature "Godzilla and the Bobby-Soxer plus Ma and Pa Kettle Have a Baby". The first Godzilla came out in 1954 after the Korean War and there never was a "Godzilla and the Bobby-Soxer". This was most likely a spoof of "The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer", a 1947 movie. The Ma and Pa Kettle film series is correct for the time period but there never was a film "Ma and Pa Kettle Have a Baby".
  • In Mad Dogs and Servicemen, Hawkeye says that in the eyes of Corporal Travis he is "just left of Godzilla". This reference is anachronistic--see the other entries for Godzilla above.
  • In "House Arrest", Hawkeye mentions a patient's spleen is full of lead from a claymore. Although weapons similar to the Claymore mine had been developed from World War 2 onwards, the M18 Claymore mine itself was not used until the Vietnam War.
  • Plausible. Not an anachronism. In Aid Station when Henry Blake is about to ask Father Mulcahy to draw the lots to see who goes to the aid station, he asks Hawkeye, “You do trust the father, don’t you?” Hawkeye replies, “It says so on all my money. If you can’t trust your money, who can you trust?” This is thought by some Internet resources to be an anachronism because the phrase “In God We Trust” wasn’t added to all U.S currency until September 1957. However the phrase has been used on US coins from 1864.

Season 4Edit

  • Plausible. Not an anachronism. In "Welcome to Korea" Margaret, reading B.J.'s file, says that he studied at "Stanford Medical School". This is mentioned in some internet resources as an anachronism. While it is true that the medical school did not move to the Stanford campus at Palo Alto until 1959, the institution had been part of Stanford University since 1908 when the university acquired the Cooper College of Medicine. Originally called the Stanford Department of Medicine, wikipedia states that it was renamed Stanford School of Medicine in 1914. There is a document dated 1949 entitled "Historical Development of the Stanford School of Medicine". Newspaper articles in the 1940s also mention "Stanford University medical school". Therefore the use of the informal name "Stanford Medical School" in 1951 is entirely plausible.
  • In Change of Command, when Colonel Potter arrives at the 4077th he drives up in an M38A1 Jeep. The M38A1 was first produced in 1953.
  • In Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler Hawkeye calls Colonel Flagg a "khaki Godzilla". This is anachronistic. See the many Godzilla entries for Season 3 above.
  • In Soldier of the Month,  Hawkeye makes a joke about a sleeping corpsman as "Albert Anastasia's doorman", a reference about his murder, which took place in 1957.
  • The Gun
    • The Colonel's gun is described as a Colt 45, chrome with bone grips. When examining it, Margaret reads off the inscription "1884". This is an anachronism. The gun is a Colt New Service which was only came out in 1898. Hawkeye calls out the kind of gun they signed Indian Treaties with. There were no Indian Treaties after the 1870s. But Hawkeye was probably only making a joke. What does he know about guns anyway. {Note: MASH writers probably had in mined the 1870's Model Colt.45 Peacemaker used by the US Cavalry in the Indian Wars. HOweve ever the best they could comep up with was a Model 1921 Colt .45 pistol--hence HOulihan exclamiantion of its being 1884 model when in fact in came through years later--after all whod bet on the audicene being able to tell the difference?}
    • Perhaps it was unwise to have a full frame of Potter holding up his Stars and Stripes newspaper. From the headlines "Nationalists Reject Red Ultimatum" we can see that it is an anachronism: the Pacific edition 20 April 1949. But of course they were filming in the days before viewers had freeze frame and slow motion playback.
  • At the beginning of Der Tag, Radar has an issue of The Avengers lying on his bed. The Avengers comic book debuted in 1963. Further, between shots, the exact issue changes between two radically different covers (one with the older '60s logo, and another with the later '70s "A" with an arrow logo.)

Season 5Edit

  • In The Colonel's Horse, Hawkeye sarcastically quips "M-O-U-S-E" when Radar is trying to patch a call to B.J.'s father-in-law. This is in reference to The Mickey Mouse Club, which didn't debut on television until 1955, after the Korean War.

Season 6Edit

Season 7Edit

  • In Commander Pierce, Klinger refers to the "black hole of Korea". The term "black hole" was not coined until 1967 by physicist John Archibald Wheeler; however, it is more likely that Klinger is referencing the infamous "Black Hole of Calcutta" rather than the type found in space.
  • In Baby, It’s Cold Outside, the MASH personnel watch the movie "Sun Valley Serenade" featuring the Olympic figure skating champion Sonja Henie. Made in 1941, the movie is appropriate for the MASH era. The comparison of the dancing with the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes is also correct. However, towards the end of the movie, Potter says that Sonja Henie does a "triple Axel and ends up in a split". This is incorrect as no such skating maneuver is done in the show. It is also anachronistic as the triple Axel had not been done in the 1950s and was rare even in the 1970s. In fact it was only in 1988 that Midori Ito of Japan became the first woman to land a triple Axel in a skating competition. So the intriguing question is, what gave the idea to the scriptwriters? One speculation might be that in March 1978, Vern Taylor of Canada became the first man to land a triple Axel in a competition. So the maneuver could have been topical during the time the script was written.
  • Also in Baby, It’s Cold Outside, Hawkeye calls for an "ambu" bag to revive a patient who has suffered a cardiac arrest. The ambu bag, a self-inflating manual resuscitator, was invented in 1953 and first marketed in 1955. There were manual resuscitating devices during the Korean War but nothing as compact as the one Hawkeye and B.J. used, which was clearly from a later time.
  • In Point of View, Private Russell is reading a 1959 edition of Visiting Nurse, a novel by Margaret Howe. The Korean War ended in 1953.

Season 8Edit

Season 9Edit

Season 10Edit

  • In Promotion Commotion (TV series episode), the "promotion board" is not per Army regulations. Sgt. Rizzo (G.W. Bailey), being the motor pool sergeant supposedly with a vehicle maintenance MOS, should have had a quartermaster officer present at his board. Pvt. Igor Straminsky was wearing E2 private rank; if he truly was an E2, he shouldn't have had to appear before a board. Requirements to be promoted from E2 to E3 are a clean service record and CO's recommendation. Klinger's board is the only one which would have held up against an IG investigation; he appeared in full-dress uniform and was a medic appearing before a board of medical officers.

Season 11Edit

OthersEdit

  • In one episode Major Winchester turns down Klinger's idea to invest in a hula-hoop prototype. In an earlier episode, well before Winchester's arrival, Klinger says at a poker game that he'd wear hula hoops in his ears if it would get him out of the army, when a comment is made at a poker game about his hoop earrings. The Hula-hoop came into being in 1958.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Ed Solomonson and Mark O'Neill, TV's M*A*S*H: The Ultimate Guide Book, (Albany GA: BearManor Media, 2009) p. 144

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