New this month Factual error: When the female civilian pilot is teaching a student, they are shown flying in a Boeing Stearman biplane. The actual plane in that event was an Interstate Cadet S-1A, a high wing monoplane. The instructor was Cornelia Fort who later became the second WASP. She was killed 21 March 1943 while ferrying an aircraft, becoming the first female pilot killed in WW2.
Other mistake: When the Japanese planes take off for Pearl Harbor, some of the 3 man torpedo planes only have a pilot.
Factual error: When the Japanese planes attack the airfield, none of the American planes have numbers or letters, just a star.
Factual error: In a scene where the USS Arizona blows up, a Kingfisher aircraft is seen toppling from the catapult on Arizona's number 3 turret. On the morning of the attack, Arizona's two aircraft were on Ford Island undergoing maintenance.
Factual error: Throughout the movie all American army enlisted men wear officer belt buckles instead of the open-face EM belt buckles they should be wearing.
Other mistake: Just before the attack starts, there is a scene where the Navy are performing their start of day ceremony. Watch the sailor who rings the bell. After he has finished he walks backwards and stumbles as walks into a small raised item.
Factual error: When the Japanese planes have arrived in Hawaii and are flying across the island before they arrived to bomb Pear Harbor, there is a microwave tower in the background. Microwave communications was not invented until much later in the century, so there were no microwave antennas or towers.
Factual error: When the Japanese submarine is trying to sneak into Pearl Harbor, the ship identified as the USS Ward is a much newer type of destroyer, not the World War I vintage with 4 smoke stacks that the Ward actually was.
Factual error: In the opening scene of Washington DC the building on the left is the Museum of American History which wasn't built until around 1959.
Factual error: The radar installation at Opana Point on Oahu was a newly developed Westinghouse type scr-270. This is not the one shown in the movie, which is of more recent vintage.
Factual error: None of the jeeps shown in this film are correct for 7 Dec. 1941. The standard jeep grill didn't appear until Feb. of 1942. All jeeps up to that point were either Bantam, Ford, or Willys prototypes or the first standardized jeeps (called slatgrills) that used welded bars for a grill, as did most military trucks of the time.
Continuity mistake: During the attack a parked US plane is blown up and the prop goes cartwheeling off along the runway. Not wishing to waste a perfectly good explosion the director filmed this from several different angles and used the same explosion several times. You can easily see the prop each time.
Factual error: At least twice in the movie you can see across the harbor a ship with the number 1048 on its bow. That ship is the USS Sample, which wasn't commissioned until 1968.
Factual error: The scene where the Japanese planes are taking off from their carriers shows a mix of aircraft in motion, mainly reproductions of the Zero, Kate, and Val aircraft that were used. In the actual event, the Zeros always left first as they needed the least space, and the heavier planes last. This is not the case in the film.
Continuity mistake: When the USS Ward first spots the mini-sub trying to sneak into the harbor, we see a close up of the conning tower. The forward edge of the conning tower is undamaged. Next we see the USS Ward fire it's first shot and we see the shot miss and hit the water well forward of the mini-sub. Look at the conning tower and there is now a square notch in the forward edge. The USS Ward fires its second shot. Just before the special effects explosion you can see the forward edge of the conning tower is undamaged. After the flash from the shell hit on the conning tower subsides, we can now see the square notch which we saw after the first shot which missed. Finally, the mini sub submerges and in the underwater shot, the forward edge of the conning tower is again undamaged.
Continuity mistake: When Kramer meets Admiral Stark at his residence he is shown leaving the house through the front entrance. The next shot, showing the house from the drive, the entrance is not the same as the close-up.
Factual error: In one scene you see a damaged B-17 about to land when he gets a call from the tower saying that he had a Zero on his tail and telling him to go around. This would never happen. A heavy B-17 (much less a damaged one) would never be able to outrun a Zero, especially after trying to land. The pilot's best option would have been to get it on the ground as soon as possible and to run like hell.