Factual error: In the control tower scene after the stunt flying, look closely in the background and you will see the shapes of E-2 Hawkeyes. The E-2 wasn't in service until the early 60's.
Other mistake: When Rafe and Evelyn are on the platform by the side of the Queen Mary, the platform is going up, but the ropes are not moving through the pulleys.
Visible crew/equipment: When Dorie Miller is in the hall of the ship, he is holding a tea or coffee set, on the left side of the screen you can see the hands of the camera focus puller and the wireless focus controller for a brief moment.
Factual error: When they show the whole fleet sailing, there is clearly a nuclear submarine out front. It is easily distinguished by its teardrop shaped hull.
Factual error: In the scene where the nurses walk among the flag-draped coffins after the attack, the nurses are in stylish civilian outfits. Those nurses are all Naval personnel, and once war was declared they were ordered to be in uniform at all times, except when in the privacy of their quarters.
Continuity mistake: When Rafe and Evelyn go to the Queen Mary ship and they are rising on the platform, and kissing, one camera shot shows them rising and when they stop the camera does a close up and you can see they are still at the red painted water line indicator. The next shot shows them above it again.
Factual error: When the MPs drive on to the golf course to alert the commander of the attack, the Jeep they're driving is a Korean War era M-38.
Factual error: There is an old mahogany speedboat in the movie. The movie is set in 1941, the speedboat is a 1955-1958 Chris Craft Capri.
Continuity mistake: The hangar used in the "Mitchell" Field scene is the same one used later in the film as Clark Field, with the world "Mitchell" removed, leaving only the word "Field."
Factual error: There is no way that anyone in Hawaii could have listened to the radio chatter among Doolittle's raiders. First, because the planes were flying separately on different routes, not as a group, and were observing radio silence, so there was nothing to hear. But mainly, because the radios used for inter-plane communication are low-power short-range units. Long-range communication was carried out by each plane's radio operator, using Morse code. Long-range voice communication by radio was not possible back then.
Factual error: At the beginning of the film there are some newsreel bits showing the war in Europe giving the background for the historical setting circa 1939-40. In one of these, for about 2-3 seconds you see a M-26 Pershing next to a wall. The M-26 Pershing wasn´t introduced until early 1945 when it entered the war in Europe.
Other mistake: When Eveleyn and Rafe were going to the Queen Mary, you can see to the left the modern buildings for the actual New York.
Continuity mistake: On the morning after the love scene with Evelyn and Danny, they are talking and she puts her head on his right shoulder and starts crying. The camera pulls back and she is still crying on his shoulder - but this time on his left shoulder, not his right.
Continuity mistake: Just after Rafe pops himself in the nose with the champagne cork, there is a bit of blood running down his right cheek. It disappears when the camera cuts back to him.
Continuity mistake: In the scene near the beginning of the movie where Rafe is being reprimanded by Maj. Doolittle for stunt flying, Rafe starts to talk about the various accomplishments that Doolittle has to his credit. The scene shifts to Doolittle and you can see in the background some of the trophies that he won in various air races and endurance tests. One of the trophies has a small model of an F-86 Sabre jet. The scene takes place in early 1941 and the F-86 didn't exist until the 1950's. In fact, jets weren't around until the end of the war and mostly in the hands of the Germans.
Continuity mistake: As the Doolittle Raiders are taking off from the aircraft carrier there are several sweeping views of the carrier task force as the planes fly off. The decks of the carriers are obviously modern US carriers with the landing portion of the flight deck angled out about 10° from the catapult direction of the flight deck.
Factual error: In the beginning of the film, there are scenes at "Mitchell Field" on Long Island, New York. The actual spelling is "Mitchel Field."
Visible crew/equipment: In the scene where the Japanese planes are taking off, there is a shot where, in the upper left hand corner, you can get a glimpse of the helicopter that the crew used to film aerial shots.
Factual error: The nurses are wearing far too much make up when on duty: bright red lipstick, eyeliner, mascara and blusher expertly applied. Military medical nurses are allowed subtle skin tone make up and surgical nurses none at all. It's always been that way, right back to the 1890s when the British Army first hired nurses.
Continuity mistake: During the scene when Rafe and Danny are in the P-40's shooting down a few of the Japanese planes, they fly through some smoke from the burning ships, their prop wash makes the smoke swirl all around. But, a few minutes before that, when two Zero's fly through some smoke, the smoke doesn't move at all, almost as though the planes were never really there...
Other mistake: In the scene where the U.S.S. Oklahoma capsizes, she clearly rolls to the port side. When the bow comes into the air, one can see a hole on the starboard side; obviously from a torpedo. This cannot be. The starboard side was facing the U.S.S. Maryland and thus protected from arial torpedoes. That hole should not be there.
Factual error: The P-40s depicted in the movie were later models that were not around during Pearl Harbor. The ones used in filming were probably either P-40Ks, P-40Ms, or P-40Ns instead of the historically correct P-40Bs or P-40Cs that were around at the time of the attack. This is noticeable because the planes in the movie have three guns mounted on each wing while a correct P-40 would have two mounted on each wing and two on the engine crowling.
Factual error: One of the intelligence photos taken by the Japanese spies shows a North Carolina class battleship which wasn't in Pearl Harbor at that time.
Other mistake: Towards the end of the Special Edition DVD there are shots of various ships being blown up. One of these ships is a 1960's British Leander Class frigate being used as a missile target. It's painted a very light grey and has cross markings all along the ship's side.
Factual error: Admiral Kimmel is shown on the golf course when he first receives word of a Japanese submarine attack. Although he was planning to golf that morning with Army General Short, he actually received the ominous report at home, and then proceeded to Pearl Harbor.
Factual error: We see the Queen Mary, but where is her "war" paint? Queen Mary, along with nearly all liners and civil/commercial vessels, were painted an oceangoing grey for camouflage, but the Queen we see in Pearl Harbor shows in her black and red colors... the Queen is an English vessel and England had been at war two years. She should have been grey by this time.
Deliberate mistake: In one of the dogfight scenes a Japanese Zero crashes into a tower. It's a quick shot, but you can still see that what crashes is an American P-40 with Japanese markings.