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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
Factual error: At the launch of the Dolittle raiders, the seas were stormy with waves breaking over the carrier's bow, not completely calm, as shown in the movie.
Factual error: Dorie Miller was not carrying an elegant tray of coffee service when the attack began. He was carrying laundry.
Factual error: The British squadron Rafe served in had the "RF" radio ID markings. These were assigned to the Polish 303 squadron, so the planes should have additional Polish markings on the engine cowling (apart from standard British ones) plus the squadron logo.
Factual error: In one scene before the battle starts, a crew member is having his P-40 decorated with noseart. However, before late 1942, noseart wasn't allowed by the USAAF, unless you had a commander who really didn't mind. Lieutenant General Walter Short, who was in charge of the P-40's at Pearl Harbor, wasn't one of those commanders.
Factual error: Japanese Naval officers say "We have hit battleship row. Now we must hit the smaller airfields." In actuality, the attack was planned to every detail so that all of their targets were hit simultaneously.
Factual error: In the scene where Rafe and Danny are kids fooling around in their father's cropduster the plane is a PT-17 Stearman or similar model. This plane was not in regular military usage until after 1934 and did not find its way into civilian hands until after WWII.
Factual error: In the scene where Admiral Kimmel is inspecting the crew of the battleship an aide comes up with a message to send some ships to the Atlantic. Admiral Kimmel starts complaining about the orders. No Admiral would ever do this especially in front of enlisted men. In fact he was placed in charge of the Pacific fleet when his predecessor complained about moving the fleet from San Diego to Pearl Harbor.
Factual error: Doolittle's B25s were an early version, while in the scene aboard the carrier, they have side gun mountings and four-point fifties in bulges on both sides of the nose. These were implemented in much later B25G versions.
Factual error: The Zeros in the movie are not the right model for the attack on Pearl Harbor. The ones featured in the film are exact replicas of A6M5 Zeros which can be denoted by looking at the engine exhaust ports. The A6M5 did not come out until later in the war. The correct model should be the A6M2.
Factual error: The spinning fan on the bomb wasn't the fuse itself - it was meant to arm the fuse, so that the bomb would detonate on impact. It needed to make only several spins to work. The bouncing bomb in the airfield scene should make a big hole, not bounce. It should also suffer some damage, while in the scene even the thin stabilizers are intact.
Factual error: At the RAF airfield, Spitfires are shown lined up right in front of the ground crew's tents. After almost two years at war, and with Luftwaffe attacks still a regular occurrence, it seems highly unlikely that any RAF squadron would be stupid enough to try and sleep on top of their aircraft, which might be bombed or strafed at any time. In reality the only thing that close to the aircraft would have been the dispersal hut where pilots on readiness that day would wait for a scramble order.
Factual error: While Rafe is on the beach during the training to take off from an aircraft carrier, and burning some letters, mountains are noticed in the background while he is conversing with Danny. The actual location for this training took place on the historic "Doolittle Ramp" located at Hurlburt Field, Florida, near Eglin Air Force Base. The site is within 100 yards of the beach among numerous trees. There are no mountains (low hills maybe) in Florida .