Best war movie factual errors of all time

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The Great Escape picture

Factual error: Why is Hilts not wearing a uniform? A serving officer captured behind enemy lines in civilian clothing risked being shot as a spy. If a prisoner's uniform was too worn or damaged to wear, it was routine for the German authorities to replace it - a P.O.W. in civilian clothes is an obvious escape risk. He is wearing a pair of tan chinos, a cut off sloppy Joe sweatshirt, both ridiculously anachronistic - Sixties hipster fashions - and nowhere even close to a World War 2 uniform. He is also wearing Army Type III Service boots - something that would never have been issued to a fighter pilot.

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Suggested correction: The character of Hilts was based (in part) on the life of a British OSS agent who managed to pass as pilot by stealing a flight jacket (revealed in the DVD). We can only assume that since the Germans believed the camp was escape-proof, it didn't matter what Hilts was wearing, since he wouldn't be going anywhere.

Cobblers. Hilts is wearing casual clothing typical of the time the film was shot, not when it was set. No prisoner of war would be dressed the way he was. The posting is correct.

I've always assumed that the actor, Steve McQueen, insisted on the outfit so he would look hip per his image. He had a reputation for being a prima donna on set.

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The Final Countdown picture

Factual error: Listening to a radio broadcast, live, since no other indication is given, Joe Louis is completing the 12th round of a fight. This is December 6, 1941. Joe's last fight of 1941 occurred in September, his next fight was January 1942. (00:00:10)

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1917 picture

Factual error: The strong current of the river the main character falls into carries him to a considerable waterfall. There is not, nor has there ever been, a river of that kind in Flanders' Fields, let alone a waterfall. Anyone who has any insight into the geography of the region will tell you it is flat as can be. The largest body of water, the Yzer, gently meanders and flows into the Channel, even during really rainy times.

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Suggested correction: I do not believe that either Ecoust or Croisilles Wood is in Flanders. Both are behind the old German lines at the Somme. That said, there are no bodies of water in that area.

Ecoust and Croissilles are in department Pas-De-Calais in the French Flanders, together with the Belgian flanders they are called Flanders Fields. It is indeed a flat area.

lionhead

There is a watercourse that goes through Croisilles... But it's basically a ditch.

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The Dirty Dozen picture

Factual error: During the war games they have Jefferson pose as a major in order to facilitate the commandeering of the ambulance and the jeep. Regardless of their personal feelings in the matter the ambulance crew and the driver and troops in the jeep would be perfectly aware that no black man would ever be promoted to a position of authority in an otherwise all white command. We may find it repugnant today but the US Army was rigidly segregated during World War 2 - and it stayed that way until 1948. Jefferson may have been inducted into a special unit like the Dirty Dozen but considering that the future of the entire mission is riding on their success at the games, throwing it all away like that makes no sense at all.

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Fury picture

Factual error: During the final battle, Gordo the tank driver calls out, "Panzerfaust, four o'clock!", as he looks through his periscope. He could not have seen any targets at four o'clock, as the driver's periscope could barely rotate towards the eleven and one o'clock positions, close to the left and right front corners of the tank's hull. The four o'clock position would be near the right rear of the tank.

Scott215

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633 Squadron picture

Factual error: When the bombs are being taken down the lane, in the background where the lane meets the road a white mini can be seen passing the entrance.

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The Hurt Locker picture

Factual error: In one scene they are playing on an Xbox 360, but the Xbox 360 did not come out until 2005, and the game being played, Gears of War, wasn't released until 2006. The movie takes place in 2004.

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Red Tails picture

Factual error: Before receiving the North American P-51D Mustangs, the Red Tail squadron was using the Curtiss P-40E Warhawk. The movie shows the Warhawks being able to keep up with the German Bf 109 G-6s quite easily, fighting on even terms. In reality, the Bf 109 G-6 could easily outperform the Warhawk, being able to easily outrun and out-turn the Warhawk. Still, the Bf 109s are no match for the Warhawks.

André Vinícius

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Gladiator picture

Factual error: When a group of soldiers goes to Maximus' villa to burn it and kill his family, his son points them, saying in Italian "Mamma! I soldati!" ("Mom, the soldiers!") and then "Papà!" ("Daddy!"). This is because the young actor (Giorgio Cantarini) is Italian and they didn't translate, for some reason. As a result, he's speaking Italian in a movie in English, where people are supposed to speak Latin, in a province where Italian was never ever spoken. (00:43:07)

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Gallipoli picture

Factual error: Frank, Archie and Snowy are all rural boys from New South Wales, but they all play Australian Rules football expertly. In 1915 Australian Rules was almost unknown outside of Melbourne. In a time before television or film they wouldn't even know what the ball looked like. In fact the game was only established in Sydney in the 1980s, and is still not terribly popular there. There is no way that three people from New South Wales would know how to play the game in 1915, let alone with such skill.

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Enemy at the Gates picture

Factual error: When the map of the German advance is shown, Switzerland is shown to be taken over. Switzerland was never invaded by the Germans. (00:05:10)

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Suggested correction: It doesn't show German advances. It shows the German influence over Europe, symbolizing it covers all of Europe and then expanded towards the East. Italy was never conquered by the Germans either yet it was part of the axis and is shown being covered by black. Switzerland, though neutral, was fully surrounded by the Axis and their influence played heavily upon the country. Its a very crude simulation.

lionhead

Suggested correction: It does not show the German advancement in true historical order, but more like a red shadow that expands across Europe in a steady pace. And just as the camera starts zooming in on Stalingrad, you can see a small sliver of red starting to spread on the south-eastern coast of Norway.

dizzyd

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A Bridge Too Far picture

Factual error: Most of the parachutes are PX type. These came out in the 1960s. They only used X type during the war - only a few of those are seen in the film. (00:07:00)

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Guns of Navarone picture

Factual error: Miller rigs his booby trap by attaching the wires from the bomb to a pole down which a metal runner slides, so that when the runner touches the wires it completes the circuit and detonates the bomb. The trouble is, the pole is made of steel, and steel is very conductive indeed. Miller attaches the exposed end of the wire to the pole without any insulation or gap. The circuit will actually be completed when Miller attaches the battery, and he and his booby trap will be blown sky high.

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Overlord picture

Factual error: There were no black paratroopers on D-Day or in the 101st, nor were white and black soldiers serving in the same unit.

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Green Berets picture

Factual error: The final scene of the movie has Col. Kirby and the little Vietnamese boy supposedly on the beach at Da Nang, Vietnam. Kirby is saying, "The future of 'nam is you, kid", and the camera pans out to the sea and the sun is going down. The sun's sinking in the east...

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Suggested correction: Nowhere in the film are we told where in Vietnam the Green Beret base is, just that it is in South Vietnam (of course). South Vietnam has a Western coast, along the Gulf of Thailand, along which anyone can watch the sun set over the sea.

Around the 18:00 - 18:30 mark a character welcomes John Wayne to Da Nang. This base is returned to throughout the film, including the infamous sun setting in the east scene. Da Nang's beaches face to the Northeast. Only when you get south of Nha Trang does the Vietnamese coast begin to offer a south to southwest horizon on the ocean.

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U-571 picture

Factual error: In the last battle scene when you see shots of the German destroyer through the periscope the last one shot before it's blown up is really bad angling. The ship is far away but in the scope it's very close and the periscope (in order to get that camera angle) is 100 ft in the air.

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Pearl Harbor picture

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.

Clarence Daugette

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Windtalkers picture

Factual error: The movie is set in 1944, when there were only 48 states, yet we see many American flags with 50 stars, then 48, then back to 50 throughout the film.

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The Last Samurai picture

Factual error: When we see the United States flag, it is the wrong flag. It has 43 stars, something the flag did not have until 1891.

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Behind Enemy Lines picture

Factual error: Shortly after our hero ejects you see the pilot flailing around trying to pull the ejection handle. In a Navy aircraft with two crew, the NATOPS manual (Naval Aviation Training and Operations Manual) clearly states that the seats must be set in the "command eject mode". This means, regardless of who initiates the ejection procedure, the rear seat goes first, followed by the pilot 1/2 later. There is no need for the pilot to pull the ejection handle.

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