Sink the Bismarck

Factual error: Here's a big historical mistake. The character of German Admiral L├╝tjens is depicted overall in this film as a wild-eyed Nazi fanatic. In real life, he was distinctly anti-Nazi, vehemently protested the anti-Semitic actions of Hitler's regime, and was himself subject to intense Nazi scrutiny as he was a quarter Jewish and his wife was half Jewish. He was one of many German naval officers who fought only for their country, not Hitler.

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Factual error: The battle of the Denmark Strait is wrong in that both sides are heading and shooting in the wrong direction. The Germans are shooting to starboard rather than port, and the British are shooting to port rather than starboard.

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Factual error: In the film, the Bismarck destroys a British destroyer. She also shoots down one or more Swordfish torpedo aircraft. In reality, she sank only one ship (Hood) and lightly damaged a few others. No aircraft were shot down.

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Factual error: The admiralty gets a priority message that two ships have been seen leaving the Baltic. The admiral and his chief of staff discuss "the Crete business", however the Bismarck sortied on 18 May, 1941, and the invasion of Crete happened two days later.

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Factual error: The destroyer allegedly sunk by the Bismarck is named as the Solent. She would not have been much use in a 1941 torpedo attack, as she had no torpedoes and was not completed until 1944.

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Factual error: HMS Rodney which along with KGV sank the Bismarck is wrongly portrayed. Her 16 inch guns were all forward of the main superstructure.

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Factual error: The Director of Operations is handed a fuel state for KGV and Rodney, and is advised they are 140 miles astern of Bismarck. He asks if they steam at full speed can they catch her. Since Bismarck can steam at 30 knots, and the British ships at 28 and 23 knots respectively, it was a question that shouldn't have even been broached.

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Mistakes

The Bismarck is sighted by a British agent in southern Norway, sailing out of the Baltic into the North Sea - east to west. But the view through the agent's binoculars shows the ship sailing from right to left on the screen - which would be sailing west to east from the point of view of an observer on the Norwegian coast.

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Trivia

Esmond P. Knight, the actor who portrayed Captain Leach of the battleship "Prince of Wales" was a crew member on the ship during the real battle where he was badly injured, suffering a period of blindness.

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