Tora! Tora! Tora!

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.

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: Some of the 3 man Japanese torpedo bombers taking off only have the pilot on board.

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.

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 camera cuts to an actor's wristwatch just before the attack. The watch is a Caravelle, which was not sold by Bulova until about 1960.

Continuity mistake: When Admiral Kimmel is chatting with the naval officer and General Short about how to counter a Japanese attack, you will see a table in the background near the window that is set up with the leaves fully extended and chairs in front and at both ends. When the camera pans to the window towards the end of the scene, the table has been compacted and the chairs moved.

Other mistake: When the message center in DC sends the warning as a telegram a young boy is setting next to the window, waiting I assume to deliver other post. After the attack on Pearl Harbor the same young boy delivers the same message.

Other mistake: The lieutenant who ignored the radar warning is called Tyler. The correct last name was Taylor. In the credits the name is listed correctly. (00:09:00)


Character mistake: Immediately before the attack, when the flag is being raised on the flagpole, the young seaman who previously rang the bell steps backwards and trips over the concrete step behind him.

Trivia: The code for successful surprise (and the movie's title) "Tora! Tora! Tora!" was a shortening of the words totsugeki (attack) and raigeki (the Japanese term for torpedo bombers), and was originally spelled "To ra, to ra, to ra!" Those two shortened words were interpreted by American radio operators, who happened to intercept them, as the Japanese word for "tiger"; hence "Tora! Tora! Tora!"

More trivia for Tora! Tora! Tora!

Join the mailing list

Separate from membership, this is to get updates about mistakes in recent releases. Addresses are not passed on to any third party, and are used solely for direct communication from this site. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Check out the mistake & trivia books, on Kindle and in paperback.