U-571

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.

Factual error: U-571 was sunk on January 8, 1944, by an Australian Sunderland. She was previously damaged by an Allied destroyer on March 22, 1943, but managed to come back to the base. All supply submarines (Type XIV or Type VIIF) were actually sunk by Allied planes or surface ships. I know that the movie is entertaining rather than historical, but why didn't the movie makers choose boats that disappeared without a trace instead?

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Suggested correction: As you said, it's entertaining, not historical, as such, the facts and events don't have to be 100% accurate. Not really a mistake.

Choosing a boat with a demonstrably different fate than depicted in the movie can be considered a valid historical mistake.

Doc Premium member

Factual error: The film is set during the war and there is a Toyota forklift driving around in one of the dock scenes.... (01:19:45)

Factual error: In the ship yard after the party, one of the navy crew is working on a sub and he is using a yellow plastic handled grinder. All tools in this era were metal handled. He's also wearing tennis shoes. (00:13:15)

Continuity mistake: In the start of the film Matthew McConaughey is sitting on a porch at a wedding reception smoking a cigar, in one shot he has a stub left then in the next it's a new one. (00:12:20)

Factual error: The submarine gets buzzed by a single engine German fighter. They are somewhere between the US coast and Greenland. The Germans had no aircraft carriers nor bases in the area. Since it was not a float plane how did the fighter get there? It could not possibly have flown the several thousand miles from continental Europe.

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Suggested correction: This is explained in the film saying that the plane came from the destroyer on a recon mission.

Ssiscool Premium member

If that is the explanation the film gives, it is a mistake in is own right. Firstly, destroyers did not carry recon planes, and secondly, recon planes are always equipped with floats, because they were launched from the ship by a catapult, but had to land on the water next to the ship to be lifted aboard by a crane.

Doc Premium member

Factual error: The language the American soldier and the secret-service officer use is grammatically correct German, but the pronunciation is very bad. No born German would ever be fooled by it.

Continuity mistake: Just after the sub surfaces and the crew arrives on the conning tower, the sub's deck is totally dry.

Factual error: At the beginning of the film the German commander is shown directing an attack using the periscope in the control room. German U-boats had two periscopes: a 'sky' scope (the one in the control room) used exclusively for searching the area directly above the boat prior to surfacing, and the 'attack' periscope located in the conning tower (turm). It was not possible for a German submarine commander to direct an attack from the control room periscope as depicted in the film.

Badbird

Continuity mistake: Just after shooting the radio room on the German destroyer, U-571 submerges so quickly that the sailors do not manage to plug the gun. After a few moments when the boat goes from 180 to 200 meters there is a short shot from the above when we can clearly see that the gun is perfectly plugged. (01:13:30)

Continuity mistake: During the first mission briefing, the commander is pointing to the map and you can clearly see the top secret photos of the enigma sitting by the manila envelope, but right after that shot he pulls the photos out of the envelope and hands them to people. (00:24:20)

Factual error: When the marine commando shows the sailor his "luggage" (the boxes of explosives) to be loaded onto the submarine, some of the boxes have orange Explosive B placards. Those are Dept. of Transportation placards. The D.O.T. didn't exist until 1966 and the placards were not used until later than that. (00:19:55)

Continuity mistake: After the melee with the destroyer above the surface, they attempt to dive and travel under the keel of the destroyer to escape the deck guns. As the camera is going underwater, the destroyer can be seen, but when the camera is below the surface, its keel cannot be seen.

Phil Watts

Factual error: Although the type of mission depicted in the movie did occur, it was not Americans that were known to do them. Canadian and British teams were specialized to do this mission.

Factual error: The German supply U-boat couldn't have sunk the S-33 with a torpedo, as neither the Type XIV nor any other class of German supply sub was equipped with torpedoes (this would have meant less storage space for cargo).

Factual error: The "German" airplane which spots the crew before the destroyer scene is actually a Fiat G59 - a post-war two-seat training development of the G55 Centauro fighter. It is powered by a Rolls Royce Merlin engine.

Factual error: When the boarding party are eating dinner on SS-33 before the raid, some of their spanking-new, freshly pressed Kriegsmarine utility uniforms (strange in itself) have breast eagles on the left chest instead of the right. I've never seen any German Wehrmacht uniform with an eagle on the left.

Continuity mistake: As the submarine is preparing to leave the dock in one of the movie's first scenes, Bill Paxton, the commander is standing on the top part of the sub. A seaman is walking in Bill Paxton's direction and the camera is at a distance. As the camera zooms in the man walking should have been in the frame under Mr. Paxton but he just disappeared. (00:20:20)

Continuity mistake: When the German destroyer is with U-571, look at the ship. Notice in the first shots there are 2 gun turrets on either side. Yet in the later shots during the final battle there's only one turret. In addition, right before the turrets are shown turning to fire, look at the ship again - they are already aimed at the U-boat. I guess the Germans felt the need to do this two times.

Factual error: Depth charges explode at a distance of some 10 meters from the boat without any fatal effect. In reality fatal (i.e. destroying) distance was some 50 meters.

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Suggested correction: The second sentence is in error. Hull-rupture maximum distance is approximately FIVE meters. K-gun DISPERSION range was selectable from the attacking DD or DE: (1) Mk-6 at 50, 75, and 120 yards, (2) Mk-9 at 60, 90, and 150 yards.Citation:http://uboat.net/allies/technical/depth_charges.htm states "The pressure hull of the U-boat was strong enough to withstand anything but a charge exploding 10 or 20 feet from its hull.", and http://www.math.iitb.ac.in/~manishk/msc_project/OR-Notes-Mirror/OR-Notes/mscmga.ms.ic.ac.uk/jeb/or/intro.html states "As mentioned above the standard 250lb depth charge was believed to have a lethal radius of only 5-6 metres."

I have seen German sources which suggest any depth charge going off closer than 100 meters would be instantly deadly. I don't know where those sites you cite get their info from, but descriptions of battles from the era of from a submariner's perspective make it look extremely unlikely that bombs of the stats which you describe would have been an effective weapon at all.

Doc Premium member

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