Corrected entry: Almost at the end of the movie, the sub is being chased by a German destroyer. One of the destroyer cannon shots hits the stern portion of the U-Boat (where the diesel and electric motors are located). That hit should have instantly killed Tank (in the electric motors room) and maybe also Trigger (they are both working to fix the stern torpedo tube).
Corrected entry: During the party at the beginning, Lieutenant Tyler addresses M. Dahlgren as "Captain." However, Dahlgren is wearing US Navy Lieutenant-Commander shoulder insignia, which is two ranks below captain. Tyler however, is wearing the right insignia.
Corrected entry: 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.
Corrected entry: After the Lieutenant Commander lectures Lieutenant Tyler aboard the SS-33 about him not being ready to become a captain, the lieutenant leaves the room. As he closes the door a double vertical bar rank insignia can be seen on each side of his collar. The double bar is captain insignia in every branch of the military and in police departments nationwide. Lieutenant Tyler should be wearing single vertical bar insignia instead.
Corrected entry: When the crew is trying to figure out how to submerge the U-571 for the first time, chief Klough exclaims "everything's in German". Is he surprised that they would use the German language on a German vessel?
Corrected entry: In the film U-751 the torpedoes were shown leaving a trail of bubbles behind them. The type of torpedo which did that was the G7a 'T1' torpedo - which was pre-war issue. At the time of the film the standard torpedo of the Ubootwaffe was the improved G7e 'T2' torpedo which did not leave a trail of bubbles due to a different motor design.Badbird
Corrected entry: German torpedoes had two types of detonators. The primary was a magnetic pistol which was triggered by the presence of a large metallic object like a ship or submarine. The second was through mechanical 'feelers' in the event that the pistol failed and the torpedo contacted the target ship. Thus, the grazing 'miss' where the German torpedo scrapes along the hull of the U-571 could not have happened. The torpedo would have detonated.Badbird
Corrected entry: 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?
Corrected entry: After the American crew takes control of the U-571, it is approached by a German destroyer. The Americans decide to destroy the radio on the German ship with their deck gun. The gun was completely exposed to the destroyer; there is no way to hide anywhere or to work it in secret. How did they manage to get several men out of the submarine to unlock and prepare the gun for firing, load the shell, aim the gun and fire at the destroyer to destroy their radio, completely unnoticed and unmolested by the Germans? This wasn't a task that could be done in a matter of seconds; a minute or two would be needed for the best of crews, let alone for a group of people who'd probably just seen that sort of gun for the first time. The German officers are even shown watching the sub intensely at the start.
Corrected entry: Near the beginning of the film, when Tyler calls the crew of the S-33 to quarters, look at the guy two back from Mazzola, on the far right. He has his hands clasped behind his back while he's supposed to be at attention. When Tyler says "At ease," he realizes his mistake, drops his hands to his sides where they're supposed to be, then clasps them behind his back again as he stands at ease.
Corrected entry: At the end of the film, when the torpedo hits the German destroyer, the explosion is totally out of proportion. No matter how strategic the position it hit, no torpedo of that era would be powerful enough to cause an entire ship to explode. (It's true that this did occasionally happen to tankers, but that was due to the large amounts of oil being carried - not the case with a destroyer.)
Corrected entry: The scene where the German commander orders the survivors in the lifeboat to be shot is based on an allied myth. It is well documented that U-boat crews treated survivors gallantly - even giving them medical help, provisions, cigarettes and bearings to land. LATE (after the time this film supposedly takes place) in the war, Grossadmiral Karl Donitz even placed his own life on the line when he refused an order directly from Hitler that U-boat crews should execute survivors. He won on that issue and the order was rescinded, with only the comment that he should at least order his crews to STOP rendering assistance to the survivors.Badbird
Corrected entry: In the scene where the torpedo is running in the tube of the U-571 and could not be launched, reference was made to getting the fish launched before it detonated. That could not have happened. While it is true that the torpedoes did have a 'counter' of sorts to ensure a certain number or prop revolutions (distance) before the warhead would arm, that system was subordinate to another safety in the form of a 'tube feeler' which would not allow the counter to begin until the torpedo had actually cleared the tube. There was never any danger that the torpedo would detonate in the tube. The worst thing that could have happened was the fish would exhaust its fuel and be rendered useless.Badbird
Corrected entry: In reality the U-boat would never have been left without anyone on board capable of making repairs to critical systems like the diesel engines. Everyone on a U-boat crew had extensive training regarding all critical systems as well as access to a full set of blueprints that were carried on-board for just such events. Also, as U-boat crews worked in shifts, half of the engine room crew would be resting in the crew quarters when the fire broke out.
Corrected entry: In the scene where they took the Germans captive after assaulting the U-Boat, the black cook tells one of the Nazi's, "I bet you never seen a black man before, have you." At this time of history, the term "black" was never used, even by blacks themselves. They called themselves "negroes" or "colored".moviemogul
Corrected entry: 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.
Corrected entry: In this film it is the Americans who capture the enigma coding machine. However, in WWII it was a British submarine crew who eventually captured the device.
Corrected entry: An additional torpedo-related mistake: U-boat torpedoes were launched with a ram, which pushed the fish out of the tube. The motor of an armed torpedo did not start until after the fish had left the tube. They were not propelled out of the tube by their own motors as shown in the film.Badbird
Corrected entry: A depth charge explodes right off the starboard bow, and the whole front end of the sub actually bends and snaps back. The force of the explosion wouldn't cause it to bend, it would either break off completely or there would be a large hole.
Corrected entry: When the U-571 is being depth charged one of the men asks Chief if he has ever been depth charged before. He says "once, in World War I..." But during WWII they did not refer to the first world war as World War I. They still called it The Great War. It wasn't until after WWII that either war was referred to that way.
Corrected entry: After the S-33 is torpedoed, Tyler and his men rig the U-571 for dive. Just before Wentz says "Opening midship valves; opening midship vents," someone else - I think it's the Chief - says "Opening ballast tanks." This makes no sense; the ballast tanks are the air tanks - you open them when you want to surface, not when you want to dive.
Corrected entry: Throughout the movie, when the sub is submerged, it show the submarine about 10 meters down, not 100, or 200 as the characters stated.
Corrected entry: For the raid on U-571, Tyler chooses to dress as a German officer, thus making himself the most likely one of the boarding party to be addressed by the German crew, even though he speaks no German (which ultimately gave the deception away early). This tactical error is inexplicable, given that there were two fluent German speakers among the Americans.
Corrected entry: Why does the German re-supply U-boat open fire on the disguised American sub when they are docked with U-571? The American Sub is disguised well enough to pass a visual inspection, and you'd think the Kriegsmarine sailors would be pleased to see some fellow Germans at sea. They certainly wouldn't simply open fire with torpedoes because they didn't recognise the other U-boat.
Corrected entry: After having his language skills tested, the German speaking Seaman Wentz implores Tyler not to reveal his half-German background to the other men, even though he openly uses a German surname.
Corrected entry: The Germans drop the bombs down on the submarine at the rate of two every 5 or so seconds. So how come there are sometimes many many explosions around the submarine within a very short space of time?
Corrected entry: They're actually using the U-571 to flee away from the German re-supply sub (the whole movie). Wasn't the U-571 broken? If it wasn't the German crew would have sailed to port long ago of course.
Corrected entry: The German commander is depicted eating a piece of fruit just prior to the depth charge attack against the U-571. No German commander would have done this. Food was strictly rationed and accounted for on the boat for various reasons - not the least of which was making sure there was enough to last for the duration of the patrol. If men were allowed to grab food and eat it as it suited them there would be no way to control its consumption. No commander would have set such a dangerous precedent by such wanton consumption.Badbird
Corrected entry: Anybody with any mechanical knowledge seems to have been killed in the fire in the engine room, on a sub on patrol there would have been at least two watches, one working, one resting and both watches would not have been in the engine room at once.
Corrected entry: In the scene on the dock where the mess steward sees the lieutenant struggling to light a cigarette, he comes over and offers his lighter. The officer was actually facing away from the sailor, so how could the mess man even know the lieutenant could not light the cigarette?
Corrected entry: The sailors - rightly so - become very frightened when the long range plane spots them. However no sub captain in his right mind would stay on the surface if he heard the sound of an aircraft - it was one of the lookout's primary tasks: alert the captain if they heard propellers, and prepare to dive.
Corrected entry: When the US commandos are about to board U-571, we see a cocked MP-40 gun hanging from an officer's neck, which is hidden in his jacket. You don't just let those guns hang like that, or it'll fire off at the slightest shock. Not a very smart thing to do in a stormy sea.
Corrected entry: When the American Navy is called to their assignment, the welders working on the submarine are welding without safety goggles. I would think that in the Navy they would teach basic safety precautions.
Corrected entry: W.W.II subs didn't have sub to sub attack capabilities and no underwater sub to sub kills were ever recorded during W.W.II.
Corrected entry: Enlisted submariners of that time period wore silver dolphins on their dress white uniforms (like the officers wore their gold ones in the movie) and not black embroidered dolphins on their sleeves.
Corrected entry: Once the survivors are in the U-boat the black character mans the controls. He's the cook, how does he now how to operate the controls?
Corrected entry: When U-571 is supposedly at 200+ meters below the surface, the depth charges seem to be getting dropped into the water, as if they were 5 meters up, not sinking in the water as if they were 200+ meters down.
Corrected entry: When the German electrician is tapping that Morse code message, how can the guy who says what it is (who doesn't speak German), understand what he is saying. The message should be "Ich bin U-571. Zerstören Sie mich," since he can't speak any English. (He didn't answer the questions because of that.)
Join the mailing list
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.