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
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: 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)
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: Shortly after the crew of the S33 are forced to take to the U571 and destroy the German Supply Submarine Tyler announces that they will try to sail to Greenland or Land's End (England). From their mid-Atlantic position they would, therefore, need to sail east. In the next scene the submarine is seen on the surface sailing from left to right across the screen with the sun on the other side of them. Since from the North Atlantic the sun would always be to the south this must mean they are sailing west, away from Greenland and England and towards the United States. (00:57:05 - 00:59:25)
Factual error: When the American crew storms the U-571 and reaches the aft compartment, where the last Germans are gathered, we can see a row of bunks on each side of the chamber. The VIIC type has no crew acommodation in this place; the last compartment houses just the electric motors and some pumps and auxiliary machinery, as well as the breach of the aft torpedo tube. (00:43:30)
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.
Factual error: Submariners are trained to always listen to the sounds of the boat, since anything out of the ordinary could mean death. Given that training, the small size of a German U-boat and the less-than-skeleton crew aboard it is not possible that the sounds of the fight in the forward torpedo room, or the sounds of the German commander operating the chain on the torpedo loading rail would have gone unnoticed or uninvestigated for so long.Badbird
Factual error: At the beginning of the film the diesel fuel in the German U-boat is shown being ignited by a spark and bursting into flames during the depth charge attack as if it were gasoline. In reality diesel fuel is quite hard to ignite when not compressed and does not burn quite so readily as shown in the film.Badbird
Factual error: During scenes where U-571 is being depth charged you can hear active sonar pings. The Kreigsmarine never developed active sonar and used passive sonar (basically a very sensitive listening device) instead.
Factual error: The movie used 3 "dive" commands and 3 blasts of the klaxon to dive. This is incorrect. The command to dive is repeated twice and the diving klaxon is sounded twice. Command to surface is 3 and 3.