New this month Factual error: It takes a whole of two minutes from the discovery of the boarding party and the cry "Alarm" till the first Americans even enter the command central of U-571, and another almost 90 seconds till they secure the radio room. German subs were under strict orders to destroy all secret material the instant they had reason to believe a boarding was probable. To that end, all code books were printed in water-soluble inks on water-soluble paper, and even the electrical connections inside the rotors of the enigma machine were seawater-soluble. (Admittedly the latter was more with the idea of enemies salvaging sunk boats in mind, and I have no information on how fast that decay would have happened) All it would have taken is to lift up one of the floor plates and drop the stuff into the bilge below. And yes, since German subs of the era didn't have answering machines, the radio room would be manned around the clock. For that reason, boarding actions of that sort had to be above all lightning-fast. Dramatic as the fight scene is, in reality it would have ensured that the boarding party came away empty-handed. (00:38:30 - 00:41:45)Doc
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?
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.
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: 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: 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)