Continuity mistake: When the Americans are first diving U-571, the Chief recommends "closing main vents". Tyler runs over and starts spinning two large red wheels. Each time the scene cuts back to him, he is spinning the wheels in a different direction. Left than right, than left again.

Grumpy Scot

Continuity mistake: At the very beginning U571 is being depth charged and forced to surface but the attacking destroyer has disappeared.

Continuity mistake: When the German in the bunk goes to shoot Matthew McConaughey, the man fires but the bullet doesn't hit the wall, only about 2 feet away, for a much longer time than it would have really taken. Also, when the American soldiers pass by the spot a few minutes later where the bullet hit (when they are looking at the dead German's ring) the bullet hole has suddenly disappeared. (00:43:40)

Continuity mistake: When the U-571 goes to 200m, it springs a bunch of leaks and everybody gets soaked. Then, there is a shot looking past Tank's left shoulder at Tyler and the chief talking. In this shot, Tank's shoulder is completely dry. The camera angle changes and then changes back, and in the next shot at this same angle Tank's coat is now dripping with water. (01:35:50)

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.


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.


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.

Plot hole: In the movie the German sub is in the middle of the Atlantic about 1500 miles from the American coast the American submarine is an S-Class boat which had a top speed on the surface of 12 Knots even less underwater and it spent part of the trip submerged. This means that it would have taken them at least 5 or 6 days to reach the German Sub. This is 1942 There would have been dozens of other German subs a lot closer who could have come to their rescue.

Clarence Daugette

Continuity mistake: When Mazzola dies, his eyes are initially open. The German captain pushes him away, and just before Mazzola's face goes out of camera he closes his eyes. In the next shot of him lying on his back on the floor, his eyes are open again.

Revealing mistake: When the German destroyer is hit by the torpedo at the end of the film it is seen to stop dead in the water upon the torpedo impact. In reality momentum would have carried the ship forward some distance after the explosion. A thousand or so tons of steel just does not stop on a dime unless it hits something like a mountainside.


Factual error: When the German "destroyer" is attacking, it drops a steady stream of depth charges. I reality, depth charge attacks were made by locating the sub on sonar and dropping a pattern of five or ten charges at a time when the escort ship was above the target. These were set for the estimated depth and would have gone off at roughly the same time.


Factual error: Several times the movie shows two torpedoes side by side, fired off simultaneously. This was not possible in German U-Boats, a simple timer prevented this and delayed firing the second or more torpedo by a few seconds. Torpedoes in WWII were prone to premature detonation and without this mechanism, one premature detonation could ignite a whole salvo, a significant risk of killing the sub that fired them.


Factual error: When Rabbit first checks the German sub's torpedo tubes, we catch a glimpse of the torpedo loaded in the tube, its propulsion screws visible. It is loaded incorrectly and missing the piston-type device put in behind the torpedo which pushes the torpedo out via compressed air. This torpedo wouldn't go anywhere when fired. (00:53:12)


Plot hole: The Americans disguise S-33 as a German Type VII U-boat to pose as the German resupply boat. This is a pretty bad idea, since all resupply boats are of the Type IXV and not Type VII. Of course in a severe storm the differences between types might go unnoticed, but the plan could not rely on that alone. In good visibility, any able German watchman would be able to spot the difference quickly.

Factual error: In reality, the planned boarding of the disabled sub would have been doomed to fail once the American and German subs met. Whenever German U-boats or ships met at sea, they were required to exchange a secret signal, usually consisting of a challenge-and-response using differently colored signal pistols. These signals changed daily and the Americans had no way of knowing this information.

Character mistake: After accurately depth charging U-571, the German destroyer crew suddenly turns out to be almost comically and unrealistically incompetent at the end of the movie. Not only do they barely hit U-571 with their guns, but they also can't keep up with the sub. But even with both submarine diesel engines running flank speed (of which U-571 only has one badly damaged engine operational), a common WWII destroyer would easily be twice as fast as a Type VII U-boat. The destroyer could swiftly close the distance and could either ram U-571 or cross the sub's wake to bring all its weapons to bear and make it more difficult to get hit by the sub. Of course the destroyer doesn't do that but stays perfectly in U-571's wake for an easy kill shot from its stern tube. In reality, it was considered an incredible feat to sink a destroyer with a torpedo, since they were agile at full speed, could easily dodge torpedoes and had shallow draft. This destroyer crew however, seems actively trying to get killed.

Factual error: The American crew tries to fool the German destroyer by launching a corpse and debris through the torpedo tubes. However, at more than 150 meters depth this would have been pretty much suicide. The outer torpedo doors of a Type VII sub were not designed to be opened in depths exceeding 20 meters. At 150 meters, the crew probably would have been unable to open them in the first place, but even if they did the brutal water pressure would have likely severely destroyed the outer and inner torpedo doors and caused the submarine to be flooded and crushed in seconds.

Plot hole: At the beginning of the movie, the German commander sends a radio transmission with the damaged sub's position at "AL 85-32." The German Kriegsmarine divided up the Atlantic in grid squares like these, but "AL 85-32" means the damaged sub is just roughly 375 miles west of Ireland, but more than 2700 miles from the US east coast. There is no way on earth the Americans beat the Germans to this location, especially since the German supply sub is already en route. Funny enough considering the controversy about the movie, for this position the British would have been in perfect position to intercept.

Factual error: After the Americans have stormed the German sub, they find the Germans tried to destroy the Enigma code books by throwing them into the bilge water, which is just below the deckplates in the torpedo room. However, there was actually a lot of room for machinery and reserve torpedoes under the deckplates, which means that the torpedo room would have to be flooded by more than 3 feet deep to even reach the deckplates. This means the whole torpedo room would have been flooded with at least 6.000 gallons of water, rendering the boat likely completely unstable, unfit to dive and overflooding the batteries in the room next to it, which released poisonous chlorine gas when in contact with sea water. Not to mention that this much water could only have been caused by a major leak, but neither Germans or Americans seem to be particularly concerned by any leaks or by the amount of water in the boat.

Factual error: At the beginning of the movie, the German commander wants to send an emergency message with coordinates to the BdU, the German Submarine Command, to send help. The scene is subtitled in English with "To Berlin: Location 85-32." However, the command post at the time was based in Lorient, France and not in Berlin.

Upvote valid corrections to help move entries into the corrections section.

Suggested correction: He didn't send the message to the BdU, his message was send to the OKM (OberKommando der Marine), which had its headquarters in Berlin, because it involved the enigma code (although the movie is only loosely based on historic events). These kinds of messages were always send to Berlin. This is because the OKM answered to the OKH, which in turn answered to Hitler who was of course also in Berlin. This is their concern, not that of the BdU.


Of course he does, the commander literally says to the radioman "Ruf an BdU absetzen: Position AL 85-32. Alle Maschinen ausgefallen, manövrierunfähig, erwarten Hilfe" or "Send transmission to BdU: Position AL 85-32. All engines out of service, unable to manoeuvre, we expect help." This was correct procedure, proper chain of command would always be to contact the BdU, not the OKM. Also the integrity of the enigma was probably not a concern at that time, the crew would have ample time to destroy all sensitive materials if they were in danger. The German commander's main concern was to get his sub back up and running.

Right, I couldn't understand that part before. But you are right.


Chief Klough: Those Krauts sure know how to build a boat.

More quotes from U-571

Trivia: U-571 cause quite a stir in England especially in the small northern town of Horsforth (where I actually live), because we felt the movie 'Hollywood-ised' a British victory. The people of Horsforth raised an astonishing £241,000 in one week (about £4million today) to fund the building of the HMS Aubretia, the ship that captured the first enigma machine when it depth charged U-110. It caused so much upset amongst people that President Bill Clinton wrote a letter to the people of Horsforth praising the town for their part in the war effort. The letter is now on display in the local museum.

More trivia for U-571

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