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 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).

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Suggested correction: That's not entirely correct. Type XB (minelayer) had been also used as a supply boat. And these subs had 2 stern torpedo tubes. Also, Lt. Hirsch mentioned that "a resupply submarine sailed from the Lorient U-boat pens..." There was never any Type XIV boat in Loriont stationed. They were to large for the bunker systems there. But the Type XB boat U-116 was in Loriont at the time (May - September 1942).

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. (00:06:00)

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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

100 metres is 330ft. If depth charges were that effective, the Battle of the Atlantic would have been won in days. Escort ships used to drop ten charges in a pattern to sandwich the sub when they exploded.

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. (00:08:05)

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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.


Other mistake: A German U-boat could dive in less than 30 seconds. By the time the boarding party even got to the conning tower the boat would already have been submerged.


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Suggested correction: Just because it can, doesn't mean it has to. Not a mistake.

Yes mistake. The order to crash dive is heard. On a German sub the cry "Alarm!" always implied an order to crash dive as quickly as possible. A bit later the order to dive is given again. Practice on German subs was to open the quick-release vents as soon as the prompt "hatch latched" was given - in case of air attack often before that, meaning the vents were already open while crew members were still dropping through the hatch, resulting in the last guy getting an involuntary shower. True, the boat couldn't have dived in record time because they had no way in the ship, but still, at the very least the first thing the boarding party should have needed to do after taking the Central of U-571 should have been to close the vents and blow the tanks.

Doc Premium member

Character mistake: At the beginning of the movie, the German sub gets surprised and severely damaged by a destroyer. The sonar man first notices the enemy destroyer approaching, but only a short time before the destroyer is already literally on top of the sub. German sonar at the time had the capacity to detect ships up to more than 7 miles away, so the sonar man really had to be asleep at his sonar station not to notice the destroyer approaching. (00:03:40)

More mistakes in U-571

Lt. Commander Mike Dahlgren: Relax gentlemen. She's old... but she'll hold.

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.

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Question: At first we learn that Tyler is not getting his own submarine, but then a few scenes later and he's being fired from the navy. What happened?

Answer: Technically he's not getting fired, but Dahlgren did not recommend Tyler for his own command, and he won't get a promotion without Dahlgren's recommendation. Therefore, Tyler's only choices are to keep being an executive officer (which is possible but not what he wants, not to mention Tyler feels betrayed by Dahlgren and isn't sure he wants to continue working with him), or leave the navy entirely.


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