Factual error: Not one Navy uniform has the placement of Officer's rank insignia on the collar correct, especially the single bar for Ensigns and JGs. They are all too far up. Insignia are not centered in the collar point, but placed about a thumb's width distance from the point.
Factual error: When Commander Eddington is being released from the brig into Captain Torrey's custody, the person manning the desk has an armband that says MP, and the captain calls him "sergeant" but the sign on the front of the desk says "US Navy" and the sign on the front of the building says "Shore Patrol." The man at the desk should have been wearing an SP armband, and Captain Torrey should have addressed him by a Naval enlisted rank. (00:36:14)
Factual error: Throughout the film the characters are often seen riding in M151 jeeps (horizontal grill slits) which were not in production until the Vietnam era. Odd because they did have a few correct era Willy's jeeps on the set, usually seen in the background
Factual error: The film takes place during World War II yet the hair styles of the females, particularly the young ones, are straight out of 1965 when the film was released.
Factual error: The San Francisco house that Paula Prentiss leaves in order to catch the trolley to meet with her husband Tom Tryon's arriving ship is located on the corner of Lombard and Hyde Street. Famous for being the most crooked street in the world, is a mile and a half from the piers. In a later scene they are indoors when Tom Tryon pulls a shade down, you can see the San Francisco Bay Bridge and piers just below. This view would mean the house has moved to San Francisco's Telegraph Hill, the only location with such a clear view of the bridge, which is quite a distance away from the house's original location.
Factual error: During the final battle scene, none of the Admiral's staff, including the Admiral are wearing battle gear, i.e. helmets & life jackets, as required by the navy.
Factual error: When the Admiral asks for ships who have answered the "sortie" call the comment is made that none of the responding ships are radar equipped. A shot of the destroyer shows a radar antenna at the mast top.
Factual error: Commander (later Captain) Eddington has a problem identifying warships. At Pearl Harbor, he incorrectly identifies USS Providence (CL82) as an AA cruiser (hull's in the 50's). Then, while piloting the PBJ in search of the Japanese fleet, he identifies the Yamato as having 12 main guns.
Factual error: Just before John Wayne's ship is torpedoed there are several shots of a neighboring destroyer out of the bridge's windows. The bow number is 298. DD-298 is the USS Percival, which was launched on 5 December 1918 and decommissioned on 26 April 1930 and scrapped in 1931. This is over 10 years before the beginning of WWII.
Factual error: As LTJG McConnell is standing to colors on the USS Cassidy, he gets a call from the radio room, informing him that they are picking up "plane to plane chatter in Japanese". Until the attack actually commenced, the Japanese maintained strict radio silence, and upon commencement the coded signals "To, To, To", and "Tora, Tora, Tora" were sent by Fuchida's radioman, neither of which would necessarily be interpreted as Japanese.
Factual error: When Rock is shaving, and then when he goes to Eddington's cabin, both cabins and the passageway have fluorescent lights. Since this type of lighting wasn't commercially available until earlier in 1941, it is unlikely that an elderly heavy cruiser like "Swayback" would have been equipped with such modern lighting.
Factual error: When Kirk Douglas is at the morgue to identify his wife's body, he asks the attendant about the man she was brought in with. The attendant replies, "The Army Air Force claimed the body this morning." Unlike Britain, the United States had no Air Force until 1947. A correct reply would have been "The Army..." or "The Army Air Corps..."