Pearl Harbor

Corrected entry: In one of the airfield scenes during the Pearl Harbor attack you can see a plane in the background with the word NAVY on it but an Army Air Corps Star on it.

Correction: There was no such thing as an Army Air Corps Star. The white star with a red center and blue backround was the standard insignia of all U.S. aircraft. Just look at any early or pre-war photos of navy aircraft such as the F4F Wildcat, SBD Dauntless or even the U.S.S. Macon, Akron or Los Angeles.

Corrected entry: The name of the Hawaiian town "Haleiwa" is mispronounced each time the town's name is mentioned in the movie. It should be prounounced like "hall-le-eve-uh" and not "hall-lee-eva."

Correction: I was stationed in Hawaii for three years and the military personnel there were always mispronouncing local names. This may be a mistake but it's accidentally quite accurate.

Corrected entry: As the Japanese planes roar over the Hawaiian Islands into Pearl Harbor, they fly over boys playing baseball; hardly a reasonable occurance at 8am on a Sunday morning.

Correction: This, in fact, did happen. See the following page Click here. The 15th entry states that this is incorrectly regarded as a goof.

Corrected entry: When Evelyn is woken up to the attack she's wearing her hair hanging loose. At the hospital she's wearing it in two French braids, one on each side of her head. Now this takes at least 10 - 15 minutes to fix and she would most likely need someone to help her. So she just stopped and arranged her hair in a nice hairdo before she went to the hospital?

Correction: It's quite possible she was able to do her own hair. I can do two French braids in about five minutes, and as a nurse, she would want her hair put up in a way that wouldn't get in the way.

Corrected entry: When Danny and Rafe meet Dolittle after Pearl Harbor, they're both promoted to Captains, yet for the remainder of the film they both continue to wear their Lt. bars

Correction: When an officer is promoted, he/she does not necessarily get the new pins/bars noting their new rank right away, nor would they receive their new pay right away. In today's military, sometimes more than a year can pass before the promoted officer will be "pinned" which means getting their new pins/bars in a small ceremony and getting their official pay raise.

Corrected entry: When the crew land in China, Alec Baldwin says something supposedly in Chinese and says it means, "I am an American." First of all there is Cantonese and Mandarin, and what he said was definetly not in Cantonese and it doesn't sound like Mandarin.

Shermie Au

Correction: I'm told by my Chinese friend (who speaks Cantonese and knows some Mandarin as well) that it is the correct Mandarin, and is pronounced ok considering it's probably the only Chinese Alec Baldwin knows.


Corrected entry: Military pilots are trained to fly a particular type of aircraft: fighter, bomber, transport, etc. In other words, a fighter pilot could not just get into a multi-engine bomber and take it on a combat mission. Doolittle's crews were all volunteers, but they were also all bomber men, selected from the 17th Bombardment Group.

Correction: Rafe and Danny are fictional characters. In the film, Doolittle knows they are great pilots, so selects them. They DO undergo a few months of training, rather than just hopping in and flying off, and Doolittle even mentions that they are going to learn to "fly them like fighters" anyway.


Corrected entry: In the scene where the Navy hospital is shown, outside the hospital, a bomb is dropped on a vehicle, but the bomb seems to disappear behind the truck instead of detonating on initial impact.

Correction: The bomb falls just behind the vehicle and explodes when it hits the ground, but still causes the truck to explode due to it's proximity to the impact.


Corrected entry: American Eagle Squadron pilots were volunteers, not USAAF pilots 'on exchange' with the RAF.

Correction: The character Rafe is fictional, and the writers wanted him to experience a few different aspects of war. Also, it's made clear that he DID volunteer, so though he isn't a civilian pilot, it's marginally accurate.


Corrected entry: In one or two scenes before Rafe got his injection from the nurse (Evelyn) at the hospital (just after the eye-test) he exchanged his medical status with another guy. That's why he gets the wrong injection is what they want us to believe, but Evelyn never even looked at his medical report. That report is still lying in front of Rafe on a movable desk and hasn't been touched.

Correction: She assumes he is in the right place, and only realises that he's had the shot already once she reads the file. He brought it along IN CASE she checked, but in the end didn't really need it.


Corrected entry: You'll notice Rafe couldn't get his hatch open when shot down in Britain but later when he explains how he survived, while under water the hatch seemed to open right up for him.

Correction: A little bit of luck that helped him escape with his life. After all, he did make a 'deal with God'.


Corrected entry: When Rafe, Danny and the rest of the guys get to the smaller airfield and they are taking cover as some Japanese planes fly past. It can be seen that a few have torpedoes hanging underneath the plane, but someone comments that the planes don't have any ordnance on them, and that they must be heading back.

Correction: This seems like a huge error, but in fact the torpedoes they were carrying wouldn't have been any use for attacking the airfield, so the comment must refer to the standard bombs that the aircraft also carried, and had run out of. In that case, they are 'heading back' to Battleship Row.


Corrected entry: In the scene where Captain Doolittle is congratulating Danny and Rafe on getting into the air and shooting down planes during the attack, he says that they shot down 7 planes. During the scene, they shoot down at least 8, 2 each through fire, and then 4 when they 'play chicken'.

Correction: If you watch the "chicken" shot carefully, you will see that two japanese Zeros hit each other head on, and the another plane flies into the wreckage. This adds up to three to be added to the four that the boys shot down through fire, totaling seven.

Corrected entry: In the scene where the two 'heroes' are flying through Pearl Harbor chased by the Japanese planes, they are flying P40 Warhawks, a plane much inferior to the Japanese Zero plane. And somehow they easily out-manouevre the Japanese planes and shoot them down. The P40 was taken out of service because it was so easily out-manouvered by the Zero.

Correction: Despite popular opinion the P-40 was in fact superior to the Japanese Zero on many levels. It was faster, more durable, had more armor, and a superior roll rate. The two pilots that Rafe and Danny are based on (Lts. Welsh and Taylor) actually shot down 7-8 planes (including 3-4 Zeros). Across the China-Burma-India and Pacific theaters P-40s bested Zeros frequently. The Royal New Zealand Air Force shot down 99 (mostly Zeros) and lost only 20. The AVG knocked down 296 to 12 losses. And the 23rd FG killed over 500 (mostly Zeros and Army counter-parts Oscars) to less than 20 losses. Furthermore, the P-40 COULD out-maneuver the Zero at speeds of 250mph or more because the Zero's control surfaces would freeze at those speeds. The P-40 was retired from Army Air Corps. service in August of 1944 due to the fact that superior fighters were available, but remained in active service with other countries throughtout the war. Finally, 13-kill ace and former commander of the 23rd FG Bruce Holloway wrote in his journal after test flying a captured Zero against a P-40, "the best short description for a Zero is a cheese box with an engine". Not a very glowing description, while many Japanese considered the P-40 to be one of the deadliest enemies at intermidiate altitudes.

Corrected entry: Since there was more than one pilot who died at the position of the crash-landing of Danny and Rafe's bombers, why did they take only Danny's coffin back?

Correction: There are many explanations for this: Maybe there wasn't enough room - it is a small plane, the plane only took back the people who landed in China, maybe the other coffins are brought out of the plane after the scene goes back to Evelyn.

Corrected entry: In the scene with Danny and Evelyn on the beach, Evelyn is wearing a two-piece bikini swimsuit. The "bikini" had not been invented yet. It was officially invented by engineer Louis Reard in 1946, named after the Pacific Atolls where A-Bombs were tested.

Correction: What Evelyn is wearing is a two piece bathing suit, which was available in the 1940's. The "bikini" bathing suit is more the tiny style that became popular in the years after the 1946 and is now generally accepted to mean any two piece bathing suit. has a photo circa 1941 showing two ladies wearing the 2 piece suits.

Corrected entry: In the scene where Ben Affleck and other U.S. pilots are running around Pearl Harbor during the attack, trying to dodge bombs and shoot at planes, he is carrying a civilian Thompson submachine gun. His tommy gun has a round "drum" clip, but the military specification M1A1 Thompson was not built to fit a drum clip.

Correction: The military, at that time, did not have the newer version of the thompson sub machine gun. You can see in pictures of early Pacific battles and North africa battles that U.S. soldiers used the civilian model thompson sub machine gun. I believe it was around mid to late 1942 that they redesigned it.

Corrected entry: When Betty is talking to Evelyn about her engagement to Red, she says they are going to wait two years to get married, until she is 19, which means she is currently 17. She must be a very brilliant young woman, because to become a Navy nurse, you must first have a four-year college degree in nursing. (All officers must have a bachelor's degree or higher in an appropriate field.)

Correction: When Betty is talking to Evelyn she says "...If I didn't fake my age and sneak into nurse school I whouldn't be here now with Red..."

Corrected entry: After the Japanese attack, a ship has turned upside down and you see them on the upturned hull trying to cut holes in it to rescue the trapped sailors. In this scene you see hands poking through small holes in the hull and the compartment filling with water. This section of the upturned hull is above the natural water level. So how can it fill with water and drown the men. The water would have to rise above its own natural level.

Correction: I believe it is physically possible for those men to have drowned, since I read that this particular scene is historically accurate. The explanation is that there was an air pocket created by the hull being above water level, allowing the men to breathe. When they drilled holes, it equalized the air pressure by allowing the air inside to escape, causing a vaccuum effect which drew the water level up over the men's heads and drowning them.

Corrected entry: As Cuba Gooding, Jr. fires the anti-aircraft cannon at the passing Japanese planes, you can clearly see the ammunition feed tray at the bottom right of the picture, full of crimp-ended (ie. blank) ammunition. No wonder he's not hitting anything.

Correction: It might not be a historical error. I have read that some AA-gunners at the time of the first Japanese attack – 0740 local time – had nothing but blank ammo to fire, but nobody seemed to notice. Or maybe they didn't care: they probably fired the ammo they had beforehand – just to do something. I have also read that much of the live ammo in the contingency stores had no fuses – or that these did not function, so that in many places the ground was littered with unexploded flak shells. The mistakes were corrected, and as the second wave attacked at 0850 many planes were heavily damaged, which was the reason there never was a third attack but the Imperial Navy steamed away to safety instead.

Pearl Harbor mistake picture

Visible crew/equipment: After Evelyn tells Rafe that she is pregnant, she walks away and leaves him standing by the gas pumps. The camera zooms out and a boom mic comes into view in the upper right hand corner. (02:17:25)

Low Cow
More mistakes in Pearl Harbor

Rafe: Ma'am, I'm never gonna be an English teacher, but I know why I'm here, to be a pilot, and you don't dogfight with manuals, you don't fly with gauges, I mean it's all about feeling and speed and lettin' that plane become like it's a part of your body, and that manual says that a guy who's a slow reader can't be a good pilot... That file says I'm the *best* pilot in this room... Ma'am, please... Don't take my wings.

More quotes from Pearl Harbor

Trivia: When the Japanese are heading towards Pearl Harbor, there is a shot of a pilot waving to kids playing baseball. This is a true story - the pilot was trying to wave them away before the attack started. (01:26:35)

More trivia for Pearl Harbor

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