Factual error: The four U.S. Navy ships moored side-by-side shown in the film during the attack are mothballed Spruance Class Guided Missile Destroyers built during the late 1970s. The large boxes near their bows are box launchers for anti-submarine rockets, known as ASROCs.
Factual error: When Danny is paying tribute to Rafe after he is shot down, he pours Jack Daniels into a glass in front of Rafe's picture. The bottle of Jack Daniels is a modern bottle with all the awards on it that were not on it in the 1940s. (00:49:25)
Factual error: The Zeros in the movie are not the right model for the attack on Pearl Harbor. The ones featured in the film are exact replicas of A6M5 Zeros which can be denoted by looking at the engine exhaust ports. The A6M5 did not come out until later in the war. The correct model should be the A6M2.
Factual error: During the first scene of the adult Rafe and Danny at Mitchell Field on Long Island, there are large hills/mountains visible in the background. There are no large hills or mountains located anywhere in Long Island. (Scenes were filmed elsewhere, including Hawaii, which explains the hills/mountains, but this is a mistake nonetheless, since they are supposed to be at Mitchell Field at Long Island, NY.)
Factual error: Doolittle's B25s were an early version, while in the scene aboard the carrier, they have side gun mountings and four-point fifties in bulges on both sides of the nose. These were implemented in much later B25G versions.
Factual error: One shot of the "Japanese fleet" at sea clearly shows a nuclear-powered super-carrier, surrounded by guided missile-armed cruisers and destroyers. (01:13:15)
Factual error: Towards the end of the film, when the United States launches an attack on the Japanese ammunition factories, the planes fly over Japan and show shots of geishas to establish the country. Japanese geisha communities were shut down by the Japanese government at the beginning of World War II.
Factual error: The spinning fan on the bomb wasn't the fuse itself - it was meant to arm the fuse, so that the bomb would detonate on impact. It needed to make only several spins to work. The bouncing bomb in the airfield scene should make a big hole, not bounce. It should also suffer some damage, while in the scene even the thin stabilizers are intact.
Factual error: At the RAF airfield, Spitfires are shown lined up right in front of the ground crew's tents. After almost two years at war, and with Luftwaffe attacks still a regular occurrence, it seems highly unlikely that any RAF squadron would be stupid enough to try and sleep on top of their aircraft, which might be bombed or strafed at any time. In reality the only thing that close to the aircraft would have been the dispersal hut where pilots on readiness that day would wait for a scramble order.
Factual error: As Danny and Rafe prepare to depart for Florida to train for the Tokyo raid they board a DC-3 to take them to the mainland, with the nearest point 2,400 miles away. It would have been a wet trip: the DC-3 had a range of 1,600 miles. Military transport to the mainland in early 1942 would be by ship, " Clipper" seaplane or a stripped-down bomber.
Factual error: In one scene before the battle starts, a crew member is having his P-40 decorated with noseart. However, before late 1942, noseart wasn't allowed by the USAAF, unless you had a commander who really didn't mind. Lieutenant General Walter Short, who was in charge of the P-40's at Pearl Harbor, wasn't one of those commanders.
Factual error: Just before the attack on Pearl Harbor begins you see a scene of some Japanese planes flying in a place called Kualoa Valley. Two boys watch these planes fly by. Here is the error - in order to get to Pearl Harbour they would have to be flying almost the exact opposite direction, these planes were flying out of the valley...back out to sea.
Factual error: When the Japanese pilots are taking off the carrier deck, there is an overhead view of the launch. The carrier in the scene has a angled deck. The angle deck carriers didn't come along until after the war was over.
Factual error: While Rafe is on the beach during the training to take off from an aircraft carrier, and burning some letters, mountains are noticed in the background while he is conversing with Danny. The actual location for this training took place on the historic "Doolittle Ramp" located at Hurlburt Field, Florida, near Eglin Air Force Base. The site is within 100 yards of the beach among numerous trees. There are no mountains (low hills maybe) in Florida .
Factual error: When the raiders are just over their targets, the pilots of the flights order bombs away and the bombs immediately drop. The problem with this is it's the bombardiers job to decide when to drop the bombs on the target. If the pilot dropped the bombs, you wouldn't need the bombardier or the bomb sight.
Factual error: At the launch of the Dolittle raiders, the seas were stormy with waves breaking over the carrier's bow, not completely calm, as shown in the movie.