Pearl Harbor

Factual error: When Rafe first presents himself at the RAF base, there is a scene with two Spits having the same RF-M squadron designators. Since this was the way individual aircraft were identified, such a thing would never come to pass.

Factual error: Japanese Naval officers say "We have hit battleship row. Now we must hit the smaller airfields." In actuality, the attack was planned to every detail so that all of their targets were hit simultaneously. (01:46:30)

Factual error: The scene of Doolittle speaking to the men who have volunteered for what would become the Tokyo Raid is filmed in a hanger. Historically this took place in the crowded Air Ops office at Eglin.

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.

Bronzewing
2

Factual error: In the scene where Rafe and Danny are kids fooling around in their father's cropduster the plane is a PT-17 Stearman or similar model. This plane was not in regular military usage until after 1934 and did not find its way into civilian hands until after WWII.

Factual error: In the scene where Petty Officer Dorie Miller is boxing, a sailor betting on the fight holds a wad of dollar bills where the top one shows the overprinting HAWAII. The HAWAII overprint notes were not introduced until July of 1942, when the U.S. government replaced all currency on the islands with overprinted notes just in case the islands were invaded by Japan. If they had been overrun by Japan, the notes would then have been declared illegal. (00:43:20)

Factual error: When you see the carrier from above, you can see that the planes take up more than half the deck space. If there were 420 feet of space to take off, that would mean that the carrier was at least 840 feet long. They were at most around 650-700 feet.

Jacob La Cour

Factual error: All of Jimmy Doolittle's "raiders" had leather flight jackets prepared especially for their mission to bomb Tokyo. On the back of the jackets was a message written in large Chinese characters that explained who they were so the Chinese (if the crew were lucky enough to reach unoccupied China which was the original plan) would not kill them. I also believe there were large U.S. flags and Chinese flags (the old Republic of China style) painted or sewn on the back of these jackets as well. This important costume detail was omitted in the movie.

Factual error: In the scene where the Japanese aircraft are launching for the attack on Pearl, an officer on one of the carriers holds a white flag in his right hand just as the planes are about to take off. Look carefully; the wind is blowing from the stern of the ship towards the bow (as evidenced by the position of the aircraft in the background). The flag should be moving in the opposite direction, as the carrier would be turned into the wind and moving forward at top speed to launch aircraft.

Factual error: As the Japanese fleet steams toward its launch point, there is a close up of the nose of a B5N1 Kate torpedo bomber with its distinctive two-bladed propeller. Trouble is, the Kates used against Pearl Harbor were B5N2's, with a two row radial and 3-bladed prop.

goofyfoot
1
Upvote valid corrections to help move entries into the corrections section.

Suggested correction: The B5N1 also used a three-bladed prop. The two-bladed prop aircraft in the movie is a Kate replica (a modified AT-6 Texan). All Kates used at Pearl Harbor were B5N2's.

I think the point is that the B5N2 also came with 2 bladed propellers. Whether or not they were used during the attack on pearl harbor is something for a real expert to say.

lionhead

Factual error: During the Air raid scramble of the RAF squadron, one pilot behind the RAF mechanic can be seen to be boarding a Hawker Hurricane, not a Spitfire. As far as I am aware, Hurricanes and Spitfires were never operated in mixed units. Squadrons had one or the other.

Bronzewing
1

Factual error: In the UK scenes on the RAF base there is an air raid. A hand cranked siren is used to sound the alarm, which is correct, but the siren is cranked continuously giving a constant sound. This is the "all clear" not an "air raid" warning. The air raid warning was a variable sound created by cranking hard for 5 turns then slackening off for 5 turns. If you want to hear the correct sounds, try these links Air Raid Warning: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schoolradio/history/worldwar2audioclipslibrary_clip02.shtml All clear:http://www.bbc.co.uk/schoolradio/history/worldwar2audioclipslibrary_clip20.shtml.

1

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.

terry s
1

Factual error: In January, 1942, US National insignia deleted the red ball in the center of the star. The Doolittle raiders are depicted with the old insignia, and while this was accurate on the fuselage and wing bottom, official US Navy photographs show that at least some of the B-25's had the newer insignia on the top left wing.

goofyfoot
1

Factual error: As with the film Tora! Tora! Tora!, in Pearl Harbor we see that two American fighter planes took off to fight the Japanese. In reality, a total of six American flights actually took off to repel the invaders.

Allister Cooper, 2011

Factual error: Early in the film, a close-up of Rafe in his Army Air Corps uniform shows his wings. The wings are not Army Air Corps, but the "shield and stripes" of the US Air Force, which did not exist at that time. Additionally, when a priest is giving last rites to the dying, he says, "In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit." But before the Second Vatican Council, it was "Holy Ghost."

Factual error: In the shot where they show the pictures the Japanese spies took, you can see the helicopter pads on the ships. Also, during the attack, helicopter pads are visible on some ships. The helicopter was not used until the Korean War, and they didn't have helicopter pads on ships until more recently.

Factual error: While the hospital did sustain some damage during the actual battle at Pearl Harbor, the Japanese forces did not deliberately target or fire upon it. Hospitals are usually avoided in battles as the people within are not in any condition to fight back and it would just be consuming ammunition that would be needed for attacking more practical targets such as enemy aircraft, assault vehicles, weapon repositories, and such.

jayo

Factual error: The USS Hornet, a Yorktown-class aircraft carrier launched in 1940, is played by a much more modern Kitty Hawk-class carrier. The B-25s also take off from a steel deck instead of a historically accurate wooden deck.

Factual error: As the RAF aircrew are running for their aircraft during the scramble sequence, one of the Spitfires can be seen showing a serial of 'AR4474' briefly. This is incorrect not only for a wartime Spitfire, but is completely out of sequence for any UK military aircraft. All four flying Spitfires used during filming had similar inaccurate serials. (00:38:20)

Gary Stedman
Pearl Harbor mistake picture

Visible crew/equipment: When Dorie Miller is in the hall of the ship, he is holding a tea or coffee set, on the left side of the screen you can see the hands of the camera focus puller and the wireless focus controller for a brief moment.

More mistakes in Pearl Harbor

President Franklin D. Roosevelt: I like sub commanders. They have no time for bullshit, and neither do I.

More quotes from Pearl Harbor

Trivia: Despite the numerous historical errors and gaffs in the movie, the only historical "fact" the filmmakers managed to do research on (and admit to supposedly) is that they consulted bottle collectors on what types of bottles to use during the battle scenes to administer blood.

More trivia for Pearl Harbor

Question: Where exactly was Dolittle when pearl harbor was being bombed?

Gavin Jackson

Chosen answer: Probably in Washington. He rejoined active duty in 1940, was assigned to consult with industry re aircraft manufacture; also a trip to England on special mission to evaluate other countries' air power. He requested a return to flying status but was refused. He then was asked to assess feasablity of a air attack on Japan from carrier based planes, and when he asked to lead the mission his request was accepted.

More questions & answers from Pearl Harbor

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