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: 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)
Continuity mistake: After Doolittle's bombing raid on Tokyo and the planes are flying towards China, the sun is setting behind the planes. The planes are flying west, so they should be flying towards the setting sun.
Visible crew/equipment: When Rafe receives his medal if you look to the left of the screen you can see a camera.
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.
Continuity mistake: In the scene when Danny and Evelyn are at the restaurant after they hear the news about Rafe's death, as the camera comes in on them from outside her milkshake is full to the point of overflowing but when they switch angles to show them from the inside the milkshake is half gone. (00:54:55)
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.
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.
Continuity mistake: Close to the beginning when Rafe is in England and we hear sirens going off signifying they're going to attack, he runs over to his aircraft and shouts at a guy. If you look closely at his aircraft it says on the side RF T, yet in all other shots we see him in the aircraft marked RF M. (00:39:15)
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: 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 .
Continuity mistake: In the scene after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Danny and Rafe get a message to go to see Colonel Doolittle, and the camera cuts to a taxi. The driver is standing inside the door of the taxi, but in the following shot of Rafe from inside the building, the driver is now standing with his arms crossed at the front of the car. (02:08:35)
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.
Continuity mistake: In the scene where Evelyn and Rafe are by the ship they show a close up of Evelyn and she is wearing a dark color eyeshadow. Then when Rafe tells her he is going to war she has light eyeshadow on. Then the next close up of her the dark eyeshadow is back.
Continuity mistake: When the black cook is in a boxing ring with the big guy, the cook beats the big guy. Just before the big guy falls you can see a man over his left shoulder saying something like, "That's it, that's it", but in the following shot he is on his right (there's nobody else in the ring so it can't be someone else). (00:44:25)
Continuity mistake: In the scene where Rafe gets his medical check, he has problems reading. But in a later scene, he has no problem writing letters to Evelyn, and has no problem reading them.
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.