When Col. Bratton and Lt. Cmdr. Kramer walk into the Navy cryptography workroom, the Marine sentry at the door is wearing "modified blues" - a khaki shirt and tie with the USMC dress-blue uniform's red-striped blue trousers. The Marine Corps didn't adopt this uniform until after World War II.
Many of the US Navy ships visible during the attack on Pearl Harbor were not commissioned until the 1950s and 1960s, and even the genuine World War II-era ships seen in the Harbor have all clearly been extensively modernized since then. However, differently from the 2001 film Pearl Harbor, these anachronisms are more forgivable as many of those ships very closely resemble their World War II counterparts.
Early in the attack, one deck officer is shown wearing a "Caravelle" wristwatch with the imprint "Waterproof" on the dial face. Bulova's web site indicates that the Caravelle line of watches was introduced in 1962, some 21 years after the attack.
In the shot of the B-17s being towed, the plane has the Cheyenne tail turret. This wasn't introduced until the G-model, which didn't enter service until 1943. At the time of the attack, the E-model was just beginning to enter service.
When the Ward fires it's number one mount, a gun control radar
antenna mounted right above the gun can plainly be seen. Which is not surprising since the ship used for the Ward is a World War II destroyer escort which has no resemblance whatsoever to the USS Ward.
When all the Japanese planes launch from their carriers on the morning of the attack, there is a shot from a plane looking down at one of the carriers. The carrier is obviously a US Essex-class carrier with an angled landing deck modification. The angled landing deck didn't begin to appear on carriers until the mid 1950s.
When the U.S. Capitol is shown the morning of December 7, 1941 wooded braces were in place for reconstructing the columns of the entrance. This did not take place until 1969, about the time the movie was filmed.
When the movie moves to Nazi Germany for the Japanese signing of the Tripartite Pact, the SS guard outside the Reichschancellery is shouldering a Mauser with a late war barrel band. As materials and time became scarce in Germany, they had a cheap stamped barrel band instead of the early pressed (H-type) one.
When Ambassador Kichisaburo Nomura is speaking with Secretary Cordell Hull, 'Shogo Shimada''s voice is dubbed by Paul Frees. However, when Hull invites Nomura to sit down, you can hear Shimada speak with his own voice and then the dubbing resumes.
Shortly before the attack commences an officer tells Isoroku Yamamoto, "The Emperor wishes to follow the Geneva Convention, a declaration of war will be delivered at 1 pm, 30 minutes before the attack". The Geneva Convention deals solely with the treatment of PoW's and non-combatants, not the rules of war, a common misconception. He meant the Hague Convention III (1907) which does. Japan ratified but did not sign the Geneva Convention. They did sign the Hague Convention. Senior Japanese officers would be well aware of this.
In the beginning of the film when Col. Rufus S. Bratton (E.G. Marshall)
and Lt. Cmdr. Alwin D. Kramer (Wesley Addy) walk by a soldier just before entering the room, the soldier says to Bratton "good morning general" when you can see clearly he is a full colonel.
Possibly for dramatic license, So Yamamura, a rather tall actor, was cast as Admiral Yamamoto. The real Isoroku Yamamoto was rather short, about 160cm (roughly 5'3"), even for a Japanese man of his generation.
Jeff Donnell was almost 50 years old when she portrayed flight instructor Cornelia Fort. The real Cornelia Fort was only 22 when she became the first American to encounter the incoming Japanese attack force.
When a sailor is stepping back after handing over the American flag to be raised when the band is playing the "Star Spangled Banner" as the attack begins, the sailor stumbles backwards from tripping over the base of the flag staff.
Late in the attack, the USS Nevada is shown trying to make a run for the sea and we can see her steam past the USS Arizona. However, in an earlier scene, the USS Arizona had previously been hit, suffered a catastrophic explosion, and was burning. The USS Arizona is now shown to be intact and with no flames.
Prior to the launch, a hachimaki is presented to the commander of a Japanese Torpedo Bomber. The commander ties the headband over his goggles. Later, still prior to the launch, the hachimaki is now seen beneath his goggles.
The USS Oklahoma switches back and forth from being completely upside-down with only her hull above water to being half-capsized, many times in the attack sequence. In fact, the film ends with the Oklahoma only partially capsized, while earlier in the film, she had already completely 'turned turtle' once. Furthermore, real photographs of the Oklahoma after it had capsized show her hull very low in the water with only one propeller partially out of the water, while in the film, the capsized battleship seems to be quite high over the water.
When the instructor of the training flight realizes she is with the Japanese fighter planes, she looks around to see she is surrounded all around by them. When she speaks to the trainee pilot that she is taking control of the plane, there is a Japanese plane immediately to her left, so close you can see the Japanese pilots' faces. However when we see her taking evasive action, there are no Japanese planes any where near her plane.
In three consecutive shots of the Nevada making her run for the sea, you see an overhead shot of her steaming alongside the other Battleships in Battleship Row, then she is seen from a dock steaming alongside the dock (you even see a jeep pull up to the edge of the dock) and then back to the overhead shot alongside the other Battleships again.
When Lieutenants Taylor and Welch finally get their P-40s airborne, they are shown winging towards Pearl Harbor in the distance. Yet, there are no fires, smoke, or explosions from the devastation there.
When the Navy Catalina flying boats are being hit by Japanese bombs, their ailerons are shown already without any fabric covering them. Actually, the fabric would have been burned off by earlier strafing and bombing, yet the aircraft are shown unharmed until the explosions administer the coup de grace.
When Cornelia Fort is flying with her student, the Japanese planes catch up with her, as they are obviously faster aircraft, but in the next close-up they are flying alongside her plane at the same speed.
When the Ward attacks the Japanese minisub near the entrance to Pearl harbor, the minisub's depth is inconsistent between shots. We see it alternately with its entire sail out of the water, then with just the periscope visible.
When the Japanese planes are launching from their carrier on the morning of the attack, as the 3rd or 4th plane launches against the morning twilight, the head and camera of a cameraman can be seen silhouetted at the bottom of the screen.
Near the beginning of the movie General Short (Jason Robards) goes into an control tower staffed with Army personnel to observe Army bombers and fighters on an airfield. The control tower was actually a tower on Ford Island, which was under the control of the Navy and had only Navy aircraft there.
None of the attacking Japanese aircraft or the American aircraft on the ground have any identification numbers or letters on their tails or fuselages. In actual fact, every plane involved had such markings. Each American Army aircraft in the film (P-40's, B-17's, etc) should have had, as a minimum, its serial number stenciled on the vertical tail.
Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto's famous statement regarding Japan's chances in a war America was; "I can run wild for six months... after that, I have no expectation of success." The movie incorrectly shows him saying; "If we must, we can raise havoc with them for a year... after that, I can guarantee nothing."
The full-scale replica of USS Nevada seen throughout movie has too many 14-inch guns. USS Nevada and USS Oklahoma had 10 14-inch guns (2 3-gun turrets and 2 2-gun turrets, with one of each type turret fore and aft). The full-scale Nevada has 12 14-inch guns as found on later USS Arizona and USS Pennsylvania. The miniature models of Nevada and Oklahoma used in the Battleship Row sequences have the correct number and layout of 14-inch guns.
The film shows Cornelia Fort engaged in flight training in a Stearman "Yellow Peril" biplane. While her presence in the formation of attacking planes is accurate, she was flying in an Interstate Cadet monoplane that more resembled a Piper Cub.
On the USS Ward, her commanding officer is wearing the gold oak leaf insignia of a lieutenant commander. Her actual commanding officer, W. W. Outerbridge, was only a lieutenant, one grade below what is shown, on the day of the attack. This was reinforced by captain Earle's comment that the skipper was "just a green kid."
There is a door marked "Absolutely no admittance" to a room that contains highly classified decoding equipment. The door even contains a mail slot to pass documents through the door without revealing the room's contents. Several officers go into and out of the room. The door never seems to be locked and the room is unguarded. At one point an officer leaves the door to the room open for several seconds with his back to the room.
When the Japanese aircraft are taking off from the carriers to bomb Pearl Harbor, several of the aircraft that would have carried a crew of two or three (representing Nakajima B5N torpedo bombers and Aichi D3A dive bombers) are seen with a pilot and without the other crewmembers (gunner, radio operator, etc)
The Japanese "Zeros" (actually, modified American T-6 trainers) are shown dog-fighting with Taylor and Welch, yet still carrying their belly fuel tanks. Dog-fighting with belly fuel tanks is like fighting with one hand tied behind you. The Japanese would have already used the fuel in the tanks in getting to Hawaii and would have jettisoned them at the first hint of air combat.
Japanese leaders refer to the timing of the attack and delivery of their ultimatum to the United States as being in accordance with the Geneva Convention. This is related to the treatment of prisoners of war. The Hague Convention of 1899 lays out the process to declare war.
Just before the attack when the officers launch ties up at the dock on Ford Island, the two officers who get off the launch only salute the coxswain while disembarking. In Naval protocol since the launch was flying the ensign (American flag) from its stern, they would have had to salute the ensign after saluting the coxswain, just as if they were departing a ship.
The B-17s from the mainland are shown trying to land during the attack. The airfield on which they are trying to land is on Ford Island. No B-17s landed at Ford Island during the attack. They landed at Hickham Field, Haleiwa Field (where Taylor and Welch had their P-40s), Bellows Field, and a golf course.
The Japanese are shown marking various ship silhouettes with red slashes indicating either bomb or torpedo hits. The silhouettes shown represent different types of American ships, however, none of them are outlines of the US battleships at Pearl Harbor, the main targets of the Japanese. This is ironic because earlier in the movie the Japanese aviators are being shown flash cards of US battleship silhouettes and they are accurate.
When Adm. Halsey is watching the bombing practice, the number 14 is clearly seen on the bow section of the flight deck of the aircraft carrier he is aboard. Halsey's flagship was the USS Enterprise and its number was 6 but was marked 'ENT' in 1941. Number 14 was the USS Ticonderoga and was not launched until 1944.
Cornelia Fort, the civilian flight instructor who was conducting a lesson when her plane was surrounded by the first wave of Japanese bombers, was only 22 on December 7, 1941. The uncredited actress playing her appears several decades older. (Some unconfirmed sources credit Jeff Donnell with the role, and she would have been in her late 40s at the time of the filming.)
When the USS Arizona is hit by the fateful bomb, her magazine appears to detonate immediately after impact; this is incorrect as the bomb would have first had to penetrate her top deck and go down deeply enough to set off the magazine with its detonation, which in turn means that there would have been a brief delay from initial impact to the explosion.
When the USS Arizona explodes, the explosion is shown to completely cover the ship's top deck, going all the way to the rear of the ship; in reality, the explosion was mostly relegated to the forward portion of the ship. In addition to that, in the 'long shot' of the battleship exploding with the repair ship USS Vestal in the foreground, we see a dark plume of smoke emerge from the ship's funnel as the huge fireball from the main explosion billows; in the now-famous video footage of the ship exploding, the black smoke emerged from the funnel just before the rest of the explosion occurred.
Early in the movie there is a small Navy boat docking on Ford Island, with Battleship Row in the background. This is some time before December 7th, yet the USS California, the tanker USS Neosho, and the other battleships are in the exact locations they were on the day of the attack. The mooring locations of the ships in Pearl Harbor were not assigned, so there was little or no chance that the ships could have been at the exact same locations weeks or even days earlier.
Most of the devastation wrought on Pearl Harbor had already been covered in the movie before the attack on the P-40s at Wheeler Field is shown. In fact, the Japanese attacked the airfields first to ensure that their planes would encounter no opposition as they attacked the Navy ships in Pearl Harbor.
During a panorama of the devastation on Battleship Row, the Arizona and USS West Virginia are showing burning and exploding. However, there is a big explosion on the ship moored inboard of the West Virginia, which was the USS Tennessee. Tennessee was hit by two bombs, both of which failed to detonate or fizzled. The ship, however, was pinned against the mooring quays by West Virginia, and the Navy had to blast the quays to free Tennessee.
When the USS Arizona is bombed, another ship is shown moored some distance from the port side of the battleship. In fact, the USS Vestal was moored there, but it was right alongside Arizona, not many yards away. The Vestal was badly damaged by the Arizona's explosion and had to move away and beach itself to avoid sinking.
At the end of the movie the Japanese are listening to a radio report from Japan announcing the attack on Pearl Harbor. The announcer mentions the date of the attack as December 7. In actuality, the date was December 8 in Japan since it is on the other side of the International Date Line.
The P-40s that Lieutenants Taylor and Welsh are piloting are shown firing their .50 calibre machine guns. The P-40s piloted by Lieutenants Taylor and Welsh in the actual battle only had ammunition loaded for their .30 calibre machine guns.
When LtCmdr Alvin Kramer opens the locked blackboard listing the "Twelve Apostles" cleared to receive the Magic intercepts for Col Rufus Bratton, the Navy names include "Capt. R.E. Ingersoll." At the time of the events shown, Royal Ingersoll was a Rear Admiral and had been since 1938.
On the morning of December 7, Admiral Stark considers telephoning Admiral Kimmel to warn him of an attack, but decides he needs to speak to the President first. Stark actually asked General Marshall to have the Army commanders he was sending a warning message to inform their Navy counterparts.
Rufus Bratton is credited in the closing credits as "Lt. Col. Bratton" despite the fact that Bratton was a Colonel at the time of Pearl Harbor and seen wearing the insignia of a full Colonel throughout the film.
The real Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto lost two fingers from his left hand; this happened in battle in 1905. Look closely and you can see both fingers, which the actor is bending to hide from the camera (not always successfully).
IN the sequence in which the Japanese task force increases speed for the final-run-in to launch, ('From point D proceed to Point E - battle speed'.) the map on which the navigator plots his course is printed in English, with the point designations also printed in Roman letters, not Kanji ('Japanese') as a Japanese navigator would do.
At the beginning of the launch sequence when Admiral Nagumo, Lt, Cmdr. Genda, and some other officers exit the bridge to the platform which allows them to look down on the deck of the Akagi, where deck crew are s[potting the aircraft for launch, the door to the bridge, which is supposed to be made of steel plate, is obviously made of some much lighter material - wood or possibly even foam rubber.
When the Japanese planes are preparing for take-off on the carriers they are clearly floodlit, but when the film cuts to actual Japanese documentary film of the planes taking off (the Japanese Navy used color film) the planes are in shadowy early dawn light. There is also an accident with one of the Kittyhawk prop planes...it gets slightly airborne before crashing into a line of planes and sending one actor scrambling on all fours to safety.