Factual error: In the very beginning of the movie broadcasters around the world are commenting on the mysterious spaceship. To lend a bit of calm and normalcy one broadcaster notes that despite what is happening many people are enjoying the fine spring weather in the Capital, to this end picnics and the wonderful cherry blossoms are plainly depicted. Shortly afterward when Klatu leaves the hospital, he is seen examining the cleaner's tag on the suit he "borrowed". This is where he adopted the name Carpenter. Clearly printed at the top of this tag is the date 7/18 1951, not spring by at least a few months.
Factual error: John Wayne's squadron lands on Guadacanal as part of the "Cactus Air Force" in August 1942. However, they are flying F6F-3 Hellcats, which were not available, even to the Navy, until the middle of 1943. To top it off, they are painted in a late-war camouflage scheme with late-war markings.
Factual error: In the scene where the German East African troops are shooting at Bogart and Hepburn, their rifles are Gewehr 88 "Commission Rifles'" with five-shot magazines. In actuality, the German East African troops, under the command of Colonel Paul Von Letow-Vorbeck, were equipped with the absolute dregs of the Kaiser's arsenal: Gewehr 71 single-shot rifles, and Gewehr 71/84 8-round tube magazine rifles whose magazines usually got fouled and had to be used as single-shot rifles anyway.
Factual error: All of the Lydia's lieutenants are wearing epauletes on their left shoulders.only lieutenant commanders were permitted to wear one on the left shoulder, while the right shoulder was reserved for captains of less than 3 years' seniority.
Factual error: The scientists are supposed to be at or near the North Pole. When Capt. Hendry takes off from Anchorage, Alaska the sky is dark (day-for-night) but when he arrives at the Polar base it is broad daylight. The dialogue says the date is Nov. 2 (presumably 1951). Later, when the "Martian" is accidentally released from his block of ice by an electric blanket, the sky is dark again. Later the sun is back up. At the North Pole the sun sets around Sept. 21 and stays down until March 21, when it comes back up. NOAA says polar twilight lingers through "early October" but by November the sky is black 24 hours a day and stays like that for most of the next six months. Also, when he arrives Capt. Hendry is told the explosion took place about 50 miles "due East." If you're at the North Pole there's no such direction as "due East". No matter which way you head, you're heading due South. And from the plane, Hendry refers to "that peak ahead" being due East. The Arctic ice cap is a thick sheet of ice floating in the ocean. That's why submarines can sail underneath it. There are no "peaks" near the North Pole. These guys were thinking of Alaska, not the North Pole.
Factual error: Several union soldiers wading across the waist-deep river (and later climbing out of the river) are carrying the U.S. Springfield Rifle, Model 1903, which is a bolt-action, magazine-fed rifle (Note especially the soldier who climbs out of the river holding his rifle above his head.) instead of the historical accurate muzzle loading rifle. The Model 1903 was adopted by the US Army in 1903 and used in World Wars I and II, but not the American Civil War. For a picture of the Model 1903 Springfield Rifle, see: http://www.army.mil/cmh-pg/Museums/Showcase/Myer/Myer-4h.htm. (00:14:30)
Factual error: The Thunderfish is closing on the Japanese I-boat, at under 6000 yards, Duke orders flank speed. The hydrophone operator on the I-boat would have to be deaf not to pick up the noise of Thunderfish's propellers at flank speed. For those pundits who claim that their sonar might be down, hydrophones are a passive listening system.goofyfoot
Factual error: Sargent Nevins (Arthur Kennedy) is shown playing a pinball machine in the military rec room. When the camera turns to the play field of the machine, it is clear that this machine has flippers, and flipper buttons are visible on the side of the body. The movie takes place in 1943, but flippers didn't appear on pinball machines until 1947. (First machine to have flippers was Gottlieb's 'Humpty Dumpty.'. (00:37:30)ira