Factual error: At the end of the movie, a Willys is shown with an inscription on the back: "Left hand drive vehicle." The scene takes place in Midway or Pearl Harbour. This inscription on the vehicle was only for the US forces in England beginning in 1944.
Factual error: The Doolittle Raiders flew B-25B planes. In the movie it shows the B-25J with a tail gunner.
Factual error: Norden bombsights were removed from the Doolittle B-25's for fear they would fall into Japanese hands. Yet they are shown in the movie.
Factual error: Only four B-26 bombers attacked the Japanese fleet, not the dozen shown in the movie.
Deliberate mistake: In the film, American aircraft carriers carry no fighter planes. It was a weird choice...pilots who were naval fighter pilots were edited out of the story, and Wade McClusky, who in reality was previously a fighter pilot but moved into dive bombers had his story changed for the film to have him previously had been a torpedo plane pilot instead.
Factual error: When the destroyer IJN Arashi breaks off its depth charge attack on the USS Nautilus, the Nautilus comes to periscope depth for a look. The view through the periscope shows the Arashi as being equipped with a Pagoda style mast. The Arashi was equipped with a bipod mast. Pagoda style masts were only on the Japanese battleships.
Continuity mistake: When the B-26 bombers from Midway attack (aside from being to many as mentioned in another posted mistake) the overhead view of the formation shows the B-26 in the back, middle of the formation hit. Both engines erupt in flames and the bomber starts to drop from the formation. The scene then cuts to the Japanese gunners' perspective, showing the B-26 formation from below. The bomber in the back, middle of the formation is no longer on fire and moments later the B-26 just forward and to the left is hit and the engines start to burn. If this was intended to show an overlap in time of the same scene, as simultaneously viewed from two different perspectives, then the visual effects of the flames, from the Japanese perspective, was applied to the wrong bomber in the formation.
Factual error: In the movie, when the land based bombers from Midway first attack, a Japanese lookout reports enemy planes approaching from "nine o-clock." This would be from the port side of the Japanese fleet. In the actual battle, the first wave of Midway based aircraft approached from various angles between "one o-clock" to "three o-clock", the starboard side of the Japanese fleet. Furthermore, in the movie, the scene showing the Midway bombers approaching the Japanese fleet show them approaching from the starboard side of the fleet. The long distance aerial shot show clear skies on the port side of the Japanese fleet. During the actual battle, the first carrier based aircraft to arrive, the torpedo bombers, which arrived later, did approach the Japanese fleet from the port side. It's possible the scene reporting the attack from "nine o-clock" for the arrival of the Midway aircraft is an editing error and was intended to announce the detection of the approaching carrier based torpedo bombers.
Factual error: The Doolittle Raid occurred on 18 April, 1942. They were forced to launch early when they encountered Japanese picket vessels. In the movie, they show the Hornet and Enterprise rendezvous, the encounter with the Japanese picket vessels and the launching all occur on the same day. In actuality the Hornet and Enterprise rendezvoused approximately 10 days prior to the encounter with the picket vessels and the launch.
Continuity mistake: Near the end of the movie, after Best has bombed the Hiryu, McClusky and Dickenson are standing on the Enterprise deck, speculating on where Best might be. The view behind them is toward the bow of the Enterprise and you can see the sun low on the horizon. Dickenson turns toward the stern, with the camera view from behind him and looking towards the stern. Again you see a view of the sun low on the horizon, this time off the stern of Enterprise.
Factual error: Captain Bernard Rawlings, the British naval attaché in Tokyo at the beginning of the film, wears no medal ribbons. In fact, as depicted in photographs, Rawlings would have had several ribbons by that stage, including First World War service ribbons and the OBE he was awarded in 1920.
Factual error: The scene shows May 29,1942 as the date for the Admiral Nimitz medal ceremony on the flight deck of the USS Enterprise in port Pearl Harbor. That medal ceremony actually took place in Pearl Harbor onboard USS Enterprise on May 27, 1942. USS Enterprise and USS Hornet departed Pearl Harbor headed for Midway on May 28, 1942. (01:11:37)
Factual error: The TBD Devastator bombers at one point are shown armed with both torpedoes and bombs. While the Devastator could be armed with either torpedoes or bombs, it could not carry both at the same time. Furthermore the bombs are shown being fitted under the Devastator's wings, the Devastator had no hard-points under the wings in reality.
Factual error: During the funeral scene for the men killed at Pearl Harbor, specifically the LT from the Arizona, it shows the white wooden crosses marking the graves in a disorganized pattern. All graves are arranged so that when looking at the crosses or head stones they all form a straight line in every direction.