Memphis Belle

Memphis Belle (1990)

25 mistakes - chronological order

(2 votes)

Factual error: They hold a huge dance in the hangar at night, and Dennis leaves to walk to the Memphis Belle through the hangar doors, which are wide open. The whole flight line, tarmac and hangar are bathed with light - on a US Air Force base in East Anglia during the blackout. Blackout restrictions were rigidly enforced and were not eased until September 1944. The last mission of the Memphis Belle was in May 1943.

Factual error: One of the most carefully rationed materials in World War 2 was rubber. There were no rubber-like plastics or other synthetics in those days, so what were all those balloons at the dance made out of?

Factual error: The Memphis Belle's 25th and final combat mission did not result in her returning to base badly crippled as shown in the film. The propaganda and morale boosting value of her completing her combat life was so important to the U.S. Army Air Force that her final assignment was an uneventful "milk run".

Factual error: When the radio operator was asking for a radio check he used a phonetic alphabet. He use the word Tango, representing the letter T. Tango is the modern and current phonetic representation for T. In the 1940's the word was Tare. Able, Baker...Roger, Sugar, Tare, Uncle...Zebra.

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Suggested correction: British forces adopted the American phonetic alphabet in 1942.

American forces weren't using "Tango" until 1956. When the British and American forces coordinated calling alphabets in 1943, they used "Tare", not "Tango."


Continuity mistake: After the Memphis Belle drops its bombs and scores a direct hit on its target you see the Memphis Belle lift up and turn right with the bomb bay doors closed. The next scene the bombadier says "okay, bomb bay doors, closing" and you see the doors close again.

Factual error: These bombers were flying at a very high altitude. The air at that altitude was extremely cold. In fact, many wounded airmen survived because the exposed wounds would freeze and therefore stop the bleeding. Due to the fact that the cabin was not pressurized, this necessitated the need for oxygen,"bomber's jackets" and gloves. Under NO circumstances would airmen remove their gloves to touch metal because their skin would instantly adhere to any exposed metal at that altitude/temperature. This makes the scene with the disappearing/reappearing medal seem unbelievable.

Terrell Wiggins

Continuity mistake: When the bottom turret is shot out, Rascal is hauled into the aircraft, and although the turret is completely destroyed, when the Belle lands, the bottom turret is visible and intact again.

Factual error: Dennis warns the crew not to go without their oxygen masks. Throughout the movie, most of them do. At a service altitude of 25,000 feet any B-17 crew member who went without oxygen for more than one minute would lapse into unconsciousness. After twenty minutes, they would be dead.

Deliberate mistake: When the crew are piling into their jeep to ride out to their aircraft, the gunners ask the officers what their target is, and are disgusted to hear that it is Bremen, a tough one. The gunners should know their target already. Gunners were briefed on their target, and told what kind of fighter opposition to expect.

Factual error: When the crews head out to their aircraft, the ground crews are just finishing "bombing-up" and preparing the planes. In reality, these jobs were begun while the aircrews were still in bed, and would be long finished by the time they arrived at their planes.

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Suggested correction: Due to the high number of missions which were cancelled at the last minute due to weather, ground crews often would leave the loading of bombs to the very last minute, to stop them having to unload them again after a last minute cancellation due to cloud cover. This is especially realistic as the mission in the movie is delayed for this reason. Source - "a real good war" by Sam Halpert.

Factual error: At the end of the film when the plane is struggling to make it back to the airfield it passes over some corn fields. You can clearly see the tramlines in the field created for the tractors to run through the crop with pesticide sprayers. Such things did not occur at the time of WW II.

Revealing mistake: The B17 that crash lands in the beginning appears quite realistic, until during a head on shot when you can see daylight through the clear nose from a window in the back of the plane. This shows it to be model as in the real plane bulkheads would block this from happening.

Visible crew/equipment: In the scene where Dan is being attended to by the crew after he has been hit you can clearly see that it is a prosthetic arm that they are holding up and not Dan's.

Factual error: Bomber crews in WWII were constantly shuffled around to fill losses and train new members or allow repairs on a plane. Contrary to what the film tells us, Captain Robert Morgan's crew only flew 21 missions in Memphis Belle, though bomber and crew both completed 25 total missions.

Grumpy Scot

Continuity mistake: When the 3rd engine is going out, you see both of the landing gears are up, but it was just moments before that Dennis already lowered the left landing gear.

Continuity mistake: In one scene, Jack discovers the 'couldn't get laid last night' note Genie taped to his back, then a couple of scenes later, when Rascal is telling the crew the joke he heard from one of the waist gunners from Windy City, the note is taped to his back again.

Factual error: At the start of the film, the date is shown on-screen as May. During the film, some of the crew are seen talking to the farmer in the adjoining field - the wheat shown is far too advanced for May, and stubble is shown later.

Factual error: I have read previous remarks on the site referring to the presence of 'tram lines' in the crops in the shots of the crippled bomber struggling to come in to land at the airbase, indicating that this is an anachronism. If you refer to the opening sequence of the film there is a caption referring to the date May 16th. 1943. At that time of year there would have been no golden, ripened wheat/barley in any case. It would still have been green - certainly in those days, when crops would have ripened later, if anything. In most outdoor, daylight shots of the airbase these same ripened crops can be seen in the background, so at least the filmmaker gets this consistently wrong.

Factual error: In the movie the Belle wears the wrong nose art. While in service the words 'Memphis Belle' were written in a plain font. The fancy font was added later back in the US for her bonds tour.

Richard Rascal Moore: Yeah Luke, why go back to the daily grind of being a lifeguard? Take it easy.

More quotes from Memphis Belle
More trivia for Memphis Belle

Question: What was the ball of fire as the planes are landing to the right of the screen?

Answer: That would be a flare being fired from the aircraft. Yellow ones meant the aircraft had sustained serious damage, although that was often self-evident, and a red one meant that there was a seriously injured crewman on board - prompting first aid teams to be ready to meet the aircraft once it had landed. Their was also an unofficial green flare that meant someone had completed their tour of duty.


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