Pearl Harbor

Corrected entry: When he is shot down, Rafe's Spitfire squadron initially engages a bomber formation. In the RAF, Spitfires were never sent after bombers. Because of their higher speed, they were always sent after the escorting fighters. It was the Hurricane squadrons that would be assigned to the bombers.

Correction: Air battles are very fluid affairs. While in practice, Spitfires where launched after German fighters, a sudden course change by the German fighter formation could potentially put them out of practical intercept range for any one formation of Spitfires. As such the airborne Spitfires might be diverted after a nearby bomber formation. Examination of the historical record will show many Spitfire pilots credited with bomber kills during the Battle of Britain.

Correction: Not true. Spitfire and Hurricane squadrons were scrambled against an enemy formation irrespective of the type of aircraft approaching, fighters or bombers. As for what type of aircraft they were going to engage would, more often than not, not be obvious till visual contact was made.

Corrected entry: In one of the airfield scenes during the Pearl Harbor attack you can see a plane in the background with the word NAVY on it but an Army Air Corps Star on it.

Correction: There was no such thing as an Army Air Corps Star. The white star with a red center and blue backround was the standard insignia of all U.S. aircraft. Just look at any early or pre-war photos of navy aircraft such as the F4F Wildcat, SBD Dauntless or even the U.S.S. Macon, Akron or Los Angeles.

Corrected entry: In the scene where the two 'heroes' are flying through Pearl Harbor chased by the Japanese planes, they are flying P40 Warhawks, a plane much inferior to the Japanese Zero plane. And somehow they easily out-manouevre the Japanese planes and shoot them down. The P40 was taken out of service because it was so easily out-manouvered by the Zero.

Correction: Despite popular opinion the P-40 was in fact superior to the Japanese Zero on many levels. It was faster, more durable, had more armor, and a superior roll rate. The two pilots that Rafe and Danny are based on (Lts. Welsh and Taylor) actually shot down 7-8 planes (including 3-4 Zeros). Across the China-Burma-India and Pacific theaters P-40s bested Zeros frequently. The Royal New Zealand Air Force shot down 99 (mostly Zeros) and lost only 20. The AVG knocked down 296 to 12 losses. And the 23rd FG killed over 500 (mostly Zeros and Army counter-parts Oscars) to less than 20 losses. Furthermore, the P-40 COULD out-maneuver the Zero at speeds of 250mph or more because the Zero's control surfaces would freeze at those speeds. The P-40 was retired from Army Air Corps. service in August of 1944 due to the fact that superior fighters were available, but remained in active service with other countries throughtout the war. Finally, 13-kill ace and former commander of the 23rd FG Bruce Holloway wrote in his journal after test flying a captured Zero against a P-40, "the best short description for a Zero is a cheese box with an engine". Not a very glowing description, while many Japanese considered the P-40 to be one of the deadliest enemies at intermidiate altitudes.

Corrected entry: The landstripe seen at the bottom of the Cliffs of Dover in the Battle of Britain scene shouldn't be there. It was created as the Brits built their side of the Eurotunnel, completed in 1994...

Correction: The "landstrip" referred to is the rock ledge visible at lower tides below the Seven Sisters in East Sussex. I know as I live near there and saw the sequence being shot (before the CGI was added!). They are often used to represent the cliffs near Dover (e.g. as in Atonement) as they are both whiter and uncluttered with the port infrastructure.

Corrected entry: In the scene where Danny and Evelyn find out Rafe has been shot down in Europe it's raining with lots of thunder and lightning. Lightning is VERY rare in Hawaii.

Correction: Very rare doesn't mean impossible. I lived there for 6 months, not far from Pearl Harbor, and experienced thunder and lightning storms twice.


Corrected entry: Two men are seated on a stage painting the side of their ship when torpedos hit. There is no ship's maintenance work done prior to 0800 and certainly not on a Sunday unless it's of an essential nature.

Correction: I was in the army and had gotten in trouble many times. Punishment included doing work when everybody else is not - it's called in house punishment and is covered by the UCMJ. If was 8am Sunday rest and these guys were working then they had committed a transgression, stood before the captain and were ordered to paint the ship until the captain was tired.

Corrected entry: About half an hour into the film, the American president is holding a meeting to discuss sending more tanks, bullets, Britain and Russia. he refers to Britain as Brits. Britain has only been called this in the last 10-15 years.


Correction: No, I distinctly remember Britons being called "Brits" when I was a child growing up in the 70s in North America. The music industry in the UK has the Brit Awards, which were started in 1977. Also, the people of Britain were called Brits, not the country itself. The word has been around a long time, not just 10-15 years.


Corrected entry: When Rafe says, "Why the hell is the navy practicing this early on a Sunday morning?", his mouth isn't matching what he's saying. (01:27:35)

Correction: The reason why it's not matching is because it's Danny who's saying those lines, not Rafe.

Corrected entry: When the bombers crash land in China more than one crew member is killed. In real life only 1 man from the raid was killed. 71 escaped and 8 were captured, four of whom were executed as war criminals by the Japanese.

Correction: Actually, one died whilst bailing out and two died from drowning during the mission. Eight were captured, three of whom were executed by the Japanese and one died of malnutrition as a POW.

terry s

Corrected entry: There were no pilots from Pearl who participated in the Doolittle raid much less fighter pilots who would have needed to get retrained for bomber pilot flying which is too different from fighter plane piloting.

terry s

Correction: This is a historical drama not a documentary. Creative license is allowed.

Phixius Premium member

Corrected entry: The B25s the Doolittle Raiders used were heavily modified for the mission. One modification was removal of the radios, both to save weight and to eliminate the chance of an accidental transmission giving them away. Another was that the only guns on the planes were a single .30 cal machine gun in the nose and a .50 cal gun turret on top of the plane. Tail guns were never part of the plan, since a B25 could outrun most fighters. In the movie the planes seem to have more guns than they did, not to mention radios.

Correction: B-25's didn't have tail guns but black broom sticks were added to make it look like they had tail guns.

terry s

Corrected entry: Crashing into the English Channel at full speed, like Rafe did when he was shot down by the Messerschmitt, and then surviving the crash, is physically impossible. In the movie the airplane "dives" into the water, while in real life, it would just disintegrate against the surface of the water and the pilot would, most probably, be catapulted out of his seatbelts and then through his canopy into the water (And needless to add: he would definitely not survive).

Correction: You cannot say that, we have no indication about speed of the aircraft, exact angle of impact or any other detail that is necessary to tell how the airframe would respond to the water. And whether he would survive or not you can't tell either, two examples to show you what a body can bare: three fighter pilots who were shot down in WWII survived a free fall from over 5000m as they landed in a wood and there was a yugoslavian stewardess who fell out of an aircraft after a bombing at flightlevel 300 (10 km) and she survived the fall!

Ronnie Bischof

Corrected entry: When the bombing starts, someone asks Danny "What the hell is going on out there?" and Danny replies. "I think World War II just started." World War I was called The Great War until the 1950s, so there is no way Danny would know anything about the possibility of a sequel.

Correction: World War: first attested 1909 as a speculation, probably a translation of German "Weltkrieg". Applied to the first one soon after it began in 1914. "World War I" coined 1939, replacing "Great War" as the most common name for it; "First World War" first attested 1947. "World War II" so-called since 1939; "Second World War" is from 1942.


Corrected entry: At the start of the attack on Pearl Harbor there are large explosions and noise which makes Danny and Rafe wake up suddenly, but why are there a shot of sailors fishing like nothing's going on around them? (01:25:15)


Correction: They are not woken up by the explosions, they are woken up by the airplanes flying so near them. They even comment on "practicing this early on a Sunday" - practice does not involve blowing things up.

Corrected entry: What are Navy nurses doing giving physicals to Army pilots? The Army has its own nurses.

Correction: While I was in the Army stationed on an Air Force Base, I saw Air Force doctors and nurses. A military hospital is a MILITARY hospital.


Corrected entry: The B-25 had no way to accept more fuel from inside the plane.

Correction: A 60 gallon leak proof tank was installed in place of the lower turret which had an accessible filler neck. Ten five gallon cans of gasoline were carried in the rear compartment where the radio operator usually sat.

Corrected entry: Danny's father is a crop duster in 1923. The problem with that being that cropdusting didn't come about until after World War II.

Correction: Crop dusting started in August 1921, when a World War I plane was used to "dust" a field to get rid of Catalpa sphinx moths. This started crop dusting, and many people got into crop dusting, including Delta Airlines who started Delta Dusters, in the 1920s. Click for Source

Corrected entry: When the scene goes to Japan with the Admiral talking, just before, you see the Japanese flag. This is an old flag, but after the attack on Tokyo, as the planes land in China, you can see that the flag on the ground is the modern Japanese flag.

Correction: The "modern" Japanese flag has been in use since 1870 (excepting for some change in dimensions). both flags are correctly used. The one with the "rays" was a battle flag and not the flag representing the country.

Corrected entry: When Evelyn first enters Pearl Harbor, there is a tall building that clearly says, "Est. 1953." Obviously this is a little ahead of the times.

Correction: I've scoured the film for this building, and it really doesn't appear to exist. Unless someone can find proof (i.e. a screenshot or timecode), it's got to be marked as invalid.


Corrected entry: The name of the Hawaiian town "Haleiwa" is mispronounced each time the town's name is mentioned in the movie. It should be prounounced like "hall-le-eve-uh" and not "hall-lee-eva."

Correction: I was stationed in Hawaii for three years and the military personnel there were always mispronouncing local names. This may be a mistake but it's accidentally quite accurate.

Factual error: For some reason, Danny believes Rafe's story that he's been officially assigned to an RAF Eagle Squadron for "combat training." While almost 7,000 Americans did volunteer to fly for England before Pearl Harbor, these were either as civilians or Americans who joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. It was against the law for any citizen to fight for a belligerent power while America was neutral, so Rafe's superiors couldn't have ordered him to fight for Britain, and Danny would have known that.

More mistakes in Pearl Harbor

Rafe: Ma'am, I'm never gonna be an English teacher, but I know why I'm here, to be a pilot, and you don't dogfight with manuals, you don't fly with gauges, I mean it's all about feeling and speed and lettin' that plane become like it's a part of your body, and that manual says that a guy who's a slow reader can't be a good pilot... That file says I'm the *best* pilot in this room... Ma'am, please... Don't take my wings.

More quotes from Pearl Harbor

Trivia: Despite the numerous historical errors and gaffs in the movie, the only historical "fact" the filmmakers managed to do research on (and admit to supposedly) is that they consulted bottle collectors on what types of bottles to use during the battle scenes to administer blood.

More trivia for Pearl Harbor

Question: The IMDb lists a cameo by Matt Damon during the attack sequence. Can someone point out exactly where he appears?

Answer: He is in the scene where the smaller air-base is being attacked by the japanese. You have to look really closely but he is the driver of one of the jeeps right before the japanese bomb drops (the one that seems to be a dud and then explodes). Also, Matt seems to be one of the gunners on one of the first ships at Pearl Harbor to return fire (this is not verified but in slo-mo, one of the gunners seems to be him).

More questions & answers from Pearl Harbor

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