The movie Pearl Harbor scored at the box office when it was released in 2001, but historians to this day see the movie as oversimplified and inaccurate.
What are some of the little known Pearl Harbor movie facts that most viewers don’t see when watching the film? That’s what this post is for.
Fact 1: Crop dusters weren’t around in the 20’s
The first scene of Pearl Harbor features two boys in 1923 playing with a crop duster. What most movie viewers don’t know is that crop dusters were not commercially available until the late ’30s – about 15 years after this scene.
A small movie mistake, but a fun fact nonetheless.
Fact 2: Torpedos are useless on airfield attacks
In an attack scene from Pearl Harbor, Director Michael Bay has Japanese torpedo bombers attacking American airfields.” Torpedos are self-propelled weapons with an explosive warhead, launched above or below the water surface, propelled underwater towards a target, and designed to detonate either on contact with its target or in proximity to it.
What are the Japanese going to torpedo on an airfield? Who knows…this could be one of the larger Pearl Harbor movie mistakes that made the final cut.
Fact 3: Putting 21st century communications technology into a 1940s aircraft.
Look, Pearl Harbor Warbirds owns an authentic SNJ aircraft from the World War II era. The communications technology on the original aircraft was not something that you’d find in our aircraft today.
In one Pearl Harbor scene, the pilots communicate with the ease with men in a control tower; and, in a later scene, a woman in Hawaii is able to hear, as if over the radio, an entire battle play out, thousands of miles away.
That just wouldn’t happen with 1940s communications technology.
Bruce Reynolds, a nationally regarded military historian, agrees:
“The idea that she can hear the in-plane radios while sitting back in Hawaii is nonsense,” says Reynolds. “Planes did not have radios like that. And the control-tower scene is ludicrous. These things are pure Hollywood and have no relation to reality.”
Fact 4: Who plays baseball at 7 in the morning?
The attack on Pearl Harbor took place around 7:55am on December 7th, 1941. In the Pearl Harbor movie, the director shows people playing baseball in Oahu…but who really plays baseball before 8am?
Fact 5: E-2 Hawkeyes weren’t in service until the early 60’s
In the control tower scene after the stunt flying, look closely in the background and you will see the shapes of E-2 Hawkeyes. The E-2 wasn’t in service until the early 60’s.
Pearl Harbor Warbirds offers the best Hawai‘i flight adventure tours available. Be immersed in the details of the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor and soar above the important sites that played a part in the “Day of Infamy.” Relive history as you retrace the steps of the Army and Navy airmen in the days following the bombing. Fly on some of the same routes the Japanese attackers used into the airfields at Wheeler, Kāne‘ohe and Bellows. There are many air tours in Hawai‘i, but only one warbird airplane flight. Located in Honolulu, Hawai‘i Pearl Harbor Warbirds provides a personal historical experience making it one of the best O‘ahu attractions.
Experience an immersive two hour adventure that allows you to relive history as a Naval Aviator and fly Pearl Harbor like it was on December 10th, 1941. Learn more about the Admiral’s Warbird Adventure.