Midway Movie Poster

Goofs from Midway

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  • During the Pearl Harbor sequence, the characters go into a makeshift morgue. The dead are covered in pristine white sheets, with no trace of blood, oil, or other stains.
  • A scene at the Pearl Harbor Officer's Club shows officers and enlisted men drinking and dancing. Enlisted personnel are not permitted in Officer's Clubs, unless a guest of an officer.
  • The SBD Dauntless did not have dual .30 caliber machine gun mounts for the rear gunners until after the Coral Sea battle. The SBD-2s were 'upgunned' with the dual .30s just prior to the Battle of Midway. The film shows dual-.30s earlier than Midway.
  • Throughout the first half of the movie, the US aircraft don't have a small red circle in the center of the star insignia. Regulation orders of May 6, 1942, required removal of the red circle to avoid confusion with Japanese aircraft. All the Dauntless aircraft would've had the red circle in the Pearl Harbor sequences, the atoll raids, and Coral Sea (the regulation was released the day before that battle). Maintenance crews painted over the red dot between Coral Sea and Midway.
  • In the many dogfight scenes between the US SBD Dauntless dive-bombers and the Japanese Zero fighters, the action suggests that the Dauntless was just as nimble as the Zero. The Zero had superior flight characteristics to the Dauntless, including much faster airspeed and rates of climb. Even then, Dauntlesses were still exceptionally manoeuvrable and well-armed for a bomber, and, if well-handled, were a match for the otherwise superior Zero.
  • At the beginning of the attack, 12-16 twin engine B-26 bombers conduct a level bombing against Nagumo's flagship, the Akagi. In reality, Midway only had 4 B-26s deployed, and these had been crudely fitted with torpedoes, so they would have attacked at about the same altitude as the Navy Devastators seen before and after the scene.
  • John Ford was indeed wounded in the arm during the battle while filming for The Battle of Midway (1942). However he was in a much more precarious position, standing on top of the power plant on Sand Island, one of the most obvious targets for the Japanese Navy. He survived multiple attacks.
  • At least one B-25 bomber aims its bombs with a Norden bomb sight. As it was almost certain that many of the planes would would be shot down and the top secret sights recovered by the enemy, the sights were removed and replaced with a less risky aiming device. It resembled an astrolabe, was called the Mark Twain, and cost 20 cents.
  • The movie states that Japan's goal was to eventually invade the US. In reality, Japan knew they couldn't beat the US in a protracted war. Their objective was to draw the US Navy into a decisive battle so demoralizing that Japan would be able to negotiate an end to the war within 6 months, and at least keep the oil, steel, and rubber resources in Indonesia. To do that, they had to threaten a US possession that the entire US Navy (including its carriers) would be willing to fight for. They chose Midway, which was close to Hawaii.
  • In the Order of Battle VT-8 (TBD torpedo planes) from Hornet attacked first, not VT-6 torpedo planes from Enterprise. Yorktown's VT-3 attacked last and actually had fighter cover from VF-3 commanded by CDR John Thatch.
  • The markings on the US aircraft were correct for the time period of the Midway battle, but not for all the earlier stuff (Pearl Harbor, the Marshalls, Coral Sea, etc.). It has already been pointed out in this Goofs section that all the aircraft, through the Coral Sea battle, should have a red disk in the center of the white-star marking. In addition to that, the naval aircraft should be wearing horizontal red and white stripes, like the stripes on the American flag, on the rudder.
  • The movie makes no mention of Admiral Fletcher, who was in overall command of the task force and, as such, was Admiral Raymond A. Spruance's commanding officer. Fletcher was forced to transfer his flag during the battle, depriving him of the logistical ability to stay abreast of events in real time. When Spruance then asked Fletcher what his orders were Fletcher replied, "None. Will conform to your motions," effectively putting Spruance in command. But that didn't happen until after the battle started.
  • Numerous scenes of aircraft shown spotted on carrier deck with all the props turning. Probable result of low cost CGI. In reality, only the first 1 or 2 would have been running. Running the rest would have wasted fuel and threatened the deck crew.
  • When the B-25 runs out of gas, the prop immediately stops. In reality the prop would only stop if feathered, which does not occur. Otherwise it would continue turning with significant drag.
  • During the dive bombing of the Hiryu, Best is shown holding the dive until at mast level, and then releasing bomb while pulling out, putting it into the rising sun logo. In reality, Best released his bomb at 1000ft while aiming for the logo, In reality, no one would drop a dive bomb while in a glide or pull-out phase of flight. Good chance the bomb would simply bounce off, or explode taking the bomber with it.
  • During the raid on the Marshalls Islands, Best dogfights a Zero and passes through large mountain valleys. This terrain is not present in the Marshall Islands which has a highest elevation of 10 meters (33 feet). The valleys shown are more similar to valleys on Oahu which has a maximum elevation of 164 meters (538 feet).
  • The B-25 bombers in the Tokyo raid sequence are depicted as B-25C models, which had the top turret in the front of the aircraft. In fact the aircraft used on the actual raid were B-25B models which had the top turret in the rear.
  • Members of the US Naval Services (Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard) do not exchange salutes indoors as Bruno Gaido and Admiral Halsey do when Gaido is summoned to Halsey's Flag Plot after shooting down a Japanese bomber from a parked aircraft.
  • None of the B-25 bombers, including James Doolittle's B-25, flew into a wave spray when they lifted off from the bow of the USS Hornet. This is clearly shown in actual film of the real-life launch, which was incorporated into Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944) and the opening sequence in the 1976 Midway (1976).
  • The same two anti-aircraft gunners firing up in the sky defending the Akagi also appear defending the Hiryu only moments later in the battle, likely due to reused footage.
  • The movie shows "Bull" Halsey as a RADM (two stars on collar) throughout the movie. In reality, William F. Halsey was a VADM (three stars on collar) since JUN 1940. Therefore, he would have been a VADM for the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway.
  • In reality, the torpedo that the USS Nautilus (SS-168) fired was not at an aircraft carrier but at the Japanese battleship Kirishima.
  • When Doolittle lands in China, after completing his raid on Tokyo, he and his men are rescued by what appears to be Chinese communist guerrilla soldiers. In fact, they were rescued by soldiers and villagers affiliated with Nationalist China. This was suppressed by the Chinese government until recently.
  • For most of the scenes involving Dauntless dive-bombers, the primary aircraft seen is distinctively Richard Best's "B1" aircraft. The "B1" subsequently appears variously being flown by Best, McClusky, cut in half by the falling Nell bomber during the Marshalls raids with Bruno Gaido in the backseat, and even being flown by US Marine Major Lofton Henderson during the Midway air group's initial attack on the Japanese.
  • Throughout the film, no depiction is made at any point of the Grumman F4F Wildcat, either in flight or on a carrier deck. The Wildcat was the standard Navy fighter of the early war and played a crucial role in every engagement shown in the film, including the battle of Midway. A viewer without knowledge of WW2 aircraft might assume the carriers only carried bombers and that they were always on their own.
  • One of the characters mentions the possibility of ending up in Leavenworth. While the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Leavenworth, Kansas is now the military prison for all military services, at the time of the Battle of Midway, Naval personnel would be sent to Portsmouth Naval Prison in Kittery, Maine, so that Naval aviator would have said he might wind up in Portsmouth.
  • When searching the remains at Pearl Harbor, a character identifies his buddy by the Annapolis class ring. But, that makes no sense, as every graduate of the United States Naval Academy would be wearing a class ring. The body should have easily been identified by his dog tags, which all military personnel are required to wear at all times, especially aboard ship.
  • The officers' uniforms, including that of Nimitz had not been washed with starch and pressed, which would have been the standard way to do things. The uniform jackets in this film are a complete mess of wrinkles. The fact that the costume department seems to have been unaware of the use of starch reveals a notable lack of competence.
  • The belligerent and disrespectful attitude of Lt. Best strains credulity. This was the 1940s, not present day, and he was an academy-trained officer rather than an enlisted malcontent. One doesn't get into Annapolis unless they are recommended by a member of Congress or the son of a Medal of Honor recipient. No superior officer would have tolerated even the slightest bit of backtalk as such a thing would undermine the team and serve as a direct threat to their lives. Never would such an officer behave in this way. He would be lucky to make it through his first year at the academy.
  • The Dolittle raiders had white panels sewn onto the backs of their flying jackets that included American and Chinese flags on the backs of their jackets, as well as Chinese text identifying them as Americans and allies. These are glaringly absent.
  • When taking off from the carrier, Dolittle's flaps are not extended. As his was the first plane to take off and with the least amount of runway, he would not have been able to make it without flaps. In reality one of the planes, the Ruptured Duck, did take off without its flaps down, but that was the result of a nervous mistake. As they were seventh in line, they had enough runway to make it. In addition, when Doolittle's plane departs the following planes are not cued up behind him but are all parked. In reality, by the time that Doolittle was ready for takeoff, the two plane behind him would already revved up and the plane behind them pushed into place and ready to start its engines. Also, the "shooter" (the man who signals the launch of a plane) is not depicted properly, being shown as a tiny speck far away from the plane near the bow and at the right. In reality the shooters were only a few yards away from the plane and at the left - on the pilot's side. When signaling the launch, they would drop to the deck with the wing passing right over him. While in the interviews the filmmakers talk about being extremely accurate, they didn't do their homework. A quick viewing of Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944), (whose technical advisor was Dean Davenport - copilot of the Ruptured Duck) would have shown them how it was actually done.
  • The Doolittle planes are shown with Norden bombsights. Being fully aware that their planes would most likely be shot down and the top-secret sites recovered by the enemy, the sights were removed for the raid. Instead, they used a simple sight resembling an astrolabe.
  • The chain on Layton's tie clip is hanging in front. The tie should pass through the chain, so that the chain would keep the the back part of the tie in place. The problem was that tie clip was too narrow for the tie.
  • The Rolls Royce used in Japan is a "resto-mod": it has been lowered and has modern wire wheels instead of disks.
  • At one point in the movie the back canvas of a jeep is seen with white lettering "caution left hand drive" This was not done until the build up of Allied troops in the UK prior to D-Day. There is no point of having it on the Hawaiian islands as everybody drives left hand.
  • The torpedo bomber attack on the Japanese fleet shows many torpedo bombers being shot down in a matter of seconds. In reality, the ratio of shots to hits for any anti-aircraft gun of the time is very high, and it would therefore not be so easy.
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