In the aerial view of London in one of the opening shots, a Zebra Crossing can seen quite plainly. These types of road safety aids did not appear in the UK until 1951. And the skies over wartime London should have included Barrage Balloons.
About half way into the film the HMS Ark Royal and HMS Victorious are mentioned. Close ups of flight deck operations included a shot that showed the hull number R06. "R" is a NATO designation that was not utilized until after WWII. R06 is the hull number for HMS Centaur which was not launched until 1947.
Prior to the German Admiral's rousing speech, the crew are brought to attention. The officer shouts "Achtung". "Achtung" means attention as in a warning, NOT as a drill instruction. The correct order should be "Stillgestanden".
When the British spy in Norway is transmitting his report via telegraph and the Germans break in and shoot him, the spy falls to the floor; he's able to hold on to the telegraph and his hand and the telegraph machine are right at the edge of the table. However, in the next scene with a close-up of the table where the telegraph is located, the spy continues to transmit his signal on the telegraph, but the telegraph machine is back in the middle of the table.
When the Dorsetshire torpedoes the Bismark at the end of the film, it releases torpedoes from its starboard side, starting with its stern tubes. Given the relative positions of the ships, this should mean that they strike the Bismark with the first torpedo hitting the front of the ship and the last at the rear, but they do not; the first strike is at the rear of the Bismark and the last one at the front.
When the Bismarck is sinking, an officer reports to Lindemann that only 'A Turret' is operable. However, moments before, we saw one of the first hits destroy the forward turret ('Anton' in the Kriegsmarine.)
When Captain Kerr of the HMS Hood speaks to his crew after learning of the Bismarck's position, he indicates that the ship will go to action stations soon after midnight. However, the crew is later shown moving to action stations just prior to engaging the Bismarck, just after 0500. They should have already been at their stations.
Captain Shepard asks Commander Richards whether his relief officer Dexter is late. Richards replies that Dexter is a little late, but he doesn't mind. However, Shepard says he does and orders that Dexter stand duty for the next three nights. Yet, a short while later, after Dexter has come in, Shepard issues an operational order to Richards, who is still there and shows no signs of leaving, even though he's long since been off duty.
When Captain Shepard starts to write to his son, we have a glimpse of the inner room in his office showing a bed made up in there. Anne Davis comes in with a cup of tea. Moments later we get another glimpse of the inner room, but now it contains a desk and chairs, instead of the made-up bed. Shortly after this, Shepard asks for a bed to be made up in his office.
Captain Shepard returns to his office (roughly in the middle of the movie). In a room off of his office you can see a bed (earlier in the movie there was a table and chair). Shepard then leaves his office and tells Commander Richards to have a bunk made up in the office.
When the Norwegian spy spots Bismarck exiting the Baltic Sea, Bismarck is heading in the wrong direction. When viewed from Southern Norway, Bismarck should be headed east to west (left to right on screen), but the scene shows Bismarck heading right to left (west to east).
The characterization of Admiral Gunther Lütjens in this movie is wildly inaccurate. He is shown as a zealot, a fanatic, denying reality until the end. In fact, Lütjens was a thoughtful, even morose figure - some survivors claimed that his tendency for fatalism damaged their morale. Absurdly, on screen the Admiral tells his men to "remember you are Nazis!" Lütjens was not a Nazi (very much the opposite, to the extent that he famously refused to perform the Nazi salute for Hitler before the Bismarck set sail), nor were the vast majority of his officers and crew.
In the film, Bismarck is attacked by British destroyers the night before she is shelled into a wreck by King George V and Rodney. Bismarck sinks one of the destroyers (the "Solent") after suffering torpedo damage. In the real battle, no British destroyers were sunk in this engagement and German sources indicate no torpedoes hit Bismarck during the destroyer attack.
The film shows Capt. Lindemann dying on the Bismarck's bridge when it is struck by a British shell; however, many survivors recalled seeing him standing near the bow of the Bismarck as she rolled over and sank.
The film shows Capt. Lindemann returning HMS Hood's fire after Hood's first salvo; in reality, Adm. Lütjens ordered Lindemann to hold his fire for over three minutes as the German ships closed the range - so long that Lindemann was overheard muttering under his breath, "I will not have my ship shot out from under my ass!"
There are various dialogues throughout the movie, referring to whether it is, in fact, day or night in the 'real world' above the bunker complex of Operational HQ. Although a most effective contrivance to convey to the audience just how physically isolated the War Room Staff must have felt in their underground world, this is a total conceit on the part of the scriptwriter/s. Organizing the destruction of the great Bismarck required extremely precise coordination of many of the Royal Navy's vast resources. In fact, timing to the minute, if not the second was not just required, it was essential. Therefore, the staff involved and, in particular, Captain Shepard would have known EXACTLY what time it was, day or night, at any given moment, because all militaries use a 24 hour clock, but in this movie they are incorrectly using civilian AM/PM 12 hour clock time - perhaps even better than the poor hapless souls above ground who were being constantly 'Blitzed' at that particular stage of WWII.
When the Prinz Eugen is ordered to detach from Bismarck, Admiral Lütjens says; "Signal Prinz Eugen that she's to proceed on a course and make for Brest." Actually Prinz Eugen left in a southerly (not easterly) direction and engaged in a few fruitless days of convoy hunting before heading for Brest. After distracting the shadowing cruisers, it was the Bismarck which continued on a course for Brest.
All scenes from all battleships show the same inside of the heavy gun turrets, just crews with different uniforms if it should be Bismarck. Furthermore, the anti-aircraft guns of the Bismarck are the typical "Pom Pom" mounts of British ships. This is most likely original footage, plus inside of the Vanguard, the last surviving battleship in Britain at the time of filming.
The Hood didn't explode quite as depicted in the movie. The explosion was initially reported as a jet of flame shooting into the air from between the mainmast and the aft funnel, in the vicinity of the engine room vent.
Near the end of the film, when the crew of the now-crippled Bismarck sight the two British destroyers that are about to torpedo it to smithereens, a klaxon horn sounds the alarm. A sign near the klaxon reads "klaxon", but on a German ship they would not use the English word "klaxon". Instead, they would use a German word such as "Hupe" (meaning "Horn").
The Spitfire searching for the Bismarck is shown as two
different versions between shots. The "stock" footage of a flying Spitfire shows it with the flush cockpit canopy of an earlier version (Eg, Mark I-IV). The next studio-shot close-up shows the pilot sitting in a Spitfire with the "bubble" canopy of a later version (Eg, Mark XVI). Given the year is 1941, the stock flying footage is the more accurate.
During aircraft attacks on the Bismarck, close ups of anti-aircraft guns in action are British and not German. Other scenes (distant) of firing anti-aircraft guns show the correct locations of guns mounted on Bismarck.
In the final battle between King George V and Rodney with the Bismarck, the movie shows that Bismarck begins the shooting. In the real battle the British start the shooting and Bismarck responded several minutes later.
In the sequence when HMS Hood is blown up by Bismarck, the smoke rising from hood is off to the side, in actual fact, the HMS Prince of Wales had to steer round part of the wreck of the Hood, which was the Bow section that was sticking straight up out of the water.
The battle of Iceland is 180 degrees in the wrong direction. The Bismarck is in the movie fighting over her right side (starboard) and the British battleships over their left side (port). In reality the Bismarck came from the North and had to fight over her port side. The British battleships came from the east and fought over their starboard side.
In the "friendly fire" attack on HMS Sheffield, the appearance of the ship when she is spotted from altitude clearly resembles a battleship like the Bismarck rather that the long slim lines of a cruiser such as Sheffield. The same footage is used for the scene when the aircraft (correctly) Identify and attack the Bismarck.
In one scene showing a British torpedo plane taking off, no torpedo is visible. On this type of aircraft, the "Swordfish", the torpedo is carried below the fuselage between the landing gear. However, these aircraft were also used without torpedoes for reconnaissance and for dropping bombs or mines.
When the aerial photographs are being developed, you can see the image appear when the print is in the tray of developer. The print is taken directly from the developer tray and the light is turned on only inches from the print. If this were done in reality, the print would immediately turn entirely black from the light unless the print had been transferred to a fixer bath first.
When the Ark Royal is shown steaming at speed to launch its attack on the Bismark, the wings of an early Royal Navy Jet Fighter, An Armstrong Whitworth Sea Hawk can be seen over the edge of the flight deck in the folded position.
Swordfish torpedo bombers are shown taking off with slung torpedoes, and the torpedo propellers are spinning in the wind. The purpose of the nose propellers is to arm the torpedo. To avoid premature arming, the nose propellers would be wired to prevent spinning in the air. When the torpedo hits the water, the greater resistance would break off the wires and the torpedoes would then be armed after a few rotations.
When Thomas Shepard stands up in the rear cockpit of his airplane searching for the Bismarck, the straps on his head gear remain steady, when they (and other parts of his uniform) should be moving as a result of the airstream.
The model ships do not show any effects from the firing of the big guns. In reality, there would be a noticeable lurch, albeit small in the opposite direction of the guns when pointed 90 degrees from the sides of the ships.
Edward R. Murrow, who portrays himself in the film, was 33 years old in 1941, when the action takes place. By the time the film was made in 1960, he was 52, yet no attempt was made to make him look the age he actually was during the events in the movie.