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Dunkirk Movie Poster

Goofs from Dunkirk

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  • Houses from the eighties behind the sand dune, apartments from the sixties on front of the sea at the beginning of the film. A concrete bench on the beach.
  • During a high shot of Weymouth, the current Pavilion can be seen. This is actually The rebuilt Pavilion after the Ritz Theatre burnt down in the 1950s. Also, the ex-Condor Ferries terminal can clearly be seen, still painted in their corporate colours.
  • The Mk 1 Spitfires portrayed had a total fuel capacity of 85 imperial gallons. This was held in two tanks - one above the other. The top tank emptied into the bottom tank till it was used up. The fuel gauge the pilots are checking was only capable of measuring the bottom tank which held 37 gallons. Therefore it would not be possible for the pilots to determine they had 50 galls of fuel remaining.
  • The MK1 Spitfire did not ditch as shown in the film. It had a tendency to trip on its underhung radiators and go over on its nose. Even if the pilot did manage a level ditching - the heavy Merlin engine would pull the nose down in a matter of seconds and the plane would dive for the bottom. Even with the artistic license of "Nolan Time" the plane would simply have not sat level on the surface for as long as was portrayed.
  • The railway carriages in the final scenes date from the 1950s and have seat patterns from the 1980s.
  • In the background of the scenes on the beach giant "modern" post 1970 container cranes can be clearly seen. These giant walkers were developed in the 1980s to facilitate removal of shipping containers and did not exist in 1940. They appear in the background of many scenes including the climatic final scene.
  • Several different types of aircraft have the sound of a siren when diving. In reality the "Jericho Trumpet" siren was only carried by the Junkers Ju 87 Stuka dive bomber.
  • Modern road signs and road markings can be seen in Weymouth.
  • There was no newspaper called the Weymouth Herald. The local newspaper was the Dorset County Chronicle.
  • The hospital ship HMHS Paris was not sunk at the mole with wounded on board. She was bombed in the English Channel en route to Dunkirk and disabled, only sinking around 5 hours later.
  • The movie uses silence to create tension, where Dunkirk was actually extremely noisy due to the continual attacks on both the men, and the port of Dunkirk to keep it out of action. Most soldiers had sore throats from having to shout to be heard.
  • The spitfires are shown with a black and white colour scheme underneath. This is a modern air show colour scheme on a single spitfire to represent the different colour schemes for day and night flying. Presumably this spitfire was used for filming and digitally cloned in post production.
  • Following the trial docking of the first ship, the moles were initially used with a number of ships docked at once. This was reduced when they became a greater target. The majority of soldiers were evacuated by large ship, including large civilian vessels (which shouldn't detract from the achievement of the small ships alongside).
  • The film shows a single jetty created from vehicles where there were actually two. These were used to load the small ships faster.
  • The film shows very few vehicles, when the British Expeditionary Force was one of the first armies to be fully mechanised. The BEF lost around 600 tanks, 64,000 vehicles and 20,000 motorbikes, many of which would have been in Dunkirk.
  • The film shows several vehicles of a later second world war type. Understandably, period vehicles are difficult to come by, the vast majority having been either destroyed, scrapped, or simply rotted away at the time.
  • A French character is shown having dressed in British uniform to escape France. In reality he would not have needed to, as French troops would be embarking at the second mole to re-deploy to the South, and a decree by Winston Churchill later in the evacuation ordered an equal number of French soldiers be brought back to England at the risk of British soldiers being left behind. Ultimately, of the 338,000 soldiers evacuated from Dunkirk around 123,000 were French. However, a 'little ship' crew member recalls seeing French soldiers taking the uniforms off of dead British soldiers and wearing them, hoping for evacuation.
  • The film focuses on some soldiers jumping the queue, when one of the noted characteristics of the Dunkirk evacuation is how extremely well disciplined and ordered the soldiers were in queuing for the ships.
  • The film shows the captain of the small ship leaving ahead of being replaced by Royal Navy sailors, when in reality the seamen of the small ships volunteered. The Royal Navy did not have the number of sailors, or the familiarity with vast array of different engines and boats, to staff them all. RN staff concentrated on the ships whose owners could not be found, and adding strength to crews that needed help.
  • When the Spitfire is shown landed on the beach, ship-to-shore container cranes are visible in the background above the sand dunes. This type of crane first came into use in the 1950's.
  • Modern port unloading cranes in sweeping shots looking inland, including when the plane glides down the beach to a landing.
  • The HE-111 shown in the film did not have a cannon to shoot back at opposing fighters from behind as was shown/heard in the film. It was often armed with a 20mm cannon but this would have been placed in the nose or cheek.
  • The Dunkirk promenade shows modern lamp posts with new lighting, which would not have been around in 1940.
  • The sidings outside Woking station are inside the town where there are buildings that were around before 1940. The film shows the sidings in the middle of the country that doesn't resemble the landscape of Surrey where Woking is. The depiction of Woking station also shows a red sign in the more modern British Rail typeface, not introduced until after 1965.
  • When the Spitfires are flying towards Dunkirk, the pilots are stating their fuel levels in gallons. British aircraft fuel levels would more likely be given in liters.
  • Before a ditching or forced landing, a pilot would have been trained to open the canopy to prevent it from jamming because of the impact forces (incidentally, in many cases, pilots taking off from aircraft carriers even left the canopy open just in case they ditched immediately after lifting off). Not only does this not happen in the movie but, in one case, the pilot even opens the canopy and, inexplicably, closes it back before touching down (actually leaves it ajar one inch or two). Predictably, in the second case, the canopy jams, nearly causing the pilot to drown. Further, in this second case, the pilot waves through the opening. However, there would not have been enough of an opening for him to squeeze his forearm through.
  • On a few occasions the cranes of the container terminal and chimneys of the Arcelor Mittal plant in the modern day port of Dunkirk are clearly visible in the background.
  • In the first scene, while running through the street, one of the houses on the right has a modern day aluminum frame on the facade.
  • Before ditching his Spitfire on the desolated beach of Dunkirk, errors are made with regard to the altitude of Tom Hardy's plane when switching between shots.
  • There are two instances when the German Heinkel He-111 comes under attack by a British Supermarine Spitfire. Both times, the Heinkel sounds like it fires cannons in its defense. The Heinkel He-111 H-3 variant, the one used during the time period, did not have cannons as defensive armament. It was armed with MG 17 Machine Guns as defensive armament.
  • In the last shot, as the Spitfire burns, it is revealed to not contain an engine - the film prop's propeller is held in place with a pole.
  • When Thommy is going through Dunkirk town with fellow British soldiers at the beginning, the town is quite intact. In actuality it would have been heavily damaged from bombing raids by the Luftwaffe and German Artillery.
  • The Messerschmitt Bf 109's have Yellow Nose cones on them. They did have yellow nose cones but not until a month after the events of Dunkirk happened. This was however done by the director so audiences could easily identify the German and British planes.
  • The destroyer is flying its RN Ensign from the stern, which is only done in harbor. RN warships in battle always fly a battle ensign from the mast.
  • Mr. Dawson's 'Moonstone' is portrayed as returning from Dunkirk to Weymouth in Dorset. That's 250 miles - which at a cruising speed of 7 knots would take more than 2 days flat out. The real small boats went to places such as Ramsgate.
  • As Tommy and Gibson are racing the wounded soldier on the stretcher to the ship early in the film, tire marks from the camera rig are clearly visible in the sand on both sides of the frame.
  • Double glazed train windows and container cranes in Dunkirk port.
  • In one of the last shots where Tom Hardy is standing in front of a burning plane, a camera crane is visible in the top right corner.
  • During an early scene where we follow the two men carrying a stretcher across the beach towards a boat at the mole, wheel marks from the camera equipment are visible in the sand behind them.
  • In a scene showing the right hand side of the Spitfires cockpit there's a bit of fluff attached to one of the rivets , then the fluff is gone, then a shot of the left side of the Spitfire and the same piece of fluff is there.
  • Mr Dawson's boat is based at Weymouth Harbour. On the upper loading bay the tracks for the dock cranes are visible on the floor but there are no dock cranes. These would have been there in 1940 and were actually removed in the 1970s-80s.
  • During the scenes shot in Weymouth on a couple of occasions, the top of the Weymouth "Sealife Tower" is visible, which was built circa 2012.
  • The Luftwaffe (German Air Force) fighter aircraft used during the time of the events at Dunkirk would most likely be the Messerschmitt Bf 109E. The plane used in the movie is a Hispano Aviación HA-1112, which is a Spanish variant of the Bf-109 introduced after the war, powered by the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, like the Spitfire. HA-1112 are commonly used as substitutes for Bf 109s as they are almost identical in appearance save for the HA-1112's less-streamlined cowling.
  • Once the Dutch fishing boat floats on water, the film presents that bullets penetrate the ship's hull even at a depth where water leakage was uncontrollable. While grounded, it is likely that bullets would penetrate ship's hull. But once floating, it is unlikely that the common German rounds would penetrate the hull because of the water resistance.
  • The Spitfire pilots expend over 70 seconds of ammunition during the course of their one hour mission. In 1940, pilots would need to have been far more frugal: Spitfires would need to rearm after only 15-20 seconds.
  • When the airplane is on the beach, there are two quick shots of the sand dunes, behind which modern container cranes can be seen jutting high into the air.
  • After Farrier (played by Tom Hardy) sets his plane on fire with a flare gun to prevent the Germans from capturing the technology, and the plane slowly burns to the ground, the propeller of the aircraft is attached only to a long shaft in place of where the engine would be. There is no engine in the plane/prop. Even in a fire, the solid metal engine block would be present and not melt.
  • In the background of many shots of Kenneth Branagh at the end of the Mole pier, a large blue and green warehouse can be clearly seen - not a 1940s building in construction.
  • The railway coaches used at the end were British Railways Mark 1 stock that were not built until the early 1950s. Much of the rolling stock seen through the train windows was also post-war.
  • The railway carriage that the soldiers travel in is 1970/1980 rolling stock, nothing like that in use in wartime.
  • The blue/green seat material on the train when they are going back wasn't introduced until the 1960s. It was known as "Bournemouth Blue" and it was used when the passenger carriages were refurbished following the withdrawal of steam.
  • In some of the transport ships scenes and one or two scenes on the pier at 'The Mole' the end of the barrel on several rifles can be seen to be solid. Holes at the end of the barrel bore should be seen.
  • When the Spitfire was burning, the engine cowling had burnt away but there was no engine. In one of the last scenes, the propeller was suspended by a pole that came out the engine bay, where the engine's output shaft should have been.
  • During the movie the beach is a cratered landscape, caused by continuous bombing. In the end sequence, when Farrier floats over the beach trying to land, the surface is completely smooth. However, many areas of the Dunkirk beaches were relatively flat and made of hard-packed sand. It has been recorded that pilots found it was an ideal landing strip, and some RAF aircraft did land on the beaches.
  • The seating in the train scenes are at the very earliest 1950's issue, long after 1940.
  • The beach section of the movie takes place over a week, whereas the air section of the movie takes place over an hour. The craters shown earlier on the beach would have been filled in by sand when the tide came in over the days leading up to the pilot having to land his spitfire, so it wouldn't necessarily still have the craters when this scene happened.
  • As the Spitfire glides over the Dunkirk Beach a number of the houses in the background were definitely modern, some with aluminum facades. The architecture for many of the homes appears to be late 20th century.
  • When the Spitfire runs out of fuel it glides across the beach for an inordinate amount of time, even turning around to pass over a second time, while taking down a German bomber.
  • The Luftwaffe did not start painting fighter aircraft nose cones yellow until later in 1940. However Christopher Nolan has admitted this was done deliberately to make the German aircraft easier to identify by the audience.
  • None of the civilian buildings in Dunkirk have any damage. Between ground fighting and aerial bombardment, much of the town was devastated before the evacuation started.
  • The standard ammunition load for a British Fighter in early World War 2 was the Caliber .303 round with eight (*) wing mounted machine guns. The rounds were in arranged with ball, tracer, incendiary, and armor piercing projectiles in-dispersed in the ammunition loading. Of special note was the B4/B4Z incendiary round that had soldered holes (over a phosphorus core) in the projectile that when fired melted from the friction of the projectile leaving the barrel which left a visible smoke trail as the bullet flew through the air. This is evident in the actual combat footage used in earlier films ("Battle of Britain") involving Spitifres or Hurricanes where British aircraft fired their machine guns, a line of spiraling smoke trails reach out towards their target. This type of ammunition was an aid to marksmanship. Later in the war the British moved to use tracer ammunition which leaves a bright colored trace in the air.
  • In the IMAX version, loads of television aerials can be seen on houses in the background of Weymouth. Not many people had televisions in the 1940's.
  • Near the end of the film a microwave tower can be seen in the background of Dunkirk harbor next to the green warehouse (clearly visible in the IMAX version).
  • During the aerial combat scenes, the British pilots always fire at the enemy planes when their targets are right in the centre of their gun sights, regardless of the direction their targets are moving. Realistically, they would have had to "lead" their targets, i.e. aim at a point in front of the enemy planes, to compensate for the time it takes the bullets to travel the distance.
  • Many of the shots of Tom Hardy in the Spitfire cockpit were shot in a different two seat prop aircraft (visible in a youtube video - search Dunkirk Lee on Solent) which was been adapted to resemble the rear of a Spitfire and it's distinctive tail. The revealing element is the extended tail wheel, which is longer than that on the Spitfire.
  • In the Weymouth scenes the Weymouth Pavilion is prominent despite opening in 1960.
  • "When the two pilots discuss whether flying from 1000' to 2000' is worth the extra fuel consumption, there is no difference in fuel flow rate in a piston engine airplane between the 2 altitudes." While there would be no great difference in fuel consumption cruising at 1000' or 2000', changing altitude while maintaining velocity would require an increase in fuel consumption, although not to a great extent. What can perhaps be said that a tactical error, weather intended "in character" or an unintentional scripting error, may have been made in that even 2000' seems frightfully low to be entering into an areal engagement. But that can also be attributed to a lack of experience on the pilot's part, which would have been consistent with the experience level of the average RAF pilot of the time.
  • Photographs and video footage taken of the beaches at Dunkirk after the evacuation show the beaches being littered with abandoned vehicles, equipment, wreckage, and bodies. The beaches in the film remain relatively clean throughout the film.
  • Nearing the end, a dive bombing Stuka was shot down by a Spitfire from behind and from a slightly higher altitude. Said Spitfire had exhausted her fuel tanks five minutes prior while at low altitude, leaving the pilot severely lacking the energy to execute the maneuver.
  • As a spitfire flies over the Dunkirk beach, several modern building can be seen in the city's skyline.
  • James D'Arcy's character is identified and addressed as "Colonel Winant," but his rank insignia of three diamond pips in a row is that of a captain, three ranks below a full colonel (two pips and a crown) and two ranks below a lieutenant colonel (one pip and a crown).
  • The Royal Navy Officers conducting the boat requisitions early in the film are wearing the incorrect cap badges. Instead of the cap badge worn by officers to signify a commission, they wear that of a Petty Officer, a non-commissioned rank.
  • In the grounded fishing boat, the soldiers have a lengthy discussion who to sacrifice in order to aweigh. During the argument several cubic meters of water floods though the bullet holes, weighing more than all men combined and making the debate futile.
  • Later in the film, Winant now has the correct two pips and crown of a colonel.
  • The scenes were both Soldiers are returning home by train show the design of the seats in blue synthetic tissue, which are modern and did not yet exist in the 40ties.
  • Some shots of the breakwater construction under the wooden pier walkway clearly show that the breakwater is made of precast concrete Dolos (giant concrete versions of toy jacks) that were not invented until 1963 to combat beach erosion.
  • One of the authentic Little Ships that appear in the film is clearly named 'RIIS I.' However, at the real Dunkirk evacuation, this boat was appeared with the name 'White Heather;' she was only renamed 'RIIS I' in 1949, 9 years after Dunkirk and 4 years after the war.
  • A minesweeper marked 'J22' appears during one of the evacuation sequences in the latter portion of the film. While there was really a Royal Navy minesweeper operational at the time with this pennant number, it did not participate in the Dunkirk evacuation.
  • Throughout the movie the British Spitfire fighters are shown with a rectangular "radiator" beneath their right wing. However, late in the film, right around the time when Tom Hardy's character ("Farrier") switches to his auxiliary fuel tank, there is a brief external view of the plane flying, where this "radiator" appears to be under the left hand wing. It is possible that the film was inverted in that clip.
  • The German bombers attacking the beaches are Ju87 Stukas. The version deployed by the Luftwaffe to this theatre at this time was the Ju87B, which carried a total of 5 bombs - 1 x 250 Kilo under the fuselage and 2 smaller 50 kilo bombs under each wing. (The film shows only one bomb being released from one Stuka, which would indicate the Ju87A). All the bombs were released simultaneously at the bottom of the dive. The film shows a long line of 14 bombs exploding sequentially, which would be impossible from these bombers.
  • In the end when Farrier flies above the beach, modern public toilets can be seen. These kind of toilets were invented later.
  • Modern container cranes in the background of Dunkirk shots.
  • In a propeller driven aircraft, a catastrophic loss of power to the propeller, (ie...a loss of fuel supply to the engine) the propeller does not stop spinning. The forward momentum of the aircraft (which is moving at 100-300 miles per hour) has the same effect on the propeller as blowing on a pinwheel. it continues to spin in reaction to the air being forced into it.
  • The film depicts a single Stuka attacking the beach when according to Dunkirk veteran Alfred Spooner, there were four or five Stukas intensively attacked all at once.
  • Mr. Dawson identifies Spitfires by the RR Merlin engine sound. However, there were other aircraft using that engine at that time, including the more numerous and more likely aircraft to have been in the vicinity: Hawker Hurricane. His familiarity with Hurricanes is revealed later in the movie. A version of this engine even powered the North American P-51 Mustang later in WWII.
  • Even though the canopy should have been open for the ditching, all Spitfires have a crowbar stowed in the cockpit door (readily available to the pilot) for such emergencies.
  • The "little ship," the Moonstone, and its crew - including George Mills, 17 - is openly based at Weymouth, Dorset. They return to Dorset, passing the white cliffs. George Mills is from Dorset. Yet, the local newspaper - the "Weymouth Gazette" - has a front page tribute to George Mills that states he is "from Ramsgate." The seaside town of Ramsgate is in Kent, near Dover, about 150 miles east of Weymouth.

Spoilers

  • Whilst not exactly a mistake, the the Spitfire pilot that ditches in the channel would not have found himself stuck in the cockpit as the water rose around him had he followed standard RAF ditching procedure beforehand and ejected the canopy before he ditched (most planes of this era had easily removable canopies for just such an emergency). Of course he may just have panicked and not thought about this beforehand.
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