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Twelve O'Clock High (1949) Poster

Goofs

Anachronisms 

Insignia incorrect for the period. The Schweinfurt ball bearing plant raids took place in 1943. By that time, the national insignia had the bars on each side of the round star background. Apparently the older star-on-blue with no bars was used to match documentary footage inserted into the movie.
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In the film, a large white triangle with a black "A" inside it is painted on the vertical stabilizers (tail fins) of the 918th Bomb Group's B-17 airplanes. At the point in World War II depicted in the film, 8th Air Force B-17's did not yet bear these markings, carrying only the plane's serial number on the tail. The white triangle with a black "A" was the identifying insignia for the real-life 91st Bomb Group later in the war. The aircraft used in the movie were marked to match wartime combat camera footage, some of which featured 91st Bomb Group planes.
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Continuity 

During the Ball Bearing mission, the Picadilly Lilly is shown to have 6 bombs painted under the cockpit (indicating 6 missions). However, a much earlier mission also shows 6 bombs. There were obviously many missions between these 2 shots.
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When General Savage visits Lt Col Gately in the hospital, close-up shots are taken from the left side of Gately's bed and long distance shots are taken from the right. The lighting on Gately's face is significantly brighter in the close-ups.
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At the end of the film, Harvey Stovall walks down the abandoned runway under cloudy skies and large puddles of water, obviously from recent rain, are seen on the runway. By the time he reaches his bicycle at the fence he is under sunny skies and dry conditions.
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Crew or equipment visible 

In the wonderful opening shot, LONDON 1949 is framed by a glass door of the Hat shop. As it opens and Dean Jagger exits, a camera and technician are absolutely clearly reflected in the glass swinging away to one side.
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Factual errors 

In the movie credits, the flight surgeon is listed as "Capt. 'Doc' Kaiser". However, from the character's first appearance at the crash-landed B-17 in the opening scene, he wears oak leaves of a major (or a lieutenant colonel, since in a B&W movie we can't initially tell if they are gold or silver). Later, he is always referred to as a major.
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The members of the 918th Bomb Group are taunted in a German propaganda broadcast which begins "Germany calling, Germany calling, this is Lord Haw Haw speaking..."

In real life, "Lord Haw Haw" was a derogatory nickname applied to the real-time propaganda broadcaster William Joyce in reference to the affected accent he assumed when speaking on the radio, and he would not have referred to himself as such.
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During the first attack on the ball bearing plant, when the bombs are released, you see two groups of bombs on the racks, one in front of the other. The B-17 carried all its bombs in one vertical stack. The American bomber in use at the time that would have had forward and aft stacks would be the B-24. The bomb bay doors on the B-24 roll up like garage doors, but you clearly see the doors hinged back, and the bombs have a round support around the fin. The American bombs of this time had a square support to the fins. The bomb release is shown from what appears to be an Avro Lancaster, a British bomber.
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During the bombing mission depicted in the film, the tail gun of General Savage's "Picadilly Lily" B-17F airplane is shown briefly, but it is a late-war model "Cheyenne"-type tail turret - incorrect for the time period during which the events in the film take place.
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On the ball bearing bombing mission the camera shows a close up of the exterior of the cockpits of Picadilly Lilly, Reluctant Dragon and Fluffy Fuzzy. All shots show each plane's nose art above the navigator's windows to identify the different planes and crews. Actual nose art was painted below the navigator's windows.
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At the opening of the film it says the aerial shots were filmed in combat by members of the United States Air Force. The US Air Force wasn't created until 1947. During World War II, the film would have been shot by the United States Army Air Force.
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Some of the aerial photography showing combat on the Ball Bearing raid appear to show Spitfires, as well as ME109 and FW190, aircraft amongst those attacking the bombers.
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Miscellaneous 

When Doc is telling General Savage about Gately at the coffee bar, a fly is clearly visible buzzing very close to his face, but the actor doesn't break character.
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As the B-17 makes a wheels up crash landing at the beginning, two ambulances are seen converging on the plane as they should, however, not one fire truck is present. Fire trucks are always required to be present at crash sites.
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Aircrews are seen wearing A-2 jackets and wool mufflers around their necks. According to some dialog these crews have been coming off raids that took place at 19,000 feet. The wearers of these jackets would have froze at this altitude. Also strange is that various crew members of the Group are seen wearing the B3 Sheep lined jackets which would be appropriate for this altitude but without the electrically heated blue bunny suits the wearers would freeze. At Interrogation one man is clearly wearing a B-15 jacket which didn't appear until later in WWII.
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Revealing mistakes 

During the aerial combat scenes of the movie's last mission, actual WWII combat footage is randomly inserted to add realism. However, three of these clips clearly show a closeup of an American P-47 fighter attacking the B-17's.
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Stock combat footage of air-to-air combat is used extensively. Some clips have been flipped left to right and reused. Others, particularly of German fighters blowing up, were not filmed from bombers but were taken from the gun cameras of Allied fighters, which did not accompany the bombers at this time. (Some shots taken from non-bombers are from cameras on German fighters, on footage captured after the war.)
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On the bombing mission to the ball bearing factory the actual combat film footage used is of a bomb strike on a railroad marshaling yard.
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On the last mission General Savage goes on, right after take-off, the camera slowly zooms in on Piccadilly Lily's cockpit. A minute later the camera zooms in on Reluctant Dragon's cockpit, then Fluffy Fuzz's cockpit. All three times the plane in the background is the same #23613 and the stains and dirt on the roof of the three cockpits is the same.
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Trivia | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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