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The Dam Busters (1955) Poster

Goofs

Audio/visual unsynchronised 

After the first failure of the full size test bomb, Guy Gibson, Bob Hay and Barnes Wallis are saying goodbye to each other. Bob Hay's mouth moves but what he says to Barnes Wallis is not heard. (at around 25 mins)
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Character error 

Guy Gibson was depicted as congenial, friendly and gregarious. However people he worked with, both air crews and ground staff considered him to be a loner, a strict disciplinarian and having little personality.
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Continuity 

American versions had "Trigger" dubbed for "Nigger" (the name of Gibson's dog, and one of the code words). The Morse code received in the Ops room was still "Nigger" though.
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In US prints (see trivia entry), a Flying Fortress appears at least once in place of a Lancaster.
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During training flights shown early in the film when crews knew nothing about the target or weapon, Lancasters are shown carrying the bouncing bomb that was used on the actual mission.
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When Barnes Wallis starts to pull the black out across it is clearly daytime outside he stops and walks through the french windows then suddenly it,s night time and dark.
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Gibson and Whitworth are sent off to select pilots for the new squadron. Their first selection is Les Knight, we are shown a photo of the actor Vincent Ball but when we meet the character Les Knight he is actually played by Denys Graham.
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Prior to the Raid, Henry Maudslay brushes his hair and puts the two brushes together by their bristles. After the Raid, from which Maudslay does not return, a shot of his room shows the two brushes side by side.
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Errors in geography 

The train showing being derailed by the flood is running on the left-hand track. British trains do run on the left, but German ones run on the right.
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The Castle above the Eder-Dam is shown on the southern-side of the lake. In reality, this castle is on the northern side.
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Cochrane tells Gibson to try out the new bomb-sight "on the towers of the Derwentwater dam". He means the dam of the Derwent Reservoir in Derbyshire, about 150 miles from Derwentwater, which is in the Lake District and, being a natural body of water, lacks a dam.
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When the planes attack the Eder dam, they fly over Waldeck Castle towards the the dam. In reality, by overflying the castle, directly towards the dam, you would fly almost directly along the length of the dam. You would have to bank almost 75 degrees to port to approach the wall the way its shown in the film.
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Shortly after the Lancasters take off from RAF Scampton (which is north of Lincoln) for the raid, they fly over Lincoln Cathedral. However they're shown flying over the Cathedral heading north (the smaller twin Cathedral towers are at the west end of the building) and back in the direction of Scampton.
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Factual errors 

Before the raid, the Lancasters are shown being loaded with machine gun ammunition. The bullets being loaded are 50 calibre, while the Lancasters, at that time, only used .303 calibre machine guns.
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The system devised to get the height right was, in the film, said to have been thought of by the 617 Sqn crews following a visit to the theater. In reality it was devised by the 'boffins' at Farnborough.
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Some crew are seen to be entering the Lancasters prior to taking off wearing normal walking shoes instead of flying boots.
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Bomber Harris normally wears the cap of an Air Chief Marshal (with 2 rows of scrambled eggs). In a scene at Reculver his cap has only 1 row (the cap for Air Commodores, Group Captains and Wing Commanders).
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Revealing mistakes 

Guy Gibson is smoking a pipe in a first class railway compartment. The pipe smoke goes out of the window towards the engine i.e. in the opposite direction to what it should.
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In two shots of flights of three Lancasters taking off on the mission, each has a gap in the ventral fuselage where the bomb should be. Later shots of the bombers in flight have the weapon showing as a semicircular bulge in the same place - the silhouette of the bomb was presumably added in post-production, with the take-off sequence forgotten about.
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The "full size tests" show a de Havilland Mosquito dropping a Highball prototype from a height very much greater than the 150 feet mentioned in the script.
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The Lancaster shown flying over the Derwent Reservoir is not a Dam Busters aircraft, in that it has bomb-bay doors and a mid-upper turret, both missing from the AVRO Lancaster Mk.IIIs Type 464 (Provisioning) aircraft used in Operation Chastise.
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See also

Trivia | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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