The model aircraft seen on Gen. Hawkes' desk in the final scene might appear to be an eight-engined variant of the six-engine B-47 featured in the film, but is actually a prototype B-52 (either XB-52 or YB-52), with a canopy cockpit design similar to the B-47; the design was changed in the production version.
The B-36 and B-47 bomber aircraft showcased in the film were such powerful deterrents against Soviet aggression in the 1950s that neither plane ever had to be used in combat. The B-36 was eventually retired due to persistent problems with it's engineering and it's fuel distribution to the outer wing. Exactly as shown in the movie. The B-47 was being replaced as soon as the last wing was put into service. Both bombers were replaced with the B-52 Stratofortress. It has remained in service for over 50 years and the grandchildren of the original pilots are now piloting the same aircraft which have been meticulously cared for and upgraded over the decades.
One of the C-124A Globemaster IIs (serial #49-0258) in the scene where they are being loaded for the wing's deployment to Japan is under restoration at the Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover AFB, DE.
When MSgt. Bible is introducing Lt. Col. Holland to the crew on his B-36 orientation flight, he introduces the two rear gunners as "Airman Davies" and "Airman Lay," an apparent reference to Valentine Davies and Beirne Lay Jr., the film's screenwriters.
The character of Gen. Ennis C. Hawkes was based on Gen. Curtis LeMay, the real-life commander of the U.S. Air Force's Strategic Air Command from 1949-57. General LeMay was also the General responsible for the firebombings over Japan during WWII and considered to be a quasi war criminal from the Axis point of view. In the early '60's. General LeMay ordered the first official batch of M16's for his base security forces to protect SAC without authorization. In the next decade, most of the other services would adopt the M16 as it's service rifle.
Although there was a "Dutch Holland" in baseball, he never served in the military. The character of "Dutch" Holland is loosely based on the life of Baseball Hall of Famer Ted Williams whom left his career and became a F4 Corsair flight instructor and then was recalled into active duty and flew combat missions in Korea. He was the wing man of legendary astronaut and future senator, John Glenn. Ted Williams resigned his Marine Corps Commission at the conclusion of the Korean War with the rank of Captain, the equivalent of an Army Captain.