The tanks used in the major battle scene in North Africa are post-war tanks. On the German side the M47 tank (1951) was used and on the American side the M48 (1952). Ironically, both tank types were named "Patton."
George S. Patton is shown having read a book, "The Tank in Battle", by
his adversary, Erwin Rommel. The book "Panzer greift an" was however never finished by Rommel. Most of what was to be in "The Tank in Attack" (which is the correct translation of the German title) can be found in the book The Rommel Papers, which is made from notes and diary entries by Field Marshal Rommel during the Africa campaign.
When Patton is talking with the press while riding his horse, one of the reporters asks about his policy of allowing Nazis positions in the government. At the time Patton was still in command of the Third Army. This did not occur until he was military governor of Bavaria, a position he did not take until he was relieved from the Third Army.
Some of the U.S. vehicles in the North Africa and Sicily scenes are shown with the insignia of a white star within a circle. The circle was not added until just before the invasion of mainland Italy in September 1943.
This movie makes use of the real WWII Jeeps - the MB, GPW; manufactured by Willys & Ford from 1941 - 1945 as well as the first civilian Jeep vehicle, the CJ-2A produced in 1945. The CJ came with a tailgate, side-mounted spare tire, larger headlights, an external fuel cap and many more items that its military predecessors did not include. This "goof" is common in WWII movies.
When General Walter Bedell Smith meets with General George S. Patton upon the latter's arrival in London, Smith is wearing what is supposed to be the S.H.A.E.F. (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces) shoulder patch. He is in fact wearing the US Army Europe patch which came out after WWII and is almost exactly the same in design, except the background of the S.H.A.E.F. patch is black and the U.S. Army Europe patch has a blue background.
At 2:08:46 in the movie, during the congestion at a crossroads there is a close up of the chaos. A soldier with rolled up sleeves can be seen standing on the hood and fender of a Command Car number 378(?)554 holding what appears to be an M14 Rifle. This weapon is a modified M1 Garand, and is visibly similar to the M1 Carbine used in WWII except that it is bulkier, the sling is attached to the bottom of the butt with a swivel, and the magazine is larger than that of the M1 Carbine due to the longer ammunition it uses. The M14 came into use in the 1957, and not during WWII.
Numerous M41 Walker Bulldog light tanks are used throughout the film, standing in for both M4 Shermans and M24 Chaffee light tanks (entered service in 1944). The M41 Walker Bulldog, named after General Walton Walker - killed in a Jeep accident in Korea, 1950 - entered production in 1951, and first saw service in 1953, seeing limited service in Korea and fully replacing the M24 Chaffee shortly afterwords.
In the scene where the German generals watch the captured newsreel footage of George S. Patton and Omar Bradley landing on Sicily, their dialogue is translated falsely in the subtitles - at no time do they call Patton a 'gangster'. The expression might however be meant as an attempt to convey the impression that Patton's big cigar might leave with German officers.
Visiting the Carthaginian ancient battle field in Tunisia, Patton says, "The Arab women stripped the dead soldiers of their clothing." There were no Arabs in Tunisia during the Punic wars. The line is complete fiction, obviously intended to draw parallelism between the ancient Carthaginians and Patton's troops in the first shot of the movie (who were not scavenged by Tunisian civilians in real life either).
When George S. Patton arrives in Malta, he makes a speech about the Great Siege of Malta, involving the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. However, he puts the date of this defence as 1528. In fact, the siege took place in 1565 - indeed, the Knights were not granted Malta and Tripoli by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V until 1530. He also gives the figure for the number of defenders as 400 Knights with 800 mercenaries when in fact the accepted number is nearer 9000 in total (including Maltese militia). 40,000 attackers is the highest level of the accepted estimates and the more realistic figure is most likely around 25-30,000.
When the British troops parade into Messina, a sign can be seen on the wall saying "Benvenutti amici a Messina", with a spelling error (it should read "Benvenuti"). Arguably plausible, as Sicilians are said (by non-Sicilans) to be poorly educated in spelling.
When Patton arrives at II Corps Headquarters near the beginning of the movie, the peasant woman who follows him to the door (holding chickens in her hands) speaks Spanish ("Oiga, oiga...compre gallina.") not Arabic.
When George S. Patton learns he has been relieved of command of the 7th Army, Willie "George" Meeks escorts Patton's aide while wearing Staff Sergeant's stripes. In a later scene when Meeks is waiting for Patton to prepare for bed, Meeks is wearing the stripes of a Sergeant.
The scene, where General Fredendall jumps into his jeep after being relieved of his command of II Corps by Gen. Patton, the camera shows two GI's replacing the two star I.D. plates in the front of Patton's vehicle with a 3-star I.D. plate after he self-promoted himself in advance of receiving Senate confirmation. In the next scene shows Patton and Bradley heading toward the battle front on Patton's vehicle until he orders his driver to turn right to head for Carthagenian ruins. It shows that vehicle still had the 2-star I.D. plate that was replaced in the earlier scene.
In Walter Bedell Smith's office, after the Knutsford speech controversy, George S. Patton's left shoulder has no patch on it. When he goes into the hallway to meet his orderly, Meeks, the Seventh Army patch of his last command is there.
When George S. Patton talks with noncommissioned officers about Bernard L. Montgomery's campaign in Sicily, he has a magnifying glass in his left hand and a cup in his right. He sets down the magnifying glass to hold the cup with his left hand to put it on the table. In the next shot the cup is already on the table and he is holding the magnifying glass with the left hand.
In one scene, there is a map of Normandy. This map is completely inaccurate. Rather than five beaches (Utah, Omaha, Juno, Sword and Gold), it only shows three, and only has two flags over those three beaches. There is an American flag over Omaha and Utah, a blank space over Juno, and a Union Jack over Gold and Sword.
In the opening war scene, set in North Africa, two vultures are shown in the abandoned camp. These are Griffon Vultures which are extremely rare in North Africa (but more common in Spain where the film was shot).
Contrary to the way it's portrayed in the film, the controversy over Patton's Knutsford speech was not over his having insulted the Russians (in fact, the Army quickly revised the initial transcript of his remarks to reflect that he had mentioned them). It had to do with his talk of "ruling the world" after the war - members of Congress said he had no business as a general commenting on post-war political affairs, while others objected to the notion of the US, Britain or anyone else "ruling the world."
During all battle scenes the sound of distant explosions syncs precisely with the sight of them. This is of course impossible due to the discrepancy between the speeds of light and sound. This goof is made in virtually all war films as well as documentaries where sound is added after the fact.
During the scenes taking place in 1944, there is not one single M4 Sherman tank. The M4 Sherman was the workhorse of the Allies, and was almost the only tank used in World War II from early 1944 on. The tanks used in the film are all post war M47 and M48 Patton tanks, despite showing newsreel footage of Shermans.
The prayer for good weather was actually put on the back of a small Christmas card that was printed for the troops on December 11th, five days before the Battle of the Bulge began. The actual prayer contained the words "these immoderate rains" while the movie version said "this immoderate weather."
When the HE-111s are attacking, George S. Patton pulls out his 1903 Colt General Officer's Model Pistol, firing nine rounds at the planes. The 1903 General Officer's Model holds 7 rounds in the magazine and 1 in the chamber.
In the movie, George S. Patton refers to himself as a Lieutenant (3-star) General before the confirmation became official. In reality, according to his service record, he only referred to himself by that rank after he signed his official commission paperwork.
Near the end of the movie when Patton volunteers his men to aide at the Battle of the Bulge, the leaders discuss a decision made by "Ike" (General Eisenhower) and it shows him absent from the meeting. General Eisenhower was actually present at that meeting.
The HE-111 bombers used in the attack on Patton's Headquarters in North Africa didn't have the capacity to carry the number of bombs that were dropped during this sequence. They must have been designed by the same company that makes Western movie six shooters. Also, the HE-111 was not set up to make ground strafing runs.
During the funeral procession for his aide Captain Jenkins, Patton's overseas cap is tucked into his belt. Since he was outdoors, he should have been wearing it (the other soldiers in the procession are correctly wearing their helmets).
During the scene at Messina, the drum major gives the command: "Forward, March!" which is incorrect. All pipe band commands follow the British model and the correct command would be: "By the right, Quick March!"
Gen. Lloyd Fredendall is shown leaving Le Kouif after George S. Patton's arrival at the headquarters. In fact, Fredendall left Le Kouif at 3:30 AM, hours before Patton's arrival. Likewise, Fredendall left in a Buick rather than a Jeep as shown.
During the discussion with the British Leadership prior to the invasion of Sicily (where George S. Patton advocates his army land at Syracuse), Patton and his staff are wearing the arm patch of the 1st Armoured Division, which Patton commanded in Morocco. The actual timing of this meeting is unknown, but at this time Patton should have been in command of either the 2nd Corps, or the 7th Army, not the 1st Armoured division.
The scene at the beginning of the Normandy breakout where Rommel, Steiger, and Jodl are arguing over whether Patton is leading the attack, or whether he is still in England preparing for the 'real' invasion could not have taken place. Rommel's staff car had been shot up by R.A.F. fighter bombers at the Normandy front on July 17, 1944 - over a week before Operation Cobra started. Rommel was badly wounded in the attack and in a French hospital at the time the scene is supposed to have taken place.
When first seen, Field Marshal Rommel is identified in the explanatory subtitles as the commander of the Afrika Korps. He was, at that time, commander of Field Army Afrika, which was a higher level command that included the Afrika Korps as one of its units.
The lieutenant colonel who briefs Patton on the situation in North Africa has his tie tucked into his shirt incorrectly. It should be tucked in between the second and third center buttons, not the third and fourth.
The American insignia on the fuselage of the C-47 transport plane carrying Patton and his staff to France is incorrect. It is shown as a white star on a blue circle. In actuality, by 1944 when this event occurred, a large white bar had been added to each side of the circled star.
Many German soldiers are shown armed with MP40 submachine guns, as common with films based during the Second World War. Like other nations to use submachine guns, the MP40 was issued only to officers that needed more than a pistol, and those soldiers whose role prevented them from using the regular issue Karabiner 98k, such as artillerymen, tankers, drivers, and so on.
Jet stream or plume above George S. Patton and Omar Bradley at the tank crossing in France - seen in several frames is a claimed anachronism. However, water vapor condensing from the exhaust of both piston and jet engines can cause condensation trails ("contrails"), which were a common sight over Europe.
During the first battle scene overseen by George S. Patton, he uses a pair of binoculars clearly marked "JAPAN". The US Military bought binoculars from Japan up until 08 Dec 1941 and most were used by the US Navy.
In the latrine scene where British General Montgomery is briefing U.S. General Smith, Montgomery breathes on the mirror to make a mist, then draws two maps of Sicily on it to show Smith two attack options. Afterwards, Smith erases one map for security reasons, but leaves the other one intact.
In the scene following George S. Patton's speech, a child is trying to steal a dead soldier's wedding ring. As he goes about this, the soldier's shoulder/arm muscles twitch visibly in reaction to the scorpions climbing on him. His head and eyelids can also be seen moving several times.
In the first battle of the film, a high angle long-shot shows a German soldier following a tank who falls forward from the shock of an explosion that happens behind him. But he falls shortly before the blast.