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Dunkirk (2017) Poster

(2017)

Goofs

Anachronisms 

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.
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The railway carriages in the final scenes date from the 1950s and have seat patterns from the 1980s.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Modern road signs and road markings can be seen in Weymouth.
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In the IMAX version, loads of television aerials can be seen on houses in the background of Weymouth.
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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.
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In the background of many shots of Cmdr. Bolton at the end of the Mole pier, a large blue and green warehouse can be clearly seen - not a 1940s building in construction.
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The Dunkirk promenade shows modern lamp posts with new lighting, which would not have been around in 1940.
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Modern container cranes in the background of Dunkirk shots.
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The seats on the train are at the very earliest 1950's issue.
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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-1112s are commonly used as substitutes for Bf 109s as they are almost identical in appearance save for the HA-1112's less-streamlined cowling.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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).
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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.
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When the soldiers are in a train carriage back in England, the carriage appears to be a much later British Railways carriage (with striking blue interior and modern windows) than would have been used in WW2.
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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.
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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.
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There are two white plastic fenders tied to the Moonstone's port front rail in a shot from the wheelhouse. Plastic fenders would not be available for many years and the fenders would probably have been woven from rope, although other types were available at the time.
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Audio/visual unsynchronised 

As the soldiers abandon the Dutch trawler, the planes fly overhead. They are all propeller-driven (as were all operationally deployed aircraft at that point in the war). However the English subtitling for the scene says, "Jet engine roaring."
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Character error 

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.
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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.
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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.
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On the beach, a British soldier salutes an officer while he is not wearing any head wear. This would never happen in the British services. If he wasn't wearing a hat or similar, he would have simply stood to attention to address the officer.
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Continuity 

Later in the film, Winant now has the correct two pips and crown of a colonel.
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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.
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In the aftermath of the German Stukas' raid on the beach, there is no sand in Tommy's hair after he stands up, even though a nearby explosion had covered him with sand just moments prior.
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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.
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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.
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Near the end when Farrier runs out of gas in his plane he still manages to shoot down an enemy plane. He then does a flyby of the beach while we see several hundred or thousands of soldiers cheering. By the time he coasts down and lands on the beach, which would only take a matter of seconds, a minute or two if we're being generous, he is the only one left.
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Crew or equipment visible 

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.
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Errors in geography 

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.
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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.
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When pinpointing the location of the "package" the commander points to a map and states that he is at 51 degrees north and 37 degrees east. 37 degrees east runs through Israel. Dunkirk is at 51N 2E.
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Factual errors 

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. Filming on location in the actual city of Dunkirk after its wartime damage had all but disappeared, this was inevitable as the filmmakers certainly could not 'return' the city to its ruined World War II condition.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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).
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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.
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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.
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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.
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"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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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The film shows a single jetty created from vehicles where there were actually two. These were used to load the small ships faster.
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The Spitfire Farrier sets alight burns quite easily, despite it being out of fuel.
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Shows the flotilla of little ships bringing the soldiers home but the majority were brought back by naval ships of which there was no sign.
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After Collin ditched his Spitfire he isn't able to open the canopy. Trying to smash it also fails. Mr Dawson finally frees him by smashing the canopy with a hook. However, this glass is acrylic or Plexiglas. It can at the most be damaged like this.
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Miscellaneous 

The movie uses silence to create tension, where Dunkirk was often very noisy due to heavy air and artillery attacks on the evacuation zone.
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Mr. Dawson identifies aircraft approaching him from behind as Supermarine Spitfires by the distinctive sound of their Rolls-Royce Merlin engines. However, there were many other aircraft using that engine at that time, including another common Royal Air Force fighter aircraft, the Hawker Hurricane. Thus, the engine sounds alone would not have necessarily allowed Mr. Dawson to so easily identify Spitfires from other aircraft.
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Incorrectly regarded as goofs 

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.
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Plot holes 

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.
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Revealing mistakes 

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.
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Many of the shots of Farrier 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 its distinctive tail. The revealing element is the extended tail wheel, which is longer than that on the Spitfire.
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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.
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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.
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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 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.
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A round engine cowling can be seen during the aerial combat shots depicting forward view of the "Spitfire". Spitfires did not have radial engines with round cowlings, rather, Spitfires used the in-line Merlin engine. These shots were likely taken from the Yak-52 used during the films production.
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Spoilers

The goof items below may give away important plot points.

Anachronisms 

In the end when Farrier flies above the beach, modern public toilets can be seen.
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Character error 

Commander Bolton states that they had evacuated 300,000 soldiers but that he would stay on "for the French". The actual final figures were 198,000 British and 140,000 French and Belgian troops evacuated, so his statement is, at the very least, misleading.
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Crew or equipment visible 

In one of the last shots where Farrier is standing in front of a burning plane, a camera crane is visible in the top right corner.
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Factual errors 

When Collins ditches his Spitfire the engine is running and the propeller turning. Seen after the crash, the propeller is intact with the blades straight when in actuality they would have been bent back when they made contact with the water while still rotating.
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Miscellaneous 

The film features a hospital ship being sunk by air attack while moored to the Mole, drowning many of the wounded on board. The single hospital ship sunk in the actual evacuation, HMHS Paris, did not sink at the Mole. She was bombed in the English Channel en route to Dunkirk and disabled, only sinking around 5 hours later, and with no fatalities other than those killed immediately by the bombings. Note, however, that there is no indication that the ship in the film is meant to be the Paris, and its sinking may be a fictional event placed in the real-life context of the Dunkirk evacuations.
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Incorrectly regarded as goofs 

A French soldier 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.
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Revealing mistakes 

After Farrier 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.
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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.
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See also

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

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