Tom Clancy errors?

I was reading a Tom Clancy book, and he mentions a Grumman Tiger. One thing that struck me as odd was that he said, ‘The pilot slid open his door.’ Now, the Tiger is the airplane in which I logged my first hours. It doesn’t have a sliding door; it has a sliding canopy. That is, there is no ‘pilot’s door’ and ‘passenger door’; the whole canopy slides back.

He also mentions the ‘high-rev Lycoming’. RPM in airplane engines are limited by the prop. You want the blade tips to remain below the speed of sound. Typically, the engines will turn at around 2,300 to 2,500 RPM depending upon the application. If you have a ‘high-rev’ engine such as some automotive engines powering homebuilts, you need a gear reduction unit to keep the prop within RPM limits. The Tiger was powered by a 180 hp Lycoming, but I don’t think it turned any faster than other engines.

Then there was Patriot Games, in which he describes Jack Ryan’s wife’s Porsche. He said something about the sun glinting off of the chrome (bumper?). But the year-model he specifies didn’t have a chrome bumper. My 911 didn’t have any chrome on it at all (although the Fuchs wheels were polished).

Clancy’s stories seem to have a lot of detail in them that is believable. He seems to ‘do his homework’. So why does he make errors about things that are easily researched or observed?

Unless it’s completely unintentional, I would guess an earlier draft had a different plane specified. When the plane type was changed, the reference to the door was missed.

Can’t help too much here, but I did find a reference to “high rev engines” in reference to an aircraft engine. Looks like some sort of tradeoff between torque and RPMs for horsepower. Maybe the discussion there will make sense to you.

Customization? Clancy didn’t think it was that big a deal?

I’m no Clancy fan, but doesn’t he get the vast majority of details right? And how important are these goofs, really? Now if he puts the Sixth Fleet in the South Pacific, I could understand.

Tom Clancy set portions of The Sum of All Fears at the Vatican, which, he says was built upon the site of the ancient Circus Maximus.


The Basillica of Saint Peter was built on the Vatican Hill, where once stood the Circus of Gaius (Caligula) and Nero. According to legend, Peter was executed there and buried just outside its walls. The Vatican Hill, as a cursory glance at a map will indicate, lies west of the Tiber, and thus outside of the boundaries of the ancient city.

A circus it may be, but quite distinct from the Circus Maximus, which was located in the heart of the city, just south of the Palatine Hill.

Yeah, I know, nitpicky critique of a minor point of trivia. But isn’t that what Dopers live for?

He probably has better sources for technical detail on military items than civilian ones.

At least the plane exists. That puts him above most authors.

And in Debt of Honor, if I remeber correctly (could be Executive Orders) he describes the USS Vinson’s engineroom. Too bad what he really describes is the same space on the USS Enterprise - and it’s a fairly major difference. Yes, they are both nuclear powered carriers, but of different classes and construction details.

I though Circus Maximus was in Las Vegas? :wink:

As a long time Clancy fan I’ll note that while he gets most of the details right he’s also quite capable of screwing the pooch as required. Many regulars in the alt.books.tom-clancy newsgroup have debunked his “fill in the blanks” pardons from Teeth of the Tiger and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Red Rabbit had similar problems, such as Ed Foley’s son watching Transformers on television a year or so before it was on the air. And President Fowler in The Sum of All Fears helped broker a peace deal between Palestinians and Israelis that he referred to in a speech as a “Final Solution”… oops!

From what I recall from Mr Clancy’s infrequent newsgroup postings, he cares not about such nitpicking as long as people continue to buy his books.

Once, bored, I tried to figure out the timeline of Executive Orders. As far as I could figure out, the elections to re-populate the Senate/House occurred on the very same day that Pres. Ryan quarantined the entire country due to the Ebola outbreak. :smack:

Well sure thats the easy answer. No model 911 that didn’t have chrome bumpers standard would look right with chrome added. 930/964/993/996 with chrome. :frowning:

The Japanese dialogue he uses in Debt of Honor was unintentionally humorous in places.

wakarimasen: What are you talking about?
wakaremasen: I won’t leave you.

Minor, but when the setting is two naked guys in a hot tub, it gets a giggle.

Still, Dan Brown was a lot worse in Digital Fortress.

Worst flub I’ve read in Clancy was in Rainbow Six, when he had them using that “people detector” that wound up being debunked as a huge scam.

There was a way worse one in Rainbow Six. The whole plot revolved around the Summer Olympics in Sydney. A deadly virus was to be spread there using a misting system that was to be put into place to help beat the summer heat.

The games are held during the Winter/Early Spring in the Southern Hemisphere. Average temperatures are in the mid-70’s.

Clancy just doesn’t give a shit anymore. He should have quit before he became such a fucking hack.


I’ve just read Power Plays. I used to like Clansy’s works yonks ago. The Hunt for Red October, Red Storm Rising… that era. Power Plays was just lame. The events seemed a bit random, and the way they were all drawn together at the end was formulaic and unimaginative. The characters who finally brought down the Bad Guy didn’t do much of anything, and their crisis didn’t happen until the last 40 or 60 pages (something like that – I didn’t count, but it was near the end) It’s like: ‘Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, first crisis, resolution of first crisis, Bad Guy gets his comeuppance.’ Weak.

As I read, I could see Tom Clancy sitting in his office laughing as he wrote the story over a weekend.

I think he lost it right after The Sum of All Fears.
After that book, it became basically wish fulfillment for him and his books lost any sense of suspense. After TSOAF, I never once thought any of the main characters might actually die or hell, even FAIL.

Heh. reminds me of my geekiest Clancy flub, in some novel where a character’s video-gaming l337ness is touted by citing his skills at playing Crescent Galaxy on the Atari Jaguar game console.

Even the most die-hard Jaguar owner will admit that Crescent Galaxy was a dog-ass lame game, and using it to demonstrate l337ness is like entering a street race with a Yugo… :smiley:

Well… I doubt that this is what he meant, but some GA aircraft engines have pretty low redlines and cruise RPMs. And a fixed-pitch airplane like a Tiger is generally going to cruise at a higher RPM than a constant-speed prop airplane. Grumman people often cruise their Tigers at 2700 RPM (Some even cruise over redline, at 2800, in violation of the POH). In contrast, a constant-speed equivalent like a Mooney will generally climb out at 2500, then be dialed back for cruise to somewhere between 2200 and 2400.

As far as I know, Clancy doesn’t actually write the Power Plays series. He just licenses his name to be on the covers of the books.

I was at a dinner with him once where he told the table that CIA psychics were real and that he had eyewitness evidence that Charlton Heston was a fag … .

He is all over the place when he leaves the USA.

In his latest he places Hereford in Wales.

Also he has the agents drinking John Smiths Bitter in pubs as it’s a traditional English beer - it isn’t it’s a new product (and only a yank would drink it)

Also he has Brits callen Jack Ryan “Sir John” which we would never do as the knighthood is purely honourary.

I think he might be allowed leeway on the knighthood thing as when it was awarded (in Patriot Games) it was stated that as it was in extraordinary circumstances (saving the life of the heir to the throne) it would be considered full and not just honourary.