In all shots showing the "Tomcat" radar screen, you see the sweep bar rotating in a 360 degree arc. A Tomcat radar, and all TACAIR (TACtical AIRcraft) radars, progressively scan from side to side, changing elevation in set increments, so the correct radar screen would show a vertical bar moving from side to side.
Additionally, the radar apparatus of the F14 is located in the nose of the aircraft, and therefore only scans in a 60 degree arc, not the 360 degree sweep shown, which would pose a radiation hazard to the crew sitting only a few feet behind it.
During both the training missions and dogfight scenes, the sound effects for the targeting system and the radar/missile warning are nearly identical. In reality, those two sounds would be completely different so as to give the pilot no doubt as to what's going on (as evidenced when Maverick appears confused when he hears a "lock on" tone when Jester "kills" him while Maverick's chasing Viper).
The term "bogey" is misused throughout the movie. A bogey is an unidentified aircraft. Once identified, it is referred to as a "friendly" (for friendly aircraft), "bandit" (for non-friendly aircraft) or "hostile" (for non-friendly aircraft that may be fired at). In USN terminology, a non-friendly surface radar contact is a "skunk".
When Maverick and Charlie are having dinner, Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" comes on and Maverick remembers his "folks loved it", then states his father "disappeared in an F-4 November 5th, 1965," yet this song was not written until November 1967.
The signal that Maverick is given before he takes off for the final fight scene is not the launch signal, but rather the "remove power" signal. This signal is given early in F-14 launch procedures, not right before launch.
When the F-14 engines flame out before the flat spin, Goose says, "Engine one is out," and the next shot shows the number two (right) engine "flaming out." When Goose says, "Engine two is out," we see the number one (left) engine "flaming out." (The flame outs are actually the engines being normally brought out of afterburner.)
When the crew sings You've Lost that Lovin' Feeling, they omit the second verse, and change the line "But baby, baby I know it" to "But baby, believe me, I know it." It seems highly unlikely that every man in the room would make the same exact singing error. Additionally, the second verse is missing when Charlie plays the song on the jukebox at the end of the film.
Viper tells Maverick, "that's not something the State Department tells dependents when the battle occurred over the wrong line on some map," in reference to the death of Maverick's father. While this is technically correct, it is only correct because the State Department is in no way involved in the process of informing military dependents on the deaths of service members, that is the responsibility of the Defense Department.
Throughout the film in various dogfight scenes, the wrong pilot can be seen in the RIO seat of the F-14. For instance, in the initial carrier scenes, Sundown can be seen briefly as Maverick's RIO. In the training Hops, both Merlin and a blue-helmeted pilot can be seen in Maverick's RIO seat.
After Iceman's plane is strafed for the second time, Slider says it's OK both engines are running. After the first strafe, they shut down one engine. The second strafing must have restarted the turned off engine.
In hop 19, Hollywood and Maverick are chasing Jester while Viper gets away. Hollywood's plane is in front of Maverick's but when Maverick breaks away to go after Viper, it is the F-14 in front that pulls away.
Maverick and Iceman seem to change planes during the final fight scene. Maverick launches in an F-14 bearing a 104 on the nose. Once he lands he exits an F-14 with 114 on the nose while Iceman exits an F-14 with 114 on the nose.
Before and during the "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" scene at the bar where Maverick and Goose (et al) serenade Charlie, Maverick's nametag clearly reads "Peter Mitchell," with an "r." Afterwards, when he follows Charlie into the women's room, you can now clearly see his nametag reads "Pete Mitchell," sans the "r."
When Maverick leaves Charlie's house after he has dinner with her, there is a For Rent sign in her yard (as there is when he drives by her house later in the movie), but there wasn't one when he arrived.
When Maverick launches as the alert 5 aircraft in the final flight, there are at least three different sequences depicted. On run up to mil power and AB, it's a shore based launch. Then a launch from the number 1 bow cat. Finally, departure from a waist cat with aircraft parked on both bow cats.
In the scene on the carrier after the last dogfight, Ice gets in Maverick's face and they discuss being each others wingman. When the discussion starts Maverick takes off his sunglasses. At the end of the discussion, others lift Maverick up in the air on their shoulders. His sunglasses are already on.
When Maverick is riding his motorcycle alongside the runway, after the F-14 takes off and turns to the left the shot changes and shows Maverick riding past lighting standards heading toward the runway as indicated by the strobe lights.
When Cougar is freaking out, he looks twice at his family photo. The altimeter reads 31,500 ft the first time, and *9,300 ft (the first number obscured) a second later. But he is flying straight and level.
When Maverick pulls Goose from the water and into the life raft, the glove on Goose's his left hand is rolled down exposing the skin on his wrist. In the next shot as he's lifted into the helicopter the glove is rolled up over his sleeve protecting his arm from the spray.
After Charlie gives Maverick the dinner invite, Slider is playing with the model airplane while seated directly next to the classroom window. In the following scene where Maverick approaches Slider and tells him he stinks, Slider is now seated in the chair to the left of the one he was previously seated in.
In close-up facial footage of Sundown, he has the word "SUNDOWN" on the front of his helmet. When you see him in the background of Maverick footage, and on the ground, he is wearing the same helmet, but without the writing on it.
After the final live dog fight with the MIGS, the Commander of the carrier comes into the pilots' locker room with a lit stub of a cigar to tell Maverick that he (Maverick) can choose his next assignment. During the scene the cigar becomes significantly larger than the first stub. When the Commander departs, the stub cigar reappears.
During the final dog fight scene Maverick fires a missile at a MIG jet (the missile is launched from behind the MIG jet) and successfully blows off the left wing of the plane (as viewed from behind the plane). The next scene shows the same MIG in a descending flat spin, however it is clearly the right wing that is missing from the plane.
When reviewing the telemetry data, Charlie is wearing a gray skirt and a white polo shirt, but when she then chases after Maverick outside the building, she is wearing a black skirt and a white button-up shirt.
During the final dog fight, Iceman's F-14 is hit, resulting in him shutting down an engine. This is now an emergency aircraft needing priority handling and landing ASAP. However, upon returning, Iceman elects to do a single engine high speed flyby with Maverick.
At many points during the briefing prior to the first hop, you can clearly see men reflected forward in the actor's glasses, presumably crew members. They can't be characters since Charlie is the only character standing in front of the men briefing them at this time.
In the opening, a full-screen explanation of the Top Gun program says it was created "to insure that pilots receive the training..." etc. The correct word in this case is "ensure" as in 'to guarantee.'
In the final engagement when Maverick says he is "supersonic," the next shot shows his F-14 with the wings in the extended position. For an F-14 to be traveling at supersonic speeds, the wings would have to in the swept back position. He could not have forgotten to sweep his wings back because the wing geometry of the F-14 is not pilot-controlled; it is controlled automatically by the flight computer.
When Kelly McGillis' character, "Charlie", exits her vehicle after chasing Tom Cruise's character, "Maverick", you see a Department of Defense (DoD) sticker on the driver's side of her windshield. These stickers are what allow military and government employees to access U.S. Military Installations. The bottom strip of each DoD sticker is color coded to denote rank or position; Blue for officers, Red for enlisted, and Green for civilian government contractors. The strip on Charlie's is color coded Blue, not Green as it should be, which would indicate she is an officer, which she clearly is not given that during her character's introduction in the movie the Top Gun class is informed she is a civilian and not an officer, so they do not salute her.
The center of the story at the pilot training school is a series of competitions that lead to the awarding of the "Top Gun" trophy. The real flight school has never had that trophy or anything like it, as the training is designed to encourage cooperation amongst the pilots.
Viper wears four decorations which would be rare, if not impossible for a career fighter pilot to have earned. The first, is the Antarctica Service Medal, which, while authorized for all branches of service, is typically only awarded to USAF transport crews who Antarctica support airlift missions. The second, is the Coast Guard Arctic Service Medal. Not only do the Navy and Marines have their own equivalent medal, the Navy variant is typically only awarded to submarine crews, not aviators based on an aircraft carrier. Third, is a Multinational Force and Observers Medal. This was an Egyptian-Israeli peacekeeping mission which never involved fighter aircraft. Lastly, Viper also wears a Vietnam Presidential Unit Citation. This was only awarded to Americans for Humanitarian actions, a job not performed by carrier-based fighter pilots.
Iceman, Maverick and several other of the graduates receive orders about a hostile situation, and are assigned to it. Since all of them already have squadron assignments this means some of them are suddenly and unexpectedly reassigned to a new squadron. For Maverick it is just a matter of returning "home" (Stinger's presence shows it is the same squadron as in the first act of the movie) but it makes no sense that Iceman and the others would be reassigned during a brewing crisis.
The defensive capabilities of the F-14 are misrepresented. The F-14 is equipped with chaff dispensers to deceive radar-guided missiles, and flare dispensers to fool heat-seeking missiles, none of which were used in the film.
Charlie wears Naval Aviator wings, and a Chief Petty Officer's rank insignia on her leather jacket, although she is a Government Civilian, and would not have earned either badge. It is against federal law to wear unearned badges and insignia on a military installation.
When Maverick destroys the first enemy fighter in the final battle, it plummets straight down. A fighter jet traveling at close to the speed of sound would not fall straight down when struck, it would continue on its previous course and then begin to fall downward.
Before the final engagement, Stinger says "Gentlemen, this is bullseye." "Bullseye" is a fixed point on a map, by which navigation instructions can be relayed over the radio, without giving any vital information away to possible enemies in the area. Aircraft carriers are constantly moving, and therefore would never be designated as "bullseye".
Merlin tells Cougar that they are "way low on gas," while he taps his fuel gauge. The fuel gauge for the RIO in the F-14 Tomcat is only a digital read-out showing total fuel on board. The gauge tapped however was the pilot's gauge, which obviously Merlin would not be able to reach.
During most flight sequences, safety pins and star wheels on left top head box of Martin Baker GRU-7A ejection seat are installed. Thus the seat is not armed and in any inverted maneuvers, seats would slide off ejection gun rails.
In the final dogfight scene, when Iceman's plane is hit, they claim they are hit in the right engine; however, when they show the closeup of the bullet holes the "Rescue" point arrow is clearly visible. There is no rescue point on the engine nacelle of an F-14. Why would there be? These points are located on the front fuselage close to the cockpit.
Iceman and Slider wear patches and insignia from then Attack Squadron 25 (VA-25) now Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA-25) the "Fist of the Fleet." VA-25 never operated F-14s. At the time that the movie was filmed VA-25 flew A-7 Corsairs. Currently VFA-25 Flies the F/A-18C Hornet
The Enterprise on which Maverick is stationed is shown traveling alone. Aircraft carriers never travel alone, as they are always part of a Carrier Air Group (CAG), Attack CAG, Battle CAG, Escort CAG, etc.(depending on the mission), and as such, are protected by an array of destroyers, cruisers and frigates and are never underway alone.
Besides the defensive capabilities of the F-14 aircraft being represented by the lack of the use of flares and chaff to deceive enemy missiles, the offensive capabilities of the F-14's are misrepresented as well, presumably to mislead any hostile governments at the time. The F-14 is capable of locking on to up to six targets over thirty miles away and firing on all six targets simultaneously. This, in addition to any ground targets within range of the appropriate weapons, had the F-14's been equipped with AGM-65's (Maverick air-to-ground missiles). The AIM-7M Sparrow, for example, developed in 1982 which the F-14 carried, has an effective range of up to 31 miles. The AIM-9 Sidewinder, also shown, which is still used to this day, is a short range air-to-air intercept missile that can be launched at targets up to 22 miles away. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that the dogfight scenes as shown would have occurred, as all five hostile aircraft during the final dogfight could have been eliminated before any of the friendly F-14's even made visual contact with the MiG's, which are all shown performing old-fashioned, World War II fighting tactics at close range.
Before the Final Furball, Stinger states that the Exocet Anti Shipping Missile can be launched in excess of 100Nm. When the movie was made the AM-39 Exocet was the in service missile and is only capable of a range of approximately 38Nm. Additionally none of the "MiG" fighters are carrying any Anti-Shipping Missiles.
Viper mentions that he flew F-4s with Maverick's father in VF-51, aboard the USS Oriskany. VF-51 never served aboard the Oriskany, and they flew F-8 Crusaders in 1965, the year Maverick's father was shot down.
During Cougar and Merlin's approach to the carrier, the approach controller makes a call to their aircraft, "Cougar, you are well below glide path at 3 quarters of a mile. Call the Ball." Then, the Landing Signal Officer is heard to reply, "Roger Ball," without ever hearing Cougar confirm that he had the Ball in sight. Additionally, the approach controller made radio calls to both Maverick and Cougar, referring to both of them by their callsigns, which is something never done over the radio. Anyone calling their aircraft over the radio would refer to the aircraft's mission callsign, in this case, "Ghostrider 117" for Cougar and Merlin, and "Ghostrider 203," for Maverick and Goose. Once the approach controller tells the approaching aircraft to "call the ball," Maverick's reply, for example, should have been "Ghostrider 203, Tomcat Ball, 1 Point 1." That lets everyone know several important pieces of information. One, the aircraft callsign and type of aircraft approaching, so the sailors working the carrier arresting gear know the proper tension to set on the wires for a safe landing. Two, the fact that the pilot sees the Ball, so that the LSO can take over control, and guide the crew down to a safe landing. Three, the amount of fuel the aircraft has remaining, in this example 1,100 pounds of gas remaining. That way, the LSO knows how to properly sort the approaching aircraft by amount of fuel remaining, should the aircraft miss the wires, and be forced to make another landing attempt, divert to a land base, or join on the tanker for more fuel.
Toward the end of the movie, when Maverick is waiting on "Alert Five," the camera cuts between Maverick in the cockpit and outside, where carrier crew are working on "his" plane. The plane they are working on is actually an A-6 Intruder, not an F-14.
During the final dogfight, Slider tells Iceman to "break right" the first time one of the MiGs fires its guns at their plane, to which Iceman responds by putting their F-14 into a roll. In NATO brevity code, the term "break" is a directive to execute a maximum-performance turn in the indicated direction.
When Maverick is in a dogfight in training with Jester on his tail, he tells Goose he is going to hit the brakes and Jester will fly right by. While the F-14 has air brakes and can be used for this, Maverick did not used them and instead pulled the nose straight up. This move would not let him be in shooting position and it would have exposed his aircraft as a maximum target to the aggressor, neither being desirable.
An aircraft carrier never turns on its own radar, nor do any of its escorting surface ships. The radar signal can be backtracked to its source; it's like lighting a match or a flashlight in the dark. Our flying services do this routinely; we have air-to-surface missiles that can backtrack a radar signal to its source and take out the radar set (and probably a number of members of the crew as well.) All radar surveillance is done by E-2C 'Hawkeye' radar planes. Their radar signals can be backtracked to their source as well, but all they do is give the enemy a general idea of where the carrier is, and by the time they worked out the exact location, F-14s would be in position to intercept any hostile aircraft. Further, the F-14s would not turn their radars on either; they'd get all of their interception instructions from the airborne Hawkeyes.
Flight crews are seen throughout the film wearing golf shirts under their flight suits. While it is more common to wear a t-shirt under the flight suit, in the 1980's up until the early 2000's, crews did have the option to wear a golf shirt with their squadron colors under their flight suits.
When Charlie chases down Maverick on his motorcycle her car has a blue DOD decal on its windshield. Blue decals are used for officers, red decals for enlisted. As a civilian employee she would have had a green DOD decal for her car. The vehicle "Charlie" is driving was borrowed from her "older date" at the beginning of the movie hence the vehicle having a blue DOD decal.
Maverick's declaration of "I'm not leaving my wingman" may seem odd to some viewers, as the wingman's job is to follow the lead pilot. However, Maverick remembered the lesson that he learned when he lost a dogfight in school, as to why it is important to never leave your wingman. Had he done so, he would've put his crew and Iceman and Slider at risk.
Goose is depicted as a Lt (jg) and wears the proper insignia: on a white uniform, shoulder boards with one thick gold bar and one thin, and in khakis, a single silver bar (a full lieutenant wears double silver bars). (Some thought he was wearing full lieutenant insignia; they are similar.)
The enemy Mig 28/F-5E Tiger II aircraft seen at at the end of the movie are supposed to be carrying Exocet anti-ship missiles. They are not. They are armed with Aim-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and fuel tanks. The Exocet missile is large enough to be visible if it were carried.
Several times you can see missiles that are supposed to be live for combat hanging from aircraft wings. The missiles have a blue band around them indicating they are inert training missiles. Live missiles would have a yellow band as a warning of the live high explosive warhead.
When Maverick is launching from the carrier before the final battle, he goes directly into a roll when leaving ship. An F-14 taking off with full tanks of fuel wouldn't have gained enough speed to do this so soon. You can see while filming this (rear mounted camera), the plane that does the roll comes from a low-level flyby over side of the carrier. Also, the catapult Maverick supposedly launched from is "stacked" with parked aircraft.
In the elevator scene, Charlie's hair is noticeably darker than in other scenes. This is because this scene was shot after principal photography, and Kelly McGillis had already dyed her hair for another film role. The filmmakers tried to hide her darkened hair with the cap, but it's still noticeable.
Maverick fires the same missile from the same wing station at least three times. This is because only two live missile launches were authorized by the military and so the footage is repeated many times throughout the film along with model shots.
Sundown wears a helmet with a sunburst-style motif on it. However, in the "walking to the planes" sequence prior to Hop 19, we can see another person wearing the same helmet (presumably the pilot Sundown is the RIO to), however the RIO he is walking with is a Caucasian.
The F-14 crews were filmed in a discarded Navy cockpit that was not attached to the rest of the plane. This is why you can never see the wings or vertical stabilizers in the background when they show the actors "flying" in this cockpit.
When Maverick is launched on Alert Five, he is catapulted off the bow of the carrier. However in the next shot, the contrails of the tails indicate a takeoff trajectory from the secondary angled runway. Furthermore, in this shot the bow is now shown stacked with unused airplanes, which would render the depicted takeoff impossible.
This is likely due to the necessity of two separate takes to complete the depicted aileron roll, as an F-14 would not have the airspeed to execute such a maneuver so soon after launch.
During the initial flight scenes with the MiG-28's, when Maverick is visible on the screen, Sundown's helmet (orange and white stripes) is reflected on the cockpit canopy. This is noticeable above and behind Maverick on the upper left side of the canopy.
In the very opening scene when the planes are landing on the carrier with the song 'Danger Zone' playing in the background you see an F-14 Tomcat with a red & white wing and the # on that jet is 515. The F-14 fighter jets used in most of the movie flight scenes are a solid dark gray all around. Later on again towards the end of the movie when they receive orders on the carrier to provide air support to the disabled ship SS Leighton, you see that very same video shot of the red & white 515 plane.
When the first images of the MIG are shown after the "unknown aircraft, inbound Mustang" call the camera angle initially is from underneath and then raises to a side-on profile of the aircraft. At that point there is a flash from the co-pilot/RIO position within the cabin and it looks like the 2nd officer is taking a photograph of the camera plane.
During the final sequence of the volleyball scene, stunt doubles are playing in place of Goose, Iceman, and Slider. Goose has a mustache, whereas his vb double does not have a mustache, his hair is thicker and not the same color, and the shape of his face is visibly different than Goose. Slider's vb double has thicker/darker colored hair. Iceman's vb double has a different hair style than Iceman. In all three, you can see their faces and know the real actors are not playing volleyball in that sequence.
When Maverick tosses Goose's dog tags overboard, you can clearly make out the name "Mike Metcalf" on one of the tags, which is Viper's real name, not Goose's, which would be Nick Bradshaw.
Also, during the final dogfight scene, the tags carry yet another name on them.
While riding the motorcycle along the runway, 'Maverick' uses his left hand to pull the clutch. At this point he either excels or decelerates to shift gears. His bike does neither because the bike he is riding is strapped on to a trailer.
Though the final battle scene supposedly occurs in the open ocean, the carrier is docked in port during the celebration scene. The water around the carrier is calm and reflections of buildings can be seen in the water.
The canopy strike leading to Goose's death was, in fact, based around a real life incident, involving a test crew. The aircraft was in an unrecoverable spin, and the crew initiated ejection. Upon pulling the ejection handles, the crew reported that the canopy seemed to "float" over their heads. The RIO contacted the canopy as he was being propelled above and away from the stricken aircraft, breaking his leg in the process, though he nearly hit the canopy head first. Because of this incident, Grumman extended the canopy lanyard, in order to give the canopy more time to clear the aircraft before the ejection seats would fire. Also, F-14 crews were trained to, time and conditions permitting, actually pull the canopy jettison handle before pulling the ejection handles, thus giving the canopy even further time to safely clear the aircraft. When the producers were trying to determine a way for Maverick and Goose to crash, but only kill Goose, Technical Adviser Pete "Viper" Pettigrew remembered this incident from early in his time flying the F-14, and suggested that this be the plot device for Goose's death. Furthermore, while the top of the Martin Baker GRU-7 ejection seat did sit higher than the top of the crew members heads, they were not, however, equipped with "canopy breakers," like some modern ejection seats have. Had the seat, for whatever reason, been driven into the canopy, there was no way for the seat to break through the Plexiglass, and a collision would have resulted in serious injury or death of the affected crew member.
During the "choice of assignments scene", after the final dogfight, the "late" Goose's name is seen on the red locker door. The padlock on Goose's locker is also unlocked. However, with the whole SS Layton crisis going on, and the hangar only having recently received news of Goose's passing, it isn't unlikely that it they would have put off cleaning out his locker.
Following the flat spin and ejection sequence, Goose was wearing an MBU-14/P oxygen mask. However, when Maverick reaches him, Goose is face-down in the water. When Maverick pulls him upright, Goose's mask is unhooked from the right side of his helmet. Before an ejection, crews are taught to fasten their oxygen masks securely to not only provide oxygen at high altitudes, but also to prevent it from causing injuries. When Maverick and Goose ejected, they were both wearing their masks properly. As Goose was killed during the ejection, there is no explanation as to why his mask was undone in the water.