Continuity mistake: When we are first introduced to Maverick and Goose, their Tomcat crosses the screen, right to left, in close-up, slowly. It's nose is marked 203. Then we see the other Tomcat flying with them, and it is number 114, and its crew is Cougar and Merlin. But all the shots after this place Maverick and Goose in 114. (00:04:35)
Visible crew/equipment: In the scene after Maverick and Goose were told that they would be going to Top Gun the next scene shows Maverick on the runway riding his motorcycle as planes fly by. If you have your DVD settings on full screen you won't notice this but on wide screen you will. You can see the motorcycle that he is riding is strapped down to a trailer with 2 blue tie-down straps. Also, if you listen and watch closely you can tell that Maverick is not shifting and giving gas to the motorcycle at the right time. The only reason I know this is because I have been riding for over 10 years. If you give a sport-bike like that gas, it goes. He gave gas and it never even moves on the screen. Hard to do when you are strapped down to a trailer.
Factual error: In all sequences where Maverick "puts on the brakes", he is shown pushing the throttle quadrant forward and pulling the stick back. This would put him in a full-afterburner climb, but you don't really stop and it doesn't work in a medium speed tail chase (which is easier to film). The air brake does effectively nothing on the F-14 because it is too small, and not deployable at full power.
Continuity mistake: Before the final dogfight the horizontal stabilizer (back wings) on Mav's jet say YYY, afterwards they say XXX.
Continuity mistake: After the final dogfight, how did the drop tanks get back onto the planes before they landed? They sure weren't there during the dogfight.
Factual error: During the briefing before the final scene, the Commander says, "The Migs carry the Exocet missile. They can fire that missile from a hundred miles away." Yes they could fire the Exocet from a hundred miles away, but the Exocet's maximum range at the time of this movie was around 40 miles. Plus the Exocet is a French missile and would not be on a Soviet Union fighter.
Factual error: All the scenes with actors in the cockpit were shot in the front cockpit. Pay attention to the canopy frame behind the RIO. This would also explain a large gaffe from the movie - Merlin taps on the fuel quantity indicator and exclaims "C'mon Cougar, we gotta land this thing, we are way low on gas." The particular fuel quantity indicator shown being tapped by 'Merlin' the RIO, the one with the vertical tapes, is present only in the pilot cockpit. The F-14A rear cockpit has only a small fuel totalizer.
Factual error: This is the most basic mistake of all, but probably only obvious to those who fly in the Navy. Almost every written reference to "TOP GUN" is wrong. TOPGUN is one word, all caps, always has been.
Factual error: In nearly every cockpit scene, regardless of fighter airframe, you can see that half or more of the lights on the caution lights panel on the lower right-hand side of the cockpit are lit. These lights are the illuminated names of all the systems that are not currently operating, ergo if the "Engine 1" light is lit, then Engine 1 is not running. If over half of the lights are lit (as in the cockpit scenes) then the pilots must be flying without half of their systems running, including engines, hydraulics, and radar. None of these lights should be on in flight. This makes it obvious that the scenes were shot on the ground using external power.
Deliberate mistake: In the shot where the F-14 and F5 canopies are only 3-feet apart, you can see that the writing on the side of MAVs F-14 is backwards. Also, if the F-14 was inverted, with the sun more-or-less above, its cockpit would be in shadow, not with sunlight on the nose, as seen. (00:08:55)
Factual error: Just as Mav goes into the flat spin, you hear a voice over while looking at the rear of his F-14 (you can see the AB), you hear "Engine 1 is out" and you see the right engine flame out... this is engine 2, engine 1 is the left engine.