The buzz around the long-awaited sequel to Top Gun is growing as production heats up. Last time we checked in regarding the film some very exciting actors were announced as being attached to the film and camera crews were deployed aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln operating with Joint Strike Fighters and Super Hornets in the Atlantic. Now it appears that a custom painted F/A-18F Super Hornet with Pete Mitchell's name and Topgun titles on it has emerged from the paint barn.
You can see the photos of the baby blue and black accented Rhino over at Revengeofthefans.com. We have not attempted to authenticate the photos just yet beyond a cursory examination. There's is always the chance that this is some sort of an elaborate photoshop, but it doesn't look like it.
The jet has Topgun's iconic seal on its tail, which means it would belong Naval Air Warfighting Development Center (NAWDC) at NAS Fallon. So it looks like Maverick is an instructor at the school, which is not surprising.
There is one issue I see with this paint job. The centerline tank that is painted like the jet says 'Topgun' on it—the correct spelling of the Navy Fighter Weapons School's nickname. But the movie took the artistic license to rename it 'Top Gun.' They could always drop the tank for production, and it makes sense to paint it with the real name on the government's dime so that the jet can be flown normally by the school without the discrepancy.
The scheme is a bit odd, with the light blue stripes, as I'm not exactly sure what it draws from, but it looks nice. The three Hornets painted on the side of the cockpit are also a bit puzzling, but if I remember correctly, in Top Gun, Maverick shoots down three 'MiG-28s' during the final dogfight scene. Maybe that's what they are supposed to signify. It's also an interesting, albeit far-fetched choice to give Maverick his own highly unique looking jet, but it's Top Gun we are talking about here, so we can't be too surprised if realism ends up flying a cargo plane full of rubber dogshit out of Hong Kong.
It's also possible that this is a tribute jet to Tom Cruise's character that was designed by Topgun independent of the production, although that seems a bit too convenient.
Production of the movie is definitely accelerating at a rapid pace. Miles Teller, which is going to co-star in the film as Maverick's young counterpart, recently spent some time at Naval Air Station Fallon—the home of Topgun—checking out the jets and getting a feel for the culture. I have gotten two direct reports on this from aircrew at Fallon saying he has been all over the base and has spent time at the officer's club with Topgun crews and other Navy staff.
Tom Cruise has also been soaking up the world of modern air combat. Just days ago he flew his P-51 Mustang out to Fort Worth to go check out Lockheed's F-35 production line and learn more about the aircraft. He also made a stop at Marana Regional Airport in Arizona for gas on the way back.
It seems clear that everyone, from Paramount to the Pentagon, as well as Boeing and Lockheed Martin, are finally realizing just how big of a deal this movie is going to be. And just as I predicted in my last post, the release date has been pushed back a year, from July 2019 to July 2020.
Now the big question is what aircraft will be playing the bad guys? Let's hope it is an actual airframe that flies and not a squadron of computer-generated fighters.
The War Zone will continue to keep you up to date as Top Gun: Maverick's production unfolds.
Author's note: A big thanks to my friends over at @ume_shirt for the heads up!
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com