Film and aviation fans choose Final Countdown over Top Gun.
Nimitz. We’re where? Bryna Productions filmed The Last Countdown with Navy and DoD assistance., a carrier-based cult classic, before The Right Stuff (1983), Top Gun (1986), Iron Eagle (1986), Flight of the Intruder (1991), Stealth (2005), or Top Gun: Maverick (2006). (2022). (1980).
The Last Countdown stars Kirk Douglas and pre-West Wing Martin Sheen on the USS Nimitz (CVN-68).
The Last Countdown’s science-fiction narrative differentiates it from typical war films, including those with DOD support. In the 1980 picture, the Nimitz leaves Pearl Harbor for Pacific Ocean maneuvers.
An electrical storm or vortex pushes the Nimitz inward at sea. The ship’s radar and electrical equipment malfunctioned, leading the crew to suspect a nuclear strike on Hawaii.
Kirk Douglas’s Nimitz commander launches an RF-8 Crusader and two F-14 Tomcats. Modern jets reveal the truth.
The electrical storm/vortex was a time warp that transported the Nimitz to December 1941, just before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
How do modern warplanes battle 1940s prop planes? Kirk Douglas and company fight to stop the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
The 1979 film was shot at Naval Station Norfolk, Naval Air Station Key West, and off the Florida Keys over five weeks. Aviation fans love The Last Countdown for its carrier operations and aerial warfare.
The film shows the EA-3B Skywarrior, F-14 Tomcat, E-2 Hawkeye, A-6 Intruder, S-3 Viking, A-7 Corsair II, F-4 Phantom II, RA-5C Vigilante, SH-3 Sea King, RF-8G Crusader. The most important planes in the movie were the T-6 Texans, and BT-13 Valiants, made to look like the Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero, Nakajima B5N Kate, and Aichi D3A Val.The vintage Japanese-painted planes battle VFA-103 “Jolly Rogers” F-14 Tomcats.
A Bell 206 Jet Ranger helicopter, a Learjet 35, and a modified B-25 bomber were used to capture aerial shots with Panavision cameras.
The aerial sequences and film quality are worse than in Top Gun, but that’s sometimes good. The minimalist production lets viewers watch these jets fly without the frantic editing of typical action films. Refreshingly, no CGI real-time action
The $12 million-budgeted Last Countdown grossed $16 million. The Navy and DOD collaborated with Hollywood again six years later to make 1986’s highest-grossing film, Top Gun.
The Last Countdown is a cult favorite for cinema and aviation fans, but Top Gun remains the best military aviation film.