Role Intercept or aircraft, fighter-bomber
National Origin United States
First Flight 4 March 1954
Introduction 20 February 1958
Retired 2004 (Italy)
Primary Users United States Air Force, Luftwaffe,
Japan Air Self-Defense Force,
Turkish Air Force
Number Built F 104G version -1,122
Unit Cost US$ - 1.42 million (F-104G)
Developed From Lockheed XF-104
Variants Lockheed NF-104A, Canadair CF-104,
Aeritalia F-104S, CL-1200 Lancer and X-27
Armament Two AIM-9B air-to-air guided missiles
Engine One General Electric J79-GE-11A
(or -11B) turbojet of 15,800 lbs. static sea-level
thrust with afterburner
Maximum Speed 1,320 mph (Mach 2)
Cruising Speed 575 mph
Range 1,628 nautical miles maximum
Service Ceiling 60,000 ft.
Span 21.94 ft.
Length 54.77 ft.
Height 13.49 ft.
Tread 8.79 ft.
Weight 20,800 lbs. gross takeoff weight
Crew One (Pilot)
ABOUT The single-place F-104G and is a high-performance,
all-weather, day and night fighter-bomber-interceptor powered by an
axial-flow, turbojet engine with afterburner. The airplane, built by the
Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, was designed for high subsonic
cruise and high supersonic combat speeds. Notable features of the
airplane include extremely thin flight surfaces, short straight wings
with negative dihedral, irreversible-hydraulically-powered flight
controls, controllable horizontal stabilizer, engine inlet duct anti-icing,
an antiskid brake system, an automatic pitch control system, and on
single-place aircraft a maneuvering automatic pilot. The wings have
leading edge and trailing edge flaps, and a boundary layer control
system which is used in conjunction with the trailing edge flaps to
reduce landing speeds. An upward ejection system is used for
emergency escape. A drag chute is installed to reduce the landing roll
and an arresting hook is available for bringing the aircraft to an
emergency stop. Internal fuel cells and external fuel tanks may be
serviced through a single-point pressure refueling system. The photo
reconnaissance version of the F-104G has three cameras installed in
area of the shellcase stowage compartment and is referred to as the
The F-104G was an improved version of the C model built in the US
under the Military Assistance Program and internationally by
Consortium. The USAF never bought any G models; however, the
aircraft was operated by the USAF for training of non-USAF pilots
primarily from Germany.
OPERATIONAL SERVICE One of the Century Series of
aircraft, it served with the USAF from 1958 until 1969, and continued
with Air National Guard units until it was phased out in 1975. The
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) flew a small
mixed fleet of F-104 types in supersonic flight tests and spaceflight
programs until they were retired in 1994.
A set of modifications produced the F-104G model, which won a
NATO competition for a new fighter-bomber. Several two-seat trainer
versions were also produced, the most numerous being the TF-104G.
A total of 2,578 Starfighters were eventually produced, mostly by
NATO members. The F-104 served with the air forces of over a
dozen nations. The operational service of the Starfighter ended with
its retirement by the Italian Air Force in May 2004, some 46 years
after its introduction in 1958 by the USAF.
The poor safety record of the Starfighter brought the aircraft into the
public eye, especially in Luftwaffe service. The subsequent Lockheed
bribery scandals surrounding the original purchase contracts caused
considerable political controversy in Europe and Japan.
The last use of the Starfighter in US markings was training German
pilots for the Luftwaffe, with a wing of F-104Gs based at Luke Air
Force Base, Arizona. Although operated in USAF markings, these
aircraft (which included German-built aircraft) were owned by
Germany. They continued in use until 1983
FLYING the F104 The Starfighter was the first combat aircraft
capable of sustained Mach 2 flight, and its speed and climb
performance remain impressive even by modern standards. Equipped
with razor-edged thin blade supersonic wings (visible from the
cockpit only in the mirrors), it was designed for optimum
performance at Mach 1.4. If used appropriately, with high-speed
surprise attacks and good use of its exceptional thrust-to-weight ratio,
it could be a formidable opponent. It was exceptionally stable at high
speed (600+ kts) at very low level, making it a formidable tactical
nuclear strike-fighter. However, when lured into a low-speed turning
contest with a conventional subsonic opponents, the outcome of
dogfights was always doubtful. The F-104's large turn radius was
due to the high speeds required for manoeuvring, and its high-alpha
stalling and pitch-up behavior was known to command respect.
Takeoff speeds were in the region of 219 mph (352 km/h), with the
pilot needing to swiftly raise the landing gear to avoid exceeding the
limit speed of 299 mph (481 km/h). Climb and cruise performance
were outstanding; unusually, a "slow" light illuminated on the
instrument panel at around Mach 2 to indicate that the engine
compressor was nearing its limiting temperature and the pilot needed
to throttle back. Returning to the circuit, the downwind leg could be
flown at 242 mph (389 km/h) with "land" flap selected, while long flat
final approaches were typically flown at speeds around 207 mph (333
km/h) depending on the weight of fuel remaining. High engine power
had to be maintained on the final approach to ensure adequate airflow
for the BLC (Boundary Layer Control) system; consequently pilots
were warned not to cut the throttle until the aircraft was actually on
the ground. A drag chute and effective brakes shortened the
Starfighter's landing roll.
The Acquisition In 2006 the Classic Aviation Aircraft Museum was able to obtain a well
preserved ex Taiwanese F-104G Starfighter parked in a garden of the Feng Chia University
in Taichung. It was a very nice opportunity to get an F-104G flyworthy again within a
The Starfighter is a Canadair licensed build F-104G delivered under MAP regulations
to Denmark on 23 November 1964. It got serial R-699 (using last digits of USAF serial
63-12699). When it arrived in Denmark the aircraft had clocked 12.55 flying hours due to test
and acceptance flights. It was flown by 723 Eskader, based at Aalborg until 1 January 1984
when the F-16s started to replace the aircraft of this squadron. The R-699 was transferred to
sisters quadron 726 Eskader that day.
On 30 April 1986 the aircraft was withdrawn from use and it was officially given back to the
USA due to the MAP regulations. It was decided to transfer them to Taiwan which signed the
contract on 18 February 1987. In Taiwan the aircraft received serial "4420" and flew with
various squadrons until it retired after November 1995. It went to Taichung where it was used as
instructional airframe at the Feng Chia University, first noticed in August 2000. Later on the
aircraft was phased out and put on display in the garden. Soon after the people from the Classic
Aviation Aircraft Museum managed to get this aircraft for their museum plans. Until the contract
was signed by the Taiwanese authorities the people at the university decided to cocoon the
aircraft to protect it against the weather until it was taken by the Americans.
On 18 October 2006 the aircraft was officially handed over to the Museum via an official
ceremony. Immediately the aircraft was dismantled and shipped to the USA where it arrived at
the Seattle harbor on 19 November 2006. From there it went straight to the main headquarters
Museum, where they started the technical maintenance and other treatments.
|On October 18, 2006 the Museum
acquired the F 104G- 4420
from Feng Chia University -
a private university
in Taichung, Taiwan.