A aviation & planes forum. AviationBanter

If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above. You may have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed. To start viewing messages, select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.

Go Back   Home » AviationBanter forum » Aviation Images » Aviation Photos
Site Map Home Register Authors List Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read Web Partners

Lockheed F-104 Starfighter

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old December 3rd 18, 03:27 PM posted to alt.binaries.pictures.aviation
external usenet poster
Posts: 20,713
Default Lockheed F-104 Starfighter


The Lockheed F-104 Starfighter is a single-engine, supersonic interceptor
aircraft which later became widely used as an attack aircraft. It was originally
developed by Lockheed for the United States Air Force (USAF), but was later
produced by several other nations, seeing widespread service outside the United
States. One of the Century Series of fighter aircraft, it was operated by the
air forces of more than a dozen nations from 1958 to 2004. Its design team was
led by Kelly Johnson, who contributed to the development of the Lockheed P-38
Lightning, Lockheed U-2, Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, and other Lockheed aircraft.

The F-104 set numerous world records, including both airspeed and altitude
records. Its success was marred by the Lockheed bribery scandals, in which
Lockheed had given bribes to a considerable number of political and military
figures in various nations to influence their judgment and secure several
purchase contracts; this caused considerable political controversy in Europe and

The poor safety record of the Starfighter also brought the aircraft into the
public eye, especially in German Air Force service. Fighter ace Erich Hartmann
was forced to retire from the Luftwaffe due to his outspoken opposition to
selection of the F-104.

The final production version of the fighter model was the F-104S, an all-weather
interceptor designed by Aeritalia for the Italian Air Force, and equipped with
radar-guided AIM-7 Sparrow missiles. An advanced F-104 with a high-mounted wing,
known as the CL-1200 Lancer, was considered, but did not proceed past the
mock-up stage.

Background and early development

Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, the chief engineer at Lockheed's Skunk Works, visited
Korea in December 1951 and spoke with fighter pilots about what sort of aircraft
they wanted. At the time, the U.S. pilots were confronting the MiG-15 with North
American F-86 Sabres, and many felt that the MiGs were superior to the larger
and more complex American design. The pilots requested a small and simple
aircraft with excellent performance. Armed with this information, Johnson
immediately started the design of such an aircraft on his return to the United
States. In March, his team was assembled; they studied several aircraft designs,
ranging from small designs at 8,000 lb (3,600 kg), to fairly large ones at
50,000 lb (23,000 kg). To achieve the desired performance, Lockheed chose a
minimalist approach - a design that would achieve high performance by wrapping
the lightest, most aerodynamically efficient airframe possible around a single
powerful engine. The engine chosen was the new General Electric J79 turbojet, an
engine of dramatically improved performance in comparison with contemporary
designs. The small L-246 design powered by a single J79 remained essentially
identical to the L-083 Starfighter as eventually delivered.

The design was presented to the Air Force in November 1952, and they were
interested enough to create a General Operating Requirement for a lightweight
fighter to replace the North American F-100. Three additional companies replied
to the requirement: Republic Aviation with the AP-55, an improved version of its
prototype XF-91 Thunderceptor; North American Aviation with the NA-212, which
eventually evolved into the F-107; and Northrop Corporation with the N-102 Fang,
another J79-powered design. Although all were interesting, Lockheed had what
proved to be an insurmountable lead, and was granted a development contract in
March 1953 for two prototypes; these were given the designation "XF-104".

Work progressed quickly, with a mock-up ready for inspection at the end of
April, and work starting on two prototypes late in May. Meanwhile, the J79
engine was not ready; both prototypes were instead designed to use the Wright
J65 engine, a licensed-built version of the Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire. The
first prototype was completed by early 1954 and first flew on 4 March at Edwards
AFB. The total time from contract to first flight was less than a year.

When the USAF revealed the existence of the XF-104, they only gave a vague
description of it. A drawing in the August 1954 edition of Popular Mechanics was
very close to the actual design.

The prototype had hopped into the air on 18 February, but that was not counted
as a first flight. On the first official flight, it experienced landing gear
retraction problems. The second prototype was destroyed a few weeks later during
gun-firing trials, but in November 1955, the XF-104 was accepted by the USAF.

Interceptor aircraft, fighter-bomber

National origin
United States


First flight
17 February 1956 (YF-104A)

20 February 1958

31 October 2004 (Italy)

Retired from military service; in use with civilian operators as warbirds

Primary users
United States Air Force
German Air Force
Japan Air Self-Defense Force
Turkish Air Force

Number built

Unit cost

US$1.42 million (F-104G)

Developed from
Lockheed XF-104

Lockheed NF-104A
Canadair CF-104
Aeritalia F-104S

Developed into
Lockheed CL-1200/X-27
Lockheed CL-288

The F-104A initially served briefly with the USAF Air Defense Command (ADC) as
an interceptor, although neither its range nor armament were well-suited for
that role. The first unit to become operational with the F-104A was the 83rd
Fighter Interceptor Squadron on 20 February 1958, at Hamilton AFB, California.
After just three months of service, the unit was grounded after a series of
engine-related accidents. The aircraft were then fitted with the J79-3B engine
and another three ADC units equipped with the F-104A. The USAF reduced their
orders from 722 Starfighters to 155. After only one year of service these
aircraft were handed over to ADC-gained units of the Air National Guard; the
F-104 was intended as an interim solution while the ADC waited for delivery of
the Convair F-106 Delta Dart.

Vietnam War

Starfighter squadrons made two deployments to Vietnam. Commencing with Operation
Rolling Thunder, the Starfighter was used both in the air-superiority role and
in the air support mission, and although it saw little aerial combat and scored
no air-to-air kills, F-104s were successful in deterring MiG interceptors.
During the first F-104 deployment from April to October 1965, Starfighters flew
a total of 2,937 combat sorties. These sorties resulted in the loss of five
aircraft: the 476th Tactical Fighter Squadron deployed from April to July 1965,
losing one Starfighter, and the 436th Tactical Fighter Squadron deployed from
July through October 1965, losing four. Two Starfighters were shot down by
ground fire, one was shot down by a Shenyang J-6 when Capt. Philip E. Smith
strayed into Chinese airspace, and two were lost to a mid-air collision while
searching for Smith's missing jet.

Starfighters returned to Vietnam when the 435th Tactical Fighter Squadron
deployed from June 1966 until July 1967. During this time F-104s flew a further
2,269 combat sorties, for a total of 5,206. F-104s operating in Vietnam were
upgraded in service with APR-25/26 radar warning receiver equipment, with one
example on display in the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo, Michigan. During the second
deployment, an additional nine aircraft were lost for a total of 14 F-104s lost
to all causes in Vietnam. In July 1967, the Starfighter units transitioned to
the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II.

Flying characteristics

The Starfighter was the first combat aircraft capable of sustained Mach 2
flight, and its speed and climb performance remain impressive even by later
standards. Equipped with razor-edge 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, i.e., 600+ knots (1,100+ km/h; 690+ mph)
at very low level, making it a potent tactical nuclear strike-fighter. However,
when lured into a low-speed turning contest with conventional subsonic opponents
(as Pakistani pilots were with Indian Hunters in 1965), the outcome of dogfights
was always in doubt. The F-104's large turn radius was due to the high speeds
required for maneuvering, and its high-alpha stalling and pitch-up behavior was
known to command respect. In reference to the F-104's low-speed turn
performance, a humorous colloquialism was coined by a Canadian pilot and
referred to by F-104 pilots the world over: "Banking with intent to turn."

Early problems

The J79 was a brand-new engine, with development continuing throughout the
YF-104A test phase and during service with the F-104A. The engine featured
variable incidence compressor stator blades, a design feature that altered the
angle of the stator blades automatically with altitude and temperature. A
condition known as "T-2 reset", a normal function that made large stator blade
angle changes, caused several engine failures on takeoff. It was discovered that
large and sudden temperature changes (e.g., from being parked in the sun prior
to becoming airborne) were falsely causing the engine stator blades to close and
choke the compressor. The dangers presented by these engine failures were
compounded by the downward ejection seat, which gave the pilot little chance of
a safe exit at low level. The engine systems were subsequently modified and the
ejection seat changed to the more conventional upward type. Uncontrolled
tip-tank oscillations sheared one wing off of an F-104B; this problem was
apparent during testing of the XF-104 prototype and was eventually resolved by
filling the tank compartments in a specific order.

Later problems

A further engine problem was that of uncommanded opening of the variable thrust
nozzle (usually through loss of engine oil pressure, as the nozzles were
actuated using engine oil as hydraulic fluid); although the engine would be
running normally at high power, the opening of the nozzle resulted in a drastic
loss of thrust. A modification program installed a manual nozzle closure control
which reduced the problem. The engine was also known to suffer from afterburner
blowout on takeoff, or even non-ignition, resulting in a major loss of thrust
that could be detected by the pilot—the recommended action was to abandon the
takeoff. The first fatal accident in German service was caused by this
phenomenon. Some aircrews experienced uncommanded "stick kicker" activation at
low level when flying straight and level, so F-104 crews often flew with the
system deactivated. Asymmetric flap deployment was another common cause of
accidents, as was a persistent problem with severe nose wheel "shimmy" on
landing that usually resulted in the aircraft leaving the runway and in some
cases even flipping over onto its back.

Specifications (F-104G)

General characteristics
Crew: 1
Length: 54 ft 8 in (16.66 m)
Wingspan: 21 ft 9 in (6.63 m)
Height: 13 ft 6 in (4.11 m)
Wing area: 196.1 sq ft (18.22 m2)
Airfoil: Biconvex 3.36% root and tip
Empty weight: 14,000 lb (6,350 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 29,027 lb (13,166 kg)
Powerplant: 1 × General Electric J79 afterburning turbojet, 10,000 lbf (44 kN)
thrust dry, 15,600 lbf (69 kN) with afterburner

Maximum speed: 1,528 mph; 2,459 km/h (1,328 kn)
Maximum speed: Mach 2
Combat range: 420 mi (365 nmi; 676 km)
Ferry range: 1,630 mi (1,416 nmi; 2,623 km)
Service ceiling: 50,000 ft (15,000 m)
Rate of climb: 48,000 ft/min (240 m/s) Initially
Lift-to-drag: 9.2
Wing loading: 105 lb/sq ft (510 kg/m2)
Thrust/weight: 0.54 with max. takeoff weight (0.76 loaded)


Guns: 1 × 20 mm (0.787 in) M61A1 Vulcan 6-barreled Gatling cannon, 725 rounds
Hardpoints: 7 with a capacity of 4,000 lb (1,800 kg),with provisions to carry
combinations of: Missiles: 4 × AIM-9 Sidewinder
Other: Bombs, rockets, or other stores


Old December 3rd 18, 09:39 PM posted to alt.binaries.pictures.aviation
external usenet poster
Posts: 4,471
Default Lockheed F-104 Starfighter

"DAN" wrote in message ...

The idea wasn't a big success. Surprise surprise...

It might have been better just to dispense with the pilot and use it as a
cruise missile: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75qnxMd1YSY
Old December 3rd 18, 11:15 PM posted to alt.binaries.pictures.aviation
external usenet poster
Posts: 20,713
Default Lockheed F-104 Starfighter

In article , DAN says...

Let's complete Miloch's series with some exotic zippers.

The Royal Jordanian Air Force acquired F-104s after heavy losses in the 6-days

First they were bare metal, then painted in a camo reminiscent of he Israeli
Then a few were transferred to Pakistan, and the rest were used as decoys and
eventually scrapped.

I can remember going to an air show many decades ago and noting the warning that
the leading edge of the wings of the one they had on display were sharp...you
could prolly cut a apple with them.



Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Lockheed XF-104 pics 2 [4/9] - lockheed-f-104-starfighter-1 cut.gif (1/1) Miloch Aviation Photos 0 June 19th 18 01:43 PM
Lockheed XF-104 pics [5/8] - Lockheed TF-104G Starfighter (simulator).jpg (1/1) Miloch Aviation Photos 0 June 19th 18 01:41 PM
Lockheed XF-104 pics [4/8] - Lockheed F-104C Starfighter 2.jpg (1/1) Miloch Aviation Photos 0 June 19th 18 01:41 PM
Lockheed XF-104 pics [3/8] - F-104-lockheed-f-104b-starfighter.gif (1/1) Miloch Aviation Photos 0 June 19th 18 01:41 PM
Lockheed F-104 Starfighter 02 ®i©ardo[_2_] Aviation Photos 2 March 19th 13 08:26 AM

All times are GMT +1. The time now is 06:04 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ©2004-2020 AviationBanter.
The comments are property of their posters.