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View Full Version : F-104, the widowmaker.



Panzerknacker
04-08-2009, 05:50 PM
An aircraft that clearly showed the terrible things happening when you privilege the politics over technical virtues.


http://i44.tinypic.com/10zr5sp.jpg

flamethrowerguy
04-08-2009, 06:05 PM
After the "Starfighter" was introduced with the German Bundeswehr there was this humorous saying quite popular:
-"How to get your own F-104?"
-"Buy a piece of land and wait for one to drop on it!"

Panzerknacker
04-08-2009, 06:12 PM
Funny but very accurate.


The Luftwaffe was the primary user of the Starfighter, operating over thirty-five percent of all F-104s built. Luftwaffe F-104Gs came from all five production lines of the Starfighter consortium. The West German Luftwaffe received a total of 915 Starfighters (30 F-104Fs, 96 F-104Gs, and 136 TF-104Gs from Lockheed, 255 F/RF-104Gs from the North Group, 210 F-104Gs from the South Group, 88 F-104Gs from the West Group, 50 F/RF-104Gs from the Italian Group, plus 50 replacement F-104Gs from MBB to replace some of those lost in crashes).
At their peak in the mid-1970s, Starfighters equipped five nuclear-armed Luftwaffe fighter-bomber wings, two interceptor wings, and two reconnaissance wings. In addition, two attack wings of the Marineflieger (Federal German Navy) were equipped with Starfighters
The first German Starfighters were the Lockheed-built two-seat F-104Fs which were initially used in the USA to train German instructors. At that time, the F-104Fs were painted with standard USAF insignia and carried USAF serial numbers. These machines were then handed over to Waffenschule 10, which was based at Norvenich in Germany. After handover, they were repainted in Luftwaffe insignia and assigned German serial numbers. They began converting pilots for JBG31 in July of 1960.
The first operational unit to be equipped with the F-104G was Jagdbombergeschwader 31 "Boelcke" (JBG31), also based at Norvenich. JBG31 became fully operational in 1963. Other Jagdbombergeschwadern (fighter-bomber wings) to receive the F-104G were JBG32 at Lechfeld, JBG33 at Buchel, JBG34 at Memmingen, and JBG36 at Rheine-Hopsten. Two fighter wings (Jagdgeschwadern) received the F-104G--JG71 at Wittmundhafen and JG74 at Neuburg. Two Aufklarungsgeschwadern (reconnaissance wings) received the F-104G-- AKG51 at Ingoldstadt/Manching and AKG52 at Leck. In addition, two Marininefliegergeschwasedern of the Bundesmarine (West German Navy) received F-104Gs. These were MFG1 at Schleswig and MFG2 at Eggebeck. They operated in the armed reconnaissance and anti-shipping strike roles.
With new aircraft being delivered almost daily to the new Luftwaffe, a massive pilot training was required in order to get them into service quickly. Northern European weather and operational restrictions placed severe limitations on the amount of training that could be done in Germany. The immediate answer was to set up a Luftwaffe training operation in the southwestern United States, where there was a lot of space, where the air was clear, and where the weather was good most of the time. Many Luftwaffe Starfighters remained in the United States and were stationed at Luke AFB in Arizona for pilot training. They were assigned to the 4512th, 4518th, and 4443rd Combat Crew Training Squadrons of the USAF. Although remaining Luftwaffe property, these aircraft carried USAF insignia and were assigned USAF serial numbers. Final F-104G training for the European environment was done at Waffenschule 10 at Jever.
In Luftwaffe service, the F-104G got a bad reputation because of the large number of accidents, many of them resulting in fatalities. Intensive flying operations with the Starfighter did not start in Germany until 1961, when only two crashes took place. There were seven crashes in 1962, 12 in 1964, and 28 in 1965, or more than two a month. By mid-1966, 61 German Starfighters had crashed, with a loss of 35 pilots. At the height of the crisis, the Starfighter accident rate peaked at 139 per 100,000 flying hours. As a result, the German press went into a feeding frenzy and the F-104G was given derogatory nicknames such as the "Flying Coffin" or the "Widowmaker", which brings to mind all of the flak that surrounded the Martin B-26 Marauder during World War 2. One running joke at the time was that if you waited long enough, just about every square mile of Germany would have a Starfighter crash onto it. The press left many people with the impression that there was something intrinsically wrong with the F-104G, that it was just too difficult an airplane to fly for the new and relatively inexperienced Luftwaffe pilots. The high loss rate generated a flurry of criticism of the Bonn government, some critics claiming that the entire Starfighter program had been politically-motivated and should be cancelled outright.
During its period of service with the German armed forces, about 270 German Starfighters were lost in accidents, just under 30 percent of the total force. About 110 pilots were killed. However, the attrition rate in German service was not all that much greater than that of the F-104 in service with several other air forces, including the United States Air Force. Canada had the unenviable record of losing over 50 percent of its 200 single-seat CF-104s in flying accidents. The loss rate of Luftwaffe Starfighters was not all that extraordinary, since the Luftwaffe had suffered a 36 percent attrition rate with the Republic F-84F Thunderstreak, the Starfighter's immediate predecessor. There was nothing intrinsically dangerous about the Starfighter, since the Royal Norwegian Air Force operating identical F-104Gs suffered only six losses in 56,000 flying hours, and the Spanish Air Force lost not a single one of its Starfighters to accidents.
Nevertheless, some of the Luftwaffe crashes could indeed be traced to technical problems with the F-104G itself. Engine problems, including difficulties with the J79's variable afterburner nozzle, and contamination of the Starfighter's liquid oxygen system causing loss of consciousness of the pilot were listed as contributing factors in some of the accidents. There were also problems with the automatic pitch-up limiter during high-speed low-altitude flying and in tight turns, resulting in its temporary removal, with accompanying restrictions on the maneuverability.
However, the high rate of crashes while in Luftwaffe service could be blamed more on the hazards of flying low-altitude missions at high speeds in the bad weather of Northern Europe than on any intrinsic flaw with the F-104G. Human error was probably the major cause of the majority of the accidents. The Starfighter required 38-45 hours of maintenance for every hour in the air, and many of the Luftwaffe ground crew personnel were conscripts who were probably too hastily trained. In addition, German Starfighter pilots were only flying 13-15 hours a month, compared with the NATO average of about 20 hours. Another factor may have been the fact that the initial training of Luftwaffe aircrews took place in the USA rather than in Germany. The reason given for training Luftwaffe pilots in the USA rather than in Germany was that the clear air and good flying weather in the American Southwest was much more conducive to pilot training than was the often lousy weather of Northern Europe. However, one might fairly point out that were war to break out, the actual fighting would be done in the nasty weather of Europe rather than in the clear desert air of the American West. The sudden transition from the clear desert skies of Arizona to the winter skies of northern Europe may have been another factor in the rash of crashes.
At the height of the Starfighter political crisis in mid-1966, the Luftwaffe chief, General Wernher Panitzki, was forced to resign after he had criticized the FRG's Starfighter procurement program as being politically-motivated. His successor was the World War 2 ace Lieutenant General Johannes Steinhoff, who had flown Me 262 jets during the war. Steinhoff had not initially been a Starfighter booster, and he had complained about the Bonn Defence Ministry's failure to implement the recommendations of his 1964 report on F-104G survival measures. One of Steinhoff's first moves was to review the F-104G's ejection system to enhance the probability of a successful escape by a pilot at low level. The Lockheed C-2 ejection seat initially fitted to the F-104G had been fitted with a more powerful Talley Corp 10100 rocket booster by November 1966 to give it true zero-zero capability. However, it was found that the Talley rockets had a destabilizing effect after ejection, and had to be removed. After the German Starfighter had to be grounded once again for fixes to the C-2 seats in December of 1966, it was decided to switch over to Martin-Baker Mk GQ7A zero-zero ejection seats. A contract was signed on March 8, 1967 to re-equip the entire German F-104G force with the Martin-Baker seats. This took about a year to get done. The first successful use of a GQ7 seat to escape from a German F-104G took place during a ground-level overshoot at Ramstein on September 24, 1968.
Another part of the program to reduce the Starfighter accident rate was the revision of the training techniques and procedures. It soon began to pay off. The Starfighter accident rate dropped by about half in 1968. However, this was only temporary, and between 15 and 20 Starfighters crashed very year between 1968 and 1972. Crashes continued at a rate of 9 to 11 aircraft per year until the early 1980s, when all German F-104Gs began to be replaced by Tornados.

Starfighter with Luftwaffe (http://home.att.net/~jbaugher1/f104_17.html)

http://i42.tinypic.com/2vukffk.jpg

flamethrowerguy
04-08-2009, 06:30 PM
Another prominent victim of the "Starfighter Scandal" was former WW2 fighter ace Erich Hartmann. He resigned as a colonel after falling from grace due to his harsh critics concerning the F-104.

Here with USAF General Robert Lee (no, not that one;)), you can actually read Hartmann's thoughts...
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Panzerknacker
04-08-2009, 06:39 PM
Another prominent victim of the "Starfighter Scandal" was former WW2 fighter ace Erich Hartmann. He resigned as a colonel after falling from grace due to his harsh critics concerning the F-104.

Here with USAF General Robert Lee (no, not that one;)), you can actually read Hartmann's thoughts...



Nice picture :cool:

Hartmann was a patriot, he saw the piece of schaiße the Starfighter was and did not try to hide things from the public.

The attitude of Steinhoff towards the Starfighter still is not very clear to me, I think he probably would like to had another jet fighter, the Mirage III was offered to the Luftwaffe in 1959 but rejected.

flamethrowerguy
04-08-2009, 06:47 PM
The attitude of Steinhoff towards the Starfighter still is not very clear to me, I think he probably would like to had another jet fighter, the Mirage III was offered to the Luftwaffe in 1959 but rejected.

I certainly got to check on Mäcky Steinhoff's attitude on that topic...

The F-104's appearance however could at least be called "vanguard" regarding the era...
First two photos of Jagd-Geschwader 74 "Mölders", June 1965:
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Panzerknacker
04-08-2009, 08:27 PM
Certainly...the F-104G packed a lot of electronics in a samll size aircraft. howevr that avionics remained unrealible in the eraly years mostly because the severe german winter wich affected parked aircraft. And beside the F-104 born as a simple good wheater day interceptor, the conversion to a multirole aircraft wasnt happy.

It should born and die quickly, that would saved a lot of german lives as well other nationalities lives.

Some detail of the F-104G.

http://i42.tinypic.com/huol7a.jpg

http://i43.tinypic.com/10ga4jp.jpg

flamethrowerguy
04-09-2009, 04:36 AM
Another interesting one showing the "alternation of the generations" back then. The new F-104 and Hartmann's good, old Sabre. Doesn't the Sabre's nose art look familiar???

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Firefly
04-09-2009, 08:47 AM
Actually, the Starfighter was a great aircraft, I wonder how many interceptors were lost in accidents? The Italians certainly used them and Im not too sure how many pilots were lost.

Possibly a case of an aircraft designed as an interceptor being used at low level by the Germans for ground attack, something that it shouldnt probably been used for.

Man of Stoat
04-09-2009, 08:59 AM
As I understand it, firefly is correct, and it was the re-roleing that led to a dangerous combination of a Mach 2 more-or-less straight-line interceptor and hills.

Imagine the Germans trying to put the Me 109 into a divebombing role, and wondering why they had a much higher accident rate than the Ju 87...

Panzerknacker
04-09-2009, 05:58 PM
I dont know what suppose to mean "great" applied to the Starfighter, yes it was fast and had a terrific rate of climb...but in other hand it had poor range, poor combat payload and almost no doghfight capabilities.



Imagine the Germans trying to put the Me 109 into a divebombing role, and wondering why they had a much higher accident rate than the Ju 87...


Evidently in the germans lay the blame for the high atrition rate of the F-104G in Luftwaffe, the problem with the Starfighter is that it had a high atrition rate in others Air Forces and before and after being adopted by the germans. :rolleyes:

Nickdfresh
04-09-2009, 06:00 PM
I'm not sure the F-104 was truly brought to fruition as it was one of a number of aircraft that were largely rejected by the USAF in the 1950s and 60s --even though they may have seen some limited service. Another was the venerable F-5, as aircraft that were too simple, cheap, and maneuverable were seen as essentially useless and contrary to the doctrine of tactical aircraft as either Cold War nuclear bomb trucks, or missile-carrier interceptors. Anything that could actually dogfight was marginalized and left to languish by an air force that should have known better at the air war over Korea indicated that indeed dogfighting and air superiority were still issues...

It wasn't until Vietnam that these lessons were largely learned, of re-learned as it were...

Panzerknacker
04-09-2009, 06:30 PM
An interesting video of 1966 showing a german parliament member flying the F-104:

http://i42.tinypic.com/iw822q.jpg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6ZzRHdch7Q

For those who dont speak german some translation of the dialogue between the anchor and the Paliament member:

P- "Has been a great working society" ( in relation wich the european society of construction of the F-104)

P "- I must say that I had no fear at all , nor for one minute"

I -"Do you have the impression that the Starfighter pilots are excessive workloaded? "

P- "The pilot of such a machine is, I would say, it does not make excessive demands of but only particular with takeoff and landing nevertheless so far tensely that one can say, they are demanded by in that seconds."

I- " Would you endorse the purchase of Starfighters after your current experiences and with your current knowledge again? "

P -" I am convinced that the acquisition of the Starfighter was absolutely correct (Pk- yea, sure) and we could no made better decision even today.
We should to put all the effort in improve the Starfighters to the highest stardars.

I- " Do you think that or you think we going to continue having accidents of Starfighter in this manner in the future?

P- " The measures are partially already met or almost complete. I hope that that they will contribute to the fact we will no longer have so much Starfighter accidents.

This video showed 2 things, ugly and corrupt politicians you can found them everywhere.:!:

Nickdfresh
04-09-2009, 07:00 PM
A great scene from a great film, "The Right Stuff."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-I5zY-4ZtkY

Chevan
04-10-2009, 04:23 AM
I think the science-research role of F-104 was much more importaint that its' military employments. In fact it was basic aircraft for training of space pilots and testing the Shuttle equipment .
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4d/NF-104.jpg/449px-NF-104.jpg
NF-104 with rocket engine dives at stratosphere.

Uyraell
04-10-2009, 05:44 AM
This may be the moment to introduce a tale I was told by the First Secretary of the then West German Embassy in my city, when I was at Highschool.

There was a "game" played with Starfighters, called "Hotstart", in deliberate mis-nomer of the actual term.

On a certain airbase, there were mixed groundcrews, i.e. groundcrews composed of representatives of both genders.

The "initiation to the club" was by way of one of each gender climbing into the air intake of an F104 and therein contriving to enjoy sexual intercourse together. Usually, this went off without a hitch.

However, it is human nature that repetition of an event creates hubris, and on this particular occasion so it proved.

The couple enters the starboard intake, and thereafter commence entry and reception.
Naturally, their attention is rather more absorbed in that activity than in their surroundings.
The aircraft they are indulging in is scheduled for a genuine "Hot Start".
The presence of the couple in the intake is unbeknownst to the ground mechanic who enters the cockpit and does just that ... sets the engine to emergency start . . . :shock:

There soon follows the sounds of screaming metal as the engine swallows the male of the pair in the intake, and, finding itself unable to properly digest him, promptly disintegrates as it finishes shredding him.

The female gets to spend the next 12 or so weeks in hospital (recovering from minor burns and major mental trauma), to emerge from which to find she no-longer has a career in the Luftwaffe.
Surely that can not have been a surprise. :rolleyes:

Thus the F104 in German service was a killer even while in the hangar.

This story, in slightly less detailed form, was published in West German newspapers at the time. That publication was in 1976 or 1977, as far as I recall being told.

Regards, Uyraell.

2nd of foot
04-10-2009, 05:54 PM
Although an amusing story it fails to cover the pre start checks that would be carried out to ensure that FOD would not enter the engine. Have you ever seen ground crew work on their own?

Panzerknacker
04-10-2009, 07:17 PM
Nasty but interesting story Uyraell.

F-104C in Vietnam, 14 USAF starfighters were lost in that conflict. ( one shot down by Mig-19)

http://i42.tinypic.com/2iqn47m.jpg

Firefly
04-10-2009, 07:40 PM
I dont know what suppose to mean "great" applied to the Starfighter, yes it was fast and had a terrific rate of climb...but in other hand it had poor range, poor combat payload and almost no doghfight capabilities.

I mean it was a great interceptor, you know, what it was designed to do. Range wasnt as important as speed to heigh, and dogfighting wasnt as important as shooting down a bomber.

As I said, a great aircraft, much like the Lightening, which was never adapted for air to ground.

Keep your designs to what they were intended for and you wont go far wrong.

Uyraell
04-10-2009, 10:05 PM
Although an amusing story it fails to cover the pre start checks that would be carried out to ensure that FOD would not enter the engine. Have you ever seen ground crew work on their own?
As I understand it, at the time a Hot Start was done by only two groundcrew : one to check the intake covers were cleared away, one to lean over the cockpit coaming and hit the energiser circuit followed by the Start (Ignition) button.

If the couple went silent as the two groundcrew approached the aircraft, neither of the groundcrew would have had reason to suspect the couple's presence.

Granted, in going silent the couple risked their lives, yet to go silent would be human nature, rather than to be caught "in flagrante delicto".

As to having observed groundcrew carrying out preflight/prestart checks, I have at rare times seen the process, albeit at airshows.

Regards, Uyraell.

Panzerknacker
04-12-2009, 09:44 AM
I mean it was a great interceptor, you know, what it was designed to do. Range wasnt as important as speed to heigh, and dogfighting wasnt as important as shooting down a bomber.

As I said, a great aircraft, much like the Lightening, which was never adapted for air to ground.

Keep your designs to what they were intended for and you wont go far wrong.

That is correct, But I think ( could be wrong but that is what i ve read) the F-104 was designed with "The lessons of Korea" in mind, that war included several doghfights, also the inclusion of the first General Electic M61 gatling gun ever in a jet fighter seems to indicate that Lockheed espected some close-combat capability of its new fighter.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GIRhrHuhdc&feature=channel_page

leccy
04-12-2009, 06:00 PM
As I said, a great aircraft, much like the Lightening, which was never adapted for air to ground.


The Lightning was adapted for Air to Ground roles as well as Interceptor

F53 (Export Version) Used by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait

Armament

Guns:
2× 30 mm (1.18 in) ADEN cannons

Hardpoints:
2× under-chin (only for mounting AAMs), 2 under-wing and 2 overwing pylon stations holding up to 6,000 lb (2,750 kg) of payload

Rockets:
8× Matra rocket pods (each with 18× SNEB 68 mm rockets) or
4× Matra JL-100 drop tank/rocket pack (each with 19× SNEB 68 mm rockets and 66 US gallons/250 liters of fuel on overwing pylons, Royal Saudi AF Lightnings only)[19]

Missiles:
Air-to-air missile:
2× De Havilland Firestreak or
2× Hawker Siddeley Red Top

Bombs:
A variety of unguided iron bombs, drop tanks and the ability to mount a ventral pack of five Vinteen 360 70-mm cameras and linescan equipment for reconnaissance mission.

Panzerknacker
04-12-2009, 08:35 PM
Ah...another "super climber" , the lightning, a bit ugly but effective aircraft.

Video of F-104 testing ZELL ( Zero lenght launch, assisted rocket catapult) in Lechfeld 1965.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Eo-ysAF-vw&feature=channel_page

Firefly
04-14-2009, 04:51 PM
The Lightning was adapted for Air to Ground roles as well as Interceptor

F53 (Export Version) Used by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait

Armament

Guns:
2× 30 mm (1.18 in) ADEN cannons

Hardpoints:
2× under-chin (only for mounting AAMs), 2 under-wing and 2 overwing pylon stations holding up to 6,000 lb (2,750 kg) of payload

Rockets:
8× Matra rocket pods (each with 18× SNEB 68 mm rockets) or
4× Matra JL-100 drop tank/rocket pack (each with 19× SNEB 68 mm rockets and 66 US gallons/250 liters of fuel on overwing pylons, Royal Saudi AF Lightnings only)[19]

Missiles:
Air-to-air missile:
2× De Havilland Firestreak or
2× Hawker Siddeley Red Top

Bombs:
A variety of unguided iron bombs, drop tanks and the ability to mount a ventral pack of five Vinteen 360 70-mm cameras and linescan equipment for reconnaissance mission.

Nice info, I never realised that, probably one of the more stupid ideas applied to a true short range interceptor.

I remember watching an F-15 take off in the early 80's, very impressive time to climb out, then an old lighting took off and just stood on its tail, much more impressive time to height.

The problem was that the F15 could then go on for a few hours while the Lightening was measured more in minutes. Still, an impressive ride I imagine...

As for the 104, yes it was made with a gun, but a gun at height, still an interceptor though. The German Kriegsmarine used them too and I remember reading about a time when they visited Lossiemouth for low level flying with Buccaneers in the 70's. They could never take the turns or do the minimum height, or achieve the speed at low level as the non supersonic Buck, designed to operate at less than 100 feet.

The Buccaneer would have made a terrible high level interceptor, but if the Germans had bought them as their low level atack aircraft then a whole lot of pilots would be alive today.

leccy
04-14-2009, 05:09 PM
We used to have Buccaneer and F15 crews come to Conningsby. It was great when the F15 pilots were trying to work out intercept courses to kill the Buccs.

They could not catch a Bucc at low level (Cruise speed of Bucc verses speed and fuel load of F15) was rare Bucc that got caught

Had some F15 pilots watch a vid of a Lightning take off and go vertical at Binbrook, one of them decided to try that out 'Cue two engine nozzle shaped scrapes on the runway'

With the lightnings some of the range problems were solved with the overwing tanks and the ventral fuel tank (I did read somewhere about the Aden cannons being able to be replaced with a fuel pack as well ??? although not found any more info about that)

2nd of foot
04-15-2009, 04:10 PM
People have always talked about the Lightning’s short range but it must be put into perspective of what it was built for and its role. At what range would enemy aircraft be detected and how long would it take to get an aircraft to a firing point? A quick look at google maps indicate the distance to Norway/Demark is about 400 miles. So range is not a requirement for its role but getting there is. It was not going to intercept enemy aircraft more than 400 miles away so why carry fuel to reach a 1000. I would also think that the guns were a last resort when all other methods had failed.

Firefly
04-16-2009, 06:53 PM
People have always talked about the Lightning’s short range but it must be put into perspective of what it was built for and its role. At what range would enemy aircraft be detected and how long would it take to get an aircraft to a firing point? A quick look at google maps indicate the distance to Norway/Demark is about 400 miles. So range is not a requirement for its role but getting there is. It was not going to intercept enemy aircraft more than 400 miles away so why carry fuel to reach a 1000. I would also think that the guns were a last resort when all other methods had failed.


Which is true, but where the Lightening failed was that it couldnt be in the general vicinity when the enemy arrived, and could only carry limited armament. A couple of missiles.

Cue the Tornado F-something, not as quick time to intercept, but certainly a much better loiter time and with a much greater missile capability.

So instead of intercepting a near target, the Tornadoes could be on station at a much greater range, with more stand off missiles, also their on board radar could see farther at height that some of the ground based ones, a capability that the Lightening didnt have.

So, the Lightning had a fantastic 1950s performance, but sadly was by passed and made obsolete by the advance of technology where stand off missiles against Soviet bombers was much more viable, even though the performance of the jets seemed less than before.

Coupled with IFR (In Flight Refuelling), the Tornadoes have a huge linger advantage over the old interceptor to target system that the Lightning inherited from ww2.

RepmanHill
07-07-2010, 07:24 PM
There is an old saying "there are old pilots and there are bold pilots but there are no old bold pilots". I flew the F104 as part of the Rickowver Bunch. If you flew it with respect, it was a wonderful aircraft. However, if you were a bold pilot with the 104, you probably would not live to be an old pilot. I am an old pilot and still love the 104

Panzerknacker
07-16-2010, 08:02 AM
If you survived the F-104 I guess you are a lucky pilot too.

RepmanHill
07-16-2010, 09:03 AM
Perhaps lucky, but probably more importantly I understood and resepected the F104 and flew it accordingly.

Rising Sun*
07-16-2010, 09:33 AM
Perhaps lucky, but probably more importantly I understood and resepected the F104 and flew it accordingly.

That echoes what was said by a pilot who flew Spitfires in WWII who said that contrary to popular myth about what a world-beating plane they were they could actually be a very difficult plane to fly, or at least to fly well, but if you knew how to fly them they were wonderful planes if you understood and flew within their inherent abilities and limits.

I suppose that is the same for all planes.

Panzerknacker
07-16-2010, 04:23 PM
Perhaps lucky, but probably more importantly I understood and resepected the F104 and flew it accordingly.


My question might sound arrogant but: were all the test pilots of Lochkeed and the USAF killed killed during early career of this aircraft non-intelligent people ?
I dont think so and I think the danger was something inherent to the aircraft but I would love to hear your comment.

http://www.wvi.com/~sr71webmaster/f104.gif

Uyraell
07-17-2010, 04:41 PM
In what must surely be one of the most unusual examples of dedication and enthusiasm, in the mid 1980's an Australian businessman completed construction of a home-built aircraft: a fullscale flyable replica of an F104. He had developed a love for the aircraft through reading everything published about it, and decided to build one for himself, there being no surplus airframes of the type for sale on the civilian market.
Having spent 5 years or so building the airframe to identical F104G specification, the man lacked only the engine, to complete the aircraft.
At this point, another businessman, having read of the homebuild, purchased and donated a J79 D jet engine to the homebuilder, and paid for it to be installed.
Thus, there came to be an aircraft unique: an F104G that had never served in any airforce, and was civilian-owned and built.
The Australian Government (from memory) let the owner complete Civil Aviation Type Certification Process, and let the owner fly the aircraft to gain its' Airworthiness Certificate. But, as I recall it, the man was told a year or so later that he would NOT be permitted to fly the aircraft in excess of Mach 1, let alone Mach 2. After that, I lost sight of the tale, and have not in the years since seen reference to the world's only civilian owned and built F104G.

Kind and Respectful Regards, Uyraell.

Uyraell
07-17-2010, 05:12 PM
My question might sound arrogant but: were all the test pilots of Lochkeed and the USAF killed killed during early career of this aircraft non-intelligent people ?
I dont think so and I think the danger was something inherent to the aircraft but I would love to hear your comment.

http://www.wvi.com/~sr71webmaster/f104.gif

I seem to recall having read that the F104 could, in certain unusual circumstances, enter a "flat-spin", from which it was unable to recover, regardless of the efforts of the pilot to stop the flat spin and resume normal flight.
It was posited that this is what had happened to Chuck Yeager (albeit at extreme altitude) when he had to eject from the NF104 he had flown.
I have long pondered the phenomenon called "dynamic coupling", wherein one control surface effectively neutralises another, rendering control of the aircraft impossible.
This phenomenon is by no means unique to the F104 though. The F4 Phantom II suffered from it at times, the Lockheed P38 Lightning had done so, during WW2. In the case of the P38, recovery was by way of introducing asymmetric thrust, going to full emergency power on the "inside" motor in the flat-spin, thus replacing control asymmetry with thrust asymmetry.
In the F104, there was no way to introduce either control asymmetry or thrust asymmetry, which would thus render recovery from a flat-spin impossible, as in fact is alleged to have happened to Chuck Yeager.

If the above was, in fact, the case with the F104 "family" of aircraft, this would tend to support PK's view that the aircraft *did, in rare circumstances* have certain controllability issues.

Accordingly, RepmanHill, I would be extremely interested to read your views and experiences of the F104.

I add, for the record, that as a child of 10 or so, I was fascinated by the F104, and thought it one of the finest aircraft ever built by Lockheed, its' operational history nothwithstanding.

Kind and Respectful Regards, Uyraell.

leccy
07-18-2010, 03:04 AM
Panzerknacker


My question might sound arrogant but: were all the test pilots of Lochkeed and the USAF killed killed during early career of this aircraft non-intelligent people ?
I dont think so and I think the danger was something inherent to the aircraft but I would love to hear your comment.


By the very definition and their job test pilots were testing the aircraft to find its limits, unfortunately the F104 had a very fine line compared to many other aircraft between its capability and limit so was not very forgiving.
Working with various airforces I found that many fast jet pilots, who by their nature are thrill seekers, will try to push their aircraft to the limits while training for operations, it is easy to go past the limit whether through pilot error, fod, componant failure, etc.

Panzerknacker
07-18-2010, 01:44 PM
In what must surely be one of the most unusual examples of dedication and enthusiasm, in the mid 1980's an Australian businessman completed construction of a home-built aircraft: a fullscale flyable replica of an F104. He had developed a love for the aircraft through reading everything published about it, and decided to build one for himself, there being no surplus airframes of the type for sale on the civilian market.
Having spent 5 years or so building the airframe to identical F104G specification, the man lacked only the engine, to complete the aircraft.
At this point, another businessman, having read of the homebuild, purchased and donated a J79 D jet engine to the homebuilder, and paid for it to be installed.
Thus, there came to be an aircraft unique: an F104G that had never served in any airforce, and was civilian-owned and built.
The Australian Government (from memory) let the owner complete Civil Aviation Type Certification Process, and let the owner fly the aircraft to gain its' Airworthiness Certificate. But, as I recall it, the man was told a year or so later that he would NOT be permitted to fly the aircraft in excess of Mach 1, let alone Mach 2. After that, I lost sight of the tale, and have not in the years since seen reference to the world's only civilian owned and built F104G.

Kind and Respectful Regards, Uyraell.


Interesting history, in the US there was an private F-104 called Red Baron wich scored several recors over the desert.

http://www.i-f-s.nl/index14.htm

I sauppose the red tape is bigger in Commonwealth countries if you compare with the good old US aviation tradition.


By the very definition and their job test pilots were testing the aircraft to find its limits, unfortunately the F104 had a very fine line compared to many other aircraft between its capability and limit so was not very forgiving.
Working with various airforces I found that many fast jet pilots, who by their nature are thrill seekers, will try to push their aircraft to the limits while training for operations, it is easy to go past the limit whether through pilot error, fod, componant failure, etc.

I undestand and I agree. Probably you would agree with me on this; the unforgiveness of the Starfigher caused more fatal accidents in the test pilot tribe compared with other supersonic jets of the 50-60s period.

Uyraell
07-20-2010, 06:15 AM
Many thanks for that, Panzerknacker: I found those links to be a thoroughly enjoyable set of reads.
I think the Australian Civil-build F104 is the only known non-factory, from the ground-up, replica built.
Unfortunately, I do not know the fate of that aircraft, it being that I have not so much as heard the plane mentioned in many many years, nor read of it any any of the usual publications.

Kind and Respectful Regards, Uyraell.

royal744
08-31-2013, 12:14 PM
The F104 was designed by Kelly Johnson at Lockheed:


Clarence Leonard "Kelly" Johnson (February 27, 1910 – December 21, 1990) was an American system engineer and aeronautical innovator. He earned renown for his contributions to many noteworthy aircraft designs, especially the Lockheed U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird spy planes, but also including the P-38 Lightning, P-80 Shooting Star, and F-104 Starfighter, among others. As a member and first team leader of the Lockheed Skunk Works, Johnson worked for more than four decades and is said to have been an "organizing genius".[1] He played a leading role in the design of over forty aircraft, including several honored with the prestigious Collier Trophy, acquiring a reputation as one of the most talented and prolific aircraft design engineers in the history of aviation. In 2003, as part of its commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' flight, Aviation Week & Space Technology ranked Johnson 8th on its list of the top 100 "most important, most interesting, and most influential people" in the first century of aerospace.[2] Hall Hibbard, Johnson's Lockheed boss, referring to Johnson's Swedish ancestry once remarked to Ben Rich: "That damned Swede can actually see air."[3]

Johnson led or contributed to the development of a number of aircraft. A few examples illustrate the influence of his work. In the late 1930s, Johnson helped lead the team that developed the P-38 Lightning. Eventually, almost 10,000 of these fighters were built.[6] They played a significant role in World War II. In 1943, responding to United States Army Air Forces' concerns about Germany's development of high performance jet fighters, Johnson proposed to develop a jet airplane in six months. The result, the P-80 Shooting Star, was completed on time and became America's first operational jet fighter. The need to find space to develop the P-80 also led to the creation of the facility that would be later called the Skunk Works.[7] Johnson also led the development of the SR-71 Blackbird family of aircraft. Through a number of significant innovations, Johnson's team was able to create an aircraft that flew so high and fast that it could not be intercepted nor shot down. No other jet airplane has matched the Blackbird's performance.[8]
In 1955, at the request of the Central Intelligence Agency, Johnson initiated construction of the airbase at Groom Lake, Nevada, later known as Area 51. This project provided a secret location for flight testing the U-2.[9]

This guy was no slouch and may have been the greatest aircraft designer of all time.:

Johnson contributed to the design of the following Lockheed aircraft:


Kelly Johnson with an early variant of the U-2.
Orion 9D
Model 10 Electra/XC-35/C-36/Y1C-37
Model 12 Electra Junior
Model 14 Super Electra
Model 18 Lodestar
PV-1 Ventura/B-37
P-38 Lightning
Constellation family
L-049 Constellation
L-149 Constellation
C-69 Constellation
L-649 Constellation
L-749 Constellation
C-121A-B Constellation
PO-1W/WV-1 Warning Star
L-1049 Super Constellation
C-121C-J/R7O/R7V Constellation
PO-2W/WV-2/WV-3/EC-121 Warning Star
YC-121F/R7V-2 Constellation
L-1649 Starliner
F-80 Shooting Star, the first successful American jet fighter;
T-33 and TV-2 trainers
P2V Neptune
XF-90
F-94 Starfire
X-7
F-104 Starfighter
F-117A Nighthawk
C-130 Hercules
U-2
Blackbird family: A-12, YF-12, SR-71, M-21, and D-21
JetStar/C-140

There's an SR71 Blackbird parked on the apron of the Lackland AFB outdoor nuseum here in San Antonio. This is easily the most impressive aircraft I've ever seen.

As for the Starfighter, notice how long this aircraft remained in service with the USAF and NASA:

The Lockheed F-104 Starfighter is a single-engine, high-performance, supersonic interceptor aircraft originally developed for the United States Air Force (USAF) by Lockheed. 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.[2]

royal744
09-01-2013, 04:25 PM
This is the man who Kelly Johnson, the Starfighter's creator, turned to to keep them flying all over the world.

A tribute to Ben McAvoy, Mr. Starfighter
Whoever would dial the telephone number 274-1490 in Phoenix and listened to the answering machine, would hear the harsh reply: "We're not here, but if you leave a number, maybe we'll call you back!" So much for the friendly part of Ben McAvoy. If you wanted to talk with Ben about the Starfighter, you could be sure, you'd get a callback. All other things were not so important. His life was consumed by the F-104 Starfighter, whose 50th anniversary he only survived by a few weeks. As a real highlight, on 13 March 2004, Ben had the honor, on the 50th Anniversary of the F-104 Flight Test Reunion in the Lancaster Elks club in Palmdale, California, to speak on the highlights of the world-wide operations of the Starfighter. He gave stories of business, bureaucracy, admiration and technical problems of his love. An airplane of which over 2500 were built over the years and flown with love and enthusiasm. And Ben was there, from its beginning in Palmdale until 1981 as Lockheed's representative assigned with the German training program at Luke AFB.

In nearly thirty years as Lockheed technical advisor, Ben McAvoy helped service all models of the Starfighter and watched with attention. From the first airplanes of the A series, to the F-104C's in combat in Viet Nam, to the F and G models of the Military Assistance Program (MAP) and to the 916 Starfighters for Luftwaffe and Marine, Ben was there.

Ben McAvoy was born in 1932 in Iowa, Kansas, a town in the middle west of the USA. After high school, He enlisted in the USAF. His goal was to become an aircraft mechanic on the legendary P-51 Mustang fighter. During his time in the Air Force, he became a technician on the F-86 and after four years of service he came to the decision: Jet Fighters! When Ben signed up with Lockheed in 1956, the secret Starfighter program was in its final stage of development. Lockheed's legendary airplane engineer, Kelly Johnson, had filtered out two basic demands for the future American air superiority fighter from the experiences of the pilots of the Korean War: Speed and acceleration. When he presented the XF-104 to the first test pilot Tony LeVier in 1954, the experienced pilot only had one question: "Where are the wings?" However the test flights proved that Kelly Johnson had succeeded in developing an airplane, which could reach more than twice the speed of sound in horizontal flight, at altitudes of over 100.000 feet, and in less time than every other aircraft in the whole world. Ben had found his life's-task. Technical support of the Starfighter.

After his training in Palmdale, Ben's first assignment was as aircraft mechanic at Eglin AFB, Florida and Duluth, Minnesota. In 1958 he participated in the promotional tour of the new US fighter to several European countries including the World Exhibition in Brussels and took care of "his" Starfighter. As a result, Ben was promoted to Lockheed Field Representative for the Starfighter and assisted in the F-104 set-up in Spain and in the Federal Republic of Germany. In 1961 Lockheed sent their Starfighter expert to Nörvenich AB, where the Luftwaffe was beginning its first training program with the new combat aircraft. Ben advised the mechanics about the refinements of the new starfighter and got, beside admiration, some critics as well, because of his superior system knowledge. The intelligent pilots appreciated it and were grateful when they had landed somewhere and after a telephone call with Ben in Nörvenich, the 104s were ready to fly again with just a few tricks. Every now and then Ben was also used as flying mechanic, in order to solve problems on the spot. He could hardly hide from the question: "What did you do with my airplane?" As a civilian worker Ben showed little shyness at ranks and military position. After a problem was solved, a lot of pilots were advised "to take better care better of Ben's airplane in the future".

1964 Ben returned to George AFB, Ca. In short order he was moved again with the F-104 C's to DaNang AB South Vietnam, in order to provide technical assistance for the first combat missions of the Starfighter. As he did in Nörvenich Germany, Ben became the central point of contact relating to the systems of the F-104. Throughout the employment the Starfighter in Vietnam, it was occasionally evaluated critically, even though the numbers stated something else. Over 10,000 missions with a combat ready rate of over 80%. Acknowledged positively by the escorted combat aircraft and also by Forward Air Controllers, who needed the speed, the F104 supplied fighter-bomber fire support to the constantly changing fighting in air-to-surface employment. Although the Starfighter did not book a single air victory, it would fulfill its task of air superiority. The MiGs preferred, in order to avoid the Starfighter, to stay out of its way. After the end of the initial employment of the F 104 in Vietnam, in 1966 the Starfighters were again sent to Southeast Asia. At the end of 1966 a squadron was sent to Udorn Thailand, and of course with Ben McAvoy as Lockheed Field Service Representative. With the experiences of the combat operations Ben returned in 1967 to the USA and became technical advisor for the F-104C and D in San Juan Puerto Rico. Then in 1969 his employer Lockheed put him in charge of maintenance activities of the German-American training program for the Starfighter at Luke AFB, Arizona.


With a short interruption, 1972 - 1973, when Ben supported the build up of the Greek Air Force in Athens, Ben was "Mr. Starfighter" for the program at Luke. Until 1981 he cared for the German F-104 G Starfighters at Luke as Lockheeds Tech Rep. For a total of 10 years he became part of the most successful binational training program, the German Air Force and the German Navy had ever accomplished. Whenever questions were asked about the Starfighter, from night bombing to Dart Tow, Ben was the first one to be asked. His knowledge of the airplane and its abilities brought not the question whether a certain profile was feasible, but how it had to be flown. Ben knew about the potential of "his" Starfighter. But not only were the big decisions given to Ben, every now and then it paid off for changing military commanders to have a man on hand with Bens expertise. Ben thought it was necessary after 10 years of flying operations at Luke, to remind the flyers by writing about the "Operating characteristics of the F/TF 104 / J-79 during high ambient temperatures". Would "T2 Reset" still be a secret? Ben became acquainted with the Germans, and therefore the respect grew. They were German airplanes, but somehow all were Ben's own children, for whom he felt fully responsible. Even after years of thundering start and engine whistles on the approach Ben had a reason to look into the sky, in order to follow his Starfighter.

In 1981 Lockheed sent Ben back again to the Skunkworks in Palmdale Ca. His expertise was again needed for another secret project of the USAF, the F-117 Nighthawk fighter. Sadly Ben left his beloved Starfighter and contributed to the operational success of the F-117. In 1987 Ben McAvoy retired after 31 years with Lockheed. He could now devote himself totally again to his Starfighter. As technical advisor, this time freelance, he gave his advice and actively helped to make old Starfighters airworthy again, and worked to keep the few flying ones still airworthy. In 1976 Ben helped Daryl Greenamyer successfully establish a new low-altitude flight speed record of 988 miles per hour with his privately built F-104. Ben also advised museums and helped owners of private Starfighters on how to maintain their aircraft.

Of the 50 years of the F-104 Starfighter Ben McAvoy enjoyed 48 years. Therefore it was never a question for him to be a member of the Starfighter organization, the Cactus Starfighter Squadron. Although only in the rear seat, at least that's what is known, Ben collected sufficient flying hours, to take center stage after night flights and at the bar. Kelly Johnson, who conceived and designed the Starfighter in 1953, once said. "Ben McAvoy knows more about the F-104 Starfighter than I do." Well said.

Ben McAvoy passed away on 14. May 2004. On 12.June 2004 a funeral service was held in his house with friends, acquaintances and the Cactus Starfighter Squadron. His ashes were scattered into the wind on 18.July 2004 over Cold Lake, Canada. From an F-104 Starfighter of course.

© written by Karl "Charlie" Georg Boettcher, regional leader USA/CA of the Cactus Starfighter Squadron

F-104RB "Red Baron" "Privately-built" Starfighter (from scrap)

Another civilian Starfighter, called the F-104RB (for Manfred von Richthofen, the "Red Baron"), was used to set the low-level speed record in October 1977 by world-famous air racer Darryl Greenamyer. Greenamyer built his F-104 over a period of 12 years from parts scrounged from various places, including a "borrowed" J79-17/1 turbojet from a McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom, which developed over 2,000 pounds more thrust than the standard J79-19 engine. Greenamyer attacked the record at Mud Lake, near Tonapah, Nevada, and beat the previous low-level speed record by recording a top speed of 988.26 mph (1,590.41 km/h) after five passes over the dry lake. He remained supersonic for most of the 20-minute flight, and rarely rose much higher than 100 feet above the lake bed. Several months later, while practicing for an attempt on the world absolute altitude record, he was forced to eject when his landing gear failed to extend; a belly landing in the F-104 was considered too dangerous to attempt.