Known as the "missile with a man in it", the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter was the first American fighter capable of reaching twice the speed of sound. Its exceptionally clean lines and high top speed made the Starfighter one of best air superiority fighters of its time. Although the F-104 saw limited use in America, it did reverse the Air Force's trend of fielding heavy, complex fighter-bombers and was a true fighter pilot's aircraft. The F-104 began life as a result of the U.S.A.F.'s experiences in the Korean War. The inability of Air Force fighters (excepting the F-86 Sabre) to match the performance of the MiG-15 in combat was of great concern to the Air Force. Reacting to what he saw as a need for a lightweight, high performance fighter with an exceptional rate of climb, famed Lockheed engineer Kelly Johnson submitted the design for the F-104 to the Air Force. The XF-104 beat out designs from Republic and North American and entered production in 1957.

     The F-104A first entered service in 1958 equipping four Air Defense Command (ADC) squadrons in the process of transitioning from the Convair F-102 Delta Dagger to the newer (and more complex) F-106 Delta Dart. Due to its phenomenal performance, the Starfighter excelled as a quick reaction point defense fighter. In this role, F-104s were sent to West Germany and Taiwan to shield American allies from possible communist aggression. F-104s were also sent to Florida during the Cuban Missile Crisis to augment the ADC squadrons already in the area.

      The U.S.A.F. deployed four Starfighter variants: the single seat F-104A, the improved F-104C and the two seat trainer F-104B and F-104D. However, due to the Starfighter's high accident rate (a function of the plane's high landing speed and small span tricycle landing gear), the aircraft did not remain in American service for very long. The F-104 did find a wide and accepting audience in a number of European and Asian air forces. F-104s were built for Turkey, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Norway, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Japan and Taiwan. Some F-104s in these countries remained in active service well into the 1990s.

     The Cavanaugh Flight Museum's F-104 has a long and interesting past. It was built in 1957 and was one of the first F-104As to be delivered to the U.S.A.F. The plane was then sold to the Jordanian Air Force. After several decades of service in the Middle East, this F-104A, along with two other Starfighters, were sold to private individuals in the U.S. in 1994. The museum purchased the aircraft in 1994 and placed it on permanent static display.

SPECIFICATION AND PRODUCTION INFORMATION

ENGINE:                   GE J79-GE-3B turbojet 14,800 pounds of thrust
ARMAMENT:                 One M-61 20mm cannon and up to 4,000 pounds of ordnance
WING SPAN:                2l feet, 8 inches
LENGTH:                   54 feet, 9 inches
HEIGHT:                   13 feet, 6 inches
MAX. TAKEOFF WEIGHT:      22,422 pounds
MANUFACTURED BY:          Lockheed Aircraft Corp.
TOTAL F-104s BUILT:       2,579
TOTAL IN EXISTENCE TODAY: Unknown
FIRST F-104 BUILT:        1956
MUSEUM'S F-104A BUILT:    1957
MAXIMUM SPEED:            1,532 mph
RANGE (W/EXTERNAL TANKS): 1,380 miles
SERVICE CEILING:          60,000 feet
SERIAL NO:                56-779

 

4572 Claire Chennault, Addison, TX 75001 - 972-380-8800 Location
This page was last updated on 05/23/05. All Content Copyright 2001 Cavanaugh Flight Museum Contact the CFM