The F-104 Starfighter was a very unique and pioneering aircraft in aviation history. It was designed as a fast, high speed, interceptor, it did this job almost too well. The Starfighter had a tremendous rate of climb, at 50,000 feet/min. and was the first aircraft to go sustained mach 2 without being in a dive. It also held several altitude records for the time, being able to reach around 90,000 feet. All of this with a wing span of only 21 feet. These amazing numbers, especially for the 1950's, caused a major draw back. It's range was only around 1000 miles on internal fuel and could only carry limited ordnace. The range problem could be overcome with wing tanks and arial refueling. The other problem never could be overcome.
The F-104 never really did find a spot in the USAF inventory for very long, only serving, for about three or four years. However, several other countries bought the Starfighter and a few (Italy, Germany, and Japan) have continued use of this fighter untill recently. The F-104 with its great speed and original design have kept this fighter as a viable option. It has even had a trainer and reconnaissance version produced for other nations. This aircraft is just another example of the power of Lockheed and Kelly Johnson's ingenuity.
|Power Plant:||Various GE Turbo Jet engines w/ 14,000 to 18,000 lbs of thrust|
|Length:||54 ft. 8 in.|
|Height:||13 ft. 5 in.|
|Max Weight:||28,779 lb.|
|Wingspan:||21 ft. 9 in.|
|Range:||Unlimited w/ air refueling, 1000 miles on internal|
|Climb Rate:||50,000 ft/min.|
|Armament:||M-61A2 internal 6 barrel 20mm cannon and up to 4,000 lbs of various ordinance|