YouTube – F-104
1 x 15,600 lbs.
1 x 20 mm.
4 x air-to-air
54 ft. 9 in.
21 ft. 11 in.
The first aircraft to hold concurrent records for maximum velocity, highest flight, and time to altitude was the F-104 (officially Lockheed F-104 Starfighter).
The F-104 was designed based on pilot experience during the Korean War. It was originally intended as a fast climbing interceptor. Above all, it was designed for high speed. It saw limited service as an interceptor and as a fighter-bomber with the United States Air Force when it served during the Vietnam War.
Perhaps the most distinctive features of the F-104 are its short, thin wings. With a maximum thickness of only 4″, the leading edges of the wings were so sharp that they needed safety covers to protect ground crews.
Speed came with diminished maneuverability and handling. The F-104 was not meant for dogfighting. The best pilots found that the aircraft needed their constant attention. Novice pilots could find the aircraft outpacing their control inputs. The results were numerous fatalities.
A prototype F-104 first flew on March 4, 1954, with deployment in the USAF in Feb. 1958.
The F-104 was the first USAF fighter aircraft capable of prolonged flight exceeding Mach 2. It was the first aircraft ever to exceed 100,000 feet in altitude without being launched from another aircraft.
On October 14, 1959 Capt. Joe B. Jordan set an altitude record of 103,389 feet in the F-104.
The Luftwaffe received the majority of the F-104 aircraft, with numerous U.S. allies throughout the world also buying the aircraft.
There were 2,579 F-104 aircraft produced through 1979, of which only about 300 went to the U.S.A.F.
If you are looking for a large F-104 kit, check out Philip Avonds. The beautiful aircraft pictured above, with its builder Hans Van Dongen, is 1/7 scale. Wingspan is 44 in. and length is 94 in. You can power it with 12 to 27 lb. thrust turbines. All up weight is around 16.5 lbs.