Development of the F-104 began in 1952 and the first XF-104 made its initial flight in 1954. On May 18, 1958, an F-104A set a world speed record of 1,404.19 mph, and on December 14, 1959, an F-104C set a world altitude record of 103,395 feet. The Starfighter was the first aircraft to hold simultaneous official world records for speed, altitude and time-to-climb.

Armed with a six-barrel M-61 20mm Vulcan cannon the F-104 Starfighter performs ably both as a tactical fighter and, equipped additionally with heat-seeking Sidewinder missiles, as a day-night interceptor.

The USAF purchased about 300 Starfighters in one- and two-seat versions. In addition, more than 1,700 F-104’s were built in the U.S. and abroad under the military aid program for various nations including Canada, West Germany, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, Turkey, Spain, Italy, Taiwan and Japan.

F-104 Starfighter Performance

Maximum Speed 1,320 mph.
Cruising Speed 575 mph.
Range 1,250 miles
Service Ceiling 58,000 ft.

F-104 Starfighter Specifications

Country of Origin USA.
Similar Aircraft F-5 Freedom Fighter, F/A-18 Hornet.
Crew One.
Role All-weather tactical strike, fighter, reconnaissance.
Armament One M-61 20mm cannon, two air-to-air missiles; nuclear or conventional bombs
Engine One General Electric J-79 of 15,800 lbs. thrust with afterburner
Span 21 ft. 11 in.
Length 54 ft. 10 in.
Height 13 ft. 6 in.
Weight 27,853 lbs. max.

F-104 Starfighter WEFT Description

Wings Mid-mounted, equally tapered, with a negative slant. Missiles or fuel tanks at the square tips.
Engine(s) One turbojet in midsection of the body. Semicircular air intakes forward of the wings�’ leading edges.
Fuselage Long and slender, thickens at the air intakes. Sharp-pointed nose. Bubble canopy.
Tail Unequally tapered tail fin. About 1/3 of the fin overhangs the exhaust. Tail flats are equally tapered with square tips mounted high on the tail fin forming a T.

Countries which Fly the F-104 Starfighter

Germany, Greece, Italy, Taiwan, Turkey.

Additional Reading on the F-104 Starfighter

Lockheed / Canadair F-104A Starfighter

Excellent article on the history of the F-104 Starfighter in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).

F-104 Starfighter Manufacturer Web Site

Lockheed Martin

Books on the F-104 Starfighter

Lockheed F-104 Starfighter
Lockheed F-104 Starfighter

The F-104 Starfighter was one of the most successful and prolific jet fighters of the late ’50s and early ’60s-and one of the most beautiful. It was the first production Mach 2 aircraft, and it rewrote the performance books for speed, altitude and time to climb. Aircraft enthusiasts called it “the missile with a man in it.” After its initial flight in 1954, the F-104 program produced more than 2,500 aircraft, making it one of the largest military aircraft programs ever. F-104’s flew for the US and many NATO allies, and were eventually produced under license in Canada, Japan, and several European countries. In fact, Italy is still flying updated F-104’s in 2003.

This book covers this revolutionary aircraft’s design and development, its weapons and other systems, and all 18 models of the F-104, complete with photos of each variant. NASA-modified research craft are also discussed, along with several formerly classified programs based on the F-104. Author Jim Upton was one of the F-104 program’s flight test engineers, so he knows the aircraft and the people involved. Includes a foreword by Dick Heppe, retired president of Lockheed California, and chief aerodynamicist of the F-104.

Lockheed F-104 Starfighter
Lockheed F-104 Starfighter

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