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6./ZG26_Klaus_Mann

F-104 Starfighter, is it a Semi-Body Lift Plane?

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Somewhere in my Brain there is embedded a Claim that the F104 produces a significant Percentage (or even Majority) of it's Lift at the Fuselage and through the Engine Nacelle. This would explain the Negative Longditudinal Dihedral of the Wings (which at 0°AoA at the Wings would forice the AoA upwards) and Bananashaped Fuselage. Is there any truth in it?

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Yes.

It's in the 25-50% ballpark - depending on the source and if you want to believe it.

If you assume about 33% you can't be too far off the mark and you'll probably be right at some AoA.

 

Fun-fact: The airplane isn't stall-limited, but it's pitch-up limited.

 

 

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5 minutes ago, Bremspropeller said:

Yes.

It's in the 25-50% ballpark - depending on the source and if you want to believe it.

If you assume about 33% you can't be too far off the mark and you'll probably be right at some AoA.

 

Fun-fact: The airplane isn't stall-limited, but it's pitch-up limited.

 

 

 

Having almost Split my Skull on the Leading Edge of one I've also started wondering how a Supersonic Airfoil like that works at any kind of AoA. I imagine that as soon as you gave it more than 3° it would become extremely Turbulent, as the Sharp Leading Edge would basically create a Wave just behind itself.

 

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The take-off flaps are rated for 450KIAS (extension) and 540KIAS (or Mach 0.8) extended/ retracting.

A RCAF pilot had the T/O flaps out until Mach 1.3, wondered why he couldn't accelerate on schedule, retracted them and continued on for his Mach 2 run.

 

The airplane (F-104G with a -11 engine) will just about sustain a 7g turn below 10000ft at 420-450KIAS when loaded for A-A.

The airplane could pull about 6g at Mach 2.

 

 

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3 minutes ago, Bremspropeller said:

The take-off flaps are rated for 450KIAS (extension) and 540KIAS (or Mach 0.8) extended/ retracting.

A RCAF pilot had the T/O flaps out until Mach 1.3, wondered why he couldn't accelerate on schedule, retracted them and continued on for his Mach 2 run.

 

The airplane (F-104G with a -11 engine) will just about sustain a 7g turn below 10000ft at 420-450KIAS when loaded for A-A.

The airplane could pull about 6g at Mach 2.

 

 

 

What Upshots does it have over the MiG-21 then? In Terms of general Idea and Date they are the closest thing, but the 21 is faster and is more of a Warplane.

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The 104 is faster and is the better energy fighter. It will go higher and farther.

The MiG has the edge in an instantaneous turn and generally below 400 kts.

 

I somewhere read the anecdote of an F-104C spiral-climbing away from a "Have Doughnut" or "Constant Peg" Fishbed C at around Mach 1.4.

The Fishbed C supposedly has a much greater energy dump (about quaruple the rate of the F-104) when going all in.

 

There's a nice story of Andy Bush flat-scissoring an F-5E in a 104G*, having the F-5 pilot staring in disbelief at the supposedly inferior Zipper, pulling up into the vertical and gunning him on the way down. The F-5 had dumped most of his energy and couldn't follow.

 

The J-79 of the 104 will go idle-military in about 4-6s.

The R-11 on the Fishbed C might take a whopping 12-15s!

 

*The F-5E is overall very similar to the MiG-21 in the subsonic region and will generally turn a tad better; the MiG has a tad more power to play with.

Edited by Bremspropeller

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When the F-104 met the Mig-21 in combat, in the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971, the result was a clear four to zero for the Mig-21. 

F104 needs exceptionally good and experienced pilots to be effective as a fighter. 

 

And a tongue in cheek answer to the original question...That fuselage must be creating a lot of lift, because that bloody thing doesn't really have wings. :lol:

Edited by Jaws2002
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16 hours ago, Jaws2002 said:

When the F-104 met the Mig-21 in combat, in the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971, the result was a clear four to zero for the Mig-21. 

 

Not really.

Pakistani pilots had been suffering from an arms-embargo, so training on the 104 was lacking during the 1971 war.

Also, two F-104 losses were attributed to sh1tty GCI, a pilot letting himself get sandwitched between two MiGs and another one running low on fuel.

 

Hardly a "clear picture".

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The banana shape may also be a result of the "area rule" in which you want the cross sectional area to remain constant for the length of the fuselage. This helps at mach numbers around the trans-sonic and super sonic region  

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2 hours ago, Bremspropeller said:

 

Not really.

Pakistani pilots had been suffering from an arms-embargo, so training on the 104 was lacking during the 1971 war.

Also, two F-104 losses were attributed to sh1tty GCI, a pilot letting himself get sandwitched between two MiGs and another one running low on fuel.

 

Hardly a "clear picture".

 

I was wondering what the actual picture was - thank you for that.

 

 

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Possibly the most fun I ever had in a flightsim was in the CaptainSim F-104 for MSFS 2004.

 

Just a riot!

 

Maybe in DCS one day. :coffee:

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6 hours ago, CanadaOne said:

 

 

Maybe in DCS one day. :coffee:

 

Eating rainbow stew with a silver spoon underneath them skies a blue...

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4 hours ago, Gambit21 said:

 

Eating rainbow stew with a silver spoon underneath them skies a blue...

 

Is it legal where you are too? :cool:

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On 11/13/2019 at 7:14 AM, CanadaOne said:

Possibly the most fun I ever had in a flightsim was in the CaptainSim F-104 for MSFS 2004.

 

Just a riot!

 

Maybe in DCS one day. :coffee:

 

 

I had that one as well! It was fun!

On 11/12/2019 at 2:25 PM, Gambit21 said:

 

I was wondering what the actual picture was - thank you for that.

 

 

 

 

One was built in tens of thousands of air frames and it's still in service around the globe today as frontline fighter and the other one is long gone, so i'd say the picture is pretty clear. :P

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On 11/11/2019 at 6:21 PM, Bremspropeller said:

The airplane could pull about 6g at Mach 2.

 

I find that hard to believe, but I'm not saying you're wrong. In defense of the airplane, though, the old "Rocket With A Man In It" was never intended to be a dogfighter. As a matter of fact, it was designed at a time when the Air Force thought that dogfighting was over. Fighter jets were designed to go fast and climb like hell to intercept Russian bombers. And so we had an Air Force with fighters that were quick but couldn't turn worth a damn. They learned how wrong they were over Viet Nam. They learned the hard way.

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So did I, but it's in the sales brochure:

http://www.916-starfighter.de/Snake Reaves_Test Pilot Notebook F-104.PDF

 

Keep in mind that the data was attained by the F-104A test programme. Probably with the -3 engine.

The F-104A with the -19 engine (as flown by the 319th FIS out of Homestead in the late 60s) would have flown rings around most fighters of the time - maybe even including the Lightning.

Supposedly they could attain Ps of 1300ft/s under favourable conditions - that's almost twice as much as an F-104C.

 

The 479th out of George with standard 104C had a pretty good rep - comparable to some of the best  F-8 squadrons of the Navy and Marines.

A lot of that was down to tactics (double attack vs. fluid four).

 

The F-104 was designed to be an F-86 replacement, placing emphasis on the experiences made in Korea. It was supposed to be an air superiority fighter, not (!) an interceptor.

The fact that ADC got the F-104As first (because the F-102As blew so bad) does not make the airplane an interceptor by design.

 

The actual airplane was to be the F-104C for TAC, that replaced the F-100. Well, it kinda did.

The F-4 messed up a lot of the late 50s USAF procurement programs.

 

The 104 got a lot of bad press and an undeserved bad rep.

While it had limitations as a tactical fighter, it was MUCH better than what many people thought it was.

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but can it resist electromagnetic pulses as migs do?

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On 11/14/2019 at 6:50 PM, Bremspropeller said:

So did I, but it's in the sales brochure:

http://www.916-starfighter.de/Snake Reaves_Test Pilot Notebook F-104.PDF

 

Keep in mind that the data was attained by the F-104A test programme. Probably with the -3 engine.

The F-104A with the -19 engine (as flown by the 319th FIS out of Homestead in the late 60s) would have flown rings around most fighters of the time - maybe even including the Lightning.

Supposedly they could attain Ps of 1300ft/s under favourable conditions - that's almost twice as much as an F-104C.

 

The 479th out of George with standard 104C had a pretty good rep - comparable to some of the best  F-8 squadrons of the Navy and Marines.

A lot of that was down to tactics (double attack vs. fluid four).

 

The F-104 was designed to be an F-86 replacement, placing emphasis on the experiences made in Korea. It was supposed to be an air superiority fighter, not (!) an interceptor.

The fact that ADC got the F-104As first (because the F-102As blew so bad) does not make the airplane an interceptor by design.

 

The actual airplane was to be the F-104C for TAC, that replaced the F-100. Well, it kinda did.

The F-4 messed up a lot of the late 50s USAF procurement programs.

 

The 104 got a lot of bad press and an undeserved bad rep.

While it had limitations as a tactical fighter, it was MUCH better than what many people thought it was.

 

@6./ZG26_Klaus_Mann Page 12 of the brochure (chapter III C) explains why they had to use negative dihedral.

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Remember the F-104 was just designed as a high speed interceptor to shoot down Russian nuclear bombers. It was just designed to go fast since in a nuclear war every second counts. 

 

I remember reading an interview with a F-104 pilot a long time ago. He said the plane was very difficult to turn for a fighter, but was surprisingly effective in the vertical plane, in mock dogfights, they would use the engine to climb high above the bandit and dive down on him from up high. As I recall, he also said it was not a forgiving aircraft and it was easy to lose control if you pushed it too hard. He also said dogfighting in a F-104 was the most fun he ever had in a jet.

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26 minutes ago, Sgt_Joch said:

Remember the F-104 was just designed as a high speed interceptor to shoot down Russian nuclear bombers. It was just designed to go fast since in a nuclear war every second counts. 

 

I remember reading an interview with a F-104 pilot a long time ago. He said the plane was very difficult to turn for a fighter, but was surprisingly effective in the vertical plane, in mock dogfights, they would use the engine to climb high above the bandit and dive down on him from up high. As I recall, he also said it was not a forgiving aircraft and it was easy to lose control if you pushed it too hard. He also said dogfighting in a F-104 was the most fun he ever had in a jet.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_F-104_Starfighter#German_service

 

"Erich Hartmann, the world's top-scoring fighter ace, commanded one of Germany's first (post-war) jet fighter-equipped squadrons[125] and deemed the F-104 to be an unsafe aircraft with poor handling characteristics for aerial combat. In Navy service it lacked the safety margin of a twin engine design like the Blackburn Buccaneer. To the dismay of his superiors, Hartmann judged the fighter unfit for Luftwaffe use even before its introduction."

 

"The safety record of the F-104 Starfighter became high-profile news in the mid-1960s, especially in Germany.[129] The Federal Republic of Germany initially ordered 309 F-104s, and over time another 607, for a total of 916 aircraft.[130] Deliveries of Lockheed-built aircraft started in August 1961, and domestically produced airframes began to roll off the assembly lines a few months later in December.[131] That same month, the first of no fewer than 292 German F-104s had crashed.[132] In all, 120 pilots and crew, including 108 German pilots and 8 USAF instructors, died in German F-104s during peacetime between 25 January 1962 and 11 December 1984."

 

"Some operators lost a large proportion of their aircraft through accidents, although the accident rate varied widely depending on the user and operating conditions. The German Air Force and Federal German Navy, the largest combined user of the F-104 and operator of over 35% of all airframes built, lost approximately 32% of its Starfighters in accidents over the aircraft's 31-year career.[136] The Belgian Air Force, on the other hand, lost 41 of its 100 airframes between February 1963 and September 1983,[137] and Italy, the final Starfighter operator, lost 138 of 368 (37%) by 1992.[138] Canada's accident rate with the F-104 ultimately exceeded 46% (110 of 238) over its 25-year service history"

 

"The cumulative destroyed rate of the F-104 Starfighter in USAF service as of 31 December 1983 was 25.2 aircraft destroyed per 100,000 flight hours. This is the highest accident rate of any of the USAF Century Series fighters. By comparison, the cumulative destroyed rates for the other Century Series aircraft in USAF service over the same time period were 16.2 for the North American F-100 Super Sabre, 9.7 for the McDonnell F-101 Voodoo, 15.6 for the Republic F-105 Thunderchief, and 7.3 for the Convair F-106 Delta Dart."

 

"In Germany it earned several less-charitable names due to its high accident rate, a common name being Fliegender Sarg ("Flying Coffin"). It was also called Witwenmacher ("Widowmaker"), or Erdnagel ("ground nail"), the official military term for a tent peg."

 

"In the Canadian Forces, the aircraft were sometimes referred to as the Lawn Dart and the Aluminium Death Tube"

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16 minutes ago, OpticFlow said:

 

"In the Canadian Forces, the aircraft were sometimes referred to as the Lawn Dart and the Aluminium Death Tube"

 

lol

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3 hours ago, OpticFlow said:

Erich Hartmann, the world's top-scoring fighter ace, commanded one of Germany's first (post-war) jet fighter-equipped squadrons[125] and deemed the F-104 to be an unsafe aircraft with poor handling characteristics for aerial combat.

 

Günther Rall and Walter Krupinski did disagree with him.

Both were instrumental in procuring the aircraft.

 

3 hours ago, OpticFlow said:

"The safety record of the F-104 Starfighter became high-profile news in the mid-1960s, especially in Germany.[129] The Federal Republic of Germany initially ordered 309 F-104s, and over time another 607, for a total of 916 aircraft.[130] Deliveries of Lockheed-built aircraft started in August 1961, and domestically produced airframes began to roll off the assembly lines a few months later in December.[131] That same month, the first of no fewer than 292 German F-104s had crashed.[132] In all, 120 pilots and crew, including 108 German pilots and 8 USAF instructors, died in German F-104s during peacetime between 25 January 1962 and 11 December 1984."

 

It really only became an issue in Germany. Instrumental was "Der Spiegel" newspaper, which held a grudge against former Secretary of Defense, Franz-Josef Strauß - who did push procurement of the F-104 after France wouldn't let Germany play with their nukes program and also wouldn't come forward and let Germany build their own domestic Mirage version.

 

In fact, the Mirage IIIC had a slightly higher accident rate than the F-104 in german service. The Mirage IIIE was slightly better.

Both jets had fewer pilot-fatalities, which were mostly down to the Lockheed C-2 seat not being a great performer. After attaining Martin Baker Mk7 seats, the fatality-rate per accident dropped a lot.

Fun Fact: The jets that were raplaced by the F-104 had more pilot-fatalities within ten years (1956-1966) than the entire german Starfighter-fleet in 25 years of service. The Starfighter numbers include the german navy, while the preceeding airplanes do not even include the pilots killed in Sea Hawk aircraft of the Marineflieger.

 

3 hours ago, OpticFlow said:

"Some operators lost a large proportion of their aircraft through accidents, although the accident rate varied widely depending on the user and operating conditions. The German Air Force and Federal German Navy, the largest combined user of the F-104 and operator of over 35% of all airframes built, lost approximately 32% of its Starfighters in accidents over the aircraft's 31-year career.[136] The Belgian Air Force, on the other hand, lost 41 of its 100 airframes between February 1963 and September 1983,[137] and Italy, the final Starfighter operator, lost 138 of 368 (37%) by 1992.[138] Canada's accident rate with the F-104 ultimately exceeded 46% (110 of 238) over its 25-year service history"

 

30-40% is quite usual across the board for operators of first- and second generation supersonic fighters.

Australia lost about 50% of their A-4s (small sample size, though). The Aéronavale lost over 60% of their F-8 Crusaders. Numbers for the USN/ USMC were 40-50% (excluding SEA service).

East German MiG-21s are right there in the low to mid 30% as well - as are RAF Lightnings.

 

3 hours ago, OpticFlow said:

The cumulative destroyed rate of the F-104 Starfighter in USAF service as of 31 December 1983 was 25.2 aircraft destroyed per 100,000 flight hours. This is the highest accident rate of any of the USAF Century Series fighters. By comparison, the cumulative destroyed rates for the other Century Series aircraft in USAF service over the same time period were 16.2 for the North American F-100 Super Sabre, 9.7 for the McDonnell F-101 Voodoo, 15.6 for the Republic F-105 Thunderchief, and 7.3 for the Convair F-106 Delta Dart."

 

The F-104 in USAF service also had a small sample-size, compared to all the other Century Fighters. Over 800 F-100s were lost and nobody gave a flying duck.

Most F-104 crashes were due to early bugs in the J79 engine - getting rid of those bugs greatly helped the F-4 having a smooth entry into service.

 

3 hours ago, OpticFlow said:

"In Germany it earned several less-charitable names due to its high accident rate, a common name being Fliegender Sarg ("Flying Coffin"). It was also called Witwenmacher ("Widowmaker"), or Erdnagel ("ground nail"), the official military term for a tent peg."

 

Not by flight-crew or anybody close to the airplane.

 

 

 

Fun Fact #2:

A german F-104F held a pretty interesting unofficial record: 3 minutes 30s from brake-release to Mach 2!

https://www.i-f-s.nl/f-104-records/

 

That record was later smashed by the Streak Eagle program, which resulted in absolutely crazy numbers:

Screen-Shot-2016-01-15-at-21.10.22.png

Edited by Bremspropeller
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Was reading an article many years ago by a RCAF pilot. He said if you had to think about ejecting from the a/c it was to late.

 

Ottawa.With the arrival of civilian jet travel, the Canadian government built a new field south of the original one, with two much longer runways and a new terminal building designed to handle up to 900,000 passengers/year. The terminal building had been scheduled to open in 1959, but during the opening ceremonies, a United States Air Force F-104 Starfighter went supersonic during a low pass over the airport, and the resultant sonic boom shattered most of the glass in the airport (including the entire north wall) and damaged ceiling tiles, door and window frames, and even structural beams.

 

Living close to the Ottawa airport/RCAF Base Uplands growing up Heard the roar of a jet engine as it accelerated down the runway and then a moment of silence and then a mighty roar. Then see this F-104 going straight up until it was out of sight in the big blue sky. Heard it had an engine problem and the pilot put it in AB (the mighty roar).

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The roar is not from the AB, but it's a characteristic of all short-nozzle J79s within a certain RPM-band. Somewhere in the 80-90% range.

IIRC it's due to the interference of the secondary airflow through the short nozzles.

 

The long nozzles had a reworked secondary air system and they didn't have the pronounced roar.

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8 hours ago, Bremspropeller said:

The long nozzles had a reworked secondary air system and they didn't have the pronounced roar.

I remember that howl of those engines as frequent soundtrack to our summet holidays in Italy during the eighties. They were often active from Grosseto.

 

Talking with people who flew the F104, it appears to me that the aircraft being more dangerous than others is more psychological that anything depicted in plain numbers. You were going faster and had to have your wits with you all the time as the aircraft tolerated no errors. Hence people treated it with respect and then it worked as other jets.

 

With „benign“ jets like the Mirage III, they really tended to fly like pigs. You hear stories that would NEVER have been said about the 104. Doing so, they trashed a lot of planes in general. „Easy“ aircraft still can kill you. There‘s hardly an easier aircraft to fly than the Piper Cub. But still people crashed a lot of Pups. And they do so because the incredibly forgiving nature of the aircraft is taken as granted and consequently abused. One 104 pilot I spoke to told me that they never did full aileron rolls, as doing the aircraft had induced yaw to a dangerous degree, something they didn‘t want to deal with. Eric Brown trained the German Marine pilots on the 104 and he thought of that as a rather stressful job, as you (and the pupil) had to do everything right all the time. Going back to the Hawker Hunter he considered going on holiday.

 

AFAIK Hartmanns criticism toward the 104 was mainly in context of how the plane was rushed in service for ulterior motives with little regard to proper pilot training. Needless to say, Hartmann had a pronounced disregard for some civilians that were overseeing the Luftwaffe as well as some chair bone thinking about their career rather than the pilots and the unit. Thus he considered the aircraft to be too demanding for the staff that first should get their sh*t together. Basically since they couldn‘t do their job right, then they better stick with the simple toys. In contrast to Trautloft, Rall, Krupinski etc, he, as a diamond holder, had no chance in ever becoming a General in the Luftwaffe. This, plus being extremely outspoken (and hardened to BS by years of Gulag) made him a frequent and blunt critique.

 

It is certainly true that the „former news magazine“ Der Spiegel eventually cast the dangers of flying century series jets into popular culture, but only tied to one type of aircraft then. Doing so for ulterior reasons.

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14 hours ago, Sgt_Joch said:

Remember the F-104 was just designed as a high speed interceptor to shoot down Russian nuclear bombers. It was just designed to go fast since in a nuclear war every second counts. 

 

I remember reading an interview with a F-104 pilot a long time ago. He said the plane was very difficult to turn for a fighter, but was surprisingly effective in the vertical plane, in mock dogfights, they would use the engine to climb high above the bandit and dive down on him from up high. As I recall, he also said it was not a forgiving aircraft and it was easy to lose control if you pushed it too hard. He also said dogfighting in a F-104 was the most fun he ever had in a jet.

 

Yes, and it would have been fine if it was used only in that role. The problem is that it was sold and used as a multi role fighter in Europe, especially in the role of low-altitude, all weather nuclear tactical bomber with additional fuel tanks.

 

A similar story was going on at the same time with MiG-21 here and in other Warsaw pact countries, it was designed as supersonic interceptor but had to be used also as ground attacker which lead to many losses during training.

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1 hour ago, ZachariasX said:

I remember that howl of those engines as frequent soundtrack to our summet holidays in Italy during the eighties. They were often active from Grosseto.

 

Talking with people who flew the F104, it appears to me that the aircraft being more dangerous than others is more psychological that anything depicted in plain numbers. You were going faster and had to have your wits with you all the time as the aircraft tolerated no errors. Hence people treated it with respect and then it worked as other jets.

 

With „benign“ jets like the Mirage III, they really tended to fly like pigs. You hear stories that would NEVER have been said about the 104. Doing so, they trashed a lot of planes in general. „Easy“ aircraft still can kill you. There‘s hardly an easier aircraft to fly than the Piper Cub. But still people crashed a lot of Pups. And they do so because the incredibly forgiving nature of the aircraft is taken as granted and consequently abused. One 104 pilot I spoke to told me that they never did full aileron rolls, as doing the aircraft had induced yaw to a dangerous degree, something they didn‘t want to deal with. Eric Brown trained the German Marine pilots on the 104 and he thought of that as a rather stressful job, as you (and the pupil) had to do everything right all the time. Going back to the Hawker Hunter he considered going on holiday.

 

AFAIK Hartmanns criticism toward the 104 was mainly in context of how the plane was rushed in service for ulterior motives with little regard to proper pilot training. Needless to say, Hartmann had a pronounced disregard for some civilians that were overseeing the Luftwaffe as well as some chair bone thinking about their career rather than the pilots and the unit. Thus he considered the aircraft to be too demanding for the staff that first should get their sh*t together. Basically since they couldn‘t do their job right, then they better stick with the simple toys. In contrast to Trautloft, Rall, Krupinski etc, he, as a diamond holder, had no chance in ever becoming a General in the Luftwaffe. This, plus being extremely outspoken (and hardened to BS by years of Gulag) made him a frequent and blunt critique.

 

It is certainly true that the „former news magazine“ Der Spiegel eventually cast the dangers of flying century series jets into popular culture, but only tied to one type of aircraft then. Doing so for ulterior reasons.

 

IIRC the US Tri Services lost about 100 (give or take) F-4s in total during the 60s due to LOC accidents. That airplane was generally easy to fly, but it would bite you if you were hamfisted, didn't use rudder at high AOA or if you generally thought you could take liberties. A normally-handling airplane for it's time. The Leading Edge Slats did in part mitigate that.

 

The alluring fact on the Mirage is that it's simpler. There won't be any BLC/ asymmetric flaps accidents to begin with, but you'll still come over the fence at 180-200kts plus you will hardly see where you're going on approach. The operating environment (low overcast, 5 miles visibility, probably precipitation/ showers) would be the same, as would the hazards be.

You can't fly at 500ft at 500kts at night with a navigational system that is "go" once it's within 8NM of where you actually are on take-off. You can't just leave a complex elecronic fire-control/ navigation platform standing out in the rain, snow, humidity all year long and expect it to work just fine. You can't expect a team of a 21 year old 1st Lieutenant pilot and a 19 year old crew chief (usually a PFC) work like a team of old hares. You can't expect to have a poor logistics and maintenance supply take care of an airplane of such technolocical dimensions.

 

Ze Germans weren't ready for the airplane. The whole support-chain in the background didn't work. Their airfields were basicly unchanged from a 1945 nightfighter aerodrome (not my quote) and the commanding officer, Josef Kammhuber, had never checked out in jets at all. Kammhuber was generally a good leader in war, but he totally failed to grasp the challenges the Luftwaffe would be facing when they transitioned from a "P-51/P-47 with swept wings and a jet engine" (F-86/ F-84F) to an F-104. At the start of service (1962), the 104 was the only airplane with an on-board inertial navigation system (not for long, but anyway) - state of the art tech that nobody in the LW knew how to handle. They had immense problems in getting MX people as the free market had much better deals and opportunities. Same is true for pilots - most would go for a tour and then get hired by an airline. You can't build operational experience that way - a thing they lacked in the first place due to the 10yr hiatus of flying.

 

The admin-structure was a piece of junk. Technological solutions for hot issues took years to implement or were classified "not valuable" by people flying an office chair in some ministry that was structured the same way as the ministry of family affairs (the words of Johannes Steinhoff, who is creditied with solving the "Starfighter Crisis" - even though that was the work by lots of men - including Hartmann's successor at JG 71, Günther Josten).

The whole Starfighter-accidents issue is way more complex than most people care to look into. Most issues were home-made and had nothing to do with the airplane itself (which wasn't trouble free), but were specific to the inertia of politics and the inability of bureaucratic structures in dealing with a fast-paced, highly technical (not just technological) issue.

There's a dissertation by Claas Siano, called "Die Luftwaffe und der Starfighter - Rüstung im Spannungsfeld von Politik, Wirtschaft und Militär" that goes into some depth of that issue.

Additional reading is provided by Günther Rall's "Mein Flugbuch" and "Gefechtsbericht" by Kurt Braatz which concentrates on Günther Josten's diaries. Braatz also wrote a book about Walter Krupinski that would touch on the issue, but would not go too deep into it.

It's interesting that Walter Krupinski acted as evaliation test-pilot for the F-104 and it's rivals, despite never attending a former test-pilot's education. His colleague in the process was Albert Werner, who had an academic background, but was a little weaker in stick-and-rudder skills. Werner crashed a Mirage, much to the displease of the guys at Dassault.

Krupinski respected Werner for his academical knowledge, but thought he had no business test-fling those aircraft...

 

The service history of the F-104 is poorly understood by most. There is lots of good and interesting literature on the F-104 out there.

Probably the the best book altogether is the one by David Bashow on the canadian CF-104s. They were used in roughly the same environment and with the same tactics as the Luftwaffe strike and recce aircraft, facing the same challenges. The difference was the RCAF did know what they were doing, while the Luftwaffe had a 10 year gap in operating fighters which had them outpaced and running for grips when they introduced their first jets. The loss-rates of the (R)F-84F were higher than the ones of the 104 in Germany.

 

Fun Fact: The RAF lost 150 Meteors in 1952 and 800 aircraft in total. Some "flying coffin" there...

 

Fun Fact2: Hartmann was a great "war officer", but would have made a poor peace time officer. Different filters apply: In war time, people with leadership-skills quickly attain leadership-positions, while in peace-time, political skills and knowing the right people is of a higher importance.

Hartmann wasn't necessarily against the 104, but he correctly assesed the procurement as too quick, overwhelming the capabilities of the armed forces at the time.

Painting his tulip-motif onto JG 71's Sabre Mk. 6s and opening a Staffelbar at Aalholrn/ Oldenburg (where the Richthofen guys were based at the time) didn't make him a lot of friends higher up.

 

Somewhat-less-fun Fact3: It was Krupinski who politically shot-down then-minister of defense Kai-Uwe von Hassel, who was incompetent in his role. Von Hassel's son, Joachim, was killed in an F-104 crash in the early 70s when after a go-around he was vectored onto a GCI-approach, but crashed before he wound up on final. The reasons could never really be made certain. Buddy Beek (check out the video on youtube) disputes the official report. That leads us to another issue: In the pre-DFDR times (F-104s and the german Tornados and Eurofighters would later get devices similar to DFDRs) reasons for crashes could very often not be determined and - when in doubt - were attributed to pilot's error, which made a lot of pilots mad. Human factors and machoism were very big killers in thise days. Nobody wanted to look weak in front of his peers and thus, they'd take off into doubtful weather or fly at times they felt sick.

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36 minutes ago, Bremspropeller said:

 

IIRC the US Tri Services lost about 100 (give or take) F-4s in total during the 60s due to LOC accidents. That airplane was generally easy to fly, but it would bite you if you were hamfisted, didn't use rudder at high AOA or if you generally thought you could take liberties. A normally-handling airplane for it's time. The Leading Edge Slats did in part mitigate that.

 

The alluring fact on the Mirage is that it's simpler. There won't be any BLC/ asymmetric flaps accidents to begin with, but you'll still come over the fence at 180-200kts plus you will hardly see where you're going on approach. The operating environment (low overcast, 5 miles visibility, probably precipitation/ showers) would be the same, as would the hazards be.

You can't fly at 500ft at 500kts at night with a navigational system that is "go" once it's within 8NM of where you actually are on take-off. You can't just leave a complex elecronic fire-control/ navigation platform standing out in the rain, snow, humidity all year long and expect it to work just fine. You can't expect a team of a 21 year old 1st Lieutenant pilot and a 19 year old crew chief (usually a PFC) work like a team of old hares. You can't expect to have a poor logistics and maintenance supply take care of an airplane of such technolocical dimensions.

 

Ze Germans weren't ready for the airplane. The whole support-chain in the background didn't work. Their airfields were basicly unchanged from a 1945 nightfighter aerodrome (not my quote) and the commanding officer, Josef Kammhuber, had never checked out in jets at all. Kammhuber was generally a good leader in war, but he totally failed to grasp the challenges the Luftwaffe would be facing when they transitioned from a "P-51/P-47 with swept wings and a jet engine" (F-86/ F-84F) to an F-104. At the start of service (1962), the 104 was the only airplane with an on-board inertial navigation system (not for long, but anyway) - state of the art tech that nobody in the LW knew how to handle. They had immense problems in getting MX people as the free market had much better deals and opportunities. Same is true for pilots - most would go for a tour and then get hired by an airline. You can't build operational experience that way - a thing they lacked in the first place due to the 10yr hiatus of flying.

 

The admin-structure was a piece of junk. Technological solutions for hot issues took years to implement or were classified "not valuable" by people flying an office chair in some ministry that was structured the same way as the ministry of family affairs (the words of Johannes Steinhoff, who is creditied with solving the "Starfighter Crisis" - even though that was the work by lots of men - including Hartmann's successor at JG 71, Günther Josten).

The whole Starfighter-accidents issue is way more complex than most people care to look into. Most issues were home-made and had nothing to do with the airplane itself (which wasn't trouble free), but were specific to the inertia of politics and the inability of bureaucratic structures in dealing with a fast-paced, highly technical (not just technological) issue.

There's a dissertation by Claas Siano, called "Die Luftwaffe und der Starfighter - Rüstung im Spannungsfeld von Politik, Wirtschaft und Militär" that goes into some depth of that issue.

Additional reading is provided by Günther Rall's "Mein Flugbuch" and "Gefechtsbericht" by Kurt Braatz which concentrates on Günther Josten's diaries. Braatz also wrote a book about Walter Krupinski that would touch on the issue, but would not go too deep into it.

It's interesting that Walter Krupinski acted as evaliation test-pilot for the F-104 and it's rivals, despite never attending a former test-pilot's education. His colleague in the process was Albert Werner, who had an academic background, but was a little weaker in stick-and-rudder skills. Werner crashed a Mirage, much to the displease of the guys at Dassault.

Krupinski respected Werner for his academical knowledge, but thought he had no business test-fling those aircraft...

 

The service history of the F-104 is poorly understood by most. There is lots of good and interesting literature on the F-104 out there.

Probably the the best book altogether is the one by David Bashow on the canadian CF-104s. They were used in roughly the same environment and with the same tactics as the Luftwaffe strike and recce aircraft, facing the same challenges. The difference was the RCAF did know what they were doing, while the Luftwaffe had a 10 year gap in operating fighters which had them outpaced and running for grips when they introduced their first jets. The loss-rates of the (R)F-84F were higher than the ones of the 104 in Germany.

 

Fun Fact: The RAF lost 150 Meteors in 1952 and 800 aircraft in total. Some "flying coffin" there...

 

Fun Fact2: Hartmann was a great "war officer", but would have made a poor peace time officer. Different filters apply: In war time, people with leadership-skills quickly attain leadership-positions, while in peace-time, political skills and knowing the right people is of a higher importance.

Hartmann wasn't necessarily against the 104, but he correctly assesed the procurement as too quick, overwhelming the capabilities of the armed forces at the time.

Painting his tulip-motif onto JG 71's Sabre Mk. 6s and opening a Staffelbar at Aalholrn/ Oldenburg (where the Richthofen guys were based at the time) didn't make him a lot of friends higher up.

 

Somewhat-less-fun Fact3: It was Krupinski who politically shot-down then-minister of defense Kai-Uwe von Hassel, who was incompetent in his role. Von Hassel's son, Joachim, was killed in an F-104 crash in the early 70s when after a go-around he was vectored onto a GCI-approach, but crashed before he wound up on final. The reasons could never really be made certain. Buddy Beek (check out the video on youtube) disputes the official report. That leads us to another issue: In the pre-DFDR times (F-104s and the german Tornados and Eurofighters would later get devices similar to DFDRs) reasons for crashes could very often not be determined and - when in doubt - were attributed to pilot's error, which made a lot of pilots mad. Human factors and machoism were very big killers in thise days. Nobody wanted to look weak in front of his peers and thus, they'd take off into doubtful weather or fly at times they felt sick.

 

The Germans had one of the finest post-war jet fighters, the Canadair Sabre Mk 6. Almost as soon as they equipped it, they switched to F-104. Ironically, the ex-German Sabres proved themselves successful (even against MiG-21) in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, while the F-104 proved itself a failure in the same conflict.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_F-86_Sabre#Indo-Pakistani_War_of_1971

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_F-104_Starfighter#India–Pakistan_Wars

 

The massive bribes paid by Lockheed to get the "Deal of the Century" through speak by themselves. $22 million gold-backed dollars buys a lot of friends in postwar Europe of the late 1950s.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_bribery_scandals#Background

 

Fun video:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxdZIMy8zJc

 

A German joke:

 

Frage: Wie kommt man als normaler Bundesbürger zu einem Starfighter?

Antwort: Grundstück kaufen und abwarten.

(Witz von 1970)

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On 11/14/2019 at 4:50 PM, Bremspropeller said:

The F-104A with the -19 engine (as flown by the 319th FIS out of Homestead in the late 60s) would have flown rings around most fighters of the time - maybe even including the Lightning.

Our lightning squadrons did multiple exchange visits with Dutch, Danes, Italians and Germans in the 70's. Although that was G and S versions. I was radar  engineer not pilot, but we used to get debriefs and the like plus shown the gun/radar/missile cam views when we went with em. Making gnd crew feel part of it I guess. The general feeling I always got was our F6/F3 pilots considered we had tactics that won out every time except for trying look down pickups on them. Both aircraft only had short range engagement ranges. Whereas the mirage 111 was more difficult, but you'd have to ask a pilot why that was.

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2 hours ago, OpticFlow said:

The Germans had one of the finest post-war jet fighters, the Canadair Sabre Mk 6. Almost as soon as they equipped it, they switched to F-104. Ironically, the ex-German Sabres proved themselves successful (even against MiG-21) in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, while the F-104 proved itself a failure in the same conflict.

 

The Sabres were outdated for mid-european battlefields in the late 50s. They were a stop-gap measure to build up the new Luftwaffe.

They were useless in the european skies of the 60s. There was no need for a clear air mass dogfighter, when most of the time visibility is less than 5 miles and clouds are hanging low.

The Canadians transitioned from the same Sabres to the same 104s.

 

Apart from bribery-scandals, the 104 offered the best package at the time of contract-closure:

A Mach 2+ fighter with inertial navigation and radar, capable of carrying a nuke to Moscow (well, one way) and involving lots of domestic industry participation, such as Canadair, Fokker, SABCA, Messerschmitt, Dornier, Focke-Wulf, BMW/MTU, FIAT, Mitsubishi and others in licensing deals. It also extended the nuclear participation for countries like Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy. Not sure about Denmark and Norway, but I think they were more into ship-attacks and interception. Spain and Japan were mostly into air-defense.

No other aircraft-manufacturer was willing to give those concessions.

 

The 104s never were a failure, but it takes more than just a quick link to wikipedia to figure that out.

 

31 minutes ago, 56RAF_Stickz said:

Our lightning squadrons did multiple exchange visits with Dutch, Danes, Italians and Germans in the 70's. Although that was G and S versions. I was radar  engineer not pilot, but we used to get debriefs and the like plus shown the gun/radar/missile cam views when we went with em. Making gnd crew feel part of it I guess. The general feeling I always got was our F6/F3 pilots considered we had tactics that won out every time except for trying look down pickups on them. Both aircraft only had short range engagement ranges. Whereas the mirage 111 was more difficult, but you'd have to ask a pilot why that was.

 

There's a reason why I wrote "104A with the -19 engine". Both the 104G (-11 or -J1K engine) and 104S (-19 engine) were too heavy to be good against Lightnings.

The 104S had the benefit of throwing a Sparrow/ Aspide into the face of the Lightning. The Lightnings were out of gas quickly, albeit the Avon 300 powered birds had a lot of thrust in dry.

The Mirage had more turn available than the 104 and thus was easier to fly in air-combat. It didn't quite have the engine, though, thus one really hard turn put them down to landing speed.

The aussie Mirage IIIO did rather well against the RAF Lightnings.

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By the way, one of the ten entries for the request for proposal was Saab J-35.

 

The Draken was also a radar-equipped supersonic interceptor. But it also had excellent maneuverability (blended wing design, low wing loading), decent range (3000l internal fuel load), ease of service and ability to operate from roads. It proved itself in 45 years of service in western nations (Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Austria).

 

And it looks good!

 

z1-saab-35_draken-facts-960-5.jpg

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20 minutes ago, OpticFlow said:

By the way, one of the ten entries for the request for proposal was Saab J-35.

 

The Draken was also a radar-equipped supersonic interceptor. But it also had excellent maneuverability (blended wing design, low wing loading), decent range (3000l internal fuel load), ease of service and ability to operate from roads. It proved itself in 45 years of service in western nations (Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Austria).

 

And it looks good!

 

No nukes integrated, no domestic industrial sharing, no advanced avionic/ nav/ attack package and at the start a rather unimpressive Avon 200 with teething-problems just as bad as the early J79. Also, the conventional weapons load was just as bad as with the F-104.

 

In hindsight, the best deal would have been waiting a couple of years longer and procuring a full-fledged F-4 version right off the bat.

No budget-compromised Volkswagen-solution like the german F-4F, that eventually transpired after getting a batch of 88 RF-4Es and realizing that this was the aircraft one should have procured in the first place and that one now couldn't afford after spending all that space-dust on the F-104.

But then again, hindsight is always 20/20.

 

In 1958, the F-104G looked like the right thing to invest in.

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Newly released (December 10, 2019) video from the Edwards Air Force Base History Office shows then Col. Chuck Yeager losing control and crashing an NF-104A on December 10, 1963 at Edwards Air Force Base.

 

 

Edited by Pict
Spelling, tweaking etc.
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Honestly, they would likely have has as bad or worse fatality rates with the F-4 though until they learned how to support modern fighters. I recall one of either the Air crew Interview or Fighter Pilot podcasts where they were interviewing an F-104 operator and he pointed out they were basically storing high precision parts out on tarps inn the rain because they didn't know better and were having significant system failures all over the place. 

 

The US armed forces went through the same thing in the 50's and 60's and the Navy at least ended up implementing the entire modern NATOPS system to cut down on the accident rates they were having. At least according to Wikipedia, it cut mishap rates from 54 per 10,000 flight hours to only about 2 prep 10k today. 

 

Fast jets get into trouble fast. 

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