Although not used in the United States, the F-104 Starfighter still exists in some US allies in both Asia and Europe but was badly criticized

Introduce

The last F-104, which the US lost in the Vietnam War on May 14, 1967, when it had an engine crash at the time of fighting in the skies of Cambodia, then it flew to Thailand for emergency landing. Shortly thereafter, all F-104 aircraft in Vietnam were banned from flying because of their weak technical skills and were eventually withdrawn to make room for F-4 Phantom.

The fate of the Starfighter was decided only two years later, it was removed from the US Air Force in 1969. The F-104 became a mass production fighter with the fastest out of service in US Air Force history, only 11 years (1958-1969).

F-104 Starfighter
F-104 Starfighter

Design

Externally, the F-104 Starfighter was really a distinct aircraft design. The platform presented a streamlined aerodynamic fuselage design holding all the vital components (weapons, avionics, undercarriage, engine, etc…) in a cramped internal layout. The power plant, like the fuel, made up most of the internal space, covering about half of the tubular shape.

The front end was tapered to a sharp point while the cockpit tub was well placed in the forward part of the design, offering extremely good visibility when flying or taxiing. The canopy consisted of three major components— a forward framed section, a portside opening center section, and a rearward section.

Two small half-circle intakes fed the single engine along the sides of the fuselage just behind the cockpit. The intake openings were fixed and not variable and were equipped with cones to regulate the high speed turbojet airflow. The undercarriage was fully allocated to the fuselage with the two main gears retracting into the portion of the fuselage near the wing roots and the nose wheel retracting under and behind the cockpit into the portion of the fuselage.

Powerplant

J79 jet engine encountered a design error. Accordingly, this engine was designed to automatically change the angle of the stator compression automatically based on the pitch and temperature. A condition known as “T-2 reset” (a common function that changes the stator compression angle) caused many engine failures when taking off.

It has been discovered that a sudden and high temperature change (such as from a parked position in the sun to take off) caused the propeller to compress the stator wrongly and stop the engine.

Armament

The basic armament of the F-104 was the 20mm M61 Vulcan autocannon.

Two AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles could be carried on the wingtip stations, which could also be used for fuel tanks. The F-104C and later models added a centerline pylon and two underwing pylons for bombs, rocket pods, or fuel tanks; the centerline pylon could carry a nuclear weapon.

Specifications

(Source: Wikipedia)

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 54 ft 8 in (16.66 m)
  • Wingspan: 21 ft 9 in (6.63 m)
  • Height: 13 ft 6 in (4.11 m)
  • Wing area: 196.1 sq ft (18.22 m2)
  • Airfoil: Biconvex 3.36% root and tip
  • Empty weight: 14,000 lb (6,350 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 29,027 lb (13,166 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × General Electric J79 afterburning turbojet, 10,000 lbf (44 kN) thrust dry, 15,600 lbf (69 kN) with afterburner

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 1,528 mph (2,459 km/h, 1,328 kn)
  • Maximum speed: Mach 2
  • Combat range: 420 mi (680 km, 360 nmi)
  • Ferry range: 1,630 mi (2,620 km, 1,420 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 50,000 ft (15,000 m)
  • Rate of climb: 48,000 ft/min (240 m/s) Initially
  • Lift-to-drag: 9.2
  • Wing loading: 105 lb/sq ft (510 kg/m2)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.54 with max. takeoff weight (0.76 loaded)

Armament

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