The first flight of F-104 took place in 1954 under the control of Lockheed test pilot Tony Le Vier. The USAF purchased 676 of the new fighter plane. Very few flew with the USAF, many were supplied to other countries. In 1959, the CF-104 was selected by the Royal Canadian Air Force to replace the Sabre for use with the Air Division in Europe. These aircraft were built under license by Canadair in Quebec. The aircraft were built and used in the attack role instead of it’s designed fighter role. In service these aircraft were initially used for photo recce and nuclear strike missions. Later in their career they reverted to a conventional strike role.
Canadair rolled it’s first CF-104 out of the Cartierville plant on March 18, 1961 it was the first of 238 built for the RCAF Canadair built an additional 150 Starfighters for other NATO Nations. First flight of a CF-104 occurred on August 14 1961. Some components for the CF-104 program were built by Enheat in Amherst, Nova Scotia.
In Canadian service the CF-104 performed very well, it was loved by it’s pilots and was a powerful aircraft to fly. In the ground attack role the 104 could out run any of it’s opponents, however, it was not a forgiving aircraft to fly at low level. During the CF-104 era 37 pilots lost their lives flying this aircraft. Unfortunately the CF-104, while fast, was not as maneuverable as many other types of aircraft. At low level, this lack of maneuverability could be dangerous if a pilot was not paying close attention. Canadian pilots, excelled with the Starfighter, some being considered among the best pilots in NATO.
The last of these great aircraft where transferred to Turkey in 1986, where some were flew into the late 1990’s. Canada’s Starfighters were replaced by the CF-18 Hornet. Other Starfighters had also been transferred to Norway and Denmark, in the 1960’s although these are now retired from service as well, being replaced by the F-16 Fighting Falcon in the 1980’s.
In Canadian service the CF-104 flew with the following squadrons: 417 (The Operational Training Unit), 421, 422, 427, 430, 434, 439, 441, and 444. Not all of these squadrons served during the entire life of the 104.
Common Nick Names for the CF-104 Starfighter:
Zipper, Aluminum Death Tube, The Lawn Dart, The Silver Sliver, Missle with a man in it, the Widow Maker, Starfighter and 104
Specifications for the CF-104 Starfighter:
Powerplant: one General Electric J79-GE-11A turbojet of 7076 kg (15,600lb) afterburning thrust.
Perfomance: maxium speed 1845 km/h (1,146mph) at 15240 m (50,000 ft); service ceiling 15240 m (50,000); range 1740 km (1,081 miles)
Weights: empty 6348 kg (13,995 lb); maxium take-off 13170 kg (29,035 lb)
Span 21 feet 11 inches
Length 54 feet 9 inches
Height 13 feet 6 inches
CF-104 Starfighters on Display in Atlantic Canada:
104783 Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum (Halifax International Airport, Halifax, Nova Scotia)
Filed under: Aircraft History |