F-104G Starfighter

Two clean F-104G of MFG 2

(taken from: "Vikings for take-off", Motorbuch Verlag)

The Lockheed Starfighter was originally designed for the US Air Force as a pure highspeed fighter interceptor. First flight was on 4th march 1954 at Edwards AFB. By that time most european NATO Countries were looking for a new standard fighter/fighterbomber to form the backbone of their Air Forces.
Early designs of the Lockheed model could not really satisify the european requirements, which resulted in the modified F-104G version. The "G" was concepted as low-level capable, high-speed fighterbomber with in- and egress speeds of up to MACH 2.5.
In 1958 Germany chose the Starfighter to replace the already outdated F-84 and F-86 versions in use by then. For political reasons the Marineflieger had to join this decision, though their demands were quite different. The German Navy was looking for a two-seat, twin-engined aircraft to replace the old Seahawks, with the Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer being their favourized aircraft.
A total of 132 Starfighters were acquired for naval service, a number which devides into three different versions:

      • F-104G as maritime attack
      • RF-104G as maritime reconaissance
      • TF-104G as trainer

In addition to this, a small number of two-seat F-104F saw operational use with the Navy's Jet Air Wings.

Formationflight of MFG 2 F-104G

(taken from: "Marineflieger", Mittler Verlag)

Introduction of the F-104 into naval air service began in september 1963, with MFG 1 being the first unit to be equipped with Germany's new standard Weaponssystem. Sister Wing MFG 2 joined the Starfighter club in march of the following year. Both squadrons of MFG 1 and 2nd squadron of MFG 2 flew the F-104G fighterbomber version, while the 1st naval recce squadron (MFG 2) received the RF-104G photo-recconaissance variant. Alongside both wings used a number of eight two-seat trainer versions (TF-104G and F-104F) each.

Head-on view of a F-104G filmed from the rear cargodoor of a Transall

(taken from: "Vikings for take-off", Motorbuch Verlag)

The RF-104G though being a "photo bird", could still carry out its secondary role of maritime fighterbomber and could be armed with the same array of ordnance as the F-104G. It only lacked the internal gun, as this place was needed for the camera assortment.
In contrary to its Luftwaffe sister aircraft, the career of navy RF-104G was pretty long. Until the very end of navy Starfighters in 1987, the RF-104Gs continued to fly their recce missions. Air Force RF-104Gs were replaced by the RF-4E Phantom II some 16 years earlier !

MFG 1 replaced their Starfighters in 1982/83 with the Tornado. MFG 2 retained their aircraft until mid 1987 and achieved some remarkable figures. In june 1985 MFG 2 flew the 200.000th and a mere year later the 300.000th hour for a Starfighter in German service.
1982 saw the first major combat improvements to be incorporated into MFG 2's airframes. Amongst other changes, Luftwaffenschleuse 11 added a chaff/flare equipment to the remaining 47 aircraft of MFG 2.
In 1985 the 13 RF-104Gs still in service spent another visit to LwS 11 and were enabled to carry an array of ECM equipment. These were develeoped according to the NATO Maritime Electronic Warfare Support Group standard and were mainly used for training purposes.

F-104G of MFG 2 in full combat dress: 2 AIM-9B Sidewinder, 2 Kormoran 1

(taken from: "Hubschrauber und Flugzeuge der Bundeswehr", Motorbuch Verlag)

26th may 1987 meant the end of an era for the navy, as MFG 2 finally received its long desired Tornados. The RF-104G's role was taken over by Tornados fitted with recce-pods. Most navy Starfighters went, according to NATO treaties to Greece and Turkey, where they wre superseeded gy the General Dynamics F-16A.

Technical data:

Wingspan           :  6,70m
Length             : 16,66m 
Height             :  4,09m
Weight empty       :  6350kg
max. Takeoff Weight: 13500kg
max. Speed         :  2450km/h at 36.000ft
Range              :  850km
Serviceceiling     :  47.000ft
General Electric J79-GE-11A, MTU J79-MTU-J1K
Thrust             :  70,75kn
[back to main page]