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The F-104 was developed in 1954 as a supersonic day fighter for the US Air Force. It incorporated the experiences gathered by fighter pilots during the Korean War (1950-1953). In 1959, the German Ministry of Defense selected the F-104G as the standard fighter plane for the German Air Force. Its deployment as a fighter bomber, interceptor and reconnaissance plane in poor weather conditions and in ground-level flying necessitated extensive modification of the equipment and airframe structure. Of the 916 Starfighters flown by the German air force from 1960 until 1987 around one third was lost in accidents. A series of crashes cast a shadow over the introduction of the plane. 269 machines crashed, killing 116 pilots. Technical and logistics problems during the introduction of the complex aircraft system were the source of the initially high accident rate.

Technical specifications:

  • Manufacturer: Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, Burbank, USA; built in licence at Arge Süd (Messerschmitt, Dornier, Heinkel, SIAT), 1964
  • Wing span:  6.7 m
  • Take-off mass (max.): 13000 kg
  • Max. speed: twice the speed of sound (approx. 2000 km/h)
  • Landing speed: 270 – 350 km/h depending on the load
  • Ceiling: 15 500 m
  • Propulsion: MTU J 79-MTU-J1K turbojet engine
  • Thrust: 70,9 kN