Lockheed XF-104 (S/N 53-7786, the first XF-104) on Rogers Dry Lake, Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The XF-104 is easily distinguished by the lack of inlet shock cones and the short fuselage. (U.S. Air Force photo)
The XF-104, Lockheed Model L-246, was designed by Kelly Johnson of the famed "Skunk Works." Two aircraft (S/N 53-7786 and 53-7787) were built. The first flight was on March 5, 1954. Powered by the Wright J65, the XF-104 flew as fast as Mach 1.7.
Seventeen YF-104A service test aircraft (S/N 55-2955 to 2971) were built with the improved General Electric J79 turbojet. The YF-104A (55-2955) exceeded Mach 2 on Feb. 28, 1956. The pre-production Block 1 F-104As (S/N 56-730 to 736), along with the YF-104As, were retrofitted during testing to solve various problems revealed during the program including pitch-up, low speed handling and engine problems.
Aircraft description from T.O. 1F-104A-1 - F-104 aircraft are high-performance day and night fighters powered by an axial-flow, turbojet engine with afterburner. F-104A and C are single place aircraft, built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, are designed for cruise at high subsonic speeds and combat at high supersonic speeds. Notable features of the aircraft include extremely thin flight surfaces, short straight wings with negative dihedral, irreversible hydraulically powered ailerons, and a controllable horizontal stabilizer. The wings, with leading and trailing edge flaps, have a boundary layer control system which is used in conjunction with the trailing edge flap to reduce landing speeds. A drag chute is installed to reduce the landing roll.
The National Museum of the United States Air Force has an F-104C on display in its Cold War Gallery and an F-104A on display in front of the museum complex.
Prototype; lightweight fighter
First production aircraft
High-altitude trainer; converted F-104A
Designation not used
MAP aircraft for Germany; modified D
MAP and Consortium built
Japanese-built G model
Super Starfighter; improved G
* = not procured by USAF
MAP = Military Assistance Program; U.S. built for other countries
Consortium = built by using (non-U.S.) country
22 F-104As were converted to QF-104 target drones
TECHNICAL NOTES (F-104A from T.O. 1F-104A-1): Armament: Basic armament consists of two AIM-9B air-to-air guided missiles, carried one on each wing tip in place of the tip tanks; aircraft also incorporates a M61 20mm electrically-operated gun located on the lower left side of the forward fuselage; its ammunition supply of 725 rounds is fired at an average rate of 4,000 rounds per minute Engine: One General Electric J79-GE-3B (or -19, -11A, -11B) of 15,800 lbs. static sea-level thrust with afterburner (-19 rated at 17,500 lbs. maximum thrust) Maximum speed: 1,320 mph (Mach 2) Cruising speed: 575 mph Range: Approx. 1,820 nautical miles with two 170-gal. tip tanks and two 195-gal. pylon tanks (dropped when empty) using cruise climb profile: 8.5 min. time-to-climb, 26,000 ft. initial, 39,000 ft. final at approx. .85 Mach for 3 hr. 35 min. With no external stores: 1,120 nm., 2 hr. 13 min., 6 min. time-to-climb 33,000 initial, 40,000 ft. final. Service ceiling: 58,000 ft. Span: 21.94 ft. Length: 54.77 ft. Height: 13.49 ft. Tread: 8.79 ft. Weight: 25,300 lbs. (tip tanks and pylon tanks); 19,600 lbs. gross weight with no external load Crew: One