Having worken on one before. I put the English Electric Lightning forward as my choice of Greatest Military Aircraft!
I've worked on XS 458 (T5), up at Cranfield. BEAUTIFUL aircraft to work on
ANY aircraft that can go from brakes off to passing 30,000 feet (FL300) in under 2 minutes & still have enough grunt to reach 60,000 feet (FL600). YET still perform amazingly at low levels, as you'll see below, has to be worthy of being labeled 'Greatest Military Aircraft' of the last 100 years!
I'd have to agree, my vote goes towards the lightning too
Yes but the F-104 could do all of that, even higher and faster, further and lower (in comfort) and whats more carry nuclear and a wide selection of conventional stores including SARH missles ( F-104S)
It had better systems, a longer range and very hard to catch in tail chase.
Zoom climbs....if that impresses you ...90,000 feet + and that's the operational versions, not NF-104
Tricky on the approach yes , and speed was life, but in all areas that really count the F-104 was far more capable and versatile aircraft with comparable, if not superior speed and altitude performance to the Lightning
Your claims about performance are not entirely true, during the Binbrook exchange in 1984 Lightnings were pitted against F-104s and beat them in every respect apart from low-level supersonic acceleration, in which they drew. Similarly in 1985 the Lightning was the only fighter at the time capable of intercepting the Concorde from behind - whereas the F-104 failed. Let's not forget the F-104's appalling safety record either, as any German pilot will testify
I am unable to comment on the operations you describe at Binbrook ( I served some time at another RAF base in Scotland) and I am unaware of any attempt to intercept Concorde, but I would be very interested in specifics (were the aircraft clean, fuel load weather etc ?)
I am sure you would concede however that F-104 was a more capable delivery system.
With the regard to the accident rate I do not have the relevant data to hand but the Lighting was I understand a demanding aircraft to fly particularly at night when carrying out a low level interception, especially trying to get something out of the clutter on the radar.
This is a sad indication of how boring modern fighter aircraft are, when the main discussion is over 2 types that are both out of service! Just can't seem to summon up any enthusiasm about of the latest generation of european fighters. Would like to say however '2 engines good, 1 engine bad' ( see Jaguar M versus Etendard for details).
I honestly don't have enough knowledge to join in this debate but I will shamelessly plug the fact that my choice for the greatest person had a hand in designing the F-104.
My wings are like a shield of steel.
Have to agree with you Kelly Johnson can only be described as an absolute genius; with the added bonus of not being French
Your are indeed right about the delivery system, and the range too - but both were designed for slightly different roles so can't really be compared in that respect. It is to be borne in mind when choosing though, but to me the Lightning holds the edge. About the safety record, it is perhaps harsh to criticise the F-104 too much, but the export variants suffered a lot, and consequently became infamously unpopular in Europe (a lot of pilots, particularly in Germany, died as a result of several niggling issues with the aircraft, and later premature fatigue failures).
I have no direct experience of the operations at Binbrook, so I'll refer you to this page instead
Finally, try and listen to an LP by Bob Calvert (Hawkwind fame) called Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters, an LP that musically captures the whole business.
I wouldn't compare these two aircraft based on the sales - especially the NATO F104 contract - as there's rather too much suggestion of bribery and politics surrounding the F104 purchases by West Germany, the Netherlands et al (See Here) and (See Here).
I DO know there's an ex Danish Royal Air force F104G at the Midlands Air Museum at Coventry and if you ask very, very nicely they'll let you sit in it (and I did so after climbing around the inside of their Vulcan! What great hosts they are, especially if you talk to them before going ).
I'm a conscientious man... when I throw rocks at seabirds I leave no tern unstoned. (Ogden Nash)
Et nom de dieu! C'est triste Orly la dimanche (Jacques Brel)
Thanks for that GE but thats a long way away for me and they're are better ways to see F 104s (no disrespect folks) closer to home such as this http://www.starfighters.net/Home_Page.html
Battle Mountain is nearer for me so I think I may take in their flying there later this year.
I dont think they're are any Lightnings still flying to my knowledge. I woudnt mind seeing one.
The only Lightning I know of that is still flying is in Thunder City, Cape Town, South Africa, but you can book a ride in it if you have the funds. Details here.
They do, however, fast taxi one on the Cold War Jets Day at Bruntingthorpe in Leicestershire, UK. Details Here.
I have been able to obtain some F 104 data from the original manuals
The outer edge of the envelope (zoom boundary) was 96,000 ft at a gross weight of 16000 lbs in a clean configuration at which point rhe aircraft would be at Mach .065 and would depart with .1g stall.
Afterburner flameout occurred at 58000ft on this profile but could be kept lit up to 70000ft on a flatter climb profile.
On the other side of envelope the limiting factor is the engine air temprature limit which is reached at Mach 2.0 at 30000 - 50000 ft.
At s.l the same constraint limited the F-104 to 750 kts.
The landing speed was not below 190 kts on final. Vfe and Vlo were 260kts
Anybody got Lighting data?
Seems I remember a movie ( I know , I know - - -movies blah etc ) where Convair B58's were being pursued by F104's and that they couldn't go supersonic with wing tanks attached - - - Yes it was a movie but wasn't that the point of the EE Lightning Interceptor - - - It had a significant High altitude Interceptor capability on internal fuel !!
I am old enough to have seen one do a " Vertical " at an air show - - - - - Now I remember why I loved that aircraft .
I lived in the North of the UK when the only thing between York and the Soviet massed bomber formations were the Dew Line and those Roaring Lightnings .
Certain RAAF Officer Said sometime round the Gulf War - - and I mis-quote happily - - "Stealth be damned - - , I like them to be able to see the Fuses and know you are in full afterburner !"
Your forgetting XS458, T5, owned & operated by Russell Carpenter at Cranfield Aerodrome, Bedfordshire.
Also if you are prepared to travel, there is an old Saudi F53 at Gatwick Aviation Museum, on the North sideof the airport.
And it's 2 that are operated by the Lightning Preservation Group, LPG, XR 728 & XS 904.
The F104 did develop the nickname "The Flying Coffin" because of its accident rates. Accidents aside the F104 shouldnt even be considered in the same breath as a Lightning. Having seen both fly the Lightning is just a class apart. To use a word that is far to over used on the American side of the pond the Lightning truely was and still is 'Awesome'.
Rob_25 thanks for filling in some of the gaps in my Lightning knowledge. It's always good to learn that there's more of these wonderful beasts about.
Well my dad used to work on F53's whilst he was out in Saudi Arabia, on contract with BAE, in the late 70's. Then he came across XS458 up at Cranfield back in the late 90's. Then onto Gatwick & THEN onto AALO.
MY first encounter with one was up at Cranfield on one of Tony's Fast Taxi days, from then on....? Well the rset is history.
It would appear that the basis that Victor has chosen to compare the
F-104 with the Lightning is personal observations of their displays at air shows rather than their capabilities and performance in an operational environment?!
That operational environment I would argue is the true arbiter of their relative merits as “great aircraft” and the only rational basis for a valid comparison.
With regard to “the pond” I am assuming this refers to the Atlantic Ocean.
Personally I would not be so dismissive of this vast expanse of water which every member of the east coast squadrons treated with enormous respect, especially in December at three in the morning in the GIUK gap, when the boat had a foul deck, the KA-6 was dry and Keflavik was below minima.
Believe me; no one considered it a “pond” then.
This was area where I never saw a Lightning but I did see the excellent Buccaneer which on one occasion splashed an unwary F-14 with a fox-two.
Now that was a great Brit airplane
I'm sorry, but the F104 is just an ugly duckling with clipped wings compared to this beast:
And if you needed ANYMORE convincing, allow me to introduce Tony Hulls, former owner of XS458:
Have you noticed that the lightning has NOT even been considered for nomination... Let alone added to the list for voting...
I am NOT best pleased with Flight Global....
As explained, putting together the shortlist was a very difficult task with some hard choices made. Every aircraft that was nominated was considered in detail but there was always going to be disagreements over any final list of this kind. Apologies if this list is different to what you would have hoped for.
AirSpace - more than just hot air