Lockheed F-104 Starfighter
CF-104 Starfighter Photo # 1
The Starfighter was the first combat aircraft capable of sustained Mach 2 flight, and its speed and climb performance remain impressive even by modern standards. Equipped with razor-edged thin blade supersonic wings (visible from the cockpit only in the mirrors), it was designed for optimum performance at Mach 1.4. If used appropriately, with high-speed surprise attacks and good use of its exceptional thrust-to-weight ratio, it could be a formidable opponent. It was exceptionally stable at high speed (600+ kts) at very low level, making it a formidable tactical nuclear strike-fighter. However, when lured into a low-speed turning contest with a conventional subsonic opponents (as Pakistani pilots were with Indian Hunters in 1965) the outcome of dogfights was always doubtful. The F-104's large turn radius was due to the high speeds required for manoeuvring, and its high-alpha stalling and pitch-up behavior was known to command respect.
Takeoff speeds were in the region of 219 mph (352 km/h), with the pilot needing to swiftly raise the landing gear to avoid exceeding the limit speed of 299 mph (481 km/h). Climb and cruise performance were outstanding; unusually, a "slow" light illuminated on the instrument panel at around Mach 2 to indicate that the engine compressor was nearing its limiting temperature and the pilot needed to throttle back. Returning to the circuit, the downwind leg could be flown at 242 mph (389 km/h) with "land" flap selected, while long flat final approaches were typically flown at speeds around 207 mph (333 km/h) depending on the weight of fuel remaining. High engine power had to be maintained on the final approach to ensure adequate airflow for the BLC (Boundary Layer Control) system; consequently pilots were warned not to cut the throttle until the aircraft was actually on the ground. A drag chute and effective brakes shortened the Starfighter's landing roll.
Photo Source: Alf Blume