Stateside ‘Spilloni’


Luigino Caliaro explores the roles of the F-104s operated by civilian contractor Starfighters Aerospace

Starfighters Aerospace TF-104 N992SF is maintained in pristine, airworthy condition. ALL LUIGINO CALIARO

Many fast jet aviation enthusiasts remember the farewell event held by the Italian Air Force at Pratica di Mare airbase on May 30, 2004, to mark the retirement of the legendary F-104 Starfighter. On that day the last of the ‘Spilloni’ (or ‘pin’ as the F-104 was nicknamed in Italy) closed a 50-year career; impressive for an aircraft conceived in the middle of the Cold War for the extremely specialised mission of pure interceptor. However, the Starfighter proved to be an extremely long-lived aircraft, as well as being fundamental for the rebirth of some European air arms.

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