USAF Starfighters Scrutinized

Warren E Thompson, in the December 2016 issue of Aviation News, looked back at the USAF career of the iconic Lockheed F-104 Starfighter – including its service in the Vietnam War 

This sleek, stubby-wing supersonic fighter was just one of the many advanced aircraft designs to be developed in Lockheed’s famed Skunk Works by Clarence ‘Kelly’ Johnson and his engineers.  The XF-104 Starfighter prototype made its first flight on March 4, 1954, and after nearly four years of extensive testing, during which numerous problems were overcome, the F-104A was finally delivered to its first operational unit, the 83rd Fighter Interceptor Squadron (FIS) of the USAF’s Air Defense Command, at Hamilton AFB, California on January 29, 1958.

It entered operational service a few weeks later on February 20.  Production ran to an eventual 2,578 Starfighters built, the majority under licence in other countries, and the type was used by 15 nations. 

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