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Northop N-102 Fang


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#1 streakeagle

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 08:55:34 PM

The N-102 Fang was Northrop's proposal to compete for the USAF F-104 contract. This aircraft deserves a life in the SF series as much as any other "what-if"!

Go here for some info: http://sobchak.wordp...caccia-leggero/

Like the F-104, it was to be powered by a single J-79 engine. The layout is very similar to the MiG-21, except that it has an underbelly intake scoop much like the F-16. When you consider the date of this design (1953), it was top notch. Unlike the F-104, I bet this baby would have been competitive in the turning arena while still climbing and dashing as fast as the F-104. For some reason, Northrop is always cursed when it comes to winning contracts and producing aircraft for the USA. Northrop designs are usually great, but almsot always get blackballed for numerous political and economic reasons. It is a shame it never got past the mock-up stage.

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#2 FastCargo

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 08:59:16 PM

I know all about the Fang. It constantly came up during my researches into the F-5/T-38 series of aircraft, because it tried to be one of the eariler 'smaller, lighter, cheaper' attempts at an aircraft before the F-5.

It's not a matter of deservin', it's a matter of interest, talent and time.

Still, it would be interesting.

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#3 streakeagle

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 09:36:23 PM

I think it was even lighter than the F-104. Sustained turn performance would have suffered much like the MiG-21, but thrust-to-weight would have been outstanding and improved as the J-79 improved. The USAF simply had no interest in light weight air superiority fighters and only bought the F-16 when it was forced on them. If this aircraft supported in-flight refueling, it would have made a huge impact on the air-to-air kill ratios in Vietnam. But it might have suffered the same endurance problems as the MiG-21. Of course, all I can do is speculate. If the F-5 had been designed with that kind of thrust-to-weight ratio and wingloading, it would have been even more successful than it was. Of course, that is what the YF-17 was all about. From the Fang all the way to the F/A-18 was a steady evolution. But the final F/A-18E/F design is anything but a cheap, lightweight fighter!

Edited by streakeagle, 13 January 2010 - 09:37:08 PM.

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#4 UnknownPilot

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 09:19:22 AM

Cool little thing. I agree, would be great to have. But I know I can't 3D model worth a crap, so I can't even offer to help, sadly.

Regarding performance though... that page, even though I can't read it, the #s are readable, and it says it's about 2300 kg heavier than the 104G, which I'm guessing is itself heavier than the 104C.

I remember reading that the 104s visually disturbing lack of wing was a result of studies to find the optimal supersonic wing shape and design, and that that trapesoid was actually it. Which would suggest that the delta Fang would probably have a little less range at those speeds, and/or have a lower absolute limit. (the 104C was M2 limited by it's materials, but in that trim was actually good for 2.2. With improved engine performance... who's to say where it would top out (skin temp thresholds not withstanding))

As for turning..... who needs to turn? lol Posted Image With enough thrust and speed, you just dictate the fight, come in high, keep the E advantage, and yo-yo as necessary to keep him in front of you.


I do wonder a bit about the FM in SF2:V for the F-104C, but one thing I can say, with it's FM, it's my favorite MiG killer, no matter which MiG. If you try to turn with them, it's hopeless. But keeping speed up, and going vertical rather than horizontal and use that thrust and acceleration and climb and roll, and MiGs end up as just meat on the table.



#5 Gepard

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 12:48:25 PM

Yeah,the Fang was a nice bird. Unfortunatly it came never in the air. It would have been a better choise than the Starfighter.
By the way, the Starfighter is in game the most overmodelled plane.

#6 UnknownPilot

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 01:52:51 PM

Yeah,the Fang was a nice bird. Unfortunatly it came never in the air. It would have been a better choise than the Starfighter.
By the way, the Starfighter is in game the most overmodelled plane.



Always easy to say that (I'm not saying you are wrong - just making a point). Is there a better version I can install? (of the C though, the G and S won't be the same thing)

As for the Fang being better.... well, that seems hard to say. Again, it very well could have been, but why would it not be invesitgated further? What were the respective costs? Developtment times? Manufacturing times? Maintenance costs? etc...

From what I'm seeing, it looks like they would have had similar thrust to weight, but the Fang would have been much better at turning at low speeds. At high speeds the human is the limitation anyway (and then there are control force issues, but there's no data on that that I'm seeing). The 104 should roll better (both react faster and roll at a higher absolute rate), and also probably (that is purely a guess on my part) had less drag from the study-based small wing, plus the overall lower wing area (less wing generally means less induced drag - thinner wings as well, and those things were safety hazards they were so thin lol).

Hard to say without really having the 102 for actual testing. but it would be very interesting to see, that is for sure. Would make a great addition to the series (if any modellers/modders out there have the time and inspiration :) ).


Edit - I just found a translation (of sorts) and it said that the weight listed on the page linked in the OP is actually maximum take-off weight. About 2,000lbs lighter than the 104. But it doesn't list the empty weight, so it's hard to really compare that. But with the same top speed, less weight, better T:W, it would furhter suggest the 104 is probably slipperier, which could be a real boon in E combat.

Edited by UnknownPilot, 20 January 2010 - 01:55:52 PM.


#7 Rambler 1-1

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 11:15:26 PM

Yikes, look at that intake... FOD anyone?
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#8 Gepard

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 09:57:13 AM

I dont think so that FOD would be a problem. The nose gear is to close to the air intake, that i guess that a stone or dirt from the runway would not find its wa into the intake.

#9 FastCargo

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 10:01:34 AM

Besides, the F-16, A-7, F-8, etc use similar intakes and FOD isn't any more of an issue if one is prudent.

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#10 streakeagle

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 11:23:10 AM

The weight quoted on that page is the maximum takeoff weight, which is much lower than an F-104G. But what matters is empty weight, so that if both are carrying the same amount of fuel and ammo, the one with the lower empty weight will have the better thrust:weight ratio. As for the efficiency of the F-104 wing: no other fighter used anything like it until stealth considerations entered the picture. It was a great wing for low drag but a poor wing for high lift. Aircraft dogfight at subsonic speeds and the ones that can generate the most lift at the lowest speeds are the ones that turn the best. Delta wings in one form or the other are the best for supersonic flight. Why else would Concorde and the Tu-144 use such wings given they wanted the best shape for high endurance at supersonic speeds. But if you have tremendous thrust with correspondingly high speeds, you don't need much of a wing, so the X-15 used a wing very similar to the F-104. In general, most fighter planes need to do more than fly straight and level at high speeds, so the F-104's wing turned out to be a very poor choice. Lockheed understood this and developed the Lancer to try to solve the problem, but the Lancer was a decade too late. The F-16 was a much better solution than the F-104 ever could have been. The N-102 Fang doesn't have the advanced body blending and LERX wing of the F-16, but in many ways, it would have been like having an F-16 long before the F-16 was even on the drawing board.

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#11 UnknownPilot

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 10:14:20 AM

The weight quoted on that page is the maximum takeoff weight, which is much lower than an F-104G. But what matters is empty weight, so that if both are carrying the same amount of fuel and ammo, the one with the lower empty weight will have the better thrust:weight ratio. As for the efficiency of the F-104 wing: no other fighter used anything like it until stealth considerations entered the picture. It was a great wing for low drag but a poor wing for high lift. Aircraft dogfight at subsonic speeds and the ones that can generate the most lift at the lowest speeds are the ones that turn the best. Delta wings in one form or the other are the best for supersonic flight. Why else would Concorde and the Tu-144 use such wings given they wanted the best shape for high endurance at supersonic speeds. But if you have tremendous thrust with correspondingly high speeds, you don't need much of a wing, so the X-15 used a wing very similar to the F-104. In general, most fighter planes need to do more than fly straight and level at high speeds, so the F-104's wing turned out to be a very poor choice. Lockheed understood this and developed the Lancer to try to solve the problem, but the Lancer was a decade too late. The F-16 was a much better solution than the F-104 ever could have been. The N-102 Fang doesn't have the advanced body blending and LERX wing of the F-16, but in many ways, it would have been like having an F-16 long before the F-16 was even on the drawing board.



Yes, as I said in my edit - the page linked did indeed so max take-off weight, however it did NOT show empty weight, and so a real comparison is hard to find.

The best wing for supersonic speeds was, supposedly, that trapezoidal thing. The best wing for a range of speeds and weight carrying capability is a delta - which is why the Concorde and XB-70 use that.

Aircraft do indeed dogfight at sub-sonic speeds, but if the design was as poor as you imply, it would never have entered service. Even if you wanted to claim politics, that doesn't account for the German or Italian love for the plane, nor the Japanese (they made almost as many as the Italians). The 104 had something going for it, or it would have been little more than a crazy experimental foot-note in history.

While an aircraft that generates the most excess lift at sub-sonic speeds generally is the one that will turn better, as you suggest - dogfighting is NOT turning. It really never was. Even the modern notions of WWI combat is off - check the Dicta Boelcke, to paraphrase, be above your enemy, and dive with superior speed, from above and behind, from out of the sun, perforate him, and fly away at a high speed to reset and find the next victim. Richtofen felt the same way, and it was the foundation of the SPAD combat technique. Later Hartmann took that concept to a whole new level, and one very successful (even in air to air combat) plane was also the heaviest and poorest turning of it's time - the P-47.... but it was FAST. The Spitfire would out-circle a 190A, but the 190s terrified the Spitfires for a good long while (as they were faster, and rolled MUCH better).

Basically, the long and short of it is, turning isn't the way to fight, nor is it all it's cracked up to be. All you need is to be able to bring the nose around in maneuvers such as a yo-yo or hammerhead in a reasonable time-frame. If you can do that, and you have monstrous thrust and speed and roll rate, (and especially the training to work together as a unit with your flight), you're golden.


That brings us back to the earlier question..... it's been suggested that the SF2:V E.P. 2.0 F-104C is overmodeled. Ok, it may well be. Has anyone done a correct one (primarily C model, as mentioned, but the others would be good ot have too) that I could obtain? And if so, where can I get it?

#12 Squiffy

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 11:01:42 AM

Don't get these designs out of context. Tactics always followed the capabilities of the bird you were flying. The 104 arrived at a time when speed was everything and guided missles were the rage. Even the Phantom developed this way. Remember what happened in Vietnam and where the late models came from? Fighter Weapons School, Red Flag, Euro Nato. The Starfighter (look at that name!) Was designed as an interceptor. Get up, get ther fast, and pound them with fancy weapons. Well you know what happened after that. Current designs combine intercept AND dogfighting well. The Cobra maneuver and vectored thrust are not from the e-fight boom and zoom stock. And for Northrop's stake, the curse is broken and Jack died a happy man. The B-2 is the be all, end all of long range, fuel efficiency and platform stability. Oh yeah, and stealth too ; ) There is a cartoon from a 104 squadron back in the day, with a two ship formation booming, then zooming on a flight of Fishbeds, punching holes through the clouds, climbing out and turning around. The migs are shredded and didn't see what hit em. Pretty funny. Also, there was no "keep" about having a bandit in front of a 104. You just zoomed out of range to turn around and try to lock them up again. In the age of Amraams, that is not a comforting thought.


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#13 Squiffy

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 03:51:44 PM

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http://www.patricksa...arfighter/8701/

http://www.patricksa...arfighter/8699/

http://www.patricksa...arfighter/8715/


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#14 streakeagle

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Posted 28 January 2010 - 06:11:43 PM

Aspect ratio heavily influences lift/drag ratio and lift induced drag. The F-104 style wing was only used on a few aircraft: X-3, F-104, and X-15. The only use for that wing is low zero-lift drag, which is good for maximizing top speed if you have enough engine power to go fast enough to make enough lift without using much AoA. This wing is OK if you want to point your nose up, climb to 50,000 feet, level off, and go supersonic. It is worthless for just about anything else. With such a small wing, any external payload hung on pylons will quickly kill the low drag advantage by significantly increasing the zero-lift drag AND requiring a higher AoA to maintain level flight. The deltas and very similar swept trapezoidals (basically deltas with clipped tips) live with a higher zero-lift drag, but have advantages as transonic and supersonic speeds are approached. They are also much better than the short, straight F-104 wings at low speeds since they can generate quite a bit of lift at high AoAs if you have the power to compensate for the drag. The ultimate proof in the flaw of the F-104's wing design was the fact that virtually no other fighter aircraft used it in the 50+ years since it was originally designed. Modern high T/W fighters with LERX wings can go as fast or faster than the F-104 AND turn AND land at half the speed. The F-4's wing was already superior to the F-104 overall, but the F-104 had high-speed maneuvering flaps that made it a bit more competitive at lower speeds. Once the F-4E got slats that were equivalent, it performed much better than the F-104. The only other fighter in service with a wing similar to the F-104 was the F-5, but the F-5 wing was not designed with Mach 2.0 in mind, has a higher aspect ratio, and a lower wing loading. Once the F-5E arrived with a few refinements, it became one of the most agile fighters in the world at low speeds. The F-5's limitation was thrust-weight ratio, which was fixed two different ways: they heavily redesigned YF-17 and the very similar F-5G/F-20. The key upgrade Lockheed made to try to make the F-104 competitive with modern lightweight fighters was change the wing and tail (the t-tail was a huge problem as well... look how many modern fighters use those). But bad politics and a bad reputation kept the Lancer from ever seeing the light of day no matter how competitive it would have been.

The F-104 was a response to Korean War F-86 pilots tired of having MiG-15s able to climb above them to safety and attack or retreat at will: boom-n-zoom energy fighters. But given the same data, look what the Soviet response was to the Korean war: upengine the MiG-15 and add a good gunsight, double the engines to make the MiG-19, but sweep the wing a bit more to get a higher speed. Neither were as fast as the F-104, but F-104s would have a very hard time consistently beating either one using guns or the AIM-9B. But the MiG-19 was the contemporary of the F-100, the Soviet match for the F-104 was the MiG-21, which was as fast as the F-104 AND could turn better than any other Mach 2 fighter. The price the MiG-21 paid for its advantages were short range/low endurance and very little payload. In daylight conditions with ground controlled intercept and well trained pilots on short range intercept missions, the MiG-21 was clearly the most effective fighter of its generation (think Vietnam). But, mess with any one or more of those variables, and the big F-4 style fighter dominates (think Israeli wars). Many Arab MiG-21s were lost to empty fuel tanks that didn't get counted towards the Israeli's arleady superior kill ratio.

The Fang would have been the US equivalent to the MiG-21: no range or payload, but a hell of a fast, agile aircraft. The F-5 was more or less a more marketable derivative of the same development path using smaller, cheaper engines and not trying to optimize the design for top speed. I think if the Fang had been built and served in Vietnam instead of the F-104, the US would have gotten a better measure of exactly what type of fighter its next generation needed to be. The Fang would have done a great job as an air superiority type used for CAP and sweeps, especially if it had a refueling probe. The MiG-17 would been much less of a threat. The MiG-21 would have been dominated. The US might have built a fighter more like the F-16 or F-18 instead of the F-15 instead of waiting for budget cuts and political pressure to force them to build/buy lightweight fighters. As it was, as soon as the cold war budget expanded with Reagan's election, the military was back to making huge fighters. The F-22 is huge. Only advances in materials, engines, controls, and aerodynamics allow it to be more agile than smaller F-16s despite being larger than F-15s. But once again, the budget cuts have come, and the F-22s have been canceled. The US will be lucky to get a useful number of F-35s. The F/A-18Es may be less than impressive aircraft compared to the F-22 and F-35, but the Navy actually got away with buying them. After all this time, the optimum size for a multirole supersonic fighter jet in terms of dimensions and weight is still the size of an F-4 (compare the numbers with a Super Hornet, they are darn near identical if you don't look at the actual shape/layout). The F-16 size is much cheaper, but can't carry the payload and avionics you can cram into a fighter 50% larger.
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#15 UnknownPilot

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Posted 29 January 2010 - 06:11:08 PM

What limited the top speed of the 104 was the materials science available in the day. It was as fast as the Phantom with less than half the thrust, similar to the Mustang being faster with less power than many of it's contemporaries.

Multi-role is bunk. Let's think Vietnam. If I'm planning an air assault, and I have Corsairs, Intruders AND Skyhawks, why the heck would I want to put bombs on the Phantom? Rhetorical question - I wouldn't. High speed bomb trucks can be good for deep strike missions if you can't send bombers for some reason (and with stealth these days, there is no reason - you can't shoot what you can't see or find). Just about any air superiority fighter can have some iron strapped to it if it absolutely needs to be (F-15, F-14, F-16 [even if it was designed with multi-role in mind, it's still more fighter than it is attack], etc).

So throw out that whole argument (of strapping bombs and mis-using an aircraft).

I won't for one second tell you that the Fang would have in some way been required to be inferior to the 104 through some law of nature. It may well have been a fantastic machine.

My point, which has been either missed or ignored, is that the 104 was a pure design that was ahead of it's time which could certainly have been taken further than it was, it was short-changed.

Honestly, I'd much rather have see the Fang enter service if it would have meant no USAF F-4s. We're on the same team here, ok?

Missiles.... don't need them. Well not that many of them. The reason there were 8 on the F-4 was that half of them we're likely to be duds, and 2 more were likely to be mis-used. So you needed 8. With advances you need less and less (how many planes come back with 8 kills per mission every mission - or even once?).

If you swapped in better RADAR, better missiles, more thrust, better matierals, and if turning was all that much of a priority, then even extend the leading edge making more of a delta shape and getting more wing area, and even add in some creative thinking in the drop tank area, then what you have is a Soviet beater. Hands down.

P-47s were killing Zeros. Missiles or no, speed, altitude, thrust and team work are what wins the skies. If you can out-climb, out run, and out accelerate the other guy, you dictate the fight, and with a wing man can pick them off until the odds are in your favor and then you route them all.

There are many ways to skin a cat, so to speak, and I appreciate agility. The F-16 is probably my favorite jet of all time (with the Raptor high in the running too). But discounting the Starfighter like this is just way off the mark.

Other points..... no other fighters used the wing design? Yeah? And......? That just means there were other goals in mind. Has nothing to do with the price of tea in China. Ditto the T-Tail.

Using the same argument concept spun backwards - other fighters were available, but the LuftWaffe, and Japan and Italy LOVED their Starfighters and used them for a long time. And it's performance is STILL more than competitive. Cram in a modernized update of the F-16's radar in there and stuff some AMRAMMS on the mid-wing and some AIM-9X's on the outside, crank up that thrust, use some lighter materials, and make it more heat resistant, and you have one mean mammajamma.

#16 streakeagle

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Posted 29 January 2010 - 08:30:10 PM

If you believe this statement: "Other points..... no other fighters used the wing design? Yeah? And......? That just means there were other goals in mind. Has nothing to do with the price of tea in China. Ditto the T-Tail." I can't have a rational argument with you. T-tails are an absolute disaster for combat aircraft since they become ineffective when pulling high angles of attack. No fighters use t-tails. Likewise, low aspect ratio wings with high loadings optimized purely for speed are an equally terrible design choice for combat aircraft. The F-104 was the only design to go to that extreme and that mistake was never made again by Lockheed or anyone else. That isn't heated rhetoric, its physics. Most of the early supersonic designs had poor handling qualities, but the X-3, F-104, and F-101 with similar wing/tail layouts were all poorly designed for high angles of attack. Many planes and pilots were lost because of this design.

The F-104 looks cool and thanks to its engine, the J-79, was a world class technical achievement, but its combat record is less than stellar. It was only produced in significant numbers because Lockheed used dirty politics to force it on our allies seeking an affordable supersonic fighter. Those countries that flew the F-104 the longest were those that didn't have the budget to replace them. Some pilots did love the F-104 (Andy Bush at SimHQ is one of them), but most of those never flew the F-104 against MiG-21s and Hawker Hunters.

I don't know what history you are reading, but the Luftwaffe hated the F-104. They kept upgrading their F-4s, though.

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#17 Squiffy

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Posted 29 January 2010 - 08:49:40 PM

Unknown,

The 104 was a fine machine and it's popularity in Europe is proof of that. A beautiful ship and I enjoyed building my kit when I was younger. And dang it looks sweet in polished aluminum! It's use in europe might even be influenced by the "it's a generation old so we can afford to export it" mentality, national security-wise. (but not a real point)

Now when you talk about "cranking up the thrust," you're saying add power, which was really done by adding more or bigger engines. The F-4, 14, 15, 17 and 18 were all twin engine. There's also the combat survivability issue too, and the open ocean feet-wet safety issue. So to do this, you needed a larger airframe, hense the bigger heavier fighter. You also made a good point about the expensive junk, dud missiles in the early days. True, but that is what was new at the time and everyone was thinking it would be great. No one believed dogfighting would be a serious survivability question. Multirole is pretty silly from a design point. But when an air superiority fighter runs out of missles or some are duds, but the bandits are still coming, you gotta get home somehow. THAT's where the modern fighter profile comes from. The multi-fighters just take advantage of it and apply it to the attack/strike role and explain it as fighting your way in or out. Wildcats, Warhawks, Jugs, and Mustangs ended up doing a lot of e fighting because they could get away with it outside of gun range. Now with missiles in the mix, booming and zooming are not a guaranteed safe tactic if another flight can lock you up from 20 miles away. I would hate to merge with a long range missle, slow and out of e at the top of a zoom.

I don't know much about the political situation the Starfighter arrived in, but the pace of change was rapid and the level of change was huge. Thermal thicket, guided weapons, a lot of that was hot new science and engineering and it was hard to think "inside" of the box when so much was outside. Peoples minds were being blown by all the cool new stuff. I'll close on one important point. At least the 104 had a gun! That was good thinking!
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#18 Gepard

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 11:15:22 AM

About the subject "popularity" of the Starfighter in Europe:





http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1O-VwhkKN4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nI8agkiZScU

The F-104G was called "Witwenmacher" by the german pilots,"Widowmaker". And they meant their own wifes, not the wifes of the opponent.

#19 streakeagle

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 12:47:45 PM

As Andy Bush pointed out, the Germans were one of the few users of the F-104 that had problems with high loss rates. The problem was that they were trying to use a high altitude interceptor as a multirole low-altitude penetrator. Because of the major stability problems of its configuration (i.e. the t-tail), Lockheed added an automatic system to push the nose down if the angle of attack started getting too high. So, if you are flying a lot of low altitude terrain following missions and you pull back on the stick too hard trying to climb over a ridge or pull out of a bombing run, the system overrides the pilot stick and pushes the nose right back down... into the ground. The t-tailed F-101 Voodoo suffered from the same problem, was just as dangerous, and ended up being tasked with a low altitude strike role as well. These t-tailed fighters with short, high loaded wings were disasters. If these countries loved the F-104 so much, Lockheed would have gladly sold them new ones at a real good price to replace them. As I have posted previously, those countries that could afford to do so replaced their F-104s.

The F-104 was produced in significant numbers and served quite a long time in quite a few countries. But it was never meant to be a multirole fighter, which was what the main production version, F-104G, was supposed to be. In many cases, the US was giving them away via the Military Aid Program (MAP). For some perspective, the F-4 was not given away to allies. It was the most complex and expensive fighter built in large numbers until the teen series fighters replaced it. Yet, nearly twice as many F-4s were built than F-104s. F-4s were still in demand and being produced in the USA until 1979! F-4s are still in service with several countries to this day. If the Luftwaffe, Japan, and Spain loved the F-104, they could have bought more. Instead, they bought F-4s.

The F-104 was a historical achievement: the first Mach 2 fighter jet (at least in Western air forces) with great climb rate, etc. But it simply was not that useful operationally, which is why the USAF never bought or used very many. The English Electric Lightning was pretty much a contemporary to the F-104 and the F-4. It was even better than either one from a performance standpoint with tremendous climb rate and decent agility. Many claim it was superior to the F-15. But like the MiG-21, it lacked in avionics and armament. I am at a loss as to why the Lightning was not developed further and the British chose to buy F-4s rather than rely on their own awesome aerospace industry. The F-104 never even had a shot of getting a British contract. They were mainly bought by countries that couldn't afford anything better.
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#20 rotarycrazy

rotarycrazy
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Posted 03 February 2010 - 04:02:33 PM

As I remember more than half of the MIG-21 kills in vietnam where made by the mig-21 coming from the rear of the strike group in pairs with afterburners on firing all there atolls and zoom away

In the end tactics is what wins the day

The F-104s and the other developments used by italy where great planes









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