The Lockheed XF-104 was a single-engine, high-performance, supersonic interceptor prototype for a United States Air Force (USAF) series of lightweight and simple fighters. Only two aircraft were built, one aircraft was used primarily for aerodynamic research and the other served as an armament testbed. Both prototypes were destroyed in accidents during testing. The XF-104 was the forerunner of over 2,500 Lockheed F-104 Starfighters.
During the Korean War, USAF fighter pilots were outclassed by MiG-equipped Soviet pilots. Lockheed engineers, led by Kelly Johnson, designed and submitted a novel design to the Air Force. The design was notable for its sleekness, particularly its thin wings and missile-shaped fuselage, as well as a novel pilot ejection system.
The XF-104's maiden flight came in February 1954. The flight test program encountered problems, some of which were resolved; however, the XF-104 performance proved better than estimates. Both prototypes were lost through accidents. Nevertheless, the USAF ordered 17 service-test F-104s. Internationally, the production F-104 Starfighters proved popular, serving as front-line fighters with a number of countries.
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... General characteristics Crew 1 Length 49 ft 2 in (15 m) Wingspan 21 ft 11 in (6.69 m) Height 13 ft 6 in (4.1 m) Wing area 196 ft² (18.21 m²) Airfoil Bi-convex 3.36% Empty weight 11,500 lb (5,216 kg) Loaded weight 16,700 lb (7,575 kg) Max ... takeoff weight 15,700 lb (7,120 kg) Powerplant 1 × Wright J65 turbojet Dry thrust 7,800 lbf (34.70 kN) Thrust with afterburner 10,300 lbf (45.82 kN) Performance Maximum speed 1,151 kn (1,324 mph, 2,131 km/h) Stall speed 139 kn (160 mph, 257 km/h) Range 695 nmi (800 mi, 1,290 km) Service ceiling 50,500 ft (15,500 m) Armament Guns 1 × T171 Vulcan 20 mm (.79 in) cannon (XF-104 083-1002 only) ...