|This page is about the German jet fighter F-104G. For other versions, see F-104 (Family).|
- 1 Description
- 2 General info
- 3 Armaments
- 4 Usage in battles
- 5 History
- 6 Media
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
The F-104G Starfighter is a rank VII German jet fighter with a battle rating of 10.3 (AB), 10.7 (RB), and 10.0 (SB). It was introduced in Update "Starfighters". It is often referred to as the "missile with a man in it" or the "widow maker", the latter nickname highlighting its questionable safety record in Luftwaffe use.
The F-104G has great speed, acceleration, and climb rate due to its streamlined aerodynamics and powerful engine, the General Electric J79-GE-11; which gives thrust of up to 4,130 kgf without and 8,391 kgf with afterburner. This is achieved at the cost of low-speed handling and turning capabilities. It only turns acceptably at transsonic or supersonic speeds (around 1,000 km/h), anything below that being far below average for a jet fighter. Even then, do not try to turnfight with anything other than fellow Starfighters; even a F-4E will outturn you. The stubby wings with a low aspect ratio also contribute to poor manoeuvring energy retention, so extended turning will bleed energy quickly. The roll rate is good, which helps in defensive manoeuvres.
|Characteristics|| Max Speed
(km/h at 15,240 m)
| Max altitude
| Turn time
| Rate of climb
| Take-off run|
|Combat flaps||Take-off flaps||Landing flaps||Air brakes||Arrestor gear||Drogue chute|
|Wings (km/h)||Gear (km/h)||Flaps (km/h)||Max Static G|
|Optimal velocities (km/h)|
|< 720||< 950||< 800||N/A|
|Engine name||Number||Wing loading (full fuel)|
|General Electric J79-GE-11||1||6,552 kg||532 kg/m2|
|Engine characteristics||Mass with fuel (no weapons load)|| Max Takeoff|
|Weight (each)||Type||10m fuel||20m fuel||30m fuel||35m fuel|
|1,615 kg||Afterburning axial-flow turbojet||7,345 kg||8,057 kg||8,809 kg||9,194 kg||24,000 kg|
|Thrust to weight ratio @ 0 m (WEP)|
|Condition||100%||WEP||10m fuel||20m fuel||30m fuel||35m fuel||MTOW|
|Stationary||4,128 kgf||6,357 kgf||0.87||0.79||0.72||0.69||0.26|
|Optimal|| 4,128 kgf
| 8,391 kgf
Survivability and armour
The F-104G has no armour; be it in the form of armour plates or armoured glass. Fuel tanks are self-sealing, which is pretty much a standard feature at this rank. The F-104G also has access to countermeasures as a tier I modification (unlike Chinese F-104G) and Radar Warning Receiver as a tier IV modification.
While selecting which combination of countermeasures to use, the pilot should consider which missiles opponents are likely to use.
In Air RB, most missiles at this rank are IR tracking, which can be countered by flares. Less common types of missiles are semi-active radar homing, SARH (like AIM-7E); those are countered by chaff. Radar-guided missiles are usually used from longer distances, but they can easily lose tracking or be outmanoeuvred, even in the F-104; while IR missiles are launched from closer range and can pull more Gs, so flares are more desirable.
In Ground RB, there are fewer IR guided missiles, mainly carried by some helicopters and select SPAA such as the Type 93. The biggest threat in Ground RB comes in the form of radar-equipped SPAAs, be it armed with cannons, missiles, or both. Most enemies rely on their tracking radar in order to get lead for their guns and to comfortably track your plane with missiles. Chaff confuses tracking radar, thus increasing probability of a miss, so focusing on chaff is more useful.
Final note, if you fly with the afterburner while launching flares, missiles are going to ignore them and go straight for you.
Modifications and economy
The F-104G's engine performance is sufficient when stock, so one should go for countermeasures first. Most enemies engage with IR missiles and the F-104G simply does not have enough manoeuvrability to outturn modern ones like R-60 and AIM-9J Sidewinder. If playing in ground battles, work on unlocking the AIM-9J modification as soon as possible, as this will allow them to be carried in addition to ground ordnance. This means that the two AIM-9B modifications should be prioritised, as well as ordnance modifications to unlock the next modification tiers. Otherwise, the 2 x AIM-9J loadout is provided stock, so none of the modifications are truly vital beyond countermeasures.
|CCIP (Guns)||CCIP (Rockets)||CCIP (Bombs)||CCRP (Bombs)|
The F-104G is armed with:
- A choice between two presets:
- 1 x 20 mm M61A1 cannon, nose-mounted (750 rpg)
- 1 x 20 mm M61A1 cannon + 60 x countermeasures
The M61A1 is an excellent cannon at its rank, only disadvantages being the spool up time and limited ammo count relative to rate of fire.
Armed with anti-air belts for Air RB, even a short burst is fatal to any enemy aircraft, provided the burst connects.
The cannon excels even in Ground RB armed with armour-piercing belts, giving it 53 mm of penetration, which is enough to get through most SPAAs' and light tanks' armour and can even pierce the engine deck of T-90A (at 1,000 m/73°).
Last thing to note is that trigger discipline is a must.
The F-104G can be outfitted with the following ordnance presets:
- Without load
- 2 x AIM-9E Sidewinder missiles
- 4 x AIM-9B Sidewinder missiles
- 4 x AIM-9B FGW.2 Sidewinder missiles
- 4 x AIM-9J Sidewinder missiles
- 14 x Hydra-70 M247 rockets
- 2 x AS-20 Nord missiles
- 2 x AS-30 Nord missiles
- 3 x 500 lb LDGP Mk 82 bombs (1,500 lb total)
- 3 x 750 lb M117 cone 45 bombs (2,250 lb total)
- 3 x 1,000 lb LDGP Mk 83 bombs (3,000 lb total)
- 3 x 250 kg Matra 25E bombs (750 kg total)
- 3 x BLU-1 incendiary bombs
For Air RB, F-104G is quite limited in its options of armaments. With only two air-to-air missiles, they should not be wasted in turnfights, against agile planes, or planes that have a lot of energy. Instead, focus on enemy planes going after your teammates or planes in low energy state. Planes that lock up at higher speeds are also viable targets. The closer you get behind the enemy plane before launching, the higher your chances of hitting them are.
For Ground RB, F-104G has access to a wide arsenal of weapons.
Popular AS-20 Nords are practically flat trajectory 30 kg bombs that can be guided to target in MCLOS style. Their explosive payload leaves something to be desired, so the player needs to be really precise with their aiming. Also, F-104G gets only two of them. On the other hand, they have a launch range of 8 km.
Another option are M247 Hydra 70 rockets. While offering 290 mm of penetration, they only contain 0.9 kg of explosives and plane gets 14 x of them. Direct hits are must in order to achieve kill, and even with the help of ballistic computer, they are quite impractical at speeds in which F-104G usually operates.
With the ballistic computer, bombs become much more viable option. Turning on the ballistic computer allows the player to use arcade style crosshairs, so any pilot is capable of hitting ground targets with laser-like accuracy. F-104G is capable of carrying 3 x bombs (1 x mounted under fuselage and 2 x on wing pylons) and these are dropped individually, allowing the player in theory to achieve at least 3 kills per payload. All bombs carried by F-104G are viable, so it is up to personal preference.
Custom loadout options
|250 kg Matra 25E bombs||1||1*||1|
|500 lb LDGP Mk 82 bombs||1||1*||1|
|750 lb M117 cone 45 bombs||1||1*||1|
|1,000 lb LDGP Mk 83 bombs||1||1*||1|
|BLU-1 incendiary bombs||1||1*||1|
|Hydra-70 M247 rockets||7||7|
|AIM-9B Sidewinder missiles||1||1*||1*||1|
|AIM-9B FGW.2 Sidewinder missiles||1||1*||1*||1|
|AIM-9E Sidewinder missiles||1||1|
|AIM-9J Sidewinder missiles||1||1*||1*||1|
|AS-20 Nord missiles||1||1|
|AS-30 Nord missiles||1||1|
|Maximum permissible weight imbalance: 500 kg|
|* Ordnance on hardpoint 4 cannot by carried in conjunction with missiles on hardpoints 3/5|
Usage in battles
The F-104G should not be used in turn fighting engagements as its small wingspan and wing area does not allow the Starfighter to outturn or retain enough energy to fight any other aircraft. Instead, the Starfighter should use its high speed and engine performance to outrun most opponents. When at top speeds, the Starfighter is able to outrun short-range AAMs launched from 2.4 km at sea level and 3.5 km at higher altitudes. Flares are also available to the Starfighter which proves to be incredibly useful to pre-flare or to dodge missiles which your aircraft wouldn't normally be able to dodge without flares.
Aggressive flanking and forcing enemies to turn and dump their energy is the playstyle which all Starfighter's should be flown and the more powerful engine of the F-104G variants compared to the As and Cs allow this playstyle to be played more successfully, though you cannot outrun some fighters such as the MiG-21bis (though your wing rip speed is much higher) and the F-104S (having a much more powerful engine though also much heavier).
Do not bother with climbing in an uptier: your already bad manoeuvrability gets worse the higher you get, and without RWR and Chaff you are nothing more than target practice for F-4Es with SARH missiles. Instead, start side climbing to 2 to 3 km, then flank already engaged targets. Your speed allows you to close distance quickly and your missiles are good enough to engage distracted enemies flying in a straight line or in low energy state. Then, escape using your superior speed. Rearm, rinse and repeat.
If you get downtiered, there are few enemies that can match your speed and climb rate. Stick to boom-and-zoom tactics, watch out for other Starfighters, Harriers, Yak-38 and Hunters and use your flares to evade their missiles. Since few planes (or any at all) around BR 9.0 have RWR or flares, they should be easy prey for your Sidewinders.
The F-104G is equipped with an NASARR search and tracking radar. The radar is mounted in the nose of the aircraft.
|NASARR - Target Detection Radar|
| 37,000 m
|NASARR - Target Tracking Radar|
|18,500 m||150 m||±10.0°||±10.0°|
Pros and cons
- Great top speed and acceleration
- Great rate of climb
- Good roll rate
- Decent high-speed manoeuvrability
- Powerful M61 Vulcan cannon with a very high fire rate, great ballistics and high damage
- Wide selection of secondary ordnance, including air-to-ground AS.20 guided missiles; much better than early F-104s
- Access to four potent AIM-9J sidewinder air-to-air missiles
- Access to 60 chaff/flare countermeasures
- Very poor overall manoeuvrability and terrible low-speed manoeuvrability
- Bleeds energy quickly in sustained turn fights
- Only 750 rounds of cannon ammo; with such a high rate of fire, trigger discipline is a must
- Large turning radius due to small wing surface and high speed
- High takeoff and landing speeds
The brainchild of famed Lockheed engineer Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, after having spoken to USAF pilots about their experience in the Korean Air War, the F-104 Starfighter was innovative in both its design and speed. Developed from the start as a daytime air-superiority fighter with speed in mind, the Starfighter began life at Lockheed's famous "Skunk Works" facility in 1952 to combat the Soviet's new age of supersonic jet fighters. The aircraft would incorporate the smallest airframe, combined with the most technologically advanced turbojet at the time, to create the base of what would become the F-104.
In 1953, the USAF showed interest in the project, and proposed an open contest with Lockheed and multiple other firms for a supersonic interceptor, based wholly on performance. Lockheed evidently won the contest and approval for two prototypes to be produced and, in February of 1954, took flight for the first time. Although it was slated to be fitted with the General Electric J79 turbofan, due to shortages of the engines the prototypes were mated to a license-built variant of the British Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire engine, called the Wright XJ65-W-6, until the initial powerplant was available. The aircraft however was not without its problems, resulting in a four-year long developmental period for the aircraft. By the end of it, 17 pre-production YF-104As had been built, tested, and used to iron out any problems that would be noticeable on the final F-104. In 1958, the F-104 would finally be available for deliveries featuring some differences from the initial prototypes in the form of a longer fuselage as well as the fitting of General Electric J79GE-3 engines putting out a whopping 14,800 lbs of thrust.
From the start the F-104A smashed records, taking the record as the first operational fighter in service to succeed Mach 2, as well as going on to take the records for both altitude and speed in both the F-104A and F-104C variants respectively. On May 7th, 1958, Maj. Howard C. Johnson, in his F-104A, set a new world altitude record at 91,243 feet, and 11 days later another aircraft set a new speed record at 1,403.19 mph. The altitude record was later bested by another variant of the aircraft, the F-104C, at a whopping altitude of 103,389 feet. In the 1950s, the aircraft had come to be exactly what the public had expected a fighter of this magnitude to look like. With a long, pencil shaped fuselage with short, sharp edged wings it encompassed the era of space flight and Sci-Fi with its design. The wings were one of the most unique parts of the aircraft, as well as its long fuselage taken up mostly by its large engine and fuel storage, and were only 4 inches and its thickest. Sweeping was only utilized on the leading edge, and a slight anhedral was in place to combat "Dutch Roll", a phenomenon where the aircraft rocks side-to-side uncontrollably. The wings, while helping with supersonic flight, were harmful to ground crews, and special equipment had to be issued to service these areas.
While having a history of accidents and high pilot attrition, the aircraft was fitted with an ejection seat. Due to the great speed of the aircraft at Mach 2, it was believed that the seat wouldn't have enough time to clear the tail section in an ejection scenario. Therefore, a downward firing ejection seat known as the Stanley C-1 was fitted into early models of the F-104. While a good idea, and in theory could work, the C-1 was also believed harmful in the case of a low-altitude ejection of the aircraft. After a failed introduction of the Stanley C-2 ejection seat, the problem was finally solved by the introduction of the Martin-Baker ejection system, particularly in foreign-operator's Starfighters. Roughly 153 F-104As were produced, with 26 more being F-104B two-seat variants. The F-104A spend a short time in USAF service before being send to Air National Guard (ANG) units, which some others being sent to foreign operators which had some success in their service. In September of 1958 the USAF would get the F-104C, a dedicated fighter-bomber variant designed for the USAF's Tactical Air Command's 479th Tactical Fighter Squadron. The F-104C featured improvements over the F-104A in the form of a better fire-control system as well as hardpoints on the centerline on the belly and under the wings. The aircraft also introduced the ability to refuel mid-flight via a probe running along the right side of the aircraft, extending the reach of the aircraft somewhat. However, like most of the A models ended up, the C models were quickly transferred to Air National Guard (ANG) units both of which served until around 1975 in their service. The first combat of the F-104 however wouldn't be seen until the Vietnam War, and while not having any kills to count was successful in keeping MiGs back and from intercepting friendly aircraft. The aircraft had a short service life in this theatre, only serving in 1965, and again from 1967-1969 until the introduction of the more-capable F-4 Phantom II by which it was replaced.
The aircraft saw its best success as the F-104G, of which Germany had many. The aircraft has come to be known as the "definitive" variant of the Starfighter. Sporting a reinforced airframe, larger vertical stabilizer, uprated turbofans, and improved electronics, the aircraft was initially built for the German Luftwaffe and first flew in October 1960. The aircraft's licensing was handled by multiple manufacturers, notably Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm (MBB), FIAT, Fokker, and Sociétés Anonyme Belge de Constructions Aéronautiques (SABCA). While in German service the aircraft earned the nickname "Widowmaker" when, between the years 1961 and 1989, 292 aircraft out of 916 had crashed, with 116 pilots being lost.
- Related development
|Fighters||XP-38G · P-38E · P-38G-1 · P-38J-15 · Bong's P-38J-15 · P-38K · P-38L-5-LO · YP-38|
|Bombers||B-34 · PV-2D|
|Jet Fighters||F-80A-5 · F-80C-10|
|F-104A · F-104C|
|Export / License||A-29 · ▄Hudson Mk V|
|␗F-104A · ▀F-104G · ␗F-104G · ▅F-104J · ▄F-104S|
|See Also||Mitsubishi Heavy Industries · Fiat Aviation|
|Germany jet aircraft|
|Ar 234||Ar 234 B-2 · Ar 234 C-3|
|He 162||He 162 A-1 · He 162 A-2|
|Ho 229||Ho 229 V3|
|Me 163||Me 163 B · Me 163 B-0|
|Me 262 A||Me 262 A-1a · Me 262 A-1a/Jabo · Me 262 A-1a/U1 · Me 262 A-1/U4 · Me 262 A-2a|
|Me 262 C||Me 262 C-1a · Me 262 C-2b|
|CL-13A Mk 5 · CL-13B Mk.6 · ▀F-86K|
|F-4F Early · F-4F|
|▀MiG-21 SPS-K · ▀MiG-21MF · ▀MiG-21bis-SAU|
|▀MiG-23BN · ▀MiG-23MF · ▀MiG-23MLA|
|Britain||Sea Hawk Mk.100|
|Italy||▀G.91 R/3 · ▀G.91 R/4|