|This page is about the Japanese jet fighter F-104J. 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-104J Starfighter, nicknamed 栄光 (Eiko, lit. Glory) or 三菱鉛筆 (Mitsubishi Pencil) by JASDF pilots, was the imported and license-produced F-104G solely for the JASDF as the winner of the F-X program, which sought for new interceptors against Soviet bomber fleets. The F-X project originally opted for a Japanese version of the F-100 from North American Aviation, but this was cancelled due to the lack of need for a fighter-bomber. Later in 1959, after evaluations on supersonic performance of available jets of the era, the JASDF eventually opted to introduce the F-104G but removing ground-attacking equipment from the Starfighter, which in turn became what's known as the F-104J and was produced by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) domestically. As future jets like the F-4EJ and F-15J joined the JASDF between 1970s to 1980s, as well as the infamous reliability of Starfighters both domestically and overseas, the JASDF phased out the fleet of F-104Js after 1986. Some of these jets were supplied to the ROCAF under Project Alishan #9 (阿里山9號計劃) after they returned to USA (F-104Js were property of both the USAF and JASDF), while some were modified into UF-104J target drones for combat training.
Introduced in Update "Starfighters", the F-104J was the main interceptor of the JASDF with precise ground-attack capabilities removed. Although being known as a jet with poor manoeuvre capabilities at low speed, with its high top-speed and sufficient missile payload, players can certainly cause major troubles to enemy aircraft and enemy attackers/bombers will need to think twice before entering the combat area.
The F-104J's performance can be summarised in one word: speed. For it to work effectively, you must be fast. Below 1,000 km/h, your elevator will be ineffective for any combat manoeuvres. Though it may be helped by the deployment of combat or takeoff flaps as speed allows, even those will not be able to keep up with the other aircraft it faces at its battle rating. This being said, the aircraft is very responsive overall, especially in the roll aspect.
The short wings must be discussed with some nuance. Though they allow for great roll authority, their effectiveness at low speeds is severely limited. Below 6-800 km/h, you will find that level flight is difficult, if not impossible. Due to this, a very high landing speed is required, which amplifies small mistakes. Even with the perfect pilot, landing this aircraft every time is going to be a challenge.
Finally, the aircraft is only fast in a straight line. When turning, it loses significant speed, often losing any energy advantage it may have had before the turn.
|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 aircraft has some survivability, although it should be noted that due to its small size, any hits to the rear of the plane are very likely to cause engine damage, which will be problematic due to the horrible gliding ability of this aircraft. The structure, however, makes it difficult to knock out the pilot from behind. Also, due to the high tail structure, it is easy to destroy the tail entirely, which will result in a near-total loss of control. Though the flaps may be utilized to some extent, at lower speeds, they will falter, making it very hard to take a damaged aircraft back to the runway.
When a wing is fully lost, the aircraft will suffer from an extreme roll that may only be countered by using the rudder and remaining aileron simultaneously. At this point, the aircraft is practically impossible to land and should be considered lost.
The plane also has no armour protection.
Modifications and economy
The F-104J is armed with:
- 1 x 20 mm M61A1 cannon, nose-mounted (750 rpg)
The F-104J can be outfitted with the following ordnance presets:
- Without load
- 2 x AIM-9B Sidewinder missiles
- 4 x AIM-9B Sidewinder missiles
- 4 x AIM-9E Sidewinder missiles
- 4 x AIM-9P Sidewinder missiles
- 14 x Hydra-70 M247 rockets
Custom loadout options
|Hydra-70 M247 rockets||7||7|
|AIM-9B Sidewinder missiles||1||1||1||1|
|AIM-9E Sidewinder missiles||1||1||1||1|
|AIM-9P Sidewinder missiles||1||1||1||1|
Usage in battles
The F-104J is a difficult aircraft to fly and be competitive in, without a doubt. It requires a completely unique set of tactics and manoeuvres that must be utilized without fail, or it will result in a loss. The F-104J should not be intentionally placed in a dogfighting scenario. In the overwhelming majority of situations, you will lose the engagement due to your inferior mobility at all speeds. Though it is possible to do such things, and it is up to the pilot's judgment on whether or not it will work out in a win, it is unlikely to happen. Particularly, there are two situations that the pilot should be aware of.
The first is the reversal. Due to the great manoeuvrability advantage of most other aircraft at your battle rating, you will often find yourself with an enemy aircraft behind you in seconds. If you have the energy advantage, do not panic. Chances are, you can successfully escape. However, if not, you should panic because the enemy will likely fire air-to-air missiles until your speed is sufficiently reduced to either result in a missile or gun kill.
The second is the failure of the classic "boom and zoom" tactic, where the pilot will engage an enemy with less altitude and speed than them and regain their lost altitude after the attack. This will often fail in this aircraft due to the poorer energy retention in a climb and the fact that air-to-air missiles will often engage you. You should wait before the enemy is at a safe distance before resetting your altitude in this situation.
Outside of simply keeping speed up, typically above 1,000 km/h, the plane should fly in a straight line as much as possible, as manoeuvring will bleed speed rapidly and further hinder the aircraft's effectiveness in battle.
Overall, the F-104J can be a serious threat to the enemy when used correctly, though it is easily countered in some situations. The 20 mm cannon can have 750 rounds and a good impact on the target, and its AIM-9P missiles are very effective at killing enemy jets.
The F-104J is equipped with a 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
- Good top speed and acceleration
- Great rate of climb
- Powerful M61 cannon with high fire rate, damage and velocity
- Good roll rate
- Can carry a total of four potent AIM-9P air-to-air missiles
- Very poor overall manoeuvrability and terrible manoeuvrability at low speeds
- Bleeds off airspeed quickly in sustained turns
- Only 750 rounds of cannon ammo, trigger discipline is a must
- Very limited air-to-ground ordnance options (only a small amount of unguided rockets), and no ballistic computer
- Lack of flare/chaff countermeasures is a major handicap as the IR missiles the F-104J commonly faces are extremely difficult for it to dodge without flares
The F-104J was a specialized interceptor version of the F-104G for the , built under license by Mitsubishi for the air-superiority role; it was armed with a cannon and up to six Sidewinders (evidence shows it only ever carrying 4 in active operation) but had no strike capability. Called Eiko (栄光, Glory) and sometimes nicknamed by pilots as the Mitsubishi Pencil, they served from October 1962 to 1986, losing only 3 airplanes, including a mid-air collision accident. Seven air-superiority squadrons used them: 201, 202, 203, 204, 205, 206, 207. Japanese F-104s faced intrusive Soviet airplanes during this long service.
With Lockheed gaining ties with the JASDF after introducing the T-33 Shooting Star trainer-jet for the Japanese Airforce. Considering Japan didn't massively import airplanes from the US and with an upcoming next generation of jet planes that would replace the Japanese F-86s by F-100s from North American Aviation made it quite a competition for Lockheed to sell their product instead.
In 1957 Japan sent a investigation team to the USA to wage their options and viable planes for the task at hand. With the increase of Soviet bombers and their potential threat towards Japan and its airspace, the qualifications of the planes being set at:
Speed ≥Climb rate ≥ within 8 minutes Ceiling ≥ Combat range ≥
4 American jets could meet the requirement, and these were: NAA F-100, Convair F-102, Northrop F-5 and Lockheed F-104. At the time, only the F-100 was proven and in use by the US Air Force, the F-5 was still being designed, the F-104 just made its maiden test flight, and the F-102 was the most expensive. Out of this, it seemed like the easiest and best option would be working with North American Aviation as they already had close ties with Mitsubishi considering they licensed their previous era of jets being the F-86 and announced the proposal of the F-100J, an all-weather interceptor variant with nose-mounted radar especially for the JASDF.
On the 13th of September of the same year, the investigation team returned to Japan and submitted their report, but conclusions weren't specified and postponed. It was rumoured that the F-100J would have a short-run production until a full conclusion was made on which jet Japan's next generation of the air-defence jet would be. Still, this plan was fully taken off the table by the then prime minister, Nobusuke Kishi, which dubbed the F-100J as a "Fighter-Bomber" that Japan's defensive nation didn't need.
In January 1958, the chief of the JASDF, Sadamu Sanagi, had conducted a selection from going to America and submitted a report after returning home. In the report, the candidate aircraft were narrowed down to F-104 and G-98J (planned variant of the F11F-1 Super Tiger). Accidents with the F-104 just deployed to the US Air Force. The fact that the aircraft required a 3,000-metre runway and insufficient data link capacity made the option clear for the Defense Agency and decided to adopt the G-98J-11 in 1958.
However, a fair share of criticism for adopting a vehicle that hadn't been proven yet and was still in its development stage made the Agency re-evaluate their choice and eventually withdraw it after a quote of another Chief of staff of the JASDF, Minoru Genda, saying. He was flown to America to test this new variant of the G-98 and concluded that the G-98 is a Mach 1 class aircraft that was forcibly raised to a Mach 2 class, it might have great subsonic performance and acceleration, but this was neglected once it actually broke the sound barrier due to the swept-wing design.
On the contrary, the F-104 had a straight wing design creating higher drag at subsonic speeds and better supersonic acceleration and manoeuvrability, making the difference in performance between the two very clear. After all the negotiating and carefully considering the options, they decided that it would be better to choose the F-104. It filled the role of Interceptor at Mach 2 better than the G-98 and placed an order of 180 Fighters and 20 Trainers.
- Operational history
The M-2 bombing computer was removed from the F-104J in response to Japan's demand for a sole interceptor, and it was armed with a JM61 Vulcan cannon and AIM-9B/E/P Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. The Vulcan cannon was not initially planned to be equipped, and 180 contracted aircraft have been manufactured unequipped. Later, a Vulcan gun was installed, but of the 210 F-104Js in total, only around 160 were equipped. The muzzle of the unequipped aircraft was blocked, and there was a spare fuel tank in the empty space instead.
Twenty-two Japanese F-104s were eventually converted to UF-104J radio-controlled target drones and destroyed for aerial target practice.
A total of 210 F-104J air-superiority fighters and 20 dual-control trainer F-104DJs were built, three by Lockheed, 29 by Mitsubishi from Lockheed-sourced components, and 178 by Mitsubishi. After being retired and replaced by F-15Js in Japan, the US sold 31 F-104J and 5 F-104DJ aircraft to the ROCAF to replace the remaining fleet of F-104A; due to the incompatibility of spare parts from standard F-104Gs, these obsolete airframes were soon phased out by newer jets in 1991, likely by the CKD version of F-5E produced by AIDC.
Links to the articles on the War Thunder Wiki that you think will be useful for the reader, for example:
- reference to the series of the aircraft;
- links to approximate analogues of other nations and research trees.
|Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. ()|
|Type 60 · SUB-I-II|
|Type 16 (P) · Type 16 (FPS) · Type 16|
|Main Battle Tanks|
|Type 61||ST-A1 · ST-A2 · ST-A3 · Type 61|
|Type 74||ST-B1 · Type 74 (C) · Type 74 (E) · Type 74 (F) · Type 74 (G)|
|Type 90||Type 90 · Type 90 (B)|
|Type 10||TKX (P) · TKX · Type 10|
|F-86||F-86F-30 ▅* · F-86F-40 ▅* · F-86F-40 JASDF▅*|
|F-1||T-2 Early · T-2 · F-1|
|F-4||F-4EJ Phantom II* · F-4EJ ADTW* · F-4EJ Kai Phantom II*|
|Patrol Boats (PT)|
|7-Go PT-class||PT-8 (PT-808)|
|11-Go PT-class||PT-15 (PT-815)|
|Harukaze-class||JDS Harukaze (DD-101)|
|Ayanami-class||JDS Ayanami (DD-103)|
|MHI's shipyards are positioned in Kobe, Nagasaki, and Shimonoseki|
|* Licensed Production / Variants|
|See also||Mitsubishi Aircraft Company (1928-1945) · Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (1938-1945) · Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Company (1884-1945)|
|North American Aviation · Lockheed · McDonnell Aircraft Corporation|
|Japan jet aircraft|
|Reconnaissance||R2Y2 Kai V1 · R2Y2 Kai V2 · R2Y2 Kai V3|
|Fighters||F-86F-30 ▅ · F-86F-40 ▅ · F-86F-40 JASDF▅|
|F-4EJ Phantom II · F-4EJ ADTW · F-4EJ Kai Phantom II|
|Trainers||T-2 Early · T-2|