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Challenger DS Pack
This page is about the Japanese jet fighter F-104J. For other versions, see F-104 (Family).
GarageImage F-104J.jpg
ArtImage F-104J.jpg
10.3 10.3 10.0
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Purchase:520 000 Specs-Card-Lion.png
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The F-104J Starfighter is a rank VI Japanese jet fighter with a battle rating of 10.3 (AB/RB) and 10.0 (SB). It was introduced in Update "Starfighters".

General info

Flight performance

Arrestor gear
Accelerates braking by grabbing the brake cable on the deck of the aircraft carrier
Air brakes
Allows you to dramatically reduce the flight speed by releasing special flaps
Drogue parachute
Reduces braking distance when landing on any runway
Max speed
at 15 240 m2 387 km/h
Turn time34 s
Max altitude16 000 m
EngineGeneral Electric J79-GE-11
Cooling systemAir
Take-off weight24 t

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
Stock 2,343 2,317 16000 34.5 35.1 230.5 222.5 850
Upgraded 2,431 2,387 35.5 34.0 292.0 260.0


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
Combat Take-off Landing + -
1,527 546 N/A 827 444 ~12 ~5
Optimal velocities (km/h)
Ailerons Rudder Elevators Radiator
< 720 < 950 < 800 N/A

Engine performance

Engine Aircraft mass
Engine name Number Basic mass 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
Maximum engine thrust @ 0 m (RB/SB) 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
(0 km/h)
8,391 kgf
(1,200 km/h)
1.14 1.04 0.95 0.91 0.35

Survivability and armour

Crew1 person
Speed of destruction
Structural0 km/h
Gear546 km/h

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

Repair costBasic → Reference
AB3 019 → 4 003 Sl icon.png
RB8 795 → 11 662 Sl icon.png
SB10 080 → 13 366 Sl icon.png
Total cost of modifications170 000 Rp icon.png
263 000 Sl icon.png
Talisman cost2 600 Ge icon.png
Crew training150 000 Sl icon.png
Experts520 000 Sl icon.png
Aces2 400 Ge icon.png
Research Aces950 000 Rp icon.png
Reward for battleAB / RB / SB
110 / 300 / 600 % Sl icon.png
220 / 220 / 220 % Rp icon.png
Flight performance Survivability Weaponry
Mods aerodinamic fuse.png
Fuselage repair
11 000 Rp icon.png
17 000 Sl icon.png
350 Ge icon.png
Mods jet compressor.png
13 000 Rp icon.png
20 000 Sl icon.png
410 Ge icon.png
Mods aerodinamic wing.png
Wings repair
11 000 Rp icon.png
17 000 Sl icon.png
350 Ge icon.png
Mods jet engine.png
11 000 Rp icon.png
17 000 Sl icon.png
350 Ge icon.png
Mods g suit.png
18 000 Rp icon.png
28 000 Sl icon.png
570 Ge icon.png
Mods armor frame.png
13 000 Rp icon.png
20 000 Sl icon.png
410 Ge icon.png
Mods armor cover.png
18 000 Rp icon.png
28 000 Sl icon.png
570 Ge icon.png
Mods ammo.png
11 000 Rp icon.png
17 000 Sl icon.png
350 Ge icon.png
Mod arrow 1.png
Mods pilon block rocket.png
11 000 Rp icon.png
17 000 Sl icon.png
350 Ge icon.png
Mod arrow 0.png
Mods air to air missile.png
13 000 Rp icon.png
20 000 Sl icon.png
410 Ge icon.png
Mod arrow 0.png
Mods weapon.png
11 000 Rp icon.png
17 000 Sl icon.png
350 Ge icon.png
Mods air to air missile.png
11 000 Rp icon.png
17 000 Sl icon.png
350 Ge icon.png
Mod arrow 0.png
Mods air to air missile.png
18 000 Rp icon.png
28 000 Sl icon.png
570 Ge icon.png


Offensive armament

Main article: M61A1 (20 mm)

The F-104J is armed with:

  • 1 x 20 mm M61A1 cannon, nose-mounted (750 rpg)

Suspended armament

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

1 2 3 4 5 6
Hardpoints F-104J.png
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
Max Azimuth
Scan Angle
Max Elevation
Scan Angle
37,000 m
18,000 m ±45.0° ±43.0°
NASARR - Target Tracking Radar
Azimuth Tracking
Elevation Tracking
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 JASDF, 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:

     SpeedMach 2
   Climb rate15,500 m within 8 minutes
    Ceiling18,000 m
  Combat range380 km

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 「乗ってみなければわからない」. 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 air force of Taiwan.



See also

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.

External links

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (三菱重工業株式会社)
Ground Vehicles 
APC  Type 60 · SUB-I-II
IFV  Type 89
MCV  Type 16 (P) · Type 16 (FPS) · Type 16
SPH  Type 75 · Type 99
SPAAG  Type 87
Main Battle Tanks 
Type 61  ST-A1 · ST-A2 · ST-A3 · Type 61
Type 74  ST-B2 · 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
Air Vehicles 
Jet Fighters 
F-86  F-86F-30 ▅* · F-86F-40 ▅* · F-86F-40 JASDF▅*
F-104  F-104J*
F-1  T-2 Early · T-2 · F-1
F-4  F-4EJ Phantom II* · F-4EJ ADTW* · F-4EJ Kai Phantom II*
F-15  F-15J*
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Patrol Boats (PT) 
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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
Experimental  Kikka
Reconnaissance  R2Y2 Kai V1 · R2Y2 Kai V2 · R2Y2 Kai V3
Fighters  Ki-200
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
Thailand  ▄F-5E FCU