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Warbird Tech Series No. 38

Lockheed F-104 Starfighter


by Jim Upton



S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number: Warbird Tech Series Volume 38
ISBN: 1-58007-069-8
Media: Soft cover; 8½" x 11" in portrait format, 104 pages plus covers
Price: USD$16.95 available online from Specialty Press
Review Type: First Read
Advantages: Good overall history. Nice color section
Disadvantages: Some missing text?
Recommendation: Recommended


Reviewed by Dave Williams

Warbird Tech F-104 Starfighter is available online from Squadron.com



The newest book in the Warbird Tech series by Specialty Press covers the F-104 Starfighter. Broken down into 8 chapters, the book covers the design and development of the F-104 and its systems, the different operators and versions of the Starfighter, and various programs the aircraft was involved in. Also included is an 8-page color section and appendices covering items such as serial numbers, an abbreviated modeler’s section, and a timeline of key dates in F-104 history.

Chapter One covers the design and development of the F-104. Included are drawings of various design proposals which led to the final F-104 design we are so familiar with. Interestingly, some of the earlier designs look virtually nothing like the final aircraft.

Chapter Two provides technical descriptions of the aircraft and systems such as the engine, avionics, and inlets.

Chapter Three is entitled “Flight Test” and provides anecdotes of various tests performed to ascertain the aircraft’s performance characteristics. The F-104’s unique design resulted in a number of issues which had to be ironed out prior to the aircraft being let loose on service pilots and some of the more interesting tests are recounted in this section.

Chapter Four provides a breakdown of the various F-104 models from the XF-104 to the F-104S.

Chapter Five discusses the F-104’s internal M61 Gatling gun and the Fire Control System. One small nit is that on the last page of the chapter, page 64, the last sentence is clipped off in mid-stream.

Chapter Six provides short discussions of all the Nations which operated the F-104.

Chapter Seven is entitled “Modifications”. Besides covering the well-known NF-104A Aerospace Trainer and ZELL (ZEro Launch Length) program, the F-104 design was used for testing an escape capsule design for use on high speed aircraft, in which the entire nose section for the F-104, including the cockpit, could be ejected in one piece in case of emergency.

Chapter Eight concludes with civilian F-104s, including the NASA birds and privately owned aircraft such as the blue and white “Svetkoff’s Starfighters, Inc.” CF-104s.

The book is profusely illustrated with between one and four black and white photos or drawings on each page. In addition, the 8-page color section located in the center of the book provides a good cross section of the various color schemes applied to both military and civilian F-104s.

Overall, a worthwhile book for Starfighter fans.


Dave Williams
IPMS/USA 19050

Thanks to Karin of Specialty Press for the review sample

Review Copyright © 2003 by Dave Williams
This Page Created on 30 November, 2003
Last updated 30 November, 2003

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