F-104G Starfighters for Italy

Last revised December 12, 1999






In the mid-1960s, the Aeronautica Militare Italiana (AMI) received 125 Fiat-built F-104Gs (including 11 RF-104Gs) plus 12 Lockheed-built TF-104Gs and 16 Fiat-built TF-104Gs. The F-104Gs and TF-104Gs first entered service at Grosseto with 4o Stormo in 1963. These aircraft ultimately equipped four interceptor/fighter-bomber gruppi, two reconnaissance gruppi, and one training gruppo.

Seven Lockheed TF-104Gs were transferred to the AMI from the Luftwaffe in 1984/85, and at least two of them were refurbished by Aeritalia, but the others were probably cannibalized for spares. AMI serials of the 125 Fiat-built F-104Gs were as follows: MM6501 (pattern aircraft), MM6502/MM6599, MM6601, MM6603, MM6608/MM6611, MM6631/MM6638, MM6643/MM6651, and MM6658/MM6660. The AMI serials tracked with Fiat's company numbers, and the gaps in the sequence correspond to machines which were delivered to Germany and Holland. Serials of the 12 Lockheed-built TF-104G were MM54226 to MM54237. The 16 Aeritalia-built TF-104Gs were MM54250 to MM54265. Serials of the seven ex-Luftwaffe TF-104Gs were 5738 (ex 27+36), 5739 (ex 27+37) 5743 (ex 27+41), 5902 (ex 27+43), 5919 (ex 27+89), 5946 (ex 28 +16), 5949 (ex 28+19)

In late 1965, the 154o Grouppo based at Ghedi received a NATO Flight Safety Award after it had flown more than 5000 hours on the F-104G without a single accident. However, like the air forces of other European operators of the Starfighter, the accident rate of AMI single-seat F/RF-104Gs and two-seat TF-104Gs was fairly high, with about 37.5 percent of the force having been lost.

The AMI continued to use the F/RF-104G in large numbers long after other European air forces had passed their Starfighters along to other users. Beginning in 1968, the F-104G was supplemented by the much improved F-104S. The AMI's last F-104G fighter-bomber unit (154o Gruppo/6o Stormo) exchanged its Starfighters for Panavia Tornadoes from early 1983, leaving 28o Gruppo/3o Stormo as the last operator of earlier-generation Starfighters with Orpheus sensor pod-equipped RF-104Gs. These were finally withdrawn from service in June of 1993 The TF-104G two-seaters remained in limited service in 1995. Although most of the earlier-generation F-104G Starfighters are gone from AMI service, substantial numbers of the later F-104S type remain in service today.

The following AMI units have operated the F/TF/RF-104G:


Sources:


  1. The Lockheed F-104G/CF-104, Gerhard Joos, Aircraft in Profile No. 131, Doubleday, 1969.

  2. The World's Great Interceptor Aircraft, Gallery Books, 1989.

  3. Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, Steve Pace, Motorbooks International, 1992.

  4. Lockheed Aircraft Since 1913, Rene J. Francillon, Naval Institute Press, 1987.

  5. Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, John Fricker, Wings of Fame, Vol 2, Aerospace Publishing Ltd, 1996.