|Full-scale XF-104 mock-up was not only an accurate and highly detailed rendition of the aircraft, but also a masterpiece of woodworking and a testimnial to the art of carpentry. |
Orinal intake configuration that preceeded the later half-cone desing is noteworthy
|Construction of the first prototype XF-104 (53-7786) began in the summer of 1953 at Lockheed's Burbank, California factory. |
This aircraft initially was powered by a non-afterburning Buick-built Wright J65-B-3 turbojet. The air intakes of the
XF-104s were of fixed geometry without presence of half-cones, since the J65-powered aircraft was incapable of
Mach-2 performance. The air intakes were similar to those of the F-94C, being mounted slightly proud of the fuselage,
with an inner splitter plate for the boundary layer bleed.
|The first XF-104 (53-7786) was ready in early 1954, and was trucked out to Edward's AFB in high secrecy during the |
night of February 24-25. Veteran Lockheed test pilot A. W. "Tony" LeVier was to do the initial testing.
Taxiing runs began on February 27, 1954. On February 28, 1954, the XF-104 made an scheduled short hop of about
five feet off the ground during a high speed taxiing run. Its first official flight took place on March 4, 1954.
During that flight, the landing gear would not retract. After a low-speed flight of about 20 minutes, Tony LeVier landed.
The problem turned out to be low pressure in the hydraulic system, which was fairly easy to correct. However, inclement weather kept the XF-104 on the ground until March 26, when flights three and four were carried out with the landing gear retracting adequately.
|The XF-104 could not exceed the speed of sound in level flight when powered by the non afterburning J65-B-3 turbojet. |
However, Mach 1 could be easily exceeded during a slight descent, and the transition to supersonic speed was quite smooth.
In July of 1954, the J65-B-3 non-afterburning engine was replaced by the long-awaited afterburning J65-W-7 turbojet
rated at 7800 lb.s.t. dry and 10,200 lb.s.t. with afterburner. With the afterburning engine installed, the performance of the XF-104 was markedly improved.
Maximum level speed was Mach 1.49 at 41,000 feet, and an altitude of 55,000 feet could be attained in a zoom climb.
Mach 1.6 could be attained in a dive.
XF-104 number 1 was lost in a crash on July 11, 1957, when it developed an uncontrollable tail flutter while flying chase for F-104A flight tests.
The entire tail group was ripped from the airframe, and Lockheed test pilot Bill Park was forced to eject.
No XF-104 prototype survives today.
53-7786/7787 Lockheed XF-104 Starfighter
Test Pilot Herman "Fish" Salmon climbing into the cockpit of the XF-104