The CF-104D Starfighter is the Canadian-built version of the legendary Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, an aircraft remembered today as the first production aircraft to reach Mach 2, and the first aircraft to reach an altitude of 100,000 feet (after taking off under its own power).
It’s not often that we see 100% airworthy supersonic fighter jets come up for sale, particularly not for well under $1,000,000 USD – that’s less than 30% of the MSRP of a new Bugatti Chiron but 2,165 mph faster.
Fast Facts – The CF-104D Starfighter
- The CF-104D Starfighter was built in Canada by Canadair under license from Lockheed. 200 were built beginning in 1961, the final examples wouldn’t retire from military service until 1995.
- Nicknamed the “The Flying Phallus,” “The Lawn Dart,” and the “Aluminum Death Tube” by its pilots, the Starfighter featured a slim tubular fuselage with short wings, and a centrally-mounted General Electric J79 turbojet engine.
- The Starfighter is capable of speeds up to Mach 2 and the highest one was ever flown was 120,800 ft by USAF Major Robert W. Smith in 1963.
- The aircraft you see here is being offered for sale with an asking price of $850,000 USD, it’s completely airworthy, and it comes with a long list of spare parts including two more engines and four more afterburners.
The CF-104D Starfighter
The Canadian pilots who flew the CF-104D Starfighter quickly developed a stellar reputation thanks to their remarkably successful participation in the operational exercises held by NATO that included squadrons from Belgium, France, Germany, the United States, Britain, Canada, and the Netherlands.
Above Video: This is the hour long “Great Planes” documentary about the Starfighter, it includes a deep dive into the aircraft’s history, interviews with pilots, and ample footage of it in action.
Canadians would take a slew of wins and high placements piloting the Starfighter from the 1960s and into the 1970s. The CF-104D Starfighter proved incredibly hard to shoot down thanks to its small size, high speed, and lowp altitude capability.
“Because of our speed, size and lower level operations, no Canadian Zipper driver was ever ‘shot down’ by either air or ground threats in the three Red Flag Exercises in which we participated.” – Starfighter pilot Dave Jurkowski
A number of other nations chose the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter as their primary attack aircraft including the Netherlands, Belgium, Japan, Canada, West Germany, and Italy. By the time all production of the aircraft ceased almost 2,600 of them had been manufactured, they were used by some military forces well into the 1990s.
NASA used a number of F-104s for high-speed and altitude flight research at Dryden Flight Research Center, including the testing of pressure suits and as a launch platform for sounding rockets.
Plans are currently underway to use one of the remaining airworthy Starfighters to launch CubeSats, with a rocket attached under the wing that will be launched at high altitude – vastly reducing the amount of fuel needed to reach space.
The Lockheed engineers who developed the Starfighter designed to have optimal aerodynamics at speeds of Mach 1.2 (920 mph) and over. This is why the aircraft has such small, razor thin wings.
Power is provided by the General Electric J79 turbojet engine with side-mounted intakes, it’s capable of 11,900 lbs of thrust, with 17,900 lbs of thrust available with the afterburner.
The CF-104D Starfighter remains an incredibly popular warbird today, thanks to its famous speed and altitude achievements but also for its almost spacecraft-like design and evocative name.
Most are used in museums as static displays but there are still a few airworthy examples being flown regularly, like the example you see here.
The CF-104D Starfighter Shown Here
The Starfighter you see here has a total of 2,500 flight hours however only 400 of those hours have been accumulated since it was fully restored by Unlimited Aircraft in Chino, California.
The aircraft was restored to stock military configuration, its ejection seats remain live, and it includes all the instruments and avionics you’ll need to fly it of course. It was first delivered to the Canadian Armed Forces in 1962, then flown by them for over 10 years.
Later it would be sold to the Combat Jets Aircraft Museum (CJAM) in Chino, Caifornia, before being sold to the Combat Jets Flying Museum in Houston, Texas. On the 11th of November 1986 NASA Starfighter pilot Ed Schneider made this aircraft’s first flight under civilian registration out of the Mojave California airport.
In the years since the plane has been owned by the EAA, Experimental Aircraft Association, at Oshkosh, Wisconsin and most recently by Fuel Fresh Inc.
It’s now being sold with a long list of spares including two spare J-79 engines, four spare afterburners, 150 main landing gear tires and a couple of dozen nose tires, as well as various actuators, brakes, drag chutes, and glass.
It’s being offered for sale now through Platinum Fighter Sales with an asking price of $850,000 USD, if you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can click here to visit the listing.
Images courtesy of Keith Charlot copyright 2021©.
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