Canadair CF-104
The Canadair CF-104 Starfighter (CF-111, CL-90) was a modified version of the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter supersonic
Supersonic speed is a rate of travel of an object that exceeds the speed of sound . For objects traveling in dry air of a temperature of 20 °C this speed is approximately 343 m/s, 1,125 ft/s, 768 mph or 1,235 km/h. Speeds greater than five times the speed of sound are often...

 fighter aircraft
Fighter aircraft
A fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat with other aircraft, as opposed to a bomber, which is designed primarily to attack ground targets...

 built in Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 by Canadair
Canadair Ltd. was a civil and military aircraft manufacturer in Canada. It was a subsidiary of other aircraft manufacturers, then a nationalized corporation until privatized in 1986, and became the core of Bombardier Aerospace....

 under licence. It served with the Royal Canadian Air Force
Royal Canadian Air Force
The history of the Royal Canadian Air Force begins in 1920, when the air force was created as the Canadian Air Force . In 1924 the CAF was renamed the Royal Canadian Air Force and granted royal sanction by King George V. The RCAF existed as an independent service until 1968...

 (RCAF) and later the Canadian Forces
Canadian Forces
The Canadian Forces , officially the Canadian Armed Forces , are the unified armed forces of Canada, as constituted by the National Defence Act, which states: "The Canadian Forces are the armed forces of Her Majesty raised by Canada and consist of one Service called the Canadian Armed Forces."...

 until it was replaced by the McDonnell Douglas CF-18 Hornet.

Design and development

In the late 1950s, Canada redefined its role in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) with a commitment to a nuclear
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

 strike mission. At the same time, the RCAF began to consider a replacement for the Canadair F-86 Sabre series that had been utilized as a NATO day fighter
Day fighter
A day fighter is a fighter aircraft equipped only to fight during the day. More specifically, it refers to a multi-purpose aircraft that does not include equipment for fighting at night , although it is sometimes used to refer to some interceptors as well.Examples of planes that were classified as...

. An international fighter competition involved current types in service as well as development, including the Blackburn Buccaneer
Blackburn Buccaneer
The Blackburn Buccaneer was a British low-level subsonic strike aircraft with nuclear weapon delivery capability serving with the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force between 1962 and 1994, including service in the 1991 Gulf War...

, Dassault Mirage III
Dassault Mirage III
The Mirage III is a supersonic fighter aircraft designed by Dassault Aviation during the late 1950s, and manufactured both in France and a number of other countries. It was a successful fighter aircraft, being sold to many air forces around the world and remaining in production for over a decade...

C, Fiat G.91, Grumman Super Tiger, Lockheed F-104G Starfighter, Northrop N-156 and the Republic F-105 Thunderchief. Although the RCAF had preferred the F-105 Thunderchief equipped with an Avro Canada
Avro Canada
Commonly known as Avro Canada, this company started in 1945 as an aircraft plant and became within thirteen years the third-largest company in Canada, one of the largest 100 companies in the world, and directly employing over 50,000...

 Orenda Iroquois engine, eventually the choice for a strike-reconnaissance aircraft revolved around cost as well as capability.

A Canadian government requirement for a license manufacture also favoured the Lockheed proposal due to a collaboration with Canadair based in Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

. On 14 August 1959, Canadair was selected to manufacture 200 aircraft for the RCAF under license from Lockheed. In addition, Canadair was contracted to manufacture wingsets, tail assemblies and rear fuselage sections for 66 Lockheed-built F-104Gs destined for the West German Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....


Canadair's internal designation was CL-90 while the RCAF's version was initially designated CF-111, then changed to CF-104. Although basically similar to the F-104G, the CF-104 was optimized for the nuclear strike/reconnaissance role, fitted with R-24A NASARR equipment dedicated to the air-to-ground mode only as well as having provision for a ventral reconnaissance pod equipped with four Vinten cameras. Other differences included retaining the removable refuelling probe, initial deletion of the fuselage-mounted 20 mm (.79 in) M61A1 cannon (replaced by an additional fuel cell) and the main undercarriage members being fitted with longer-stroke liquid springs and larger tires. The first flight of a Canadian-built CF-104 (s/n 12701) occurred on 26 May 1961. The Canadair CF-104 production was 200 aircraft with an additional 140 F-104Gs produced for Lockheed.

Operational history

The CF-104 entered Canadian service in March 1962. Originally designed as a supersonic interceptor aircraft
Interceptor aircraft
An interceptor aircraft is a type of fighter aircraft designed specifically to prevent missions of enemy aircraft, particularly bombers and reconnaissance aircraft. Interceptors generally rely on high speed and powerful armament in order to complete their mission as quickly as possible and set up...

, it was used primarily for low level strike and reconnaissance by the RCAF. Eight CF-104 squadrons were originally stationed in Europe as part of Canada's NATO commitment. This was reduced to six in 1967, with a further reduction to three squadrons in 1970. Up to 1971, this included a nuclear strike role that would see Canadian aircraft armed with US supplied nuclear weapons in the event of a conflict with Warsaw Pact
Warsaw Pact
The Warsaw Treaty Organization of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance , or more commonly referred to as the Warsaw Pact, was a mutual defense treaty subscribed to by eight communist states in Eastern Europe...


When the CF later discontinued the strike/reconnaissance role for conventional attack, the M61A1 was refitted, along with U.S. Snakeye "iron" bombs, British BL755
BL755 is a cluster bomb. Its primary targets are armored vehicles and tanks with secondary soft target capabilities.-Design:The BL755 looks like a standard 1,000 lb general purpose bomb but with a hard "saddle" on the spine for ejector release and crutching pad loads and a distinctive large...

 cluster bombs and Canadian-designed CRV-7 rocket pods. Although Canadian pilots practised air combat tactics, AIM-9 Sidewinder
AIM-9 Sidewinder
The AIM-9 Sidewinder is a heat-seeking, short-range, air-to-air missile carried mostly by fighter aircraft and recently, certain gunship helicopters. The missile entered service with United States Air Force in the early 1950s, and variants and upgrades remain in active service with many air forces...

 missiles were never carried operationally by RCAF/CF Starfighters (however, examples provided to other air forces, such as Norway and Denmark, did carry Sidewinders in a twin-rail centreline station and wingtip rails). The CF-104D two-seater did not normally carry any armament, with the exception of a centreline practice bomb dispenser.

Over the course of the aircraft's lifespan in service, some 110 were lost to accidents, earning the CF-104 the nickname of "Widowmaker" or "Lawn Dart" in the air force.

In the late 1970s, the New Fighter Aircraft program
New Fighter Aircraft program
The New Fighter Aircraft was a Canadian Forces program in the late 1970s to select a single new fighter aircraft to replace the fleet of CF-101 Voodoo interceptors, CF-104 Starfighter attack aircraft and CF-5 Freedom Fighter light fighters...

 was launched to find a suitable replacement for the CF-104, as well as the McDonnell CF-101 Voodoo and the Canadair CF-5. The winner of the competition was the CF-18 Hornet, which began to replace the CF-104 in 1982. All of the CF-104s were retired from service by the Canadian Forces by 1987, with most of the remaining aircraft given to Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...



CF-104: Single-seat fighter-bomber version for the RCAF.
CF-104D: Two-seat training version for the RCAF.


  • Royal Canadian Air Force
    Royal Canadian Air Force
    The history of the Royal Canadian Air Force begins in 1920, when the air force was created as the Canadian Air Force . In 1924 the CAF was renamed the Royal Canadian Air Force and granted royal sanction by King George V. The RCAF existed as an independent service until 1968...

  • Canadian Forces
    Canadian Forces
    The Canadian Forces , officially the Canadian Armed Forces , are the unified armed forces of Canada, as constituted by the National Defence Act, which states: "The Canadian Forces are the armed forces of Her Majesty raised by Canada and consist of one Service called the Canadian Armed Forces."...

    • No. 417 Squadron RCAF
      No. 417 Squadron RCAF
      417 Combat Support Squadron is an Air Force unit with the Canadian Forces. Based at CFB Cold Lake it provides helicopter support to the base operations. Since 1994, it has also provided Search and Rescue.-History:...

    • No. 421 Squadron RCAF
    • No. 422 Squadron RCAF
    • No. 427 Squadron RCAF
    • No. 430 Squadron RCAF
    • No. 434 Squadron RCAF
      No. 434 Squadron RCAF
      No. 434 Squadron was a Royal Canadian Air Force bomber squadron that flew bombing operations over Europe during World War II and was later a post-war fighter and combat support unit. It was last disbanded in 2000.-Second World War:...

    • No. 439 Squadron RCAF
    • No. 441 Squadron RCAF
    • No. 444 Squadron RCAF

  • Royal Danish Air Force
    Royal Danish Air Force
    The Royal Danish Air Force is the air force of Denmark with the capability to undertake homeland defense and homeland security roles as well international operations.-History:...

    • The Royal Danish Air Force operated 15 surplus CF-104 aircraft and seven CF-104D aircraft.

  • Royal Norwegian Air Force
    Royal Norwegian Air Force
    The Royal Norwegian Air Force is the air force of Norway. It was established as a separate arm of the Norwegian armed forces on 10 November 1944. The RNoAF's peace force is approximately 1,430 employees . 600 personnel also serve their draft period in the RNoAF...

    • The Royal Norwegian Air Force operated 22 surplus CF-104 aircraft and three CF-104D aircraft.

  • Turkish Air Force
    Turkish Air Force
    The Turkish Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the Turkish Armed Forces. It ranks 3rd in NATO in terms of fleet size behind the USAF and Royal Air Force with a current inventory of 798 aircraft .-Initial stages:...

    • The Turkish Air Force operated 44 surplus CF-104 aircraft and six CF-104D aircraft.

Accidents and incidents

  • On 22 May 1983, during an airshow at the Rhein-Main Air Base
    Rhein-Main Air Base
    Rhein-Main Air Base was a U.S. Air Force / NATO military airbase near the city of Frankfurt am Main, Germany. It occupied the south side of Frankfurt International Airport. Its airport codes are discontinued....

    , a Canadian CF-104 Starfighter crashed onto a nearby road, hitting a car and killing all passengers, a vicar's family of five. The pilot was able to eject.

Aircraft on display

  • CF-104 Turkish Air Force 63-899 on display at Krumovo.

  • CF-104, Royal Canadian Air Force 104783 - Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum
    Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum
    The Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum is a Canadian aerospace museum located in the Halifax Regional Municipality in the province of Nova Scotia.It is the only museum devoted to preserving all aspects of Atlantic Canada's aviation heritage.-History:...

  • CF-104D Turkish Air Force 64-658 on display at Toronto/Markham Airport
    Toronto/Markham Airport
    Markham Airport or Toronto/Markham Airport, , is a private airport operating north of Markham, Ontario, Canada near Toronto.The airport is owned and operated by Markham Airport Inc. and owned by a numbered Ontario company owned by the Thomson family of Toronto. The airport is not part of the...

  • CF-104 Turkish Air Force 63-893 on display at Szolnok Aviation Museum in Szolnok.

  • CF-104 Turkish Air Force 62-743 on display at Mafrak.

  • CF-104, Norwegian Air Force 730 on display at Sola Aviation Museum, Stavanger
    Stavanger is a city and municipality in the county of Rogaland, Norway.Stavanger municipality has a population of 126,469. There are 197,852 people living in the Stavanger conurbation, making Stavanger the fourth largest city, but the third largest urban area, in Norway...

    , Norway
    Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

  • CF-104D Norwegian Air Force 637 was under restoration in 2008 to airworthy condition by a team of volunteers in Norway.

  • CF-104 Turkish Air Force 62-862 on display at Karachi.

  • CF-104 Turkish Air Force 62-711 on display at Turkish Air Force Aviation Museum, Etimesgut, Ankara.
  • CF-104 Turkish Air Force 62-713 on display at Diyarbakir Airbase.
  • CF-104 Turkish Air Force 62-716 on display at Turkish Air Force Aviation Museum, Yesilkoy, Istanbul.
  • CF-104 Turkish Air Force 62-739 on display at Erhac Airbase, Malatya.
  • CF-104 Turkish Air Force 62-760 on display at city center, Turgutlu, Manisa.
  • CF-104 Turkish Air Force 62-770 on display at Turkish Air Force Aviation Museum, Etimesgut, Ankara.
  • CF-104 Turkish Air Force 62-786 on display at city park, Gaziemir, Izmir.
  • CF-104 Turkish Air Force 62-808 on display on the gate at Diyarbakir Airbase.
  • CF-104 Turkish Air Force 62-810 on display at Turkish Air Force Air Logistic Command, Etimesgut, Ankara.
  • CF-104 Turkish Air Force 62-841 on display at Air Park, Kütahya.
  • CF-104 Turkish Air Force 62-869 on display at Ordu.
  • CF-104 Turkish Air Force 62-873 on display at Akinci AB, Ankara.
  • CF-104 Turkish Air Force 62-891 on display at gateguard Diyarbakir Airbase.
  • CF-104D Turkish Air Force 62-642 on display at Turkish Air Force Aviation Museum, Etimesgut, Ankara.


The Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 based civilian Starfighters Demo team currently operate one CF-104D and two CF-104 aircraft under the company RLB Aviation Inc.

Mark Sherman from Phoenix, Arizona owns and operates a single CF-104D under the company Fuel Fresh Inc.

Specifications (CF-104)

See also

External links

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