Lockheed F-104 Starfighter Single-Seat High-Speed Fighter / Interceptor Aircraft
The Lockheed F-104 Starfighter served a greater role with air forces abroad than it did with the USAF, though its operational service was not without issues.
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The Lockheed F-104 was in many ways an engineering marvel whose legacy suffered terribly due to several internal and external circumstances, so much so, in fact, that the aircraft was dubbed the unflattering name of "Widowmaker". Despite its setbacks, the aircraft was a record-setter and found a home with many an air force around the globe. The Starfighter was conceived of by Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, fabled Lockheed engineer at its "Skunk Works" facility. From the outset, the F-104 was designed as a daytime supersonic air superiority fighter.
The F-104 Starfighter came about after discussions Johnson had with United States Air Force pilots and their experiences in the Korean Air War. At the time, the Soviet Union had unveiled their feisty little jet-powered fighter - the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 "Fagot" - while the USAF and its NATO allies had to make do with early and outclassed jet-powered forms until the introduction of the North American F-86 Sabre. Though air superiority eventually found its way back into NATO control, the USAF was still left without a capable and dedicated intercepting platform to combat the new Soviet fighter types effectively. As a result, Johnson set to work in 1952 to design a new aircraft based wholly on performance. This aircraft would mate the smallest (and therefore lightest) airframe to the most technologically advanced and powerful engine available. The resulting creation became the basis for the F-104 Starfighter.