Late in 1959, Canadair was selected to produce 200 strike/reconnaissance versions of the Lockheed designed F-104 Starfighter. Designated as the CF 104, the aircraft was to replace the F-86 Sabres being flown by the RCAF in NATO. The aircraft was known by some flattering and some not so flattering nicknames (i.e. the “missile with the man in it” referred to the design while “flying lawn dart and widow maker” referred to the high number of crashes the type suffered in the early years.)
The CF-104’s were modified with specialized equipment and other changes to make it suitable for its role in the CF. The aircraft was capable of nuclear strikes and could also be used for reconnaissance work with packs carried in a special pod under the fuselage. Originally the standard M-61 gun pod was replaced by a 120 US gallon (455 litres) fuel tank, but later in its CF career the aircraft was returned to a conventional strike role and the 20 mm cannon were reinstalled.
Although never actively based in Comox, the CF-104 often visited the then CFB Comox from its primary base CFB Cold Lake, Alberta.
Manufacturer: Canadair license-built version of Lockheed design
Designation: CF-104 A/D
Model No: F-104G /CL-90
Marks: Mk I (A), Mk II (Dual)
No: 200 RCAF/140 for MDAD/38 Duels
Comox Squadron/Unit Use: Nil
Service: RCAF, CF
Crew / Passengers: one or two crew in ejection seats
Power plant: one General Electric (Orenda) J-79-OEL-7 turbojet with afterburning (10,000 lbst to 15,800 lbst in afterburner)
Max Speed: Mach 2.0, 1,450 mph (2,334 km/h)
Cruising Speed: Mach 1.2, 915 mph
Service Ceiling: 58,000 ft. (17,660 m)
Range: 2,180 miles (3,510 km)
Empty: 14,082 lb. (6,387 kg)
Gross: 28,779 lbs. (13,510 kg)
Span: 21 ft. 11 in (6.68 m) w/o tip tanks
Length: 54 ft. 9 in (16.69 m)
Height: 13 ft. 6 in (4.11 m)
Wing area: 196 sq. ft. (18.21 sq. m)
Armament: One 20 mm M61A-1 cannon. Bombs, rockets, or fuel tanks on under wing pylons. Missiles or fuel tanks on wingtips.
Original Cost: $1,200,000 single, $1,400,000 dual
Facts verified by Brian O’Cain-Aircraft Archivist, CAFM.