HMH's Lockheed F-104 'Starfighter'



HMH Publishing


$41.00 MSRP from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 138 pages, over 400 photos, softcover, 9.45 x 9.45 inches.
ISBN  978-2-931083-17-8

This latest edition is on the F-104 Starfighter. Originally designed as a point defense interceptor, it put the smallest practical airframe around the J-79 turbojet engine. This gave the aircraft superb speed and exemplary climbing ability, the perfect thing for an interceptor. By the time it entered service with the USAF, the Air Force had cooled on the idea of what was basically a lightweight aircraft and wanted it to do a lot more, especially in terms of carrying bomber-destroying missiles. The type was quickly foisted off on the ANG and a few foreign countries.

Back it Europe, it was time to pick a new NATO fighter to replace the F-86s and F-84s that were currently being flown. Thanks to a bit of palm greasing, the F-104 was chosen to be the next fighter bomber. This required a bit of modification of the airframe to allow it to carry more weight and it needed some new electronic systems. It proved to be a bit more of a handful than the relatively sedate Sabres and Thunderstreaks as it needed the pilot to pay attention all the time. Eventually it proved to be an excellent aircraft and served for many years with various European and Asian armed forces.

As with several of these books, the aircraft in question is no longer in service, but thanks to the fair number of airframes still flying with museums and private operators, there are no lack of photos of the plane both in terms of close-up images and operational photos.

As with other books in the series, you have various sections that include the Fuselage, Cockpit, Wings, Front and Main Landing Gear, Maintenance, Engine, Things under wings, and an In Action section of photos. All of the photos are superb and provide the sort of detail that modelers love. It all makes for a superb book not just for those who like great photos, but those who are interested in more of the detail stuff. It is a book that I can quite easily recommend to fans of the type and modelers alike.

January 2023

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Review book courtesy of  Casemate Publishing, where you can order your copy at this link.

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