F-104 in Germany myths about the widowmaker
Posted: Wed 6 Jun 2018 09:39
Stats of F-104 fleet year by year (airframe loss)/(100k hour). The values are read from a column diagram which shows the (airfrmae loss)/(10k hour) therfore can be little inaccuracy in values but clearly shows the history and debunks some urban legends.
1961 - 85
1963 - 165 (!!)
1963 - 30 (what a statistical deviation...!)
1964 - 63
1965 - 87
1966 - 30
1967 - 27
1968 - 29
1969 - 20
1970 - 29
1971 - 31
1972 - 11
1973 - 18
1974 - 16
1975 - 15
1976 - 16
1977 - 15
1978 - 20
1979 - 17
1980 - 19
1981 - 17
1982 - 24 (after being below 20 for 10+ years)
1983 - 7 (!!) Was as good as initally F-16A or F-15A
1984 - 23 (again higher the 7 was only "anomaly)
1985 - 18
The trendline goes below 20/100k but it does not reach because of the end of service and some very early bad years. The calculated average for the whole service is 33,28/100k hours but the introduction of F-104G was a bad idea the jumping from F-86 to F-104 (as Hartmann said) especially as a low level strike fighter...
Average is 20/100k hours if we delete the first 5 years which was the very painful transitional period. In case only the first 3 years is deleted 25/100k is the avarge. So comparing to an F-4 and 4th gen fighters is maybe a widowmaker but comparing to Su-9 or early MiG-21s and other Soviet fighters in the era F-104G was not so a bad as many poeple think. The Soviet fighters rarely flew low level strike and they had similar or worse stat comparing to F-104G. The stats of Starfighter was acceptable after the first 10 years and was better what HUN had with MiG-21s even the best version. Germany acquired 914 F-104s and lost 292 of them. As fleet loss percentage this is also not bad comparing to Soviet jets. For ex. 1/3 or Su-9s were destroyed by engine fire and 1/3 chrashed and they were not used for 20+ years in massive scale...
32 pilots died in total from 83 ejections. 65 different variants of MiG-21s were lost.
32/61 = 50%
In German service, 292 of 916 Starfighters crashed, claiming the lives of 115 pilots.
115/292 = 39%
GER F-104Gs had better pilot attrition rate than HUN MiG-21s while nobody ever called widowmaker the MiG-21...
USAF stat you can find F-4 or even older airframe for comparison.