From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Mike Schmitt) Newsgroups: sci.military > From: email@example.com (Andres C. Gaeris) > Yesterday I saw a "Wings" chapter dedicated to the F-104 Starfighter. > As I expected, the increible losses of about 200 F-104 planes by the > FRG Luftwaffe was commented, but no explanation was given about this weird > fact. Considering that the other operators of the Starfighter (Japan, USA > and other NATO countries) did not suffer similar levels of attrition even > with a worse mistreatment of this exigent aircraft, what it is really the > cause of these losses? Luftwaffe pilots flew the '104' like they drive their Mercedes on the Autobahn - and I'm serious. I've been in enough manuevers where Luftwaffe F104s were in support - I've been on hilltops looking "DOWN" into the cockpit - coming in so close I could tell if the pilot shaved or not - put that together with the tremendous 'wire-hazard' problem - wires and electric train wires meander through the valleys - F104 pilots like to fly "LOW" very LOW through the valleys - the have no margin for error. I've been flying border traces in my OH-58 Scout helicoptor and have F104 pilots fly UNDER me - I've seen them fly UNDER high bridges - I've seen them PULL UP to come over a hill - and almost take my antenna off my track. I'd venture to guess that the majority of accidents were pilot error. I have no facts - just judgement - observation - and many officer club discussion with 20 year old, unmarried, dashing, gallant, daring, porsche racing luftwaffe 104 drivers. (I guess this deserves one smiley :-) ) I'm sure glad we're supported by 20 year old, unmarried, dashing, gallant daring, porsche racing USAF A-10 pilots! The difference is: You can't HEAR the A-10 coming at you!!! mike schmitt
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (DRCOA1: :LENOCHS) I was stationed with the USAFE 50th Ammunition Supply Squadron near Morbach, FRG from 1976-1980 and saw German Starfighters a lot. Three events come to mind: 1) Like all NATO (and French) air forces, the Luftwaffe used our bomb dump as a practice target - completely illegally, I hasten to add. All of these air arms would practice bombing and strafing runs; a worthwhile enterprise designed to deny enemy resupply of things that go *BANG* during warfare (check the dates of aasignment - warfare was a real concept). F-104s regularly passed over the outlaying portions of the dump at under 100 ft AGL. Quite noisy. Scared the living daylights out of you the first time one made a pass like that from behind you. No warning at all and then, suddenly, ROAR. I thought a weapons storage shelter had blown up the first time I heard it. 2) A flight of 4 FRG F-104s crashed into the hills on the banks of the Mosel while I was there (the exact location escapes me, but it was in the vicinity of Wittlich and was in between Hahn AB and Spangdhalem/Bitburg ('cause we all went out to help pick up the pieces). The weather was crappy, as usual, and mission was penetration and radar avoidance. The flight was in the Mosel Valley, down between the river bank's hills (which usually run about 500 feet above the river). I don't know if the pilot was turning to conform to the river's course, or was 'popping up' to start the attack run, but the flight leader was too low, poked his nosecone into the top of the hill on the river bank, and the rest of the flight followed him right in. It was not considered to be a major event or disaster (like the T-birds crash at Nellis - 1981??); it was just another training accident. 3) I was walking across the main entrance to the bomb dump, between the storage and handling break room and the headquarters building one morning and saw an F-104 heading towards me down the entrance road. He was _quite_ low, and passsed overhead at about 50 ft AGL. The exhaust actually knocked me down. These three examples tell the tale of the Luftwaffe F-104s. They were used in conditions and with tactics incompatible with their design as a straight line interceptor. The flying weather in Central Europe, quite frankly, sucks rocks most of the time, and when you turn a rocket sled into a dogfighter/bomber and force it to fly in the crud day after day, you get accidents. The German pilots worked very hard to make _this_ airplane work in _their_ conditions, and had to push the envelope to do it. About 200 times or so, they pushed just a bit too hard. BTW, I always thought the F-104 to be the sharpest looking fighter around until I saw an F-16 for the first time! Loyd M. Enochs (ex-USAF) - Dynamics Research Corporation - Andover, MA Computer Systems Analyst - Smart Data System (F-117 Maintenance and Operations computer system)
From: email@example.com (LT Scott A. Norton, USN) I'll concur with the flying habits of German F-104 pilots. During a NATO exercise I was in, they liked to fly supersonic on the deck, frightening us poor ship drivers. One day, a 104 flew under a LAMPS helo that was on final for recoverey on it frigate. The US admiral said "NEGAT" to any further 104 flights in the area.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org I remember a newspaper article (some British rag but can't recall which) which attributed a lot of the losses to the quality of the ground crew. A large fraction of them were allegedly conscripts with little interest in what they were doing. Pilots died because for instance oxygen bottles weren't replaced or refilled (an awkward thing to find out at 50,000 feet). It also stated that one or two select squadrons had most of the good ground support and suffered very few losses.
From: email@example.com (Ed Rasimus) Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military Subject: Re: F-104 accidents, was F-108 Date: Thu, 05 Sep 1996 14:48:27 GMT 72740,firstname.lastname@example.org wrote: > Quite true, you pitch up to gain altitude... If you had an early >model 104, you zoom up and roll inverted to eject, since you had a >downward ejecting seat. :-)) > With europe's weather sometimes you didn't have much chance to >eject, that fast, that low, you didn't have time to see the ground >coming up at you to eject. You are correct that early model Zippers had downward ejection--"A" models. They were modified and all later models, including all aircraft sold to European nations had conventional ejection. I will contend until the day I die that the greatest contributing factor to the Luftwaffe's problems with the 104 was the policy of selecting 100% of pilot training graduates for 104 assignment. During the mid-60's fully one third of pilot production at Williams AFB was German. All of them were pipelined upon graduation to Luke where they received 104 training. The quality spread of German input was very similar to the quality spread of US trainees. There were a few very good ones, a bunch of average pilots and a couple of marginal guys in every class. US graduates competed for assignments and more than 90% went to some form of crewed airplane where they could be "seasoned" for several more years. Only the top one or two graduates went to single-seat fighters. The Germans meanwhile sent all of their grads to a very demanding airplane. The result was inevitable.
From: email@example.com (Ed Rasimus) Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military Subject: Re: quickie: wild-weasel definition Date: Wed, 22 Jul 1998 22:28:04 GMT Mary Shafer <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote: >Belgium is flatter than Germany, which makes NOE flight much safer. >The Luftwaffe used the F-104 as an all-weather airplane from the >get-go, which Lockheed hadn't really designed it to be. It took them >a little while to iron it all out. Don't make the mistake of comparing the USAF versions with the F-104G. The Luftwaffe bought their little "pocket rocket" with virtually the same avionics that the F-105D had, including the radar, the doppler (originally, then replaced with an INS), the nuclear Toss-Bomb Computer, ILS, and the very full-featured auto-pilot. It wasn't a "day-fighter" like the A and C models, but was designed from the "get-go" as an all-weather strike aircraft. (And, please note that "strike" in NATO terminology means nuclear.) Ed Rasimus *** Peak Computing Magazine Fighter Pilot (ret) *** (http://peak-computing.com) *** Ziff-Davis Interactive *** (http://www.zdnet.com)