Dr Kevin Wright examines the Starfighter in Royal Netherlands Air Force service and talks to former F-104G display pilot
Hans van der Werf about his unique experience with the aircraft.
In December 1959 the Netherlands Ministry of Defence announced its decision to purchase the Lockheed F-104G Starfighter.
Production for the Royal Netherlands Air Force (KLu) was a part of the ‘North Group’ of F-104 manufacturing companies that included Fokker, Aviolanda, Phillips in the Netherlands, and West German producers Focke Wulf and Hamburger Flugzeugbau. Fokker made components and was responsible for final assembly and flight testing at Schiphol.
The first Dutch-assembled F-104G flew on November 11, 1961 with the initial two aircraft (D-8013 and D-8022) delivered to Twenthe Air Base on December 12, 1962. In total, the KLu took delivery of 138 examples: 77 F-104G and 18 RF-104G single seat aircraft from Fokker, 25 supplied by Fiat in Italy and 18 two-seat TF-104Gs provided direct from Lockheed in the US.
Intended for both low-level ground attack and high-level interceptor roles, the F-104G was powered by a General Electric J-79GE-11A engine producing 10,000lb of thrust, 15,000lb with afterburner. It was fitted with an internal 20mm M61A1 Vulcan cannon plus five external hardpoints; one on each wing tip, two underwing and one on the centreline. This allowed a mix of fuel tanks, unguided rockets and bombs, including a free-fall nuclear weapon, plus AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, to be carried. Accurate low-level navigation was enabled by a Litton Industries LN-3 inertial navigation system.
Photo caption: Two-seat TF-104G D-5817 serving with 322 Sqn about to land at Gilze-Rijen, March 1979. Cor Vermolen
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