What if Germany did not go for the F-104

_Del_

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G.91 was an AGARD project that had massive amounts of US money behind it, and featured local production (also aided by US funding). The British and French backed out early and concentrated on home-grown alternatives.
The whole point of the NATO AGARD board was to kick-start European defense industries and avoid US-dependence. License production of the A-4 doesn't accomplish that in the same way that development and design work on the European designs did.
 

Yankee_Aviator

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Would it be possible for the A-4 to get bought in place of the G91?
The whole point of NBMR-1 (which is the requirement that the G.91 was created to fill) was a lightweight, easy to maintain strike fighter that would be a common NATO aircraft. (One could argue that the F-104 and later F-16 became what the G.91 was originally intended to be) that could use dispersed basing. In hindsight the F-5 probably would have been the best option, and interestingly enough, was actually one of the contenders in NBMR-1, however it was passed up, likely because the N-156 was still too paper at this time.
 

_Del_

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What was pitched wasn't really an F-5. Something more like this:
n156-jpg.195884
 

iverson

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Would it be possible for the A-4 to get bought in place of the G91?
The whole point of NBMR-1 (which is the requirement that the G.91 was created to fill) was a lightweight, easy to maintain strike fighter that would be a common NATO aircraft. (One could argue that the F-104 and later F-16 became what the G.91 was originally intended to be) that could use dispersed basing. In hindsight the F-5 probably would have been the best option, and interestingly enough, was actually one of the contenders in NBMR-1, however it was passed up, likely because the N-156 was still too paper at this time.
The NBMR-1 project was also intended to be a common NATO product, not just a common operational type. Britain got the engine. Italy got the air frame even though the Breguet Taon was judged superior, largely because the Italian aircraft industry was thought to need the work more than the French. So the J-85 and the N.156/F-5 were thus non-starters as far as the competition went.
 

zen

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Surely we should also consider both F100 and it's successor?
 

CV12Hornet

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Surely we should also consider both F100 and it's successor?
The Super Sabre made the Starfighter look safe to fly, and neither it nor the successor F-107 are at all suited to the fighter mission the F-104 was tasked with in addition to strike - the F-107 being a competitor to the F-105, which is about as bomber a plane can be whilst being a single-engine, single-seat machine.
 

CV12Hornet

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That's quite a claim.
Which one?

Also, I just remembered, but an upgraded Super Sabre was considered among the planes for the competition that the F-104 won. It at best came in third.
 

SSgtC

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Beyond the fact that the Super Sabre was little better than a flying coffin, there's also the fact that the F-100 was a generation behind the other offered aircraft in terms of performance. The Super Sabre clocked in with a maximum speed of mach 1.4, while even the prototype Super Tiger could manage mach 2.04 and Grumman thought they could get it higher in a production machine.
 

iverson

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Beyond the fact that the Super Sabre was little better than a flying coffin, there's also the fact that the F-100 was a generation behind the other offered aircraft in terms of performance. The Super Sabre clocked in with a maximum speed of mach 1.4, while even the prototype Super Tiger could manage mach 2.04 and Grumman thought they could get it higher in a production machine.
The F-100 was also not at all suited for the all-important, low-level nuclear strike role that was key to the then-current German plan for deterring an invasion from the East. In the USAF, the F-100 performed that role--and the fighter-bomber role in general--only by default, because it was still available and suited for no other modern role.
 

alertken

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This is not a wind-up, it's genuine comment.
I know UK expected its AW/QRA Canberra B(I)8 in W.Germany to deter USSR until 6/6/72; and that RAF considered its Valiant to be obsolete in 1957, when it was first Cleared for Blue Danube delivery...in 1957: in both cases, politicians accepted that to hazard Britain's finest young men in something was better than the only alternative, which was nothing, today. But the "coffin" comments here can't be excused like that - for USAFE/PACAF, and for Allies - Turkey had the type, maybe very 2nd. line, to 1979! - alternatives could have been organised when shortcomings were first detected.
Please, genuine Q: if folk here know the type was a secret weapon of USSR...why was it deployed, muchly, longly?
 

Opportunistic Minnow

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if folk here know the type was a secret weapon of USSR...why was it deployed, muchly, longly?
Indeed. While the "Sabre Dance" was undoubtedly deadly, my impression was it's quirks became more understood with time and were largely (but not entirely) mitigated by the likely timeframe of any notional Luftwaffe machine. Certainly a nation as large and well-equipped as the US would not have been so desperate as to keep a supposed ongoing "deathtrap" in an active theatre into the 1970s? Indeed, I understood the Hun's sortie rate to be impressive in Vietnam? Yes, there were non-combat losses but that is one of those nature of the beast deals and certainly only a fraction of Luftwaffe F-104 losses!

By all means eliminate the F-100 as an alternative on performance grounds but on safety? Comparing any aircraft's safety record unfavourably with the Widow-Maker of all things is, at best, rather darkly amusing.

Perhaps the Luftwaffe should have pursued a large fleet of Matadors/Maces instead of a manned platform?
 
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zen

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Wasn't the F-100BI a Strike Fighter development?
Wasn't the YF-107 a serious bid to succeed the F100 and lost to the F105 Thunderchief due to being less optimised as a bomber?
 

Keyboard Commando

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So know we've discussed the Lightning and SR.177, but how about the EE P.8? Say we take one of the many WHIFs discussed here and the P.8 is chosen from the F-155T program as clearly the most viable design and closest to production. The P.8 was larger than the Lightning with greater fuel capacity but more importantly IMO the landing gear is moved into the fuselage allowing more underwing hardpoints and giving it greater multirole potential, does it have a better chance than the original Lightning?
 

Archibald

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So know we've discussed the Lightning and SR.177, but how about the EE P.8? Say we take one of the many WHIFs discussed here and the P.8 is chosen from the F-155T program as clearly the most viable design and closest to production. The P.8 was larger than the Lightning with greater fuel capacity but more importantly IMO the landing gear is moved into the fuselage allowing more underwing hardpoints and giving it greater multirole potential, does it have a better chance than the original Lightning?

We have a winner here. The P.8 was indeed a Lightning done right (or cured of its flaws) and it is a shame that very F155T design wasn't allowed to survive Sandystorm, simply as a logical sequel to the Lighning Mk.3 and Mk.6. Could have been a British Su-9 / Su-11, except even more powerful and closer from Su-15.
 

Michel Van

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We have a winner here. The P.8
I don't know if EE P.8 is the right choice
the Lightning is a very fast interceptor with good clime rate

But what the Luftwaffe wanted was supersonic Multi-combat aircraft (with a Gun)
for Intercept, Reconnaissance, ground support for infantry and nuclear strike
All this with low-altitude flight.

The Lightning as EE P.8 would have similar issue like F-104G, also a very fast interceptor with good clime rate.
converted into low-altitude flight, Multi-combat aircraft.

IMHO the best plane for this Job had be Mirage III
 

uk 75

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The Mirage III would have been the most sensible alternative. The Israelis showed what could be done with the plane. The West Germans would have developed it too
 

zen

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So know we've discussed the Lightning and SR.177, but how about the EE P.8? Say we take one of the many WHIFs discussed here and the P.8 is chosen from the F-155T program as clearly the most viable design and closest to production. The P.8 was larger than the Lightning with greater fuel capacity but more importantly IMO the landing gear is moved into the fuselage allowing more underwing hardpoints and giving it greater multirole potential, does it have a better chance than the original Lightning?
P.8 was to F155 so it's a interceptor first and foremost. At best something like 150nm RoA.
 

1635yankee

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Surely we should also consider both F100 and it's successor?
The Super Sabre made the Starfighter look safe to fly, and neither it nor the successor F-107 are at all suited to the fighter mission the F-104 was tasked with in addition to strike - the F-107 being a competitor to the F-105, which is about as bomber a plane can be whilst being a single-engine, single-seat machine.
I'm not sure that's entirely fair, although "[t]he safety record of the F-100D left a lot to be desired. Over five hundred were lost in accidents between mid-1956 and mid-1970," (https://www.si.edu/object/north-american-f-100d-super-sabre:nasm_A19781577000). Approximately 1200 F-100Ds were produced. For the F-104 in Luftwaffe service, "of a total of 916
aircraft acquired by the German military 292 crashed or were damaged beyond repair during the F104’s time in service from 1960 to 1991"(https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1218&context=jate), so about 42% loss rate in accidents for the F-100D vs about 32% for the F-104. Many of the losses of the F-104 were due to issues with the engine (https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1218&context=jate), as the F-104 in USAF service had 9.48 engine-related accidents per 100,000 flight hours vs 5.61 with the F-100.
 

Opportunistic Minnow

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If you are comparing loss rates, surely it should be across the entire production run of both aircraft, rather than a sample of one vs the entirety of the other? In the interest of fairness?

How many F-104s did the RoCAF lose? EdA? KLu? JASDF? Neither aircraft were particularly safe but I suspect the actual rather than selective figures don't favour the F-104 as much as the above post would have us believe.
 

Archibald

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EdA?

None, but they used only 24 as an interim type before their Phantoms.
...and that fact should be included in the loss rate discussion, don't you think?

Why, if the Spanish air force had zero losses ?

Some air forces (Italy, Germany, Canada) paid a heavy toll to the lawn dart. Others did not. Spain lost no pilot nor aircraft.

The case of the Starfighter as a flying coffin has never been convincing to me: since I've started reading aviation stuff 30years ago, I've red many contrasting views on the matter.
Some said the Germans trafficked the aircraft and made it unstable.
Other sources said their pilots did not trained well for Europe atrocious climate, not at Holloman AFB.
Other sources said they flew the F-104 like the former interceptor it was (A/B/C/D variants) when the G was a different matters, and so was the CF-104.

It's a never ending debate...
 

Archibald

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The F-100, F-101 and F-104 all were pretty dangerous to fly and killed way too many pilots - Sabre dance, T-tail stalls & pitch-up, low altitude runs...

Somewhat paradoxically, Canadian F-101B (66 airframes 1961-71, then some more until 1984) seems to have suffered very low losses, at least compared to the same country F-104 apalling losses.

Wonder how Canada third aircraft from the era - CF-5 - fared, loss-wise ?

Convair's deltas seems to have been much safer.

The F-105 seems to have been relatively safe to fly but got butchered in Vietnam.
 

BB1984

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EdA?

None, but they used only 24 as an interim type before their Phantoms.
...and that fact should be included in the loss rate discussion, don't you think?

Why, if the Spanish air force had zero losses ?

It's a bit of an oversimplification, but my understanding is that the F-104 was designed as a clear weather air superiority fighter, same role as the original F-86 and that everyone who used it that way got good results. The F-104 in air to air work showed very well against its contemporaries (interestingly, the F-8 was more or less runner up among US aircraft). As you've pointed out, Spain used it this way with no losses and the Italians liked it well enough in this role to develop it into the F-104S.

Using it in any other way, for ground attack or in bad weather, led to issues and the Luftwaffe was doing both.
 

Opportunistic Minnow

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Why, if the Spanish air force had zero losses ?
Why not? The fact the EdA had no losses is of significance and pertinent to the current thrust of the discussion. If all (French, Turkish & Danish too) Super Sabre operational experience is applicable to the discussion then surely so can that of all F-104 users be too?!! I don't get why all F-104 operators wouldn't be relevant.

It's a bit of an oversimplification, but my understanding is that the F-104 was designed as a clear weather air superiority fighter, same role as the original F-86 and that everyone who used it that way got good results. The F-104 in air to air work showed very well against its contemporaries (interestingly, the F-8 was more or less runner up among US aircraft). As you've pointed out, Spain used it this way with no losses and the Italians liked it well enough in this role to develop it into the F-104S.

Using it in any other way, for ground attack or in bad weather, led to issues and the Luftwaffe was doing both.
Well put.
 

red admiral

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The F-105 seems to have been relatively safe to fly but got butchered in Vietnam.
You'd think any jet delivering iron bombs at low alt would have suffered similar loss rates to AAA, SAMs and Fighters (pretty much in that order)

Now, there were more F-4 losses in Vietnam than F-105... but that seems to be forgotten
 

Opportunistic Minnow

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You'd think any jet delivering iron bombs at low alt would have suffered similar loss rates to AAA, SAMs and Fighters (pretty much in that order)
True but a lesson for the future when the Luftwaffe is shopping for it's new fighter.

The Thud would be far, far more appropriate in the strike role than the F-104, which despite it's low-level ride qualities, I consider to otherwise be a poor tool for the low-level strike role. I can see no reason why the F-105D couldn't be adept at the recce role, assuming cameras were installed as per the RF-104G. Any interception role would be something of a show-stopper though, as would the price no doubt (leaving aside the "deal").

There is a Century Series fighter that has interception, strike/attack and reconnaissance variants, reasonably competitive performance, an owner historically willing to divest themselves circa 1961 in favour of later platforms and most importantly, no widow-maker moniker attached (that I know of). With twin-engine safety to boot! I know it has been mentioned already but I am surprised it hasn't found more favour. Of course, I speak of the F-101 Voodoo.

The RF variants were well liked and won the odd Royal Flush, so I see no reason the Voodoos couldn't have operated in the weeds with gusto. It was quite capable of delivering a nuclear device with the A/C models and I don't see AIM-9 integration on the B being an insurmountable problem, although AIM-4 commonality with the Swiss, Swedes, Greeks and Turks might indeed be preferable (a joint production/upgrade with Sweden perhaps?)? Somewhat less raw performance than the Zipper, perhaps but I don't think the Voodoo would be particularly moreso in the shadow of WP defences than the Starfighter was at selection anyway. Absent perhaps a few knots, losses would be heavy with either aircraft from the outset. The conceit on both sides was enough would get through...fortunately never put to the test.

The Thud would have a colossal advantage over other types if adopted into German service though. The USAF would have paid the Germans a premium to buy them all back in the late-60s! They could then use the money to buy bigger into the MGM-52 Lance or perhaps the F-111A! :p
 

SSgtC

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The problem with the Voodoo wasn't performance or US willingness to sell them. The problem was cost. The F-101 was damn near as expensive as the F-4 Phantom (1.8 million for the F-101 vs 1.9 million for early F-4 versions). Then you get in to issues of timing.

Germany didn't purchase the F-104 until 1961. That's the same year that production of the Voodoo ended in favor of increased Phantom production. Then you have another issue related to timing. The Luftwaffe wanted an aircraft that could perform high altitude interception and low altitude tactical bombing. The only version of the version of the Voodoo that could do that is the F-101C, which had strengthened wings specifically for that role. But McDonnell only built 47 of them right at the end of production. For Germany to buy Voodoos, you need to keep production open much longer, or have the US be willing to sell a production license to Germany. Which is a little doubtful, given that parts of the F-4 were based on the Voodoo.
 
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Opportunistic Minnow

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That the Luftwaffe would get fewer Voodoos than Starfighters for their mark was a built-in assumption, the assumed advantage being that less than 200 of them would end up as lawn ornaments.

I don't really see extending production as an issue, afterall the F-104 continued in production in the US well after the launch customer had walked away and Luftwaffe F-104 contracts were signed in 1959, handily before Voodoo production was terminated. It is certainly possible that more F-101Cs be manufactured at the expense of some RF-101Cs (perhaps with replacement US RF production being tacked on?). Both Germany and the US had a strategic need for more fighters over the German plains and there was certainly enough $ floating about in that era. Why not let the good times roll in St. Louis?

I hadn't really considered licence production as I considered that to be Lockheed's selling the racetrack as well as it's err... wintered horse. I'm curious as to what parts you have in mind? For my part, I think any security concerns might be being overblown if the US is fine doling out B43s and MGR-1s et al to West Germany.

I'm not saying the Voodoo is ideal but this thread is about alternatives so.....
 

CV12Hornet

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The Voodoo, as I see it, has two problems beyond what Ssgtc identified. The first is the flight characteristics:

In particular, it had an unpleasant tendency to "pitch up" with little provocation at high speed, resulting in deadly accidents. Some modifications to the flight control system would lessen the severity of the problem, but it would never be completely eliminated -- it was inherent in the small swept wing and the tee tail configuration -- and all Voodoos suffered from it.

This is a manageable problem for the interceptor versions, but it's a very serious one for low-level strike operations. So I'm not so sure acquiring the F-101 will cure the "lawn dart" problem.

The second is that the Voodoo is rather badly miscast in the day fighter role the Luftwaffe also wanted out of their aircraft. Mostly because its primary weapon in the role is the AIM-4 Falcon in an internal weapons bay. Besides the fact that the Falcon is a very bad missile (why the Swedes stuck with it is beyond me), the size and shape of the Falcon makes replacing it in the bays with the Sidewinder or Sparrow extremely difficult.
 

SSgtC

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Besides the fact that the Falcon is a very bad missile (why the Swedes stuck with it is beyond me)
I'm guessing cost probably had something to do with it. They'd already spent the money on the system and either fell into the sunk cost fallacy or just flat couldn't afford to buy sidewinders and modify their aircraft to mount and launch them
 

Hood

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Besides the fact that the Falcon is a very bad missile (why the Swedes stuck with it is beyond me)
I'm guessing cost probably had something to do with it. They'd already spent the money on the system and either fell into the sunk cost fallacy or just flat couldn't afford to buy sidewinders and modify their aircraft to mount and launch them
That's not strictly true, the Rb 24 Sidewinder equipped most of the Draken marks, it wasn't until the J 35F of the late 1960s that the AIM-4C/ HM-58 with a modified seeker was introduced as the Rb 28 (alongside the SARH AIM-26B as the Rb 27).
 
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