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F-104B Starfighter

The new feature of the F-104B version consisted of a second cockpit aft of the F-104A's single seat, located in the space otherwise designed for the M-61 Vulcan gun.

Lockheed developed the F-104B purely as a two seat training version (TF-104) of the F-104A. The Air Force's December 1955 decision to equip operational F-104A squadrons with the two seater brought about its redesignation (all possible F-104A armament was retained-as usual in such cases). The Air Force earlier in the year also thought of using the F-104 trainer for suitability, high altitude, and physiological research tests.

Procurement started slowly, as it had for the F-104A. The Air Force first ordered six F-104Bs; 106 more in 1957.

The F-104B's first flight took place on 16 January 1957, less than a year after the two-seater's first mockup inspection. It was an uneventul flight over California, from the Lockheed Palmdale plant to the nearby USAF Flight Test Center. The Air Force took official delivery of the aircraft in the same month.

The first 30 days of flight tests showed F-104A and F-104B performance to be similar. This was expected. The Air Force did not plan to accept any more F-10413s until the fall of 1957, when extensive F-104A flight tests would be completed. Meanwhile, it needed the first F-104B to test the downward ejection seat that first equipped most F-104s. The Air Force took official delivery of a second F-104B in September, 1 month ahead of schedule.

The F-104B entered operational service With the 83d FIS (the first F-104A recipient) at Hamilton AFB. ADC's three other F-104A squadrons shared later F-104Bs.

The Air Force accepted one F-1048 in FY 57, 14 in FY 58, and 11 in FY 59

The Flyaway Cost Per Production Aircraft was $2.4 million-airframe, $1,756,388; engine (installed), $336,015; electronics, $13,258; ordnance, $59,473; armament, $231,996.

Transferred to the ANG in 1960, the F-104B returned to ADC'sactive inventory in 1962-1963. It phased out again in 1967-1969, along with and in the same manner as the F-104A.



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