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RF-104G Stargazer – 4378, ROCAF, Taiwan

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Lockheed RF-104G Stargazer 4378 of the ROCAF, Taiwan. Very low production run of only 500 units worldwide. Length 9.25″ Width 3.75″

The Lockheed RF-104G was used by several countries but Taiwan developed a special recon version that had an extra long pointed radome that housed a Long-Range Oblique Photography (LOROP) camera. This special radome made it possible to switch the aircraft from an F-104G standard arrangement to an RF-104G or vice versa in a matter of one or two days. There were 3 LOROP equipped RF-104Gs but only one was always on full standby status and these aircraft were called Stargazers when they were in this special configuration.. Former German F-104G #2076 serial 63-13260 was sold to the RoCAF and coded 4378. This aircraft was later converted to an RF-104G and used as one of the Stargazers. The Rocaf stopped using the Stargazers in late 1994. The extreme shape of the Starfighter earned it the first nickname of “The Missile With a Man in it” and some USAF pilots also called it “Zipper” or “Zipper 104” because of it’s tremendous speed. After it proved to be challenging to fly, with high fatal accident rates, particularly in German service the plane was given many more nicknames because of its high speed and ability to occassionally fly itself into the ground. In Germany they referred to it as Witwenmacher (“widowmaker”), fliegender Sarg (“flying coffin”) or Erdnagel (“ground nail”, the official military term for a tent peg). Others were, Pakistan Badmash “Hooligan”, Italy because of it’s spiked nose Spillone “Hatpin” and bara volante “Flying Coffin”, Canada “Lawn Dart”. Primarily powered by a single 15,800 lb thrust General Electric J79-GE11A turbojet engine, equipped with afterburner, it was capable of high speeds (just under 1300 mph) and high rates of climb. On December 14, 1959, an F-104C set a world altitude record of 103,395 ft (31.5 km). The Starfighter was the first aircraft to hold simultaneous official world records for speed, altitude, and time-to-climb.

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