The F-104 was officially retired from the Aeronautica Militare Italiana ( Italian Air Force) service during a large ceremony at Pratica di Mare in 2004. Almost ten years later this aircraft is still the favorite of many pilots, officers and aviation enthusiast in Italy, as well as around the world. In the occasion of the celebration of the 90th anniversary of the adoption of the “Prancing Horse” by Enzo Ferrari which took place in 1923, the 9 ° Stormo ” Francesco Baracca ” of the Italian Air Force painted a retired F-104S Starfighter in a very elegant “Ferrari inspired” special livery.
On 17 June 1923, Enzo Ferrari won a race at the Savio track in Ravenna where he met the Countess Paolina, mother of Count Francesco Baracca, an ace of the Italian Air Force and national hero of World War I, who used to paint a horse on the side of his planes. The Countess asked Enzo to use this horse on his cars, suggesting that it would bring him good luck. The original “prancing horse” on Baracca’s airplane was painted in red on a white cloud-like shape, but Ferrari chose to have the horse in black (as it had been painted as a sign of grief on Baracca’s squadron planes after the pilot was killed in action) and he added a canary yellow background as this is the color of the city of Modena, his birthplace. The Ferrari horse was, from the very beginning, markedly different from the Baracca horse in most details, the most noticeable being the tail that in the original Baracca version was pointing downward. ( Source Wikipedia)
This initiative was received with great enthusiasm by the Italian automotive icon, so much so that it has provided the unique “Ferrari Red” paint to ensure that the historic Italian Air Force fighter was identical to the one used by the Prancing Horse . For this purpose Ferrari has sent from the factory specialized technicians that, together with the officers of the 9th Wing, have worked on applying this special livery.
For the application of the aircraft “Special Color”, Ferrari has studied a particular technique consisting in combining the specificity of the painting cycles of the Aerospace and Automotive industries.
The event, in addition to the civil and military authorities and local associations, saw the prestigious presence of Giovanni Baracca, a direct descendant of the Italian Air Force World War One ace.
During the ceremony a 90 seconds video, in which they were told through a thrilling sequence of images , the 90 year history of Italian Air Force was projected . Followed by a subsequent video on the history of the 9th Wing.
The aircraft used for special livery has served with the 10th and the 21st group of the Italian Air Force.At the end of its operational life ,which took place in 2004 , it was assigned to the 9th Wing to be exhibited.