As we reported HERE, May 31st, 2020 marked the centenary for the successful conclusion of Arturo Ferrarin and Guido Masiero’s epic 19,000 km Rome-to-Tokyo long distance flight. As we noted in our earlier story, only two of the initial eleven aircrews made it all the way from Italy to Japan, arriving in Tokyo within an hour of each on May 31st, 1920. As the first pilot to fly from Europe to Japan, Ferrarin has been honored in a number of ways over the years. Italy’s flag carrier, Alitalia, christened their second Boeing 747 airliner as Arturo Ferrarin in 1970 on the feat’s golden anniversary (their first 747 being named after Neil Armstrong). Now, as part of their centenary celebrations, the Italian Air Force has applied a commemorative scheme to five of their SIAI S.208 trainers, each of them sporting tail markings picturing Arturo Ferrarin’s face, his signature and a 100th anniversary logo. But the airport in Thiene, Italy, aptly named in Ferrarin’s honor, has gone one better with a repaint of their locally-based static-display F-104 Starfighter…
On May 31st, 2020, the centenary of Ferrarin’s arrival in Tokyo, the airport unveiled their newly-refurbished, former Italian Air Force Lockheed F-104ASA/M, freshly repainted in a beautiful livery created by Basso Design. Ferrarin was born in Thiene on February 13th, 1895, and given his prolific aviation exploits, it’s no surprise that the town’s airport is also named after him. Sadly the COVID-19 pandemic has postponed the formal public celebrations until this time next year, but it is still wonderful to see this aircraft represented here for our virtual celebration of this epic centenary…
According to Daniele Mattiuzzo, a local aviation enthusiast, this Starfighter is actually a composite assembled from two former Italian Air Force Starfighters, serial numbers MM6733 and MM6914, as indicated by the two data plates present on the airplane.
The aircraft arrived at Thiene in its present configuration on July 8th, 2007. Mattiuzzo has been able to tabulate the history of each airplane here for us:
- Delivered to the Italian Air Force on July 5th, 1977 with the 155th Group CB (Fighter-bomber)/51° Wing at Istrana AB.
- Aeritalia conducted 2nd IRAN in Caselle from 05/20/88 to 02/13/90, upgrading to F-104S-ASA in CIO variant (All Weather Interceptor)
- Alenia conducted 3rd IRAN in Caselle from 09/09/97 to 05/27/99, converted to F-104S-ASA/M
- Last flight at Grazzanise AB on September 12, 2003, after a total of 3,240 flight hours, sporting the the aircraft codes “4-1”
- Delivered to ItAF on November 11th, 1970 and assigned to the 9th Group/4° Wing in Grosseto with the code “4-14”
- Aeritalia conducted 3rd IRAN in Caselle from 07/09/86 to 12/03/87, upgrading to F-104S-ASA (Aggiornamento Sistema d’Arma)
- Alenia conducted 5th IRAN in Caselle from 01/18/91 to 02/01/93, upgrading to F-104S-ASA/M
- Last flight at Grazzanise AB on May 5th, 2004 after 5,450 flight hours, sporting the code “4-51”
A marvelous set of photographs from our good friend Luigino Caliaro showing the composite F-104 at Thiene in her new livery alongside the lineup of five currently serving SIAI S.208 trainers.