Warhawk Air Museum’s F-104A Update

The F-104 stripped of its paint, ready to wear its 1958 USAF markings again.(Photo by Michael Halbrook)
The F-104 stripped of its paint, ready to wear its 1958 USAF markings again.(Photo by Michael Halbrook)
The F-104 stripped of its paint, ready to wear its 1958 USAF markings again.(Photo by Michael Halbrook)

As related to WarbirdsNews by the Warhawk Air Museum’s Michael Halbrook

On Sunday May 24th, the weather finally allowed John Maloney to fly the Warhawk Air Museum’s P-51C “Boise Bee” back to Idaho from Chino, California. The P-51C had been in Chino to participate in the Planes of Fame air show. When he arrived, Maloney kindly offered to help us strip the paint from our F-104A Starfighter in preparation for returning it to its original 1958 83FIS USAF markings. This aircraft has been painted blue for more than twenty years.

The plane, serial #56-778, rolled off the production line in 1958 and served in the United States Air Force with the 83rd Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Hamilton Air Force Base in Northern California. The F-104 was not well suited as an interceptor though, and the squadron re-equiped with McDonnell F-101 Voodoos in 1960. The Starfighter passed on to Taiwan as part of a US military assistance program, but the island republic exchanged her for a later Starfighter variant in 1966. The plane, now back in the US, went for an overhaul at Lockheed before going to Jordan, again under a government-sponsored military assistance program. Our Starfighter remained in active military service until 1977 when the Jordanians retired her. After sitting in storage for thirteen years, the aircraft went into private ownership. After passing through several dealers, the Merle Maine Collection of Ontario, Oregon acquired the fighter in 1995. They  sold her to the Warhawk Air Museum in 2013. The plane still wears the flag of the Jordan on its tail and sports a blue paint job of unknown provenance. While the museum plans to eventually repaint it with the markings and colors it wore on its first assignment with the USAF, they are immediately placing the well-preserved plane on display as-is, serving as a compelling counterpoint to the Soviet MiG-21 fighter of the same era that they already have on display.

The CF-104 the day of its arrival at the museum in 22013.
The F-104 the day of its arrival at the museum in 2013.

Its first US civilian owner was Northern Lights. As they operated a CF-104D that was blue, I believe that is where our aircraft was also painted blue. After three and a half days of intensive effort the aircraft is bare metal again. The aircraft is in excellent condition, all the more obvious in bare metal. One unexpected item was the faint appearance of the numbers 4214 on the forward fuselage, the marking this aircraft wore during its service with the Taiwan Air Force from 1960 to 1966. We are in the process of having the correct markings made. This is somewhat easier as we have the correct military parts book for the aircraft and all of  the standard markings are called out along with their locations. The plan is to move this aircraft into the “Cold War Wing” of the Warhawk Air Museum, right behind our MiG-21F. Both the MiG-21 and the F-104A came from the Merle Maine collection that was in Ontario, Oregon, only about 40 miles from the Warhawk Air Museum.

2 Comments

  1. Hello Moreno.
    F-104A 56-778 rolled off the production line already in August 1957 and delivered to the USAF on 31st January 1958 (transferred to 83 FiS).
    Although Northern Light bought the aircraft and brought it to the USA in 1990 it was Merle Main who painted the aircraft blue, first noted in 2000.
    Hope this helps.

    Regards,
    Harry Prins
    International F-104 Society (chairman)

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