YF-104A (pre-production, 1-seater, model number 183) - photos on this website

c/n 1001 till 1010 (Lockheed, USA)


55-2955_cockpit Lt Simpson is seen here prior a test mission in 55-2955. Here it is clearly seen that this aircraft got nickname "Apple Knocker" around January 1957.
55-2955_accid On 25th of April 1957 the career of this first YF-104A ended. A failed landing resulted in a complete write-off, gladly without any casualties. On the nose its nickname "Apple Knocker" can still be noticed.
55-2955a A photo taken in 1956 during one of the first testflights. Note the typical XF-104 introduced Lockheed stickers on the front and back of the aircraft.
55-2955 A photo taken in 1956 during one of the first testperiod. Note the typical XF-104 introduced Lockheed stickers on the front and back of the aircraft.



55-2956_type The 55-2956 was used for tests at Edwards with AFFTC for more then 2 years. Here it is still lacking the arrestor hook and ventral fin.
55-2956 YF-104A 55-2956 hiding its technical secret during the first press-photos. Large cones have been added over the inlets and gives the aircraft a very strange look. Photo was taken in April 1956.
55-2956 Here the aircraft with fake cones towed out of the big Lockheed hangar on 17 April 1956. This day the aircraft was shown to the public for the very first time.
55-2956 After the US NAVY had used the XF-104 FG786 on loan for testing missiles they got officially a Starfighter delivered in April 1959. Here the aircraft is seen at China Lake NAS where it was testflown for a number of months before it was lost in a crash. The US Navy outfit looks rather strange on an F-104 Starfighter, never designed to operate from aircraft carriers...
55-2956 Here a shot of the tailsection of this 55-2956. It shows the type "F-104A" although officially the aircraft had been configured as JF-104A testbed.
55-2956 (US NAVY) A very interesting photo showing the aircraft and its testteam. Note the interesting badge (China Lake NAS) on the nose of the aircraft. Pilots left-right: Herkemer Camp, Bob Howard & Bob Pipkin
 55-2956_wo Very unique photo of the 55-2956 at China Lake NAS after it was declared w/o during a crash during the take off at China Lake. (Photo courtesy of Larry Raybal, thanks to Gary Verver).



55-2957 Here YF-104A can be seen taxying towards the runway in 1956. It shows also the factory production code nr "3" being the 3rd produced YF-104A.
55-2957 Here the 55-2957 is seen taking off for its record flight on 7 March 1958. It shows the markings of 83 FiS.
55-2957 On 7 March 1958 Major Howard C. Johnson managed to break the altitude record by reaching 91243 feet. On this photo he is celebrating his record with (left) Capt Walter Irwin and (right) Capt James Low.
55-2957 During the tests also pilots flew the aircraft to assure that the aircraft could safely return to the airbase when the system should fail
55-2957 On this photo the typical QF-104A dayglow colorscheme can be seen. Later aircraft got black serials in stead of the white ones on this 55-2957.



55-2958 Photos of YF-104A 55-2958 are very rare.  On February 8th, 1957 this aircraft was officially modified to JF-104A by Lockheed AF Plant 14 and seven days later it crashed still as JF. Here it is seen not long after delivery, with a huge test pilot tube.



On this official USAF photo which was released early 60s the YF-104A 55-2959 is seen while taking off from Edwards AFB. Note the initial shaped nosewheel doors and the lacking ventral fin and arrestor hook. Also the typical yellow "General Electric" band can be seen which was applied on the tail.
YF-104A seen here at the General Electric engine testcenter on a special photo regarding all the used jet-engine test aircraft by GE in February 1958. (Photo by General Electric, thanks to David Markley)
YF-104A 55-2959 seen from the starboard side at the ramp of the General Electric testcenter, Edwards California. It was taken on February 14th, 1958. Note the wonderful yellow band markings on the tail. (Photo thanks to Chris Baird)



55-2960_impactcrater Picture of the YF-104A crashsite after its accident on November 3rd, 1956. Actually it had just been manufactured, so real pictures of the aircraft have never been seen. We are always interested in anyone who would be able to provide pictures of the the aircraft. (Picture USAF)



Very colorful photo showing YF-104A 55-2961 being used to test the reaction-engines of the X-15 rocketplane. Engines have been inserted inside the noseradome and inside tipmounted reactionpods. This photo has been taken around 1962. Even after delivery it was still carrying the USAF serials  together with the NASA insignes inside the yellow tail band. (Photo courtesy NASA)
Here YF-104A 55-2961 is seen during a testflight from Dryden, testing a special centerline mounted frame on high speed impact. This photo has been taken in 1965 when it was still also carrying USAF markings. (Photo courtesy NASA)
Here YF-104A 55-2961 can be seen late 1971. On the tail the new allocated serial "818" can be seen and all the USAF markings has been removed.  (Photo courtesy NASA)
55-2961 N818NA
YF-104A 55-2961 coded "N818NA" was rarely seen on outside its homebase Dryden - Edwards. Here it is seen while visiting LeMoore Naval Air Station in October 1974. Soon after it retired.  (Photo Steve Miller)
This way this YF-104A 55-2961 N818NA can be found preserved today inside the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, USA. (Photo Harry Prins, in 2000)



This is the only known photo of YF-104A 55-2962, taken at Edwards around late 1956.  (Photo Lockheed-Martin thanks to Neil Corbett).
This photo is found inside the official accident report released by the US AIR FORCE. It shows the remains of the tailsection after the aircraft crashed. (Photo US AIR FORCE)
55-2962 crashed This photo shows a part of the J79 engine of this unfortunate YF-104A 55-2962 which was found during a crash site investigation on 10 May 2007 by Joe Idoni and his friends.
For more information see also his website http://joeidoni.smugmug.com/gallery/3622127_A4YoX#!i=254302612&k=kgBMtjW.
Another website showing the crashsite, found by another investigation team can be found here : http://socratesnsuitcase.com/yf_104a.htm



In 1956 the YF-104A 55-2963 was transferred to Elmendorf AFB for testing the aircraft in very cold circumstances. The test program was coordinated under control of the AFFTC and Lockheed. Here the aircraft is seen taxying on taxy roads filled with snow. The aircraft is still lacking the later added ventral fin and arrester-hook installation.
55-2963 QF-104A This photo is sadly damaged through the time but is very unique. It shows the QF-104A 55-2963 on its first unmanned mission and during this mission this aircraft was shot down. It was taken by Chuck Dildine while flying air-air. (Photo Chuck Dildine)



Interesting photo showing YF-104A with already a ventral fin mounted during a testflight at Edwards AFB. It is probably testing the dragchute system since pulling the chute while still 60 feet of the ground was not a normal procedure. Also note that the aircraft is having the tailsection mounted from F-104A 56-811. Switching tail was often done with Starfighters, also in the early days. We believe that this photo should have been taken in 1958.
55-2964 This photo was taken at the ramp of Edwards AFB around late 1956. (Photo Lockheed Martin thanks to Neil Corbett)
In the famous movie "X-15" which was recorded at Edwards AFB and released in 1961, also this YF-104A was seen taxying on the runway of Edwards. It is carrying production number "10" on the tail fin.
55-2964 crashed
Tragic photo of a very tragic accident in 1959. Here the tailsection can be seen in the garden of the destroyed house. The tailsection shows a red band and an unidentified badge. (Photo obtained thanks to Chris Baird)