Squadrons – Spanish Air Force

Around 1960, Spain was looking for ways to upgrade the Air Force but was restricted by the available budget. The US offered to the Air Force a list of aircraft as possibilities within the MAP program but inside this list the F-104 was lacking. However this was an airplane that the Spanish  Air Force had set it sights on, because it was the one that was being incorporated in most of the European Air Forces. After negotiations, the US agreed  to supply eightteen F-104G and two TF-104G aircraft under MAP. Since Spain saw the need of three TF-104Gs they bought one directly from Lockheed since the MAP only listed two. The arrival of the F-104s in Spain was on board of two American aircraft carriers of the CABOT Class at the Aero-Naval Base of Rota. The delivery of the aircraft was done in three groups:

First Group: January 15th, 1965, five F-104Gs and two TF-104Gs were delivered. (Including aircraft 63-12720, 12718,  12716, 12717, and two-seater 62-12279).
Second group: June 6th, 1965, thirteen F-104Gs were delivered, unloaded from the aircraft carrier CROATAN of the USNS of Rota.
Third group: January 5th, 1966, the TF-104G bought by Spain was delivered and flown to the Torrejon Air Base on January 26th. (serial 65-9415).

Once the first seven F-104s had arrived at Torrejon AB, the official presentation of the Squadron took place on March 5th, 1965. On September 24th, 1965, the Unit was fully operational.
The aircraft replaced the old F-86F Sabres of 61 Escuadron under Ala 6 at Torrejon. Within the Spanish Air Force, the Starfighters were designated C.8 (serials C.8-1 to C.8-18) for the F-104G and CE.8 (serials CE.8-1 to CE.8-3) for the TF-104G version. The Ala 6 wing was renamed into Ala 16 in May 1965 and the squadron 61 became 161 Esc. Later, in November 1967, it was renamed to 104 Esc.

The F-104 era lasted about 7 years until 1972, when the conversion to the replacing F-4 Phantom started. The Starfighters were officially retired from EdA service in May 1972, when their role was completely taken over by the F-4C Phantom. All Starfighters, except the TF they bought themselves, were returned to the USAF for transfer to Greece and Turkey since these aircraft were meant for MAP. May 31st, 1972 nr 104 Squadron was disbanded ending the short career of the F-104 within the Spanish Air Force. The Spanish Air Force kept the best Starfighter operation safety record figures when during the 7 years they did not loose any aircraft.

The squadron

The only Starfighter operating Spanish Air Force squadron has changed its unit designations along the 7 years of operation :

Ala6/Esc61, Torrejon (from the start in March 1965 till May 1965) no squadron codes or markings.
Ala16/Esc161, Torrejon (from May 1965 till November 3rd, 1967) 161 serials were used as markings + badge.
Ala16/Esc104, Torrejon (from November 3rd, 1967 till May 31st, 1972) 104 serials were used as markings + badge”.


Patch used by pilots of the Esc104 until the retirement of the F-104 Starfighters. It shows the famous cat (thanks to Fernando Ferrandez Illan)


The F-104G aircraft

C.8-1             683d-6067         (63-12715), d/d 15jan65, 161-11 (mar65-nov67), 104-11 (nov67-1968) 104-01 (jun71-may72), wfu 31may72, HAF (05jun72)

C.8-2             683d-6068         (63-12716), d/d 15jan65, 161-12 (mar65-nov67), 104-12 (nov67-1968) 104-02 (jun71-may72), wfu 31may72, TuAF (10jun72)

C.8-3             683d-6069         (63-12717), d/d 15jan65, 161-13 (mar65-nov67), 104-13 (nov67-1968) 104-03 (jun71-may72), wfu 31may72, HAF (12jun72)

C.8-4             683d-6070         (63-12718), d/d 15jan65, 161-14 (mar65-nov67), 104-14 (nov67-1968) 104-04 (jun71-may72), wfu 31may72, TuAF (10jun72)

C.8-5             683d-6072         (63-12720), d/d 15jan65, 161-15 (mar65-nov67), 104-15 (nov67-1968) 104-05 (jun71-may72), wfu 31may72, HAF (12jun72)

C.8-6             683d-6079         (63-12727), d/d 06jun65, 161-16 (mar65-nov67), 104-16 (nov67-1968) 104-06 (jun71-may72), wfu 31may72, HAF (13jun72)

C.8-7             683d-6082         (63-12730), d/d 06jun65, 161-17 (mar65-nov67), 104-17 (nov67-1968) 104-07 (jun71-may72), wfu 31may72, HAF (12jun72)

C.8-8             683d-6083         (63-12731), d/d 06jun65, 161-18 (mar65-nov67), 104-18 (nov67-1968) 104-08 (jun71-may72), wfu 31may72, TuAF (10jun72)

C.8-9             683d-6089         (63-13640), d/d 06jun65, 161-19 (mar65-nov67), 104-19 (nov67-1968) 104-09 (jun71-may72), wfu 31may72, TuAF (11jun72)

C.8-10            683d-6091         (63-13642), d/d 06jun65, 161-20 (mar65-nov67), 104-20 (nov67-1968) 104-10 (jun71-may72), wfu 31may72, TuAF (11jun72)

C.8-11            683d-6090         (63-13641), d/d 06jun65, 161-21 (mar65-nov67), 104-21 (nov67-1968) 104-11 (jun71-may72), wfu 31may72, TuAF (11jun72)

C.8-12            683d-6092         (63-13643), d/d 06jun65, 161-22 (mar65-nov67), 104-22 (nov67-1968) 104-12 (jun71-may72), wfu 31may72, TuAF (14jun72)

C.8-13            683d-6093         (63-13644), d/d 06jun65, 161-23 (mar65-nov67), 104-23 (nov67-1968) 104-13 (jun71-may72), wfu 31may72, TuAF (11jun72)

C.8-14            683d-6084         (63-12732), d/d 06jun65, 161-24 (mar65-nov67), 104-24 (nov67-1968) 104-14 (jun71-may72), wfu 31may72, TuAF (10jun72)

C.8-15            683d-6085         (63-12733), d/d 06jun65, 161-25 (mar65-nov67), 104-25 (nov67-1968) 104-15 (jun71-may72), wfu 31may72, TuAF (10jun72)

C.8-16            683d-6086         (63-12734), d/d 06jun65, 161-26 (mar65-nov67), 104-26 (nov67-1968) 104-16 (jun71-may72), wfu 31may72, HAF (12jun72)

C.8-17            683d-6087         (63-13638), d/d 06jun65, 161-27 (mar65-nov67), 104-27 (nov67-1968) 104-17 (jun71-may72), wfu 31may72, HAF (13jun72)

C.8-18            683d-6088         (63-13639), d/d 06jun65, 161-28 (mar65-nov67), 104-28 (nov67-1968) 104-18 (jun71-jun72), wfu 31may72, HAF (08jun72)

The TF-104G aircraft

CE.8-01/21     583c-5523         (62-12278), d/d 15jan65, 161-01 (mar65-nov67), 104-01 (nov67-1968) 104-21 (jun71-may72), wfu 31may72, HAF (12jun72)

CE.8-02/22     583c-5524         (62-12279), d/d 15jan65, 161-02 (mar65-nov67), 104-02 (nov67-1968) 104-22 (jun71-may72),  wfu 31may72, TuAF (11jun72)

CE.8-03/23     583c-5529         (65-9415), d/d 05jan66, 161-03 (jan66-nov67), 104-03 (nov67-1968) 104-23 (jun71-may72), wfu 31may72, stored, TuAF (05feb73)