Udorn Aircraft part 1

The aircraft (1 - fiscal year 1956)

(Thanks to various people and especially Bob Irwin, Hubert Peitzmeier, Julio Fuentes, Luis Baldoni, Tom Delashaw, Chris Baird, Rodney Trimble, Bob Preciado, Tom Mahan, Ace Rawlins and Floyd Totten)

The first 8 F-104C's of 435TFS landed at Udorn in Thailand on 6 June 1966. On 7 June these 8 Starfighters began flying missions over North Vietnam. After the availability at Udorn was enhanced, by then, the Starfighter flew under control of 8TFW, on 22 July twelve new Starfighters landed to join the 8 others.
By late August 1966, the F-104s had been shifted to a primary ground attack role and after a few tragic losses, the F-104s were assigned exclusively to escort missions in early December.
By late 1966 all Udorn F-104s had received APR-25/26 equipment (see more about this equipment here) and they continued flying escort missions until 19 July 1967, when they were withdrawn from the theater and replaced by F-4D's of 4TFS. The remaining 24 Starfighters were flown back from July 19th, 1967 to the USA via stops at Clark AFB, Guam, Hickham AFB, Miami Florida and finally Muniz AFB at Puerto Rico. This was in two flights (19 and 5).
In total, during the 2nd deployment, the "Udorn" Starfighters flew 5306 combat sorties for a total of 14,393 combat flight hours!!

We do not know exactly which Starfighters were the first 8 and which 12 landed in July 1966. After this date some F-104C's have been exchanged (overhaul McClellan etc..) and we found a total of 29 different Starfighters which have been used during the operations from Udorn AFB, Thailand.

56-886 (c/n 1174)

This Starfighter arrived at Udorn AB on November 11th, 1966. After some treatment it was declared combat-ready on November 17th. It was flown over to the USA in July 1967
and was assigned to the 198th TFS, Puerto Rico ANG in August 1967. Sadly there are no photos known of the 56-886 while in service at Udorn Air Base.

56-890 (c/n 1178)

This Starfighter arrived at Udorn AB in September 1966. After some treatment it was declared combat-ready on October 1st. It received some overhaul and we found some squadron-return-dates on October 25th and December 4th. When it finalized its duty at Udorn it was flown back to the USA and was assigned to the 198th TFS, Puerto Rico ANG in October 1967. Beneath a rare photo showing the 56-890 next to "TimeHog" 57-910 in 1967. Note the strange drawing on the tiptank. (Ken Buchannen)


56-891 (c/n 1179)

This Starfighter arrived at Udorn AB in January, 1967. Later in 1967 this aircraft, piloted by Herb Drisko, got a nice nose art painting on both sides of its nose. On starboard side cartoon character Snoopy was painted wearing a brown leather helmet and a yellow scarf, riding on a 20 millimeter Vulcan Gattling Gun with flames coming out of one of the barrel. Below Snoopy and the gun were the words "SNOOPY SNIPER".
On the left side of the nose the name of Herb's wife was painted "Nancy J". By that time Herb was "F-troop" fligth commander. Crewchief of the aircraft was Sgt Joel Swanson.
After the end of the Starfighter operations the F-104 was flown back to the USA (Muniz AFB, Puerto Rico) in July 1966. Rodney Trimble flew this 56-929 from Homestead to Puerto Rico because that aircraft was encountering a lot of radio and navigation aids problems from leaving Udorn. Herb Drisco was flight leader and needed a more reliable plane. So, Rodney, having a good solid plane, decided to swap with Herb during this homeflight. Most of the problems with Snoopy was electrical, too many Mods and too many stray wires. Snoopy was having navigation aid problems out of England AFB. As well as compass problems, so the decision was made at homestead to swap planes.
Beneath a number of photos starting with a photo of the 56-891 while taxying out at Udorn AFB early 1967 not far after it arrived.

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Herb Drisko with his crewchief Joel Swanson in front of their aircraft "Snoopy Sniper" This photo taken by Joel Swanson shows clearly "Snoopy Sniper" nose art.
On the left side and "Nancy J' on the right side.
56-891_JoelSwansonworkingUdorn2  56-891_Taxying_Udorn
Crewchief Joel Swanson with his F-104C aircraft "Snoopy Sniper" 56-891 crewchief Joel Swanson toke often photos of his aircraft, here it is taxying away
for another mission.
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56-891 crewchief Joel Swanson showing the F-troops flag on the ladder of
his bird Snoopy Sniper / Nancy J.
 Aircraft 56-891 taxying over a wet Udorn, showing "Nancy J". (Joel Swanson)
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Working on the bird 56-891 (Joel Swanson)  Aircraft 56-891 taxying, still without the nose-art. (Joel Swanson)
Photos: On top the Flight line showing "Snoopy Sniper" nose art, and photo beneath, flying over SEA showing clearly "Nancy J" on this side on the aircraft nose radome. Both photos show pilot Herb Drisko (Thanks to Rodney Trimble)
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Arrival at Muniz Air Base... wonderful celebrations. Cartoon is nicely shown on this photo. (Rodney Trimble) Another shot taken after arrival at Muniz in Puerto Rico (J.Fuentes collection)                                 
F-104C 56-891 in SEA in 1967 (Jojo Rivera Collection) F-104C 56-891 at Udorn around late 1966 (Gerrit Kok Collection)

56-892 (c/n 1180)

This Starfighter arrived at Udorn AB in February, 1967. It was flown by Floyd Totten who decided to put the name of his first girlfriend "Bevie J" on the nose of his Starfighter. It was the sixt aircraft Floyd had named to her during his career. Soon after the paint was falling off and Floyd decided to have the name of his wife Dorothy painted on as "My Darlin Dorothy". Late September 1967 it was flown back to the USA and was assigned to the 198th TFS, Puerto Rico ANG in October 1967. During the first period the aircraft kept flying with the nickname on the nose.

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Fred Hammes (crewchief of 56-929) with Floyd Totten in front of My Darlin Dorothy.
Clearly visible that the text is not in white but more creme... (Photo Joel Swanson)
This photo shows aircraft 56-892 just after arrival at Muniz AFB.
On the nose the text is cleary visible.
56-892 wearing nickname "Miss Bevie J. VI" on the nose. The paint was not very strong...the B was already damaged (looks like a "P", lateron the text was replaced by "My Darlin Dorothy" which stayed on the nose the rest of its operational life in SEA (Photo Bob Irwin).

56-898 (c/n 1186) "Sex Machine" 

This Starfighter was one of the twelve aircraft which landed at Udorn on July the 22nd, 1966. On 11 November 1966 it received overhaul at Udorn (SMAAR) and went back to the flying unit on the 17th that month. At Udorn it received a remarkable nose art "Sex Machine" around March 1967. It flew back to the USA in July 1967 and was assigned to 198th TFS at Muniz AFB (Puerto Rico) in August 1967. Beneath three photos. Left seen air to air over SEA and on the right side the aircraft is seen with a nice colored rudder on a very wet rainy day at Udorn Air Base (next to 56-902). Final photo was provided by Rodney Trimble showing the aircraft with its wonderful nose art "Sex Machine" and pilot Hugh Spencer. Identification of Sex Machine being 56-898 came from Rafael Garcia, son of its former 198TFS F-104C crewchief remembering the aircraft. Also another picture of 56-898 flying over Thailand thanks to 435TFS pilot Tommy Wilson.

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56-902 (c/n 1190)

This Starfighter was first noted at Udorn AB in November 1966. It was flown by Capt. Ace Rawlins who gave the aircraft a nickname "Miss Judy", named after his wife. This nickname was painted on both sides of the aircraft nose. The crewchief of the aircraft was S.Sgt Patton. When it finalized its duty at Udorn it was flown back to the USA in July 1967 and was assigned to the 198th TFS, Puerto Rico ANG in August 1967. Beneath a number of photos of this F-104C including photos showing "Ace" Rawlins with ground crew in front and on top of his aircraft with nickname "Miss Judy" painted on its nose (Thanks to Bob Irwin and Rodney Trimble).

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56-902_Udorn_Ace1 56-902_Udorn_Ace3

56-904 (c/n 1192)

This Starfighter was one of the first 104s which were delivered on June 6th, 1966. On October 2nd,1966 it was lost in an accident during a combat mission. The pilot Capt.Norman Lockard was gladly rescued and was unhurt. While diving from 10000 ft (around 07:40 D-time) for a divebomb mission (callsign "Fosdick 0") in Northern Laos, it was shot down by an SA-2 missile. A copyright story can be found on: (http://www.jollygreen.org/Stories/a_letter_from_norm_lockard.htm). Sadly we do not have any photos of the aircraft while stationed at Udorn Air Base. We only found a photo showing Norm Lockard after he was rescued (see beneath)


56-910 (c/n 1198)

This Starfighter was one of the first 104s which were delivered on June 6th, 1966. It received overhaul a couple of times, including one from 21 till 26 November 1966. The aircraft was flown by Jim Trice who arranged a very nice nose-art painting on his Starfighter with "Pussycat". Early on there was no text applied and the nose art just showed the cat cartoon only. After its duty in SEA it was flown back to the USA (Muniz AFB, Puerto Rico) in July 1967. The aircraft was assigned to the 198th TFS Puerto Rico ANG from August 1967.

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Flying missions over SEA with bombs, in 1966.
At that moment Aircraft did not have ECM systems.
Pilot Joe Nevers posing before the Pussycat logo..
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Celebration after arrival in Puerto Rico. Jim Trice was very proud of his bird "Pussycat". (Photo Rodney Trimble)
Side view of F-104C 56-910, likely taken when the Pussycat noseart had just applied, still missing text "Pussycat" beneath the cartoon.
Color photos of the F-104C aircraft at Udorn are extremely rare, and sure is this photo showing the "Pussycat" taxying showing the colors of the nose art. Also note the colors on the pitot tube. (Photo: Joel Swanson)

56-914 (c/n 1202)

This Starfighter, being one of the first Starfighters which received a camouflage pattern at George AFB, was assigned to 435TFS at Udorn on August 22nd, 1966. It received overhaul a few times, including from 7 till 11 November 1966. After the end of the Starfighter operations at Udorn AB it was flown back to the USA (Muniz AFB, Puerto Rico) in July 1967 and assigned to 198th TFS from August 1967. Sadly we do not have any photos of the aircraft while stationed at Udorn Air Base, only one wellknown photo taken at George Air Force Base in 1966, being the first aircraft which received a camouflage paint scheme (see beneath) with pilot Mike Korte inside the cockpit..


56-918 (c/n 1206)

This Starfighter was delivered to 435th TFS at Udorn AB on September 24th, 1966. It was seen there wearing a nickname being "Hog Wild" in October 1966. That same month, the 20th, it was lost when it was shot down by Anti-Aircraft-Artillary while dive-bombing in Northern Laos. Sadly the pilot Capt Charles "Chuck" E. Tofferi (33) was killed.
Callsign of the mission was “Bango Bravo 0”. While pulling up from 1000 feet it was hit by AAA fire in its aft fuselage and it crashed around 07:10 D time. This was the official statement of the accident. However fellow pilots have a different feeling as stated in Aug 2009: " Chuck was #3 in a flight of four while Norm Lockard was #4. Numbers 1, 2, and 4 had wing tip tanks and two napalms (one under each wing.) Chuck's plane had wing tip tanks and two 750 pound bombs (one under each wing.) They all had fully loaded guns and none of the Zippers had ECM equipment at that time. Also, there were no SAM's in that area where the target was that they were after. Norm Lockard strongly believes that Chuck had a possible stuck throttle because Chuck never dropped his bombs after he called and said, "I've got the target." Norm lost sight of Chuck for a moment as Norm went through a small cloud deck. Coming out of the clouds Norm saw Chuck trying to pull out of his dive and he seemed to have cleared the area but bottomed out hitting the trees in level flight and of course exploding. (http://airforce.togetherweserved.com/usaf/servlet/tws.webapp.WebApp?cmd=ShadowBoxProfile&type=Person&ID=81724).
Sadly we do not have any photos of the aircraft while stationed at Udorn Air Base.

56-921 (c/n 1209)

his Starfighter was delivered to 435th TFS in the second batch at Udorn AB on July 22nd, 1966. It received overhaul a few times including one finalizing on November 7th. 1966. It was lost in an operational accident (not shot down) on January 28th, 1967. Gladly pilot Capt. (Eugene) Gene R. West ejected safely. It was lost over the Gulf of Tonkin due to loss of oil pressure.
This aircraft was leading part of a two-ship F-104C flight escorting Silver Dawn/Big Eye aircraft (EC-121D and C-130E-II) over the Gulf of Tonkin. (Capt Gene West and Lt. Travis Harrell). During refueling of Gene's F-104 got a Master caution light for oil level low. The oil pressure gauge read approximately 10 PSI and decreased rapidly to zero. Captain West immediately advanced power to full Military and pulled the emergency nozzle close “T” handle and headed for a recovery base. The nozzles indicated 5.3 units and continued to drift open so the emergency system did not work. The aircraft began to descend at 3,000-to-4,000’ FPM at 310 KIAS and the pilot chose to push the emergency nozzle “T” handle back in and selected afterburner. At this position the nozzles should seek a neutral position because the nozzle actuators have bleed valves allowing fluid to circulate freely when pump pressure is relieved (less and less pressure is forthcoming from the oil pump assembly because the mechanical locks can never engage because the nozzle is open beyond the position where the mechanical locks will engage the locking shoulder on the actuator piston shaft). The nozzles operated this way as verified by Capt West who stated that the nozzle position indicator read 7 just prior to his ejection.
Three AB lights were required however to get flying airspeed and AB light. The AB light lasted only 5 seconds before it went out. The pilot continued to get normal flight control hydraulic pump pressure and the engine still had fuel flow. The oil pump is driven from the same gear train as the flight control hyd pump and fuel pump so the failure must have occurred downstream from the common drive shaft with the oil lube system (emergency nozzle pump). None of the three elements at the oil pump assembly were operating: zero oil pressure in engine for lubrication, no pressure through the hydraulic element and on to nozzle pump to close nozzles and finally no pressure from the emergency element of the pump to close the nozzles. This indicates that the drive shaft must have failed between the spine connections and the lube element.
The engine began to seize with a deep rumbling and grinding sounds accompanied by rising EGT (rising from 620 degrees C to the peg) and decreasing RPM notes as low as 75%. Captain West lowered T/O flaps, extended the RAT, and established a 245 KIAS glide attempting to reach a point as far south as he could to recover.
At 8,000’ Captain West ejected. After parachute deployment the Emergency Release handle appeared to be damaged on the seat survival kit and a plate was missing on the side of the kit. He hit the water without the life raft inflated and the kit deployed. He was able to release his parachute canopy but swallowed a lot of water attempting to deploy the seat kit (though he had his LPU inflated). He attempted to contact RESCAP aircraft, which he could hear, on his RT-10 radio but was unable to get an answer. He activated the beeper function of the radio. He then saw through the fog a naval vessel passing about 1,000 ft from him and attempted to contact them with his RT-10 radio. Attempting to retrieve a flare he lost his RT-10 radio after being hit by a heavy wave. He ignited the flare which did not work properly and the ship did not see him. He spent 20 minutes trying to locate his second RT-10 radio in a small pocket while holding the seat pack kit on his lap. He was able to get the second RT-10 out and secure it to his harness with a length of line. He then worked to opening the seat survival kit and was able to inflate the life raft by placing his two feet on the kit and pulling on the handle with all his strength. The raft inflated and he climbed in.
Captain West’s second RT-10 radio did not function properly. He was able to read the A-1E RESCAP aircraft orbiting overhead, but they could not read his transmissions, only when he keyed the mike. Also, the A-1E could receive his beeper signal, while the rescue helicopter could not. The RESCAP Skyraiders were able to vector the chopper into his immediate area and after several passes they managed to locate him in the water even though the ceiling was just 50 feet and visibility a couple hundred feet. He was picked up and returned to Udorn uninjured. The aircraft crashed into the Gulf of Tonkin at 17 39N 105 55E approximately 25 miles off the coast of North Vietnam.
Sadly we do not have any photos of the aircraft while stationed at Udorn Air Base

56-926 (c/n 1214)

This F-104C Starfighter was first seen in 1966 at Udorn AFB. It served 435TFS until it was flown back to the USA in June 1967 arriving at McClellan AFB followed by Kirtland (AFSWC). Finally it was delivered to the 198th TFS at Muniz AFB, Puerto Rico in October 1967 Sadly we do not have any photos of the aircraft while stationed at Udorn Air Base

56-928 (c/n 1216)

On July, 31st, 1966, this Starfighter was delivered to 435TFS at Udorn. On August 1st, Just operational for 1 day, it was lost in an accident being shot down by a SA-2 SAM missile in North Vietnam while escorting an F-105G "Wild Weasel" mission. Sadly pilot Capt. John C Kwortnik (31) was killed and it was one of the 2 Starfighters lost over Vietnam this day.
After being hit, Capt. Kwortnik was seen ejecting from his aircraft t with a good parachute. A Hanoi newspaper article reported the downing of a U.S. aircraft on the same day and in the same general area, with the subsequent capture of the pilot. There are no correlated reports of Capt. Kwortnki's possible death since the incident. With call sign DAGGER 02), as number two in a flight of four aircraft on an escort mission over North Vietnam. Upon entering North Vietnam one of the aircraft advised that a missile had been launched and for the flight to take evasive action. Capt. Kwortnik's aircraft was struck by a missile. The missile did not explode, however there was a burst of flames from the aircraft's midsection. The pilot ejected and a good parachute was observed, but due to the evasive action taken by the rest of the flight, no further observation was possible and no beeper signals were heard. No search and rescue operations were conducted due to the location and the high enemy threat in the area. On 19 August 1966 a Hanoi newspaper article related the capture of a downed American pilot on 1 August 1966 in the same general area of this incident. This could correlate to Capt. Kwortnik. During the existence of JCRC, the hostile threat in the area precluded any visits to or ground inspections of the sites involved in this case. This individual's name and identifying data were turned over to the Four-Party Joint Military Team with a request for any information available. No response was forthcoming. Capt. Kwortnik is currently carried in the status of Missing. His remains were recovered on August 14, 1985. His name is inscribed on the Courts of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial. (http://airforce.togetherweserved.com/usaf/servlet/tws.webapp.WebApp?cmd=ShadowBoxProfile&type=PersonAircraftExt&ID=29431) and http://airforce.togetherweserved.com/usaf/servlet/tws.webapp.WebApp?cmd=ShadowBoxProfile&type=Person&ID=80728&source=fold3)
Sadly we do not have any photos of the aircraft while stationed at Udorn Air Base.

56-929 (c/n 1217)

This Starfighter was one of the 12 additional Starfighters delivered to 435TFS at Udorn AB on July 22nd, 1966. It received overhaul a number of times, including from 23 August till late August and from 17 till 26 October 1966. On November 16th it encountered a ground incident of which no details are known. In fact it could return to the squadron soon after. At the end of its days in Udorn it got "MARGARET" applied as nickname on its nose. This name was chosen by its pilot Arthur K. Poe. It was the name of his beloved wife. Beneath a photo of the aircraft just after delivery to 198 TFS at Muniz in 1967 by Jesús González Cano.

Interesting nickname "MARGARETH" on the nose of the 56-929, as seen at Muniz AB in 1967. (Jesús González Cano)

56-932 (c/n 1220)

This Starfighter was delivered to 435TFS at Udorn AB in February 1967. After the Starfighter operations ended at Udorn AB it was flown back to the USA where it was assigned to the 198th TFS based at Muniz AFB, Puerto Rico ANG, from August 1967. Sadly we do not have any photos of the aircraft while stationed at Udorn Air Base.

56-933 (c/n 1221)

It is not exactly known when this F-104 was delivered to 435thTFS at Udorn AFB but it was prepared for SEA from mid July 1966 and it was already seen at Udorn that year. After the Starfighter operations ended in the SEA this particular aircraft was flown to Edwards Air Force base in July 1967 to serve the AFSC test center. Sadly we do not have any photos of the aircraft while stationed at Udorn Air Base.

56-936 (c/n 1224)

This F-104C was delivered to 435th TFS at Udorn AFB on November 21st, 1966 and returned to the USA when it was delivered to the 198th TFS (156th FG) at Muniz AFB, Puerto Rico ANG on August 15th, 1967. The aircraft, flown by Tom Mahan, got a nickname painted on its nose "Lill poo II". Tom once stated: “the name ‘Lil Poo II’ was only on the left side of my machine. The name is a familiar reference to the fact most Fighter Pilots have a rival in their lives –their machine and their wife. I used Poo as a familiar term during our courtship with Shirley and carried it over to my machine - in deference to her and the myth of conflicting loves. I cannot help but think of a famous admonition a general officer once told us: Know your Men and your Machines; and do not mix them up. ‘II’ meant the second love of my life. Shirley was the first”.Rodney Trimble also remembers the last flight of Tom before going back to the US. Rodney Trimble’s story: “We were over N. Vietmam (South end) heading back to Udorn. Right after this we dropped down to 500' AGL and practiced, in place 4 point rolls, for a last fly by. They were damn good too. I managed to hit a buzzard on the right windshield post at 550 IAS . No time to evade his death wish. Made a mess of my canopy for short while until the wind blew it off. We won't talk of the mess in the cockpit….
Tom made a last pass over Udorn and pulled up vertical, slowly rolling the plane and finally went through a layer of sirius clouds and out of sight, almost, It seems that he blew a hole in the high sirius clouds and the hole kept getting larger and larger as he continued to climb through the center of the hole. The hole continued to grow amazing the people watching”.

F-104C 56-936, flown by Tom Mahan, was nicknamed “Lil Poo II”, it was only applied on the left side. (Thailand, 1967, Rodney Trimble)

56-938 (c/n 1226)

This Starfighter was one of the 8 first Starfighters delivered at Udorn AFB on June 6th, 1966. It returned back in the USA (Muniz AFB, 198th TFS, Puerto Rico ANG) on 20 August 1967. The pilot of the aircraft was Major Bobby Bedsworth. He came from the State Missouri, known as the "Show Me" State. For this reason a Mule was painted on his aircraft nose with this text. When arriving in Puerto Rico the nose art was still visible.

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Nice nose art on the F-104C 56-938 showing a mule with Missouri state-ment.. Arriving at Muniz AFB, Puerto Rico, still wearing the nose-art.
In the background one of the F-86 Sabres which were replaced by the fresh arriving  F-104s. (Julio Fuentes coll.)