|Hobby Master 1/72 Air Power Series
USAF F-104C "Really George", FG 891, 479th TFW
Pilot: Wing Commander Col. George Laven Jr
F-104C “Really George”
Hobby Master has soared to new heights with this particular F-104C. It was the first to
be delivered to the Tactical Air Command (TAC) and appropriately it is the first release in
Hobby Master’s F-104 series. The rocket like shape, the short wingspan with its razor
sharp leading edge and the vivid colors have been masterfully reproduced in this model.
It wasn’t long before the plane fell out of favor with TAC so its stay in USAF inventory
was short 1958–67. A heavily modified version was sold to other countries and even flew
with the Italian AF until 2004. It was fast, could be hard to handle and on occasion would
fly itself into the ground earning many less than favorable nicknames.
From the very tip of the plane to its exhaust, Hobby Master has captured the colors and
subtle shapes that helped make this plane such an icon of flight. Don't let this model do a
"fly pass" of your collection, make sure you clear a landing spot for this great show piece.
The first F-104C took off on its maiden flight on July 24, 1958. The “C” was the tactical
strike version of the Starfighter. March 2, 1956, an initial contract was awarded for 56 F-
104Cs, in December 1956 an additional 21 aircraft were ordered for a total of 77.
The first C-model accepted by Tactical Air Command took place at the annual fighter
weapons meet at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, Nevada, on 15 October 1958. This aircraft
was named “Really George” because its home base would be the 479th TFW at George
AFB, California. Secondly it would be the plane flown by Wing Commander Col. George
Laven Jr. who was a WWII P-38 ace with 5 victories. The paint schemes on some of the
planes from this era, “Really George” being one of them, were quite elaborate especially
The USAF became unhappy with the aircraft's range, load-carrying ability, and
equipment so it began to phase the F-104 out of its inventory in 1967. A heavily modified
version of the Starfighter sold well abroad, especially to the air forces of Germany,
Canada, Japan, Turkey, Taiwan, Spain, Pakistan and Italy, where high-speed fighter-
bomber versions continued in service until the mid 1980s (and, in the case of the Italian
Air Force, until 2004). Starfighters were a well-equipped plane for air-to-air interception,
or air to ground light bombing. It also could be armed with several different guns
depending on the country, with the most common being the 6 barrel M61 Vulcan 20mm
cannon. The F-104 could carry 2 wingtip AIM-9B Sidewinder short-range missiles or
carry a 170 US gallon drop tank at each wingtip. It also could carry AIM-7 Sparrow
medium range missiles, and or up to 4000lbs of ordnance on its 9 hard-points at the
wingtips, under wing, and under the fuselage. The F-104C was a real killer in the sky if
and when it was called upon. The upgraded fighter-bomber version of the 104 saw
limited action in Vietnam, one with the 476th TFS escorting F-105 Thunderchiefs. Even
though the Starfighter never scored a kill in Vietnam it was a great deterrent against Mig
interceptors. A total of 9 F-104s were lost during this war.
The extreme shape of the Starfighter earned it the first nickname of "The Missile With a
Man in it" and some USAF pilots also called it “Zipper” or “Zipper 104” because of it’s
tremendous speed. After it proved to be challenging to fly, with high fatal accident rates,
particularly in German service the plane was given many more nicknames because of its
high speed and ability to occassionally fly itself into the ground. In Germany they referred
to it as Witwenmacher ("widowmaker"), fliegender Sarg ("flying coffin") or Erdnagel
("ground nail", the official military term for a tent peg). Others were, Pakistan Badmash
“Hooligan”, Italy because of it’s spiked nose Spillone “Hatpin” and bara volante “Flying
Coffin”, Canada “Lawn Dart”.
Primarily powered by a single 15 800 lb thrust General Electric J79-GE11A turbojet
engine, equipped with afterburner, it was capable of high speeds (just under 1300 mph)
and high rates of climb. On December 14, 1959, an F-104C set a world altitude record of
103,395 ft (31.5 km). The Starfighter was the first aircraft to hold simultaneous official
world records for speed, altitude, and time-to-climb.
|Span: 21 ft. 11 in.
Length: 54 ft. 10 in.
Height: 13 ft. 6 in.
Weight: 27,853 lbs. max.
Armament: One M-61 20mm cannon, two air-to-air missiles:
nuclear or conventional bombs
Engine: One General Electric J-79 of 15,800 lbs. thrust with afterburner
Cost: $1,471,000 (1950 & early 60’s dollars)
Maximum speed: 1,320 mph.
cruising Speed: 575 mph.
Range: 1,250 miles
Service Ceiling: 58,000 ft.