Very few fighter jets have managed to create the nearly cult following of the F-104 Starfighter. This manned missile was notoriously hard to fly and control. As such, creating an RC DTFB version was incredibly hard. I went through seven different design iterations for this aircraft. The F-104 is a rather large aircraft and it takes five sheets of foamboard to build.
The Real Starfighter
The Lockheed F-104 Starfighter was a very early fourth-generation jet fighter designed after the Korean War as an answer to the Soviet MiG-15 and MiG-17. It was designed by the legendary Kelly Johnson, and it was put into service in 1958. While originally envisioned as an air superiority fighter, the USAF chose to use it as an interceptor.
The Starfighter was the first American fighter plane two exceed Mach 2, and it held the speed record for almost 4 months. However it was the first airplane to hold the speed and altitude record at the same time.
Building the F-104 Starfighter
The Starfighter is somewhat difficult to build, the fuselage does have some complexity with the molding technique. There are not many parts to assemble on the Starfighter, which is nice when you’re cutting it out. However, this means that the parts are harder to mold manipulate. Here are the model’s specifications.
WINGSPAN: 69cm (27in)
LENGTH: 148cm (58.4in)
DRY WEIGHT: 700g
ALL UP WEIGHT: 900g (with 4S 2100 mAh, minimum battery)
EXPO: 60 % Ail, 30 % Elv
CHANNELS: 3 (THR | AIL | ELV)
MOTOR: 70MM EDF
ESC: 60 A
SERVOS: 3 X 9 g
BATTERY: 4S 2100 mAh – 4S 2800 mAh
Flying the Starfighter
Here’s a video of me flying the Starfighter, I go over the plane a little more in depth. The flight portion is about 2 and half minutes. The Starfighter is a difficult build but it’s fairly difficult to to fly, the elevator can be twitchy. I’ve crashed several of these planes, the last one I’ve managed not to crash and it looks great hanging on my wall! The real starfighter was designed to fly supersonic, and it wasn’t supposed to fly well when it’s going slow. The way I fixed that on a small scale, was to keep the weight down and to increase the size of the wings a little above what is scale. Even so, it can be a difficult plane to handle but you can get the hang of it. It is certainly not for the novice pilot, or even a novice edf pilot. You need experience to fly it. The good news is that if you don’t, it’s only made of foam and it’s easily rebuildable.
Here's a video of me summarizing the project in a little more detail! The flight portion begins around 3:15.
This is a link to the build thread, where you can find and download plans!