The F-104 Starfighter was built by Lockheed as a single supersonic interceptor fighter and fighter-bomber originally for the United States Air Force (USAF). More than a dozen allied air forces of the world purchased this aircraft from Lockheed as 2,578 were built.
This first flight was on 17 February 1956 and the first Starfighter went on-line on 20 February 1958. One of the “Century Series” of fighter aircraft was designed by a Lockheed team led by Clarence “Kelly” Johnson who helped develop such Lockheed famous aircraft such as the civilian Constellation, the military P-38 Lighting, Electra 10A, C-130 Hercules and many other well-known aircraft.
Later Kelly Johnson, the chief engineer at “Skunk Works”, played a major part in developing a highly classified place called “Area 51” which has been used in the past (maybe the future) for testing of new, classified aircraft and other military gear.
The F-104 would set numerous speed and altitude records. Several variants were produced for Canada, Italy, and other nations.
The Starfighter advancement among nations was marred by a bribery scandal involving Lockheed and serval countries in Europe and Japan. This tainted the image of Lockheed’s management. The F-104 itself seemed to weather the storm as it was sold to many European and Asian countries.