Skip to comments.The forgotten father of the Eurofighter Typhoon: the F-104 CCV
Posted on 03/10/2014 12:43:45 AM PDT by sukhoi-30mki
Even if the last F-104 fighter jets in active service were retired by the Italian Air Force on Oct. 31, 2004, the Starfighter legacy survived in a modern combat plane: the Eurofighter Typhoon. Whereas the various G, S, ASA and ASA-M variants never featured it, there was an F-104 example fitted with fly-by-wire controls which flew about thirty years before the Italian Zippers were grounded forever.
During the 1970s, Germany understood that future fighters would need to achieve high agility as well as the ability to fly at high angles of attack. These capabilities required an unstable aircraft configuration.
In 1974, in order to address the need to test how a highly unstable supersonic jet fighter equipped with a proper redundant flight control system would fly, the German Ministry of Defense authorized MBB to proceed with the so-called Control Configured Vehicle (CCV) program.
The outcome of the CVV would be a fly-by-wire testbed: the aircraft selected for testing campaign was the F-104G, which was preferred over the F-4F since the Phantom was too big and too heavy, even if its size would have offered more space for test equipment than the Starfighter.
The first phase of the trials was aimed at defining the parameters for the control algorithms of the CCV and its sensors: it lasted from Sept. 27 to Nov. 4, 1976 andwas accomplished with thirteen flights.
The second phase saw the aircraft flying in two different versions, the B (for Basic) and E (with E for Ente which means duck, because of the canard configuration).
Flight after flight, from a stable aircraft the F-104 became an unstable platform, a goal reached shifting the neutral point and centre of gravity of the Starfighter.
The first complete mission in CCV mode was flown on Oct. 2, 1979 by the B1 model fitted with the Control Configured Vehicle software. Another variant followed the B1: the B2 with 600 kg aft and 130 kg forward ballasts.
But the first real unstable flight took place on Nov. 20, 1980 when, along with a 240 kg nose ballast, an additional F-104 elevator was mounted behind the cockpit; a version known as E1. With this variant, the neutral point was moved forward, while the E2 configuration, adding 400 kg aft ballast, shifted back the centre of gravity.
At that point the F-104 was really unstable and 26 sorties were conducted between July and September 1981. All the flights were safely conducted and the nose trim weight was replaced with another 200 kg ballast, realizing the E3 configuration.
With this additional ballast the Starfighter could perform flights at 20 percent negative longitudinal stability.
The testing phase lasted about four years during those the F-104 CCV demonstrator was pivotal to the design and development of a delta-canard control system later adopted by the Eurofighter Typhoon.
Dario Leone for The Aviationist
Image credit: GAF via Key Publishing forum
I understand it’s a testbed but I’d hate to think of flying that thing in combat with the airfoil blocking the pilots view to the rear.
“... Id hate to think of flying that thing in combat with the airfoil blocking the pilots view to the rear.”
What do you think about the rear view of the bomb truck called F-35?
One of my greatest days included a backseat mission to the range in an F-104 out of Luke AFB. We dropped practice bombs and straffed the rags. What an experience. Often when we weren’t running intercepts with fighters from Luke and DM we would go to the F-104 simulator and take turns flying it. My cousin who had never been in service visited and I took him to simulator and he spent over an hour in it. The NCO taught us everything to do to reset the simulator and he would leave so that we had it to ourselves. Then the F-4 simulator arrived and we couldn’t get close to it. They were too busy and it was too fragile.
Holy crap, the Eurofighter has a mechanically scanned radar?!! That’s like opening the hood of your new Porsche and finding an aspirating carburetor. How last-generation can you get...
It definitely has a blind spot low and toward its 6 o'clock. The twin verticals don't help the rearview either.
“Holy crap, the Eurofighter has a mechanically scanned radar?!! Thats like opening the hood of your new Porsche and finding an aspirating carburetor.”
Don’t be surprised but many modern Porsche are without “Turbo”. There are even diesel engines available. No, I am not talking about Porsche Cayenne.
What is the advantage of an EASA radar then your hook can’t catch the wire?
You know those rear-view backing-up cameras that new cars increasingly have? How about a rear-facing camera on the tail feeding a pilot display?
With or without the 360° Helmet Mounted Cueing System and multiple cameras around the airframe?
I am a huge fan. As a kid I built the revelle (I think?) model. I remember it being “ the missle with a man in it “ and watching the right stuff as Chuck Yeager takes it into near space with the modified nf104a starfighter with added rocket motor to get him up where there is no air around 120000ft. Of course he couldn’t get it out of a flatspin so he could not restart the jet nor dead stick it and he bailed out.
Great fast Kelly Johnson vehicle
“With or without the 360° Helmet Mounted Cueing System and multiple cameras around the airframe?”
The view for the high resolution system of eyeball MK1 in assistance with high resolution system mirror MKx. System mirror has a far better MTBF compared to any camera or helmet mounted system. No need for much software code integrated somewhere.
Standard sensor package on every current fighter should alert the pilot before eyeball MK1 makes contact.
Maybe the A/F-35 goose is cocked within visible range so view would not help anything at all.
I believe the Darth Vader helmet makes it possible to see 360° in every direction.
British Aerospace EAP
What was learned from these two test planes--especially the delta wing with forward canard configuration and studying how to get maximum maneuverability from this configuration--shaped the final design of the Typhoon.
it’s called a lawn dart for a reason.
Starfighters dug more trenches across Europe than the Wehrmacht.
Thank you for this historical note on the F-104
Thanks for the ping. The F-104 was known as a widow maker. One of its victims was a good friend of mine.