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Aviation History Month Day 25 - 25th of November 1961

It was on this day in aviation history, 60 years ago to date, that the first loss of a Canadian built CF-104 Starfighter occurred.

The wreckage of CF-104 12712

The aircraft had started its flight at Canadair's Montreal manufacturing facility for a production test flight. It was still owned by Canadair,

During testing of the Automatic Pitch System, the pilot lost control of the aircraft when it entered a deep stall ( the angle of attack is such horizontal stabilizers/elevators are in the turbulent airflow aft of the mainplane. This will substantially reduce the effectiveness of the horizontal stabilizer and elevator. (It will also result in greatly reduced rudder authority) The pilot ejected safely and the aircraft crashed in a wooded area near Montreal.

The cause of the crash was said to be caused by a rigging (mis-rigging) issue. What was mis-rigged remains unclear.

What also remains unclear is if the rigging issue occurred during the production and went unnoticed or during maintenance during the test flight program One of the statements from the investigation states that it was possible for the aircraft to enter a deep stall due to a mos-rigged gear door which disabled the Stall warning system, allowing the aircraft to enter the deep stall without pre-warning the pilot.

The Canadair built CF-104 Starfighter is a modified and Canadian built (under license from Lockheed( version of the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter. Although the original aircraft (the F-104) was designed as an interceptor the CF-104 was primarily used as a ground-attack aircraft.

In principle the CF-104 was similar to the F-104G there were some differences, mainly;

  • Provision for a ventral reconnaissance pod

  • Replacing the M61A1 canon with a fuel cell

  • Larger stroke shock absorbers on the main gear

  • Bigger main gear wheels

Canadair produced 200 CF-104's with the first flight of a CF-104 taking place on the 26th of May 1961.


Two variants were built;

  • CF-104 Single-seat fighter-bomber version for the RCAF.

  • CF-104D Two-seat training version for the RCAF.

Besides the CF-104's Canadair also produced 140 F-104G's under license for Lockheed.

Specifications for the single-seat CF-104;

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1

  • Length: 54 ft 6 in (16.7 m)

  • Wingspan: 21 ft 9 in (6.63 m)

  • Height: 13 ft 5 in (4.08 m)

  • Empty weight: 14,000 lb (6,300 kg)

  • Max takeoff weight: 29,038 lb (13,171 kg)

  • Powerplant: 1 × Orenda J79-OEL-7 afterburning turbojet, 10,000 lbf (44 kN) thrust dry, 15,800 lbf (70 kN) with afterburner


  • Maximum speed: 1,146 mph (1,844 km/h, 996 kn)

  • Range: 1,630 mi (2,630 km, 1,420 nmi)

  • Service ceiling: 50,000 ft (15,240 m)


  • Guns: 1× 20 mm (0.79 in) M61A1 Vulcan cannon

  • Other: External bombs, rockets and missiles

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