F-104G 21+57 started life as construction number 683D-7036/company model 683-10-19 at Messerschmitt as a fighter-bomber version of the first lot. Assembly of the aircraft was done at Messerschmitt-Manching using parts provided by Lockheed, starting on the 27th of June 1962. On the 7th of March 1963 the aircraft made its maiden flight and on the 22nd of May the aircraft was accepted by JaboG 33 at Buchel Air base in a silver paint scheme.
From there the aircraft swapped squadrons several times, operating with JaboG 31 Norvenich in 1963 and with JaboG 34 at Memmingen from February 1967. In 1966 the aircraft got an overhaul at SABCA Belgium in 1966 at 347 flight hours. That same year the aircraft also received a Norm 62 camouflage scheme and level 2130 modification. In november of 1984 the aircraft was put into storage at LwSchleuse 11. For a little while it seemed like the aircraft would be unceremonially scrapped or sold. Luckily this wasn’t the case, as on the 29th of April 1985 the aircraft was presented with a special paint job for the the retirement ceremony of the F-104G with JaboG 33 based at Büchel.
The celebrations were shortlived however, because only 31 days later the aircraft made its last flight with OTL Jürgen Stehli at the controls. The was struct of charge with a log of 3.486 flight hours. For a little while the aircraft served as an instructional airframe with JaboG 33, and was later put on display in 1996 at Büchel air base wearing the id 40+33. By the year 2000 the aircraft had become a gate guard with it’s paintjob somewhat incorrectly reverted to its final paint scheme.
The F-104G with the Luftwaffe and JaboG 33
The service life of the F-104G is an infamous story. Providing a modern, high-speed, high-altitude interceptor to complete ground strike missions with a recently reformed air force with pilots and ground crews rushed through training on jets unable to even break the sound barrier spelled doom from the start. Even Erich Hartman, commanding one of the first post-war jet fighter squadrons, considered the aircraft unsafe and unfit for use with the Luftwaffe even before its introduction.
Despite the aformentioned high loss of life and aircraft, the Starfighter served in operations with the Luftwaffe for 27 years from July 1960 until October 1987, continuing its use as a testbed until May 1991. Of the 916 aircraft delivered, 292 crashed claiming the lives of 115 pilots, US instructors and even a ground crew flying as a passenger.
One of the squadrons operating the F-104 Starfighter was JaboG 33 (Jagdbombergeschwader 33), which started as the first flying school of the Luftwaffe in November 1956. By October 1957 the school transferred to Büchel Air Base while operating the F-84F Thunderstreak. In July 1958 the sqaudron was reformed to JaboG 33. By August 1962 the squadron transitioned to F-104 Starfighters which it operated until May 1985. From then on it operated Panavia Tornado IDS aircraft which it still flies to this day.
Currently these are intended to remain in service at least until 2025, ensuring Germany’s nuclear weapon capability, as the now renamed Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 33 is the only remaining unit in the German Air Force capable of delivering nuclear weapons.