HISTORIAN'S CORNER - April, 2005
BY: Matt Grogan
In my last article, I discussed the nine Lockheed Martin Collier Trophy winners
during the modem era of the Trophy, (1932 - present). In my fall'04 article,
I summarized the story of the first Lockheed Martin Collier Trophy winner,
Glenn L. Martin, who received the award in 1932 for the Martin B-1 0 bomber.
For this issue, I thought I would write the story of the second LM winner
of the Trophy, Clarence (Kelly) Johnson of the Lockheed Skunk Works. The
1958 Trophy was awarded to: "The United States Air Force and Industry Team
responsible for the F-1 04 Interceptor; Clarence L. Johnson of Lockheed Aircraft
Corporation for the design of the airframe."
The F-104"Starfighter" was a product of the USAF Korean War air combat experience.
Kelly Johnson traveled to Korea in late 1951 and talked to the F-86 pilots
who had encountered the Russian MIG-1 5. The pilots told Johnson that they
needed a small, light, fast tighter to deal with the MIGs. Johnson returned
to the Skunk Works, where he was the Chief Engineer, and convinced Lockheed
management in March of 1952 to fund the design of a new tighter that was
uncomplicated, lightweight, and inexpensive, but one that would be able to
outperform any other fighter in the world. Over the period of the next eight
months, Johnson and his team explored several design concepts and in November
of 1952, presented a design to the USAF for a fast fighter interceptor that
was very close to the F-1 04
production aircraft. A RFP was soon issued, the Skunk Works won the competition,
was awarded a development contract in March of 1953, and the first prototype
flew a year later in March of 1954.
The F-104 wing design was unique. It was a short, straight, highly loaded,
trapezoidal shape to optimize supersonic performance. The wing was very thin
(only about 4" maximum thickness with a span of 21 ft and 200 sq ft area),
had leading and trailing edge flaps, and used a boundary layer control system
(BLCS) on the trailing edge flaps to lower the takeoff and landing speeds.
The wings were canted downward 10 degrees to offset a Dutch roll tendency
and enhance stability at high speeds and high altitudes. The aircraft was
designed for the General Electric J-79 jet engine which had 15,000 lbs. of
thrust (with afterburner) and the aircraft's loaded weight was only 20,000
lbs., giving the Starfighter an astounding rate of climb and Mach 2.2 speed
capability. On May 18, 1958, an F-1 04A set a world speed record of 1,404.19
mph (2,260 km/h), and on December 14, 1959, an F-1 04C set a world altitude
record of 10,395 ft (31.5 km). The Starfighter was the first aircraft to
hold simultaneous official world record for speed, attitude, and time-to-climb.
The load carrying, endurance, and range capabilities of the early Starfighter
models fell short of evolving USAF requirements, however, and consequently
the USAF bought only 296 F-104As and phased out the aircraft after 1965.
But in 1958, Lockheed won a highly contested competition to provide Germany
with a new supersonic multi role fighter. This improved version of the aircraft
was selected by most of the other NATO countries in the "aircraft deal of
the century." The NATO countries eventually bought 2,578 aircraft, and the
F-1 04 proved to be easy to maintain although the very sharp leading edge
of the wing proved to be a hazard for maintenance workers and had to be covered
while on the ground.
Kelly Johnson's lifelong motto was, 'Be Quick, Be Quiet, and Be On Time.'
He retired in 1975 as Senior Vice President of Lockheed, but continued as
a consultant and as a member of the Board of Directors until 1980. During
his 42-year career with Lockheed, he received over 50 awards including two
Collier trophies, two Theodore Von Karman awards, the National Medal of Science,
and the Wright Brothers Trophy in 1975. He was also awarded the Medal of
Freedom in 1964, the citation for which perhaps best summarizes his contributions:
"Kelly Johnson and the products of his famous Skunk Works epitomize the highest
and finest goal of our society, the goal of excellence. His record of design
achievement in aviation is both incomparable and virtually incredible. Any
one of his many airplane designs would have honored any individual's career.'
He died at age 80 in December of 1990.
4. home. att. net/-ibaugherl tf 1 04_3. html
5. home. att.net/-~baugherl /I 04_1 1.htmI