HISTORIAN'S CORNER - April, 2005
BY: Matt Grogan
In my last article, I discussed the nine Lockheed Martin Collier Trophy winnersduring 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 winnerof the Trophy, Clarence (Kelly) Johnson of the Lockheed Skunk Works. The1958 Trophy was awarded to: "The United States Air Force and Industry Teamresponsible for the F-1 04 Interceptor; Clarence L. Johnson of Lockheed AircraftCorporation 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 pilotswho had encountered the Russian MIG-1 5. The pilots told Johnson that theyneeded a small, light, fast tighter to deal with the MIGs. Johnson returnedto the Skunk Works, where he was the Chief Engineer, and convinced Lockheedmanagement in March of 1952 to fund the design of a new tighter that wasuncomplicated, lightweight, and inexpensive, but one that would be able tooutperform any other fighter in the world. Over the period of the next eightmonths, Johnson and his team explored several design concepts and in Novemberof 1952, presented a design to the USAF for a fast fighter interceptor thatwas 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 prototypeflew 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 tendencyand enhance stability at high speeds and high altitudes. The aircraft wasdesigned for the General Electric J-79 jet engine which had 15,000 lbs. ofthrust (with afterburner) and the aircraft's loaded weight was only 20,000lbs., giving the Starfighter an astounding rate of climb and Mach 2.2 speedcapability. On May 18, 1958, an F-1 04A set a world speed record of 1,404.19mph (2,260 km/h), and on December 14, 1959, an F-1 04C set a world altituderecord of 10,395 ft (31.5 km). The Starfighter was the first aircraft tohold simultaneous official world record for speed, attitude, and time-to-climb.
The load carrying, endurance, and range capabilities of the early Starfightermodels fell short of evolving USAF requirements, however, and consequentlythe USAF bought only 296 F-104As and phased out the aircraft after 1965.But in 1958, Lockheed won a highly contested competition to provide Germanywith a new supersonic multi role fighter. This improved version of the aircraftwas selected by most of the other NATO countries in the "aircraft deal ofthe century." The NATO countries eventually bought 2,578 aircraft, and theF-1 04 proved to be easy to maintain although the very sharp leading edgeof the wing proved to be a hazard for maintenance workers and had to be coveredwhile 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 asa consultant and as a member of the Board of Directors until 1980. Duringhis 42-year career with Lockheed, he received over 50 awards including twoCollier trophies, two Theodore Von Karman awards, the National Medal of Science,and the Wright Brothers Trophy in 1975. He was also awarded the Medal ofFreedom in 1964, the citation for which perhaps best summarizes his contributions:"Kelly Johnson and the products of his famous Skunk Works epitomize the highestand finest goal of our society, the goal of excellence. His record of designachievement in aviation is both incomparable and virtually incredible. Anyone 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