F-16 vs F-104 maximum speed at various altitudes

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delta2014

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Unread post31 Jul 2015, 19:21

Hi to everyone,

I have heard that the F-104 Starfighter is a very fast Century Series fighter. Is it faster than the F-16?

Would someone be able to give approximate numbers for both aircraft?

Maximum attainable airspeed at full AB power in level flight for the following altitudes:

* Sea level

* 40,000 ft.

* 50,000 ft.

* 60,000 ft.

This would be very interesting to know!

Thanks very much,

Delta2014
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sprstdlyscottsmn

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Unread post31 Jul 2015, 22:53

Well, the F-104 holds the Sea Level speed record. It has flown M2 at 73,000ft so it mas more than enough thrust to punch through M2 below that. I have a picture on my phone of the cockpit panel showing M2.25 at unspecified altitude. To the best of my knowledge no Viper has been over 2.05. Ask an operational guy like Gums to be sure but I think it will go like this. The Viper will get to it's max speed faster than the Zipper, but with the right J79 the Zipper will pass it eventually at all altitudes.
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Unread post01 Aug 2015, 01:02

sprstdlyscottsmn wrote:Well, the F-104 holds the Sea Level speed record. It has flown M2 at 73,000ft so it mas more than enough thrust to punch through M2 below that. I have a picture on my phone of the cockpit panel showing M2.25 at unspecified altitude. To the best of my knowledge no Viper has been over 2.05. Ask an operational guy like Gums to be sure but I think it will go like this. The Viper will get to it's max speed faster than the Zipper, but with the right J79 the Zipper will pass it eventually at all altitudes.



There's an old Code One article where they'd planned on taking the Red Baron Starfighter record with the F-16. The USAF shot the idea down.
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Unread post01 Aug 2015, 06:34

A Starfighter piloted by Major H.C. Johnson held the world altitude record back in 1958 at 91,249 feet. Also, Captain W.W. Irwin on May 17, 1958 set a new speed record at 1404.90 mph plus there were 7 "time to climb" records set on December 18, 1958. The Starfighter was also the first jet aircraft to exceed 100,000 feet in altitude on December 14, 1959 when it went to 103,395.5 feet. In doing so it set a "time to climb" record of 30,000 meters in 5 minutes, 4.92 seconds.
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Unread post01 Aug 2015, 13:29

Once a F-104 made a barrel roll around an SR-71 at 72.000 ft.

F-104 was FAST.

F-16 has a cockpit- plastic limitation of 850 Kts. (not a good idea to sit behind melting plastic at speed)
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Unread post01 Aug 2015, 14:41

vilters wrote:Once a F-104 made a barrel roll around an SR-71 at 72.000 ft.

F-104 was FAST.

F-16 has a cockpit- plastic limitation of 850 Kts. (not a good idea to sit behind melting plastic at speed)


Is that 850 true airspeed or calibrated airspeed? Can't be TAS, 850 is too slow. Airplane limit speed is 800 CAS, so 850 CAS for the canopy makes no sense. Anyone know the actual limit?
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Unread post01 Aug 2015, 16:12

If the F-104 was able to reach Mach 2 at 73,000 ft., then what was it able to do at the tropopause (40,000 ft.)? Putting aside structural limitations and engine damage, was the F-104 capable of a really high Mach number -- perhaps Mach 2.5+? For example, if an F-104 pilot was flying at 40,000 ft. and was at Mach 2.2, would the F-104 be accelerating at a certain rate that the pilot could tell what Mach the aircraft could reach, even if this speed was in reality unattainable because of cockpit plexiglass limitations or airframe limitations or engine temperature limitations?
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Unread post02 Aug 2015, 06:10

The speed record I mentioned above was at 36,000 feet.
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Unread post03 Aug 2015, 13:33

"There I was. . ."
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Unread post10 Oct 2015, 19:04

johnwill wrote:
Is that 850 true airspeed or calibrated airspeed? Can't be TAS, 850 is too slow. Airplane limit speed is 800 CAS, so 850 CAS for the canopy makes no sense. Anyone know the actual limit?


The high alt limit is determined by the inlet is it not?

For the F-104 flight manuals peg the high alt limit to M2.2 due to CIT
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Unread post11 Oct 2015, 18:18

Somewhere I have a document describing Ps at various speeds and altitudes and for 2.2M and 50,000ft it still held about 5,000ft/m Ps.
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Unread post11 Oct 2015, 21:56

johnwill wrote:
vilters wrote:Once a F-104 made a barrel roll around an SR-71 at 72.000 ft.

F-104 was FAST.

F-16 has a cockpit- plastic limitation of 850 Kts. (not a good idea to sit behind melting plastic at speed)


Is that 850 true airspeed or calibrated airspeed? Can't be TAS, 850 is too slow. Airplane limit speed is 800 CAS, so 850 CAS for the canopy makes no sense. Anyone know the actual limit?


In the early 1980s some of us used to say that the F-16 "...has an 800 KIAS limit, which gives you a 54 knot pad before it blows up."

I don't recall the exact circumstances, but as best I remember an F-16A on an FCF out of Eglin finished its Mach run, turned around and headed back towards the beach, The pilot unloaded, left it in full AB, and let the airspeed go. He hit 854 KIAS before the engine apparently blew up, the flight controls were damaged, the unstable aircraft went out of control and broke up inflight. Somehow the pilot managed to eject, but broke his neck in the high speed / unstable ejection. The seat and chute worked as designed, horse collar inflated upon sensing salt water, but he drowned because he apparently could not hold his head up out of the water. (That's all a recollection from a safety brief a LONG time ago, so someone correct any details I screwed up.)

I've also heard that the canopy was the reason for the 800 KIAS limit, but in this case the engine blew up before the canopy melted or collapsed.

I did FCFs at Kunsan in 1985. The Mach run at FL360 was only supposed to run out to about M1.6. I think I may have seen 1.65 or 1.7, but that was about all she would do in level flight if you wanted to land with fuel in the tanks. As I recall M1.6 at FL360 was only about 575-600 KIAS, well short of the 800 KIAS limit.

On the other hand, I have had the Viper run right up to 800 KIAS on the deck, and had to pull the power back to keep from exceeding that. We were the only ones that could catch an F-111F on the deck, but then they could go that fast for hours, and we'd be on hydrazine if we did it for more than a minute.
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Unread post11 Oct 2015, 23:36

Joe Dryden did this write up in Code 1 - assume its the same:


Now for the promised physical limits. Two examples are worthy of discussion. The first involves the calibrated airspeed limit on the F-16. The Dash One sets the knots calibrated airspeed, or KCAS, limit at 800 knots. Interestingly, the airspeed limit is actually based on the engine operation. With the original -200 version of the F100 engine, you almost had to dive into the point to exceed 800 knots. But just such a dive could surpass the physical limits of the engine because the -200 engine control system essentially runs open loop. That is, the control system would allow the compressor discharge pressure to increase beyond the physical limits of the engine. Therefore, the limit was established at 800 knots to ensure that the -200 engine remained within its envelope.

A tragic accident exemplifies the frivolity (read stupidity) of exceeding this limit. One of the pilots in the test squadron at Eglin (someone who certainly should have known better) took it upon himself to see just how fast the F-16 would go. On the way back from a rather mundane test mission, he climbed to 16,000 feet, turned the wick full up, and nosed over into a dive. In reconstructing the flight, we feel that he got well on the high side of 850 knots. Since the compressor discharge pressure was uncontrolled, the pressure became high enough to distort the engine case. The turbine rubbed the engine case at a ferocious rate, went through the turbine tip seals, and began eating into the engine case with equal fury.
.....

Somehow our intrepid (but not too forward-thinking) aviator got out of the ruined airplane. But he broke both arms in the process. He ended up drowning in the Gulf of Mexico. A very bad scene from any perspective.

Those of you who may have been getting in the books or listening to the engine awareness briefings of both Pratt & Whitney and General Electric will probably now want to point out that the later -220 and -229 versions of the F100 and all models of the GE F110 engine have positive, closed-loop control systems. I'm glad you've been paying attention. The -220 engine has more thrust than the -200, once you get it moving. But it is seldom more than ten percent better. So you'll still usually have to dive the airplane to exceed 800 knots.
----
I almost choke, however, when I hear that some pilots have had the airplane as fast as 870 knots. Even considering that the speed may inflate a little every time the story is told, I really don't like to hear about anyone exceeding 800 knots for no apparent reason.
Why? Anybody have a clue?
The answer concerns the canopy. It has never been qualified at the kind of airloads and temperatures involved with flight in excess of 800 knots. If you don't think the airspeed effects on the canopy are real, the next time you have the opportunity to fly for any period of time with the clock reading more than 500 knots, take your glove off and feel the inside of the canopy. It gets damned warm. Further, the effects are exponential. And going from 500 to 800 knots is a hell of a lot more than the sixty-percent increase that simple, linear arithmetic would lead you to believe.

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Unread post12 Oct 2015, 05:50

These comments about the canopy or the engine being the cause of the 800 kcas speed limit for the F-16 are false. It has been said that the canopy was never cleared for anything above that limit, or the engine will blow up above that limit. Both true statements, but neither is the reason for the limit.

The reason for the limit is that is what the USAF specified as maximum speed in what is called the Structural Design Criteria report (16PS007) and other documents. So the entire airplane (structure, flight controls, engine, canopy, EVERYTHING) is analyzed, designed, manufactured, ground tested, and flight tested to show safe flight up to that speed and nothing more. Is it safe at 810 or 820? Probably, but no work was done to verify that.

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