Designed as a day fighter, the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter was created by placing the most powerful available jet engine in the smallest possible fuselage. USAF pilots called it the Zipper or the Zip.
Source: United States Air Force
It was the first aircraft to do sustained Mach 2 flight and the first to hold speed and altitude records simultaneously, as well as the first to reach 100,000 feet.
The Starfighter had a terrible safety record. It had tiny wings, a thin, heavy fuselage and a T-tail that created serious aerodynamic issues. In addition, early J79 engines were notoriously unreliable.
The USAF bought some F-104s for the Air Defense Command as stopgap interceptors until F-106s arrived. It also bought some F-104s as interim fighter-bombers until the F-105 was available.
The USAF only purchased 296 F-104s. The small fuselage limited internal fuel capacity and prevented it from having a powerful radar. When F-105s and F-106s arrived, only...