It was the first fighter to hold the official world records for speed, time to climb, and altitude. The F-104 set a speed record of 1,404 mph in 1958 and an altitude record of over 103,000 feet in 1959. The F-104 served with air forces of many other nations, such as Canada, Japan, Germany, Italy, Greece, Spain, Jordan, Turkey, Taiwan, Pakistan, Belgium and the Netherlands. Approximately 2,536 were built, most under license in Europe, Canada and Japan. Only about a third were built in the U.S. The U. S. Air Force accepted only 296 of that total. The last ones in U. S. service were retired from the Air National Guard in 1975, but the type continued in service in many other countries for a number of years after that.
It was the first "lightweight" fighter with its maiden flight in 1954. It became operational in 1958. Known as the "missile with a man in it", it was designed around the most powerful engine of the time, the General Electric J79. F-104s were sent to Vietnam but were not effective. The F-104 has a very short wingspan. It measures less than 22 feet from wing tip to tip and is only 10 in. thick at the thickest point. While on the ground, protective covers were installed to protect the ground crews from the sharp edges.
26 F-104Bs, the two seat version of the F-104A, and 20 F-104Ds, the two seat version of the F-104C, were built for the USAF. The CAM aircraft was restored for the Air Force by an outside contractor. Why it was painted with a F-104B tail number is not known.