Lockheeds marketing methods. The results for the aeroplane producer however, were brilliant, since the biggest fighter-bomber programme in the western world till its day was signed.

Germany needed a replacement for their ageing Sabres, Thunderstreaks and Thunderflashes. After concidering several European and American types, the redesigned F-104G was chosen as interceptor, fighter-bomber and recce-fighter. The F-104G was modified in several ways from its predecessors. The entire fuselage had been strengthened to permit an increased offensive load. The increased weight however did not reduce the fighters performance. Improved avionics alo gave it an all weather capability. The installation of an Autonetics Fl5A NASARR radar ogfiring guidancesystem and the G-model had the newest engine-version, the J79GE- 11A. Externally, the most noticeable change was the 25% increased vertical tail. The F-104G first flew on october 5. 1960. In addition to the original G-models, Lockheed built 40 Rf-104G, intended to be unarmed recce-planes. Some of these, including the norwegian planes, were deivered in F-104G configuration, fully armed. Of a total 2.578 Starfighters ever built, 1.122 were F-104G. The two-seater, naturally called TF-104G were built in a number of 220 planes by Lockheed, including 48 planes asembled at factories in Europe. The first two Norwegian TF-104G were both built by Lockheed.

The planes that were unloaded and towed through the streets of Bodø, were all brand new.

They had been delivered to USAF between mars and june 1963 and had collected only approx. 20 hours of running time at the time of arrival in Norway

They were designated RF-104G, but all were equipped with the M61 Vulcan 20mm cannon. The engine was the J79-GE-11A. They were also fitted with AN/ARC-552 radiosets, AN/ARN-52 TACAN radio navigation equippment and F-15A-M-11 NASARR radarsystems.

331 Squadron

The first plane to be granted throug the arrival control, was the 61-2626, registered FN-B. However, several of the fighters had already been in the air before that. The first Starfighter to take off from Bodø was the FN-N, at August 12, piloted by an American. Three days later Maor E. Schibbye and Captain A. Hove took two planes up for a short trip. All transition to Starfighters were made on singleseaters. To lead this work, the KNL got assistance from Captain Joe Nevers from USAF. The two-seater TF-104G planes were only ready for delivery after the Croatan had left for Norway. To avoid any delay, USAF airlifted them to Bodø and had them ready september 6. Both trainers were emediately put into the transition-program. The TF-104G was almost identical to the single seaters exept that it lacked the Vulcan cannon. The 3 last planes of the main delivery arrived at Torp airport october 26. 1963, transported there on the USM "Fiddler". Theese were also Lockheed built RF-104G. The 3 last Starfighters to be delivered to 331 Squadron were built by Canadair in Montreal on American contracts as a part of the USAF Military Aid Programme. Theese F-104G were attrition planes in the final block of 44 fighters built by Canadair.

The two first were flown from Ålborg, Denmark to Bodø june 23. and the last arrived the same way in february the followinbg year.

In 1964 a flightsimulator was bought for the humble sum of 10 million NOK. This was very usefull since emergency procedures could be practiced which would be impossible to mimic in a real plane.

The two-seaters became very popular during the first period in Bodø. The pilots of 331 squadron suddenly had many new friends who eagerly wanted to travel at twice the speed of sound. The fenomenon became so common that it was nicknamed the airforces new convenient form of travel. The result was severe restrictions on any use fo the planes outside the pilot training programme. This came as a relief to the squadron personell.

The loss of one two-seater in 1970 was very hard felt and it resulted in the purchase of two extra TF-104G in june 1975.

These were second hand planes, used at the German training centre in USA and they had substantial number of flyinghours in their logbooks.

The first years 331 squadron operated solely as an air to ground unit. From August 1967 this role vas switched to AWX, All weather Interceptor, and the event was marked with a 12-plane formation pasing over the town. This was also the start of an era of countless interceptions of Soviet recconnocence-planes patrolling along the Norwegian teritory. Photos were taken and distributed throughout the NATO sysem. During theese interceptions, the "intruders" were often taken by surprise due to the Starfighters impressing rate of climb. An F-104G used only 4 minutes and 20 seconds from brake release till it reached Mach 1,9 at 62000 feet.

The years passed with several squadron exchanges to other countries and traditional operational flights. October 2nd 1970 was a spesial day for the squadron when Kpt Helge Moe became the first to pass 1000 hours on the Starfighter.

There were red carpet and champagne ready for him at landing. Exept for some minor incidents, 331 squadron had been operational for more than seven years with several thousand flying hours, but with no serious accidents.

November 19. 1970 FN-Z were ready to return to Bodø after a visit to Ålborg, Denmark. Only seconds after takeoff the plane crashed to the ground. The pilot managed to eject safely, but the passenger, wingsergent Ansgar Johannessen has killed. Less than three months later, on february 10. 1971, two Starfighters, with a few minutes sepparation, flew directly into the mountainside of 750 meter Skotstind in Steigen. The two pilots, Lt Rickard Herbert Nyen and Lt Terje Stærkebye were killed instantly. The next accident happened june 21 the same year. FN-C Crashed 19 july 1971 in upper Tollådal in Beiarn. The pilot, Lt Arne Melling ejected safely with minor injury. FN-C was on a training mission in a two-plane formation when the accident occured.

Despite the accidents, 331 squadrons 30. anniversary were celebrated as planned july 24. with an 8-plane formation over town. The only remaining Norwegian Spitfire was restored in the squadrons colorscheme and displayed at the event.

March 21. 1972, the squadron was again in the media. Two soviet Tupolev 16 Badger D, penetrated Norwegian airspace over Værøy on a northern heading. This was a clear violation of internatoional rule, and two Starfighters were scrambled to intercept them and guide them out to international airspace. The incident was obviously a test of the Norwegian readyness and a protest was issued to the Soviet authorities.

The Starfighter also got to show its capabilities in humanitarian work. January 1. 1975 a patient in Oslo desperately needed a kidney from a donor in Tromsø and time was a critical factor. The kidney was flown in a Bell UH-1B from Tromsø to Bardufoss where a Starfighter was waiting. The fighter then flew directly to Gardermoen where medical personell took over, driving with police escort to the hospital. From the requets was sent till the kidney was at the operating table, only 5 hours and 15 minutes had past.

In 1975 the squadron recieved its two last Starfighters, both were two-seaters, bought second hand from Germany. In april 1976 Kpt Helge Moe could logg record breaking 2000 hours at the stick of the F-104G, more than 400 hours longer than the next man on the row. During summer the same year some alarming reports came from Denmark that cracks were discovered in turbineblades in five of their fighters. This lead to a detailed inspection of all the Norwegian Starfighters, but everything turned out to be in order.