April 28. 1980 an accident occured that could have ended in disaster. 2nd Lt Roar Strand in 633 and Lt Geir Haugland in 631 were on approach to Bodø when both planes experienced loss of hydraulic power. Strand touched down first and skidded off the runway before the plane came to a stop. Emediately afterwords Haugland came. Unable to control the fighter he stayed on board as it also came off the tarmac and actually hit 633. Miraculously, damage to the airframes were minor and both pilots escaped unscathed.
Towards the end of the seventies, the Soviet air-activity increased substantially. In 1979 a total of 150 interceptions were carried out, mostly by 331 squadron.
The next year this increased to 200. By then, time was running out for the Norwegian Starfighters. The decicion was made to replace both F-104G and F-5 with the newer generation F-16. In january 1981 the first pilots were sent south to Rygge to start training on the new fighter. 331 squadron recieved their first F-16s in June the same year.
The ageing Starfighters were formally US property and being phased out of Norwegian service they were delivered bact to USAF where their destiny would be decided. During June and July 1981 there were many trips to Great Britain as the F-104Gs were ferried over. From there they became objects of a new military aid programme, this time in Turkey.
The howling plane would still be heard over Bodø for some time, but the era of the Starfighter was over. The final F-104 to serve in Bodø was a german write-off, painted in 331 interceptor colours and put on a pedestal as gatekeeper by the bases main entrance.
Canada entered the F-104 programme when the decition was made to equip their eight squadrons in Europe with this type. The Canadair plant in Montreal was given the contract on july 24 1959. In adition to 200 CF-104 fo the Canadian Airforce, the factory would deliver 140 traditional F-104G to the USAF for further distribution under MAP.
The fighters engine was also built under licence in Canada with the designation J79-OEL-7.
The first CF-104 was brought to Lockheed in Palindale for testing and at may 26 1961 the fighter flew for the first time. The CF-104 as n essence identicto the F-104G, exept for some slight modifications. The Canadian planes were equipped for aerial refueling and it could be fitted with a camera-pod on the centreline station. The Royal Canadian Air Force also used the two-seater variant, designated CF-104D. They were built by Lockheed in a total of 38 planes. The last 16 fighters were given minor upgrades to their equipment and called CF-104D MK II. The Canadian Airforce gradually reduced its presence in the European NATO forces and a number of CF-104 and CF-104D were taken out of service. The planes were flown to Scottish Aviation Ltd. in Great Britain to be stored and eventually sold.
Due to many writeoffs of Norwegian F-5 Freedomfighters, it was decided to reduce the number of squadrons using the type, so that those in operation could be brought up to full strength. 334 Squadron was chosen to convert from F-5 to CF-104, thereby ensureing that all Starfighters were located at one base. Negotiations with Canadian authorities were started in january 1972. Still the Danish Airforce came there first and ran away with the best merchandise. The Norwegians got what was left of the fighterplanes, newly painted in an olive green/light gray colourscheme.
22 fighters, including three two-seaters were bought, clerarly distinguishable from the existing metal/light gray F-104G at 331 Squadron.
Canadian service the planes were configured in the "deep strike"-role.
To extend the range, the gun was left out and an extra fueltank installed.Scottish
Aviation Ltd. was given a contract to modify the planes and the first was
taken to GB in December 1974. Basically the modifications would bring the
CF to a weaponary standard equal to the G-models. This meant reinstalling
the 20 mm M-61 cannon. Later, ALR-46 radar warning receivers were fitted.
The radar was upgraded in Norway to better cover air-to-air situations.
334 squadron had been flying the Northrop F-5 since the summer of 1967 when the decition was made to convert to CF-104. The purchase took conciderable time, and the first plane, the two-seater 637 landed in Bodø in the spring of 1973.
During january to March 1974, the squadrons F-5 planes were distributed to other squadrons in the Airforce.
Operation with the CF-104 outside Bodø took place in August/September 1974 from the base at Ørland. There training was undertaken in air-to-ground delivery at Uttian firingrange.
860 in its true element
In exchange for the missing cannon, a firing-pod was mounted on the centerline station. Each pod could be fitted with 2.75" rockets and four training-bombs. This training was repeated the year after.
At the Squadrons 30th anniversary in june 1975, a display was held by three planes from 334 sq. called "Green arrows". Earlier the same month, four Starfighters had participated during Hjalmar Riiser-Larsens memorial airshow at Rygge. In August, the squadron was moved to Bardufoss for participation in a NATO-exercise before the program was completed for that year in October with a one week stay at Lista. In March 1976, 334 sq. again was deployed at Bardufoss to join The Nato exercise "Atlas Express". Deployment to Bardufoss then became an annual event, either for weapons training or for NATO exercises.
The first squadron-exchange abroad took place in 1976 and would lead to consequenses in many aspects. Hosts were the German Marineflieger MFG2 at Eggebeck Airbase in northern Germany. Back in Bodø, the squadron was met by representatives from the Norwegian customs for a routine control. In four of the planes were found 400 bottles of wine and liquer. Leaks of the news was unavoidable and the story made big headlines all over the country.
In september, four planes were able to visit Sola Airbase for almost a month. From sep 22. to oct 29. a plane from 334 was sent to Vidsel Airbase in Sweden to test a new type of cluster bomb. Cpt. Steinar Berg took part in this programe.
The years went by with trips abroad, some accompanied by 331 sq. and participation in competitions and exercises in various countries. From 1981 the squadron was the only one equipped with Strafighters in Norway. Later this squadron too was supposed to convert to F-16. As an honourable farewell to the Starfighters Norwegian servicelife, 334 managed to take a total of 18 planes to the air. They formed a grand formation and overflew the town. Yet after one had got snags and had to land.
In january 1982, conversion to F-16 gathered momentum, and the Starfighters only received maintennance-flights to uphold the readyness. June 13. the same year, the first plane was phased out, one CF-104 and one TF-104G, both are on display at the Flysamlingen Gardermoen. From November the remaining Starfighters would be seen taking off for Sola where they wer kept in storage to await further dispositions.