Language selection


What’s a Starfighter?

Heroes Remember

What’s a Starfighter?

Interviewer: Can you let us know a little bit about what type of plane you were flying? It was the Starfighter, the CF 104, wonderful airplane. We, Canada, bought about 234 of them I think. It, it had a reputation that was earned for it primarily by the German Airforce. It was called the "widow maker", or the "man with the missile in it", a bunch of things, which were mostly media figments. No one that I've ever met who flew the airplane or worked on it didn't love it. It was a tremendously powerful airplane, tiny little airplane. It was just a cigar tube with a couple of little stubby wings and a great big engine. Would go like the hogs of hell. It was one of the fastest airplanes out there. It wouldn't carry as much as, as some of the bigger airplanes, it wouldn't turn, wouldn't dogfight like some of the bigger airplanes, but if you wanted a run, there weren't many airplanes that would, it was a Cadillac of an airplane. Single engine, which meant it was fairly vulnerable to things like foreign object damage in the engine, or a birdstrike taking out the engine, and an airplane like that with, with a single engine if you lose it, you know there is no, there is no forced landing that airplane. If you lose the engine, you will eject. So it was a, it was an airplane with a flight envelope that had that had to be respected. It was not a forgiving airplane, if you flew it out of control inadvertently, you were probably going to eject. So you really had to be on your toes with the airplane, but at the same time it was a very honest airplane, it would tell you when it wasn't happy, you know when you were manoeuvring it and you were getting close to the edge of the envelope, it would tell you, and it would give you warning to back off and if you didn't, well then, something bad would happen. So I loved the airplane, absolutely loved the airplane, I'd, I'd climb into one today in a heartbeat. Interviewer: Can you tell me a bit about the crew on the airplane, what, what the numbers might be at one time? Well, plus or minus, it was one. Interviewer: That's all? The Starfighter was a single-seat fighter, as was the F-18 that I flew after that. Now, most, I mean any modern fighters are either single-seat or, or at most two, you know with a pilot and a navigator, or a systems operator. In the case of the In the case of the Starfighter, and today the CF-18, the crew is one, so you're, you're a busy person. Interviewer: And the, and the whole responsibility is on yourself? Well you, you're carrying a fair bit of firepower, you know especially now on the CF-18, but even then we carried a fair bit of firepower and you were responsible for putting it in the right place, and the consequences of, of failure were obviously significant.

Mr. Hawn describes the Starfighter CF104, the plane he flew while stationed in West Germany.

Laurie Hawn

Mr. Hawn was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 1947. After finishing High School, Mr. Hawn opted to join the Air Force in order to further his education, with an ultimate goal of becoming a pilot. At the age of 18, Mr. Hawn flew for the first time, and by the age of 19 he became a flight instructor. First with T-Birds (T33's), then with Starfighters (CF104's). After instructing for 5 years in Cold Lake, Alberta, in April 1972, Mr. Hawn accepted a 3 ½ year posting with NATO in West Germany. After finishing his tour in West Germany, Mr. Hawn returned to flight instructing in Cold Lake, but was regularly posted to West Germany for a few weeks at a time. In 1988, Mr. Hawn was made Commanding Officer of 416 squadron. He held the position for 2 years, relinquishing it only weeks before the start of the first Gulf War, having only just stepped down, Mr. Hawn severely disappointed when he was not chosen to accompany the squadron when posted to Iraq. After a 30 year career, Mr. Hawn retired from the service. He now resides in Edmonton, Alberta, with his wife and family.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Laurie Hawn
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Peacekeeping/Peacemaking in West Germany
Air Force

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

Related Videos

Date modified: