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Canadian Air Force Base Zweibrucken, Germany

The Canadian Air Division Europe 1951 SOURCE
The RCAF contributed an Air Division (AIR DIV) of 12 F 86 (Sabre) Squadrons (300 Aircraft) to the 4th Allied Tactical Air Force. The first Fighter (F) Wing of three squadrons was established at North Luffenham, England, late in 1951, crossing by sea and by air. The other three wings all flew across the Atlantic to their new bases in France and Germany (2 Wing Grostenquin, France, 3 Wing Zweibrucken, Germany, and 4 Wing Baden-Soellingen, Germany). Early in 1955, 1 Wing moved from North Luffenham, England to Marville, France. Air Division Headquarters was located at Metz, France, and a supporting Air Materiel Base was maintained at Langar, England.

In November 1956, No. 445 Squadron flew from Uplands, ONT. to Marville, France as the first step in a plan to replace one Sabre squadron with one of CF 100 Canucks at each of the four fighter wings of 1 Air Division. The switch was completed early in August 1957, when Air Div Aircraft totalled 200 F 86 Sabres and 100 CF 100 Canucks.

Here are details about the aircraft the Canadians flew over Zweibrucken every day. SOURCE 

Canadair CF-104 Starfighter

During the Korean War Kelly Johnson, chief designer of Lockheed, traveled to American Air Bases in South Korea and interviewed many American "F-86 Sabre" pilots, asking them what they desired most in their "ideal" fighter jets. The answer was the same from everyone: speed and altitude. Thus the concept for the F-104 "Starfighter" was born. Returning to the US, Kelly Johnson "Borrowed" some 460 Five inch rockets from the US army, modified them with different wing designs, remote control equipment and cameras to test and observe the effects. This type of testing was necessary since Kelly Johnson was determined to build the first Mach 2 jet fighter, but in the 1950s there was no air tunnel in the US that was capable of that speed.

The first flight of an F-104 took place in 1954 under the control of Lockheed test pilot Tony Le Vier. The USAF purchased 676 copies of the new fighter plane. Only approximately 300 flew with the USAF with the rest being supplied to other countries.

On July 2, 1959, the CF-104 was selected by the Royal Canadian Air Force to replace the Sabre Mk.6 for use with the Air Division in Europe. However, since the Canadian government wanted equipment to be fitted that was specific to RCAF requirements, it opted to manufacture the aircraft under license in a Canadian factory rather than buy the aircraft outright from Lockheed. On August 14, it was announced that Canadair of Montreal had been selected to manufacture 200 aircraft for the RCAF under license from Lockheed. In addition, Canadair was to manufacture wings, tail assemblies, and rear fuselage sections for 66 Lockheed-built Starfighters that were destined for the West German Luftwaffe. The license production contract was signed on September 17, 1959. Lockheed sent F-104A-15-LO serial number 56-0770 to Canada to act as a pattern aircraft for CF-104 manufacture. It was later fitted with CF-104 fire control systems and flight control equipment and turned over to the RCAF, where it was assigned the serial number of 12700.

Canadair rolled it's first CF-104 out of the Cartierville plant on March 18, 1961 it was the first of 200 built for the RCAF. The first Canadair-constructed CF-104 (RCAF serial number 12701) was airlifted to Palmdale, California in the spring of 1961, where it made its first flight on May 26. The second CF-104 (12702) also made its first flight at Palmdale. The first two CF-104s to fly at Montreal were Nos. 12703 and 12704, which both took to the air on August 14, 1961. Canadair built an additional 150 Starfighters for other NATO Nations. Enheat in Amherst, Nova Scotia built some components for the CF-104 program.

The Canadian-built Starfighter was initially designated CF-111 by the RCAF and later changed to CF-104. They were designated CL-90 by the Canadair factory. This was changed to Canadian serial numbers 12701 through 12900. On May 18, 1970, they were reserialed as 104701 through 104900. The Lockheed-built F-104A pattern aircraft was reserialed from 12700 to 104700.

In parallel with the production of the Starfighter by Canadair, Orenda Engines, Ltd. acquired a license to build the General Electric J-79 engine that was to power it. The Canadian-built J79-OEL-7 rated at 10,000 lbs. static thrust (s.t.) dry and 15,800 lbs. s.t. with afterburning powered the CF-104

Instead of its designed fighter role, the Canadian version of the F-104 was constructed as an attack fighter. In service these aircraft were initially used for photo reconnaissance and nuclear strike missions. Later in their career they reverted to a conventional attack role.

In Canadian service the CF-104 performed very well, it was loved by its pilots and was a powerful aircraft to fly. In the ground attack role the 104 could outrun any of its opponents; however, it was not a forgiving aircraft to fly at low level. During the CF-104 era 37 pilots lost their lives flying this aircraft. Unfortunately the CF-104, the fastest aircraft to serve in the RCAF, was not as manoeuvrable as many other types of aircraft. At low level, this lack of manoeuvrability could be dangerous if a pilot was not paying close attention. Canadian pilots excelled with the Starfighter, some being considered among the best pilots in NATO.

The CF-104 was fitted with equipment specialized for RCAF requirements. It was optimized for the nuclear strike role rather than being a multi-mission aircraft. The CF-104 was fitted with R-24A NASARR (North American Search and Range Radar) equipment that was "peaked" for the air-to-ground mode only. The main undercarriage members were fitted with longer-stroke liquid springs and carried larger tires than the F-10G of the U.S.A.F. The CF-104 had the ability to carry a ventral reconnaissance pod equipped with four Vinten Vicom cameras. The 20-mm M61A1 Vulcan cannon and its associated ammunition were initially omitted from the CF-104, and an additional fuel cell was fitted in their place.

The 200th and last CF-104 (No. 12900) was completed on September 4, 1963 and delivered to the RCAF on January 10, 1964. Many early production aircraft were modified to the standard of the last production machines. Following the delivery of the last CF-104, Canadair switched over to the manufacture of F-104Gs for delivery to NATO allies under the provisions of MAP.

Beginning in December of 1962, the RCAF used its CF-104s to equip eight European-based squadrons of its No. 1 Air Division. Other CF-104s were assigned to the No. 6 Strike/Reconnaissance OTU based at Cold Lake, Alberta. Apart from the operational conversion unit established at Cold Lake, Alberta in late 1961 (eventually redesignated No 417 Squadron), RCAF CF-104s were all committed to the support of NATO's nuclear deterrent mission in Europe.

No. 427 Squadron was the first to form, with initial deliveries to 3 Wing at Zweibrucken, Germany in December of 1962. 434 Squadron joined 427 in April of 1963. 444 and 422 Squadrons were formed at 4 Wing in Baden-Soellingen, Germany in May and July, respectively, of 1963. 430 and 421 Squadrons initially proceeded to 2 Wing at Grostonquin, France in September and December, respectively, of 1963; however in February of 1964, even before France withdrew from NATO in 1966, 2 Wing was disbanded, and its two CF-104 squadrons were transferred elsewhere with No 421 moving to 4 Wing and No. 430 moving to 3 Wing. The two photo-reconnaissance Squadrons, 441 and 439 were formed at 1 Wing in Marville, France in January and March, respectively, of 1964. Marville was closed by March of 1967 and its two CF-104 squadrons moved to Lahr, Germany. No's 434 and 444 Squadrons were disbanded in 1967-68, reducing CF-104 strength to four nuclear strike squadrons and two tactical reconnaissance squadrons.

In May of 1969, 3 Wing at Zweibrucken was closed, and No 427 Squadron was relocated to Baden and No 430 to Lahr.

In 1970, the Canadian government decided to reduce the strength of the Air Division to only three squadrons and to relinquish its nuclear strike role in favour of conventional attack. 1 Air Division was redesignated 1 Canadian Air Group. 422, 427, and 430 Squadrons were disbanded. 439 and 441 Squadrons replaced all but 421 Squadron in 4 Wing at Baden. Of the remaining three squadrons, 421 and 441 were committed to converting to ground attack roles, leaving 439 Squadron to continue tactical reconnaissance missions. 417 Squadron at Cold Lake continued as a CF-104 Operational Training Unit.

CF-104 Air operations at Lahr ceased in 1970, when it became a Canadian Army base, but 1 Canadian Air Group Headquarters remained there, co-located with the Canadian Forces Europe Headquarters. The airfield at Lahr remained operational for air transport operations as well as being a deployment base for the CF-104s from Baden-Soellingen.

By January of 1972, the CF-104s had all been converted from their nuclear and reconnaissance roles to that of conventional ground attack. A 20-mm Vulcan cannon was installed, and the fairing was removed from the cannon port. Twin bomb ejector rack carriers and multi-tube rocket launchers were installed.

A number of former Canadian Forces single-seat CF-104 fighter-bombers and CF-104D two-seat trainers were transferred to Denmark and Norway after having been brought up to F-104G/TF-104G standards.

By 1983, all single-seat CF-104s had been modified with the Litton LW-33 digital intertial navigation/attack system, which replaced the original LN-3 analog inertial navigation system. The LW-33 was much more accurate and less expensive to maintain than was the earlier LN-3. In addition, the LW-33 had an attack function.

Beginning in 1983, the CF-104 Starfighters were replaced in Canadian Armed Forces service by McDonnell Douglas CF-18 Hornets. No. 441 Squadron phased out the last CF-104 on March 1, 1986. Canada then offered Turkey an initial batch of 20 CF-104s; later increased to 52, including six CF-104Ds. Twenty of these were sent to MBB at Manching in Germany in March of 1986 for inspection before being transferred to Turkey. The remainder were broken down for spares.

About 110 CF-104/CF-104Ds were lost in accidents, out of 239 delivered - a loss rate of no less than 46 percent. However, it is only fair to point out that the Canadian CF-104s probably had the highest-flying time of any country operating the Starfighter. At the time of retirement, average airframe times were in the order of 6000 hours as compared to 2000 hours for the Luftwaffe.


USAF Zweibrucken Air Base

Air Base On 01 September 1968 US Air Forces in Europe assumed control of Zweibrucken [Zweibrücken / Zweibruecken] Air Base, Germany, from the Royal Canadian Air Force. The 86th Fighter Interceptor Wing transferred to Zweibruecken Air Base, Germany, but returned to Ramstein in January 1973 as the 86th Tactical Fighter Wing. In 1971, the 81st Tactical Fighter Squadron was selected to be the U.S. Air Force's first "Wild Weasel" unit and on June 12th, it moved to a new neighborhood, relocating to Zweibrücken, Germany. The 81st was detached from the 50th TFW and attached to the 86th Tactical Fighter Wing. The Zweibruecken Air Base closed in, due to the troop withdrawal.

Here with more about the Zweibrucken Air Base American Version



Reconnaissance units and Air Force intelligence in general are like the Rodney Dangerfield of the Air Force - we "get no respect!"

In my internet travels, when I find F-4 pics, very seldom do I see RF-4C's. Since I have hundreds of RF-4C pictures, including imagery from the various RF-4C on-board cameras, from my tour of duty with the 38th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron at Zweibrucken AB, Germany, I decided to create a place to show them. If you were with the 38th or stationed at Zweibrucken and would like to contact someone else who was there, you may leave your name and other vital stats. Maybe someone you once knew will see it and contact you!


The 38th TRS and Zweibrucken AB (Sunny Zwei) played a big part in the lives of the people who passed through it's one little gate. As a photo interpreter, I liked it so much that I extended my standard 2 year tour to 3 (Sept 77-Aug 80). I know some people who spent 7 or 8 years there! Since I left the 38th TRS at Sunny Zwei in 1980, I've lost contact with most of my friends and acquaintances, but the memories are very strong in my mind. Those I came in contact with (and you know who you are), played a significant role in the direction my life has taken. Each one of you is special, whether we parted on good terms or bad, our lives touched and we are who we are because of it.

If you'd like to contact or be contacted by someone from your "Sunny Zwei" past, add your contact info in the Guestbook. The Contact List is inactive, however there are may names there. Take a look!.

Pics of the RF-4C

Zwei AB from RF-4C pan camera - 101K

A/C 365 & 360 refueling with F-15's - 103K

SLAR of Zwei AB - 260K

A/C 366 - 37K

Ready for the mission - 21K

A/C 562 landing at Alconbury AB - 12K

Landing-taken by another F-4 - 133K

A/C 371 near Hoenzollern castle- 120K

Ooops! Off the runway! (You know who you are) - 252K

View from RF-4C camera of 38th area on the flightline - 176K

Nike SAM site -226K

RF-4C finds some trucks (and his shadow) -80K

RF-4C over a Nike SAM site - 173K

A bad B&W of 2 F-4's taking off -13K

The Walkplatz in downtown Zweibrucken -13K

An RF-4C on taxi -54K

A/C 364 in flight -90K

Zweibrucken AB control tower -52K

RF-4C view of "the base" (Can you find the post office?) -139K

West German RF-4E -26K

A/C 533? (left) and A/C 369 (right) -23K

...on final approach -15K

Touch-and-Go (smokey engines!) -15K

Canopies up! -41K

17th in front; 38th in back -38K

After the mission -36K

Curious pilot and WSO -35K

Ready to go -41K

Pics graciously provided by Tom Pirtle

A/C 350 in flight -29K

A/C 553 (17th TRS?) on the taxiway -39K

A/C 589 at rest at D-M -88K


Pics graciously provided by John Hatfield. (taken by a back seater in a Wild Weasel)

In-flight refueling; on the way to Iraq - 42K

Also during the Gulf War - 72K


Pics taken by Bill Spidle at Tyndall AFB.

Former 38th "Boss Bird" - 42K

A view of the nose - 47K

The 38th patch is still visible... - 47K

Pics graciously provided by Lee Edmiston

Zwei Tower (~1975) - 16k

The Base (~1975) - 55K

A1C Edmiston in the tower. - 24k

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Prepared in  2004 Revised 2005  by David Ullian Larson        eMail