• F-104 on Taiwan During 1958 Taiwan Straits Crisis

    Posted on August 1st, 2010 Administrator 10 comments

    Source: Fifth Air Force in the Taiwan Straits Crisis of 1958

    Source: Air Operations in the Taiwan Crisis of 1958

    The following images of the 83rd FIS F-104 in Taoyuan are courtesy of Time Inc. and Google. Click on each image to access the full-size version on Google.

    The F-104 were enhanced by the GAR-8 Sidewinder missiles, which were fired in anger for the first time during the crisis by ROCAF F-86. Note the codename “Jonah Able” painted on the cart carrying the missiles.

    Five of the twelve F-104 deployed can be seen in this photo. Serial numbers of the twelve aircraft are: 56-0791, 56-0795, 56-0817, 56-0823, 56-0828, 56-0837, 56-0838, 56-0842, 56-0844, 56-0849, 56-0850 and 56-0860.

    One of the two F-104 in front of the hangar in the above picture had not had its tail fitted yet.

    Most of the LIFE photos released were centered around 56-0791 “Vociferous Viking”.

    56-0791 taxied past several ROCAF F-86. This was very likely the first flight of these F-104 since they had been transported to Taoyuan in the C-124.

    56-0791 lends scale to the giant C-124.

    The only other F-104 with readable serial number in the released LIFE photos was 56-0828. Years later, it joined the ROCAF service.

    Anybody knows what they were doing?


    12 responses to “F-104 on Taiwan During 1958 Taiwan Straits Crisis” RSS icon

    • Washing their mess kit with gasoline heated burner that’s heating the soap water, or try to disinfect them?

    • Bryan is right. They were doing mess kit laundry. I just found the following information;


      When eating in organized units, the standard procedure is to set up a mess kit laundry. At a minimum this consists of 4 galvanized garbage cans with immersion heaters in three of them. The first (no heater) is used for trash and scraping food off the mess kits. Then you put the plate ring over the pan handle followed by the knife, fork and spoon using the slots in their handles. Holding the pan handle with everything else hanging off it, you make two dips in hot soapy water and one in clear boiling water. Each dip is about 10 seconds. This procedure prevents most types of food poisoning. More modern mess kit laundry facilities are available when units have access to them.

    • Thanks for the links. I didn’t know they keep updating their archive. I may post some of them on Taiwanbbs later.

    • I was in Formosa in Sept 1958 until Feb 1959, with the 2nd Radio Relay Squadron. My radio site was on top of a very high mountain outside Koushuing the southern most port of Formosa. Our AN/TRC 24 line of sight eqp. was used from north of Taipai the full length of the island, and out to one island.We provided crypto, teletype and phone lines until the Marines constructed 100 ft microwave towers. Tactical missions were ordered run over our circuit, (Louisiana circuit)over the straits and mainland China the entire deployment until March or April when 2nd RR Sq. returned to Kadena, Okinawa. We were nicknamed ” The Mountain Goats”

    • i was at chai yi in 1958 how ever i don`t remember much of the details do you have any photos or info you can email to me? i was there for 90 days tdy from yamato japan. thanks

    • I was sent TDY from Ashiya AB Japan to Taoyuan from September 1958 to February or March 1959. I was part of a small communications group detached from the 483rd. Communications Squadron, 315th. Air Division. We were sent to provide air-to-ground and point-to-point communications support for operations in the Formosa Straits area.

      My recollection of details ain’t what it ought to be, but I’ll never forget the loud, screaming sound of the F104 engines being tested on the ground, sometimes at night. A great experience for an 18 year old.

    • The unit was replaced by the 337FIS. We brought the A/C back to the USA in the C-124 A/C We were most greatful with the normal type latrine already in place.!! The mess kits being washed properly in the Hot water was very important. If you didn’t get them rinsed properly of the soap used, You paid a price. GET IT? We called it “the galopping crudd”

    • I was with the 337th FIS and we were deployed from Westover AFB, MA in the Fall of 1958. And we too had to perform the same ops with C-124s and C-97s to get troops and planes to Tao Yuan AB. We lived in the very upbeat tents with the central heat (remember?):-) I had the task of testing the engines with Mack Shaw. We did this during the evening hours and we made a lot of noise. Col Jim Jabera, our CO came over to the test cell on night and asked why we had to make so much noise. I replied that if he wanted a reliable flight in the Straits, it was imperative that we knew the engine could handle the job. He replied “Carry On Sarge”. we also had the honor of a visit by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek during the time of the USO show. (The Golden Girls) as I recall. I had to leave a month early since my First Sgt Lee informed me that my wife was hospitalized and I was on my way home in two or three days. I flew out of Formosa on a VC 123 (Navy Super Connie) out of Taipai. I enjoyed that tour since it was only three months long. I guess most of the other units were the same amount of time. America came through for Free China.

    • Correction to the above name, Don Hartford. MSgt. USAF, Retired
      Thank you

    • I was at Selfridge knee deep in snow

    • Darrell Brundage

      Don Hartford- did you happen to know Capt.James Brundage? My dad. 337 FIS Taiwan 1959. F104 pilot.

    • Franklin C. Stogner

      I was there! I may be in that photo! It was our first hot meal, we had been eating C rations up until then. You could get hurt for a can of beeny wheenies. I was a fire control tech on the asg-14 fire control system. For the non-initated, that was the radar-infrared system that tried to make sure you hit your target. When we first arrived we had to sleep on the floor of that old sheet metal hanger you can see in one of the photos. Some of the old timers found a small bar and hostel and convinced the owner to rent us rooms. It was fine for a short time until the officers found out about it then they moved in and us out. That was ok with most of us since they were the ones at risk! The 337 out of Westover relieved us and back to California we went. That was my best time I spent in my four years in the AF.

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