Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters

Bob Calvert's first, and best, solo album, Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters was released in 1974 to positive reviews from the music press.  The theme of the album is the disastrous safety record of the Lockheed F104G Starfighter purchased by the West German airforce.  It is mostly dialogue with a handful of songs along the way, and functions as a piece of very black humour.

Below are scanned copies of the dialog sheet (from the American 1977 vinyl reissue of the album) which don't by any means do justice to the album, as they don't convey the mix of American, German and British-officer accents, for example, which deliver the humourous aspects of the album so effectively.  There are also a few errors on the lyric sheet which I have corrected here and there...
In 1985, when I was living in San Francisco, I interviewed for a job as a PC technician with a local defence contractor.  I asked them what defence contracts they had and they replied that their main one was a contract with the RCAF to maintain their CF104's, which were being used in a low-level ground attack role!!!!!  Thoughts of Captain Lockheed came immediately to mind, as I smiled non-commitally and started edging my way towards the door.
West Germany had a total of 916 Starfighters (136 of which were trainers).  With 269 crashes, that's a loss rate of about 34%.... According to the Royal Canadian Air Force site, approximately 110 CF-104 and CF-104Ds were lost in accidents, out of 239 delivered - a loss rate of 46 percent. 



Having said that, the F104 has performed well with some Air Forces, when the ejector seat configuration has been altered.  Inappropriate training has also been suggested as a factor in the high number of crashes.



[Thanks to Denis Regenbrecht, Eric Siegerman and Jon Jarrett for the information]
In 1980 I met a Pilot Officer who'd been based at an RAF strike base in Germany, and who had in fact been kicked out for drunkenness.  I mentioned Captain Lockheed & The Starfighters to him but he already knew all about it.  It was apparently a favourite among RAF aircrew in Germany at the time - I got the impression that they took it as being a piss-take of their German opposite numbers and no more than that...
In October 2002 I attended an airshow at Nellis AFB (Las Vegas, Nevada).  Among the displays were two F104 Starfighters being flown by the Starfighters Airshow Demonstration Team.  Their website is at
http://www.starfighters.net (which is uncomfortably close to my URL!)
The last line of this dialogue is actually "Germany not out" on the album  It's read in a BBC type accent and is of course  a cricketing term, meaning "Germany is still in the game"
The recruit's line "Not all ladies wear makeup, Sir" should be "Only ladies wear makeup, Sir".  One other thing to note is that the Widow's Song, above, did not appear on the album.  Nico, the German female vocalist of Velvet Underground fame, was to have performed this number on the album.  It was subsequently recorded in 1984, with a vocal by Bob, on the Hawkwind Friends & Relations Volume 3 album.
That last line should be "I want to go on a holiday..."
Some Starfighter links:

Dutch Starfighter site, very comprehensive

This page gives the history of the German sale

An article giving some
interesting background

A Starfighter screensaver is
here
Canadian CF104 in the ground attack role
It was an amazing display, and among other things reawakened my interest in this album.
Track One

Voices of German Air Defence Minister and Air Chief of staff.  Sound of old prop aircraft chugging.  Parade ground noises of boots and commands, in background.

Voice 1:  (gradually building to messianic pitch)...This Airforce is in a terrible state.  Just look at it. Leftovers from the last war.  This is not an airforce, this is an air-circus.  Even the Red Baron himself would laugh at such antiquated aeroplanes.  We must modernize.

Voice 2:  Ja mein Herr.

Voice 1:  We must join the supersonic race.

Voice 2:  Ja mein Herr.

Voice 1:  We must get up to date...(finger snapping)... Get with it.

Voice 2:  Ja mein Herr.

Voice 1:  We must completely reorganize.  Build a Strategic Air Defence system that will astound the world.

Voice 2:  Ja mein Herr.

Voice 1;  There must be a dramatic renaissance of the Luftwaffe.  The long awaited reawakening of German air supremacy.  Out of the ashes of defeat...a shining silver bird arising...we will sew up the skies with our gleaming needles... the world will be ...

Fade out into snatch of Strauss waltz...fade up into...
Track two
Song 1 THE AEROSPACEAGE INFERNO (HeavyRock)

A flight of steel eagles tearing by
the ripped-silk scream of the rended sky
flame on through sound and make time fly
what a good way to go
what a good way to go
in the aerospaceage... inferno.

Fly through the ground like a circus hound
through the burning hoop with just one bound
not even your ashes will be found
what a good way to go
what a good way to go
in the aerospaceage... inferno.

Set the controls for the heart of the earth
the silver machine's worth more than you're worth
but the Phoenix soul is bound for rebirth
what a good way to go
what a good way to go
Track Three

(Voices in Background... fair ground callers):

Roll up roll up...this is the plane you want.  Wanna try a fast plane sir...fast plane.  Knock the pilot out of
the air...three goes one mark.

Voice of Air Defence Minister:  NEXT!

Cut to voice of American Salesman (warm and friendly as a TV ad for cigarettes used to be)

Salesman:  Hi there.  We understand you want to buy some airplanes

G.A.D.M.:  That is correct.

Salesman:  Well we make airplanes.  Good ones.  Fast and reliable.  Let me just show you this.  Look at this picture.  This is the F104.  Or the Starfighter as we like to call her.  Isn't she beautiful.  Yep.  She sure is beautiful.  Designed by the same man who designed the famous U2.  It's the finest fairweather fighter on the market.  You won't find a better one at the price.  Or any price for that matter

G.A.D.M.:  Yes, it's very nice.  But we need a plane for bombing, strafing, assault and battery, interception, ground support and reconnaissance.  Not just a fairweather fighter.

Salesman:  Well that's O.K.  We can make some modifications.  It'll cost a little extra, but it's worth it.  Just look at the shape of this beauty... Look I tell you what we'll do.  We'll redesign the plane.  Right.  And instead of just calling it the F104.  We'll call it the F104G.

G.A.D.M.: G?

Salesman:  Yeah. G. G for Germany.

G.A.D.M.:  G for Germany eh.

Salesman:  Uh huh.  G for Germany.

G.A.D.M.: Hmmmmm.

Marching song backwards.  Fade out.
Track Four
Song 2 THE WIDOWMAKER

Long and lean
a silver queen
have you ever seen
such a flying machine
hits the ground
as fast as sound
seven hundred thousand pounds
of little pieces lying around.

The Widowmaker
is a real brain-shaker
the Widowmaker
is a silver queen
the Widowmaker
is a real heartbreaker
the Widowmaker is long and lean.

Easy to fly
a pie in the sky
do you wanna try
a good way to die.
Dive through the clouds
with a scream really loud
hold you head proud
and wind up in a shroud.

The Widowmaker
is a real brain-shaker
the Widowmaker
is easy to fly
the Widowmaker
is a young life taker
the Widowmaker
is a pie in the sky.
The Widowmaker
is a good way to die.
Track Five

Voices of two test pilots.  High speed.  Manic.  Jets landing and taking off.

Pilot 1:  How does she handle?

Pilot 2:  Pretty good.  I found I could balance a glass of beer on my oxygen mask, while I was flying it in a slow roll.

Pilot 1:  Really.

Pilot 2:  Well I did spill a bit on the first try.  Air turbulence, actually.

Pilot 1:  Still...it's not bad.

Pilot 2:  Yes.  I could go into a loop, light a cigarette, peel a banana and thread a needle at twenty five thousand feet.

Pilot 1:  Hmmm.

Pilot 2:  Go into a dive, do the three card trick, write my name backwards, catch a peanut in my mouth and juggle my eye-balls from one socket to the other.

Pilot 1:  Sounds like a pretty nifty kite.

Pilot 2:  (pause) I've seen worse.
Track Six
Song 3 THE RIGHT STUFF

I don't feel fear or panic
and nothing brings me down.
I'm an aerospaceage warrior
I can fly sideways through sound.
My reflexes and reactions
are as fast as a machine.
I'm the right stuff baby
the right stuff.
I'm the right stuff baby
the right stuff
just watch my trail.

When the dial needle flickers
around Mach one or two
and something happens suddenly
I know exactly what to do.
My feet move without thinking
and my hands like lightning too.
I'm the right stuff baby
the right stuff
I'm the right stuff baby
the right stuff
I never fail.

My nerves are made of steel
and my eyes are eagle sharp
and what would freak the average man
does not affect my heart
not even if this sardine-can
should shake itself apart
cause I'm the right stuff baby
the right stuff
I'm the right stuff baby
the right stuff
as hard as nails
I never fail
just watch my trail
Track Seven

(Voices of German politician and high ranking Airforce officers.  Argy bargy and board room murmurings):

Fine...We'll take seven hundred.

Two hundred and fifty is enough.

Seven hundred.

No.  Two hundred and fifty is all we can cope with.  At the most.

We need seven hundred.  At least.

American Salesman:  Would you mind just signing here please.  And here.  Oh yes, and one down here.

Voice of German Official:  Development costs %?  But surely you can't forecast development costs ...isn't that a little ... irregular.

American Salesman: (loud whisper) G for Germany.

Scratch of pen, signing.
Track Eight
Song 4 THE GREMLIN

I focused the magnifying glass
that brought the downfall of Icarus.

Balloons were easy; a simple pin.
Or a knife in the case of the zeppelin.

That blade was the cause of many a prang
in the early days of stick and string.

I am the gremlin.  I was there.
Making mischief in the air

and always will be wherever man
flies in the face of Creation's plan.
Track One

Voices of two mechanics.

1:  Here.  This engine mounting's a bit loose if you ask me.

2:  Course it is.  It's supposed to be like that.

1:  Are you sure?

2:  Well it's got to give a bit, hasn't it.

1:  What do you mean Give?

2:  You know, it's got to give a bit in the wind.  Like a bridge.

1:  Oh I see...(pause) Where does this bit go then.

2:  What's that.  Let's have a look.  Hmm.  I dunno.  Never seen one of them.  Where'd it come from.

1:  It was knocking about loose inside.

2:  Give us it.  Hmm.  I'd say that was some kind of retaining plunger.

1:  Retaining plunger?  What's that?  Pervert or something, use it on the missus do ya?

2:  Give us that instruction book a minute.

1:  (straining sound of lifting heavy object) Got it?

2:  Put your end down a bit.  Careful.  Mind my foot.  (flickering of pages).  Let's see now.  Page nine hundred and seventy nine, paragraph three.  No.  It's not here...(pause)  Pass me the number twelve spanner.

1:  This one?

2:  No.  The number twelve.  That's not a number twelve is it?

1.  I think they've got a bit mixed up.  The number twelve doesn't seem to be here.

2:  You're right.  The number twelve isn't there.  It must be missing.  Better make out a chitty.

1:  What shall I put?

2:  Here give us it.  Bloody radar crew.  Using my spanners for stirring their tea.

Voice of Pilot:  (Sound of riding crop, impatiently striking leather boot) Is this plane ready for take off yet?

2:  Almost ready sir.

Pilot:  Good.

Take Off.  Explosion.

TV News sports reporter's voice:  Here are the latest plane crash results from the Air defence games in Germany:  Starfighters one hundred and fifty nine:  pilots killed one hundred and six.  America not out.
Track Two
Song 1 HERO WITH A WING (Folk Rock)

I see myself a hero
while one wing falls away
and the dial approaches zero
in a spiralling display.
My past life flashes feverishly,
and lives I did not lead,
like the time I was a hero,
of a weird, outlandish breed.

One arm of flesh-and muscle
and one of feathered scale
I was a hero with a wing
that was of no avail.
I could only fly in circles
like a corkscrew in the sky,
my one wing flapping frantically
while birds just glided by.

I launched myself from mountains
and from the highest trees
although I could get nowhere
and just landed on my knees.
But still I was a hero,
with one wing more than most.
Almost half an Angel;
a whirling holy ghost.

My father was an eagle
with two wings wide as sails
my mother was the west wind witch
with grasping finger nails.
She lured him from his aerie
with her twittering device.
She kept him in a golden cage
and fed him field mice.
Track Three

Voices of Ground control and pilot.  Intercom radio type distortion.

Ground Control:  Ready for last minute cockpit check?

Pilot:  OK.

Ground Control:  Largacti1...five milligrammes.

Pilot:  Check.

Ground Control:  Valium...ten milligrammes.

Pilot:  Check.

Ground Control:  Haloperidol...five milligrammes.

Pilot:  Which?

Ground Control:  The little white ones. W-W-W for white.

Pilot:  OK.  Check.

Ground Control:  Pheno Barbitone.  Five milligrammes.

Pilot:  Check

Ground Control:  Disipel...five milligrammes.

Pilot:  Check

Ground Control:  Glass of water.

Pilot:  Check

Ground Control and Pilot:  Our father...which art in heaven, hallowed be...mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

Jet take off noise into...
Track Four
Song 2 EJECTION

There's only one course of action
left for me to take
I've tried every switch selection
that might control this state
I think for my protection
I'd better make it straight
into EJECTION
better tell base.
EJECTION
that I think it's a case
for EJECTION
explode into space
EJECTION
protect my face
EJECTION.

The radar screen's projection
tells me I'm too late
to make a course correction
I'm about to meet my fate
no time for reflection
I'd better make it straight
into EJECTION
bust through the sky
EJECTION
the air rushing by
EJECTION
it's a case of goodbye
EJECTION
i'm too fast to die
EJECTION.

When a ship meets with destruction
the captain stays to drown
but no tin contraption
is going to drag me down
my reference intersection
tells me that I'm bound
for EJECTION
eight times my weight
EJECTION
abandon this crate
EJECTION
only one move to make
EJECTION
I've got to excape
EJECTION.
Track Five

INTERVIEW Officer and New Recruit

Officer:  So.  You want to be a fighter pilot.

Recruit:  A Starfighter pilot sir.

Officer:  And why particularly the Starfighter?

Recruit:  Because sir I am in love with this aircraft.  This magnificent engine of steel and gleam.

Officer:  That's very poetic.  Please continue.

Recruit:  This aerodynamic Delilah.  Its uptilted wings and sidewinder rockets.  Its clear curving cockpit cover, the whirling of dials and needles.  The illustrious uniform of the Federal German Air Force.  The click of heels in salute, the flare of the jacket, the wide, long-skirted hang of it, and oh, the low shiny peak of the cap.

Officer:  I think that's enough.

Recruit:  But sir, the danger, and the glory of death.  A young and dashing life gone up in flames.  Blonde maidens weeping.  To die for one's country.  To set forth in a silver lance to joust with the forces of darkness.

Officer:  They don't always crash you know.

Recruit:  It would be an honour to crash in such a plane.

Officer:  To be mangled and scorched?

Recruit:  To be hideously mutilated beyond the recognition of one's own mother.

Officer:  Is that makeup you're wearing?

Recruit:  No sir.

Officer:  Are you sure that's not makeup.

Recruit:  Makeup sir?

Officer:  Makeup.  Makeup.  You know what makeup is.  It's what ladies wear.

Recruit:  Not all ladies wear makeup sir.

Officer:  Well what's that black stuff around your eyes.  Is that mascara?

Recruit:  All right.  I can see it's no good lying to you.  I confess.  It is mascara.  Only a little bit.

Officer:  What on Earth for?

Recruit:  It's my mother sir.

Officer:  Your mother?

Recruit:  You see my mother was the first woman to fly the Atlantic in a (pause) Gaseo Glider.

Officer:  A Gaseo Glider?

Recruit:  A machine of my father's invention.  You see he was too much of a professional aeronautical inventor to actually fly it himself, so my mother took it, and tried to fly it singlehanded across the Atlantic.

Officer:  What happened?

Recruit:  She...she crashed.  Spun down into the sea and was never seen again.  They found only her false eyelashes, floating.  And so, you see, ever since I have worn mascara in her sacred memory.

Officer:  I see.

Recruit:  Well sir.  Do I get a plane?

Officer:  In view of the confession you have just made, which must have taken a great deal of courage, I consider you an ideal type for the job.  There's a plane waiting for you on the runway.  The sergeant will give you an instruction manual on the way out.  Oh, and by the way, Von Trippenhopf...

Recruit:  Sir?

Officer:  Don't let the CO catch you wearing makeup on duty.  At least not in uniform, you understand.

Recruit:  But sir...

Officer:  Alright then.  But very subtly applied is that clear?

Recruit:  I understand sir.

Officer:  Right Oh, Von Trippenhopf

Recruit:  Righty Oh sir.

Song 3 THE WIDOW'S SONG

I had a man he had wings on his suit
he had short hair he was tall he was straight
I had a man with a scar on his face
he was a starfighting man
a starfighting man
and he's never coming tack

I had a man his name was Kurt
he never bit his nails he was good to me
I had a man who wore jackboots
he was a starfighting man
a starfighting man
and he's never coming back

I had a man who was arrogant and proud
he had a riding crop he was fearless he was sly
I had a man who was a Luftwaffe star
he was a starfighting man
a starfighting man
and he's never coming back.
Track Six

Voices of German officials. Sounds of aircraft crashing.

I resign...

I resign.. .

I also resign...

I would like to go on holiday
Track Seven
Song 4 THE GREMLIN (Part Two)

Death to engines in the air
chaos take the human wing
death to jet and turbo prop
death to stick and death to string
ruin to the fuselage
destruction to the aerolon
death to the pilot and his breed
whose daring still goes on and on

no mercy for the rudder bar
no mercy for the tail plane
a singe for the handle-bar mustache
cremation for the bone-domed brain
death to rockets into space
chaos take the human egg
death to telescopic sight
death to radar and fire to flag

ruin to portholes filled with stars
destruction to the airlock's catch
death to the spaceman and his craft
its ugly landing legs despatch.
No mercy for the hot-air balloons
no mercy for the thread and kite
holes for the gliders canvas skin
cramp for the bird man at his height.
Track Eight

Background of beer garden sounds ... singing ... clicking glasses...

Voice of German youth: Do you want to buy a Starfighter?

Silence.

Well buy an acre of land, and wait...

Close up loud belch.

Laughter.  Background sounds resume.
Track Nine
Song 5 CATCH A FALLING STARFIGHTER

Catch a falling Starfighter
put it in the pocket of your jeans
you can use it as a cigarette lighter
or as an opener for a can of beans.
Catch a falling Starfighter
shine it up and wear it on a chain
you will find that it will be much brighter
if you empty out its contents
down the drain.
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