New Special Colored F-104 Unveiled For The 100th Anniversary of the Historic First Rome – Tokyo Flight

The special colored F-104S ASA/M unveiled at Thiene Airfield. (Image credit: Claudio Toselli)

The aircraft was prepared for the anniversary of the arrival in Tokyo.

Even though the F-104 Starfighter was retired by the Italian Air Force in 2005 (last operational flight on Oct. 31, 2004), the legendary jet, sporting new special color, is still being used for important events in Italy. As a matter of fact, a photo of a new special colored F-104 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the end of the historic first Rome – Tokyo emerged online recenlty.

In occasion of the official celebrations for the departure of the historic flight, the Italian Air Force unveiled five SIAI S.208 aircraft with special colored tail showing the face of pilot Arturo Ferrarin, his signature and the logo chosen for the 100th anniversary. The aircraft made the first public appearance at Thiene Airfield, which is the airfield of the town where Ferrarin was born.

At the same airfield, a few days before the anniversary of the flight’s arrival in Tokyo on May 31, a new special colored F-104 was unveiled, showing a paint scheme like the one of the S.208s but extended also to the fuselage and wings. The differences are that this time there is a bigger portrait of the pilot on the tail and his signature and the anniversary’s logo have been moved to the forward fuselage and the engine intakes, respectively. Although initially thought to be the F-104S ASA/M, serial MM6914, according to aviation photographer Claudio Toselli, who took the shots that you can see in this post, the right serial is MM6733, a Starfighter previously preserved on a pole at Thiene.

Another photo of the special MM6733 unveiled at Thiene Airfield. (Image credit: Claudio Toselli)

The celebrations of the May 31 anniversary, however, have been postponed to 2021 due to the restrictions to public events imposed following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our Editor David Cenciotti already talked about the Rome – Tokyo flight back in February, when the anniversary was officially celebrated by the Italian Air Force. Here is a quick extract of what he wrote about the historic flight:

One of the most important and earliest achievements of that age is remembered as the Rome – Tokyo “raid” (in Italian raid is used to refer to a long range flight that includes several intermediate stopovers).

On Feb. 14, 1920, at 11.00LT, two twin-seater Ansaldo SVA 9 biplanes took off from Centocelle (Rome) airstrip, to Tokyo, Japan, where they arrived on May 31, 1920, after a 18,000 km flight and 112 flight hours.

The two aircrews were made by pilots Arturo Ferrarin and Guido Masiero and their respective flight engineers, Gino Cappannini and Roberto Maretto. […]

The flight was done in multiple stages which included stops in Greece, Syria, India, Pakistan, Burma, Thailand, French Indochina (now Vietnam), China, and Korea.

Two S.208M of the 60° Stormo (Wing) of the Aeronautica Militare (ItAF) sporting the special tails that celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Rome – Tokyo raid. (Image credit: ItAF/Troupe Azzurra)


About Stefano D'Urso
Stefano D'Urso is a freelance journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he's also studying to achieve a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Electronic Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT techniques applied to the world of military operations and current conflicts are among his areas of expertise.