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Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star
The first production F-80A 's were painted to smooth all skin joints. Painting was later discontinued.

Few airplanes in the history of aeronautics have been as successful as the Lockheed Shooting Star. It was the first operational jet fighter in the United States when it went into service in 1945. It emerged as victor in the world's first all-jet combat, and it won the distinction of remaining in production for a full 15 years after the experimental model was first flown.

The airplane had its origin in June 1943, when Lockheed was requested to design a fighter around the De Havilland turbojet engine developed in England in response to Germany's twin-engine jet fighter, the Messerschmitt Me 262. The XP-80 was designed and built in the amazing period of only 143 days--37 days less than the original schedule. It was flown for the first time on January 8, 1944, and its performance was considered sensational.

"It was a magnificent demonstration," said Clarence Johnson, Lockheed's chief research engineer. "our plane was a success -- such a complete success that it had overcome the temporary advantage the Germans had gained from years of preliminary development on jet planes."

The F-80C was the fastest version, with a speed of 580. It had a larger engine than the earlier models.

The Army Air Force planned to build the Shooting Star in large numbers. However, only two of the machines arrived in Italy before the end of the war in Europe, and these were never used in operations. Despite the cessation of hostilities, production was continued on a reduced scale.

Lockheed built 917 F-80A's and B's, one of which was modified for an attempt on the world speed record. on June 19, 1947, this plane set a speed mark of 623.8 miles per hour. Some of these modifications were retained in the F-80C, 798 of which were produced in 1948 and 1949. At the same time, Lockheed designed a two-seat version, the F-94 Starfire. This model was equipped with radar for all-weather operations.

When war started in Korea, F-80's were sent to the battle area to help the South Koreans. On November 10, 1950, Lieutenant Russell Brown, flying a Shooting Star, made history when he destroyed a Russian MiG-15 fighter in the world's first decisive all-jet combat.

Final version of the plane was the T-33 trainer, which remained in continuous production until August 1959. The T-33A was a very hot fighter to handle, compared to slower piston engine aircraft, and an alarming number of airplanes were lost. The solution was a redesigned T-33A two seat trainer. Engineers at Lockheed called their operation the "Skunk Works", named after an imaginary factory in the "Li'l Abner" comic strip.

Early Problems

In the early years some T-33s were blowing up just after take-off. The T-33 (F-80) had a fuselage tank just aft of the cockpit, filled through a zeus fastened cover plate and tank cap. Some of the pilots and/or ground crews were not diligent in checking the door or the cap. The aircraft would take off and at about 120 knots, the airflow would create a vacuum immediately over this cover. If it and the cap were not properly closed, the kerosene would be sucked out of the tank.

Immediately behind the the filler tube were spring-loaded plenum chamber doors feeding extra air to the engine. These didn't close until the aircraft reached about 200 knots. The combustible mixture would ignite and cause the plan to explode. The problem was solved by placing two fins underneath the cover which had to mesh with the fin on the cap. The cover could not be locked if the cap wasn't secured. The pilots would always check the cover and its zeus fastener after hearing the horror story once.

The T-33A was a very hot fighter, and number of airplanes were lost. The solution was a redesigned T-33A two seat trainer.

Lockheed P-80A Shooting Star
Wing span: 38 ft 10 in (11.83 m)
Length: 34 ft 6 in (10.51 m)
Height: 11 ft 4 in (3.45 m)
Empty: 7,920 lb (3,593 kg)
Gross: 11,700 lb (5,307 kg)
Max. Take-Off: 14,000 lb (6,350 kg)
Maximum Speed: 558 mph (898 km/h) @ Sea Level
Maximum Speed: 492 mph (792 km/h) @ 40,000 ft (12,192 km)
Cruise Speed: 410 mph (660 km/h)
Climb: 5.5 minutes to 20,000 ft (6,096 km)
Climb: 4,580 ft (1,396 m) in 1 minute.
Service Ceiling: 45,000 ft (1,3716 m)
Normal: 780 miles (1,255 m)
Maximum: 1,440 miles (2,317 m)
Fuel Capacity:
Normal: 425 gal (1,609 lt)
Maximum: 885 gal (3,350 lt)
One General Electric J33-GE-11 or
Allison J33-A-9 with 3,850 lb S.T. (1,746 kg).
six .50 machine guns; 2,000 lb (907 kg) bomb,
or ten .5 inch rockets

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