THE 456th FIGHTER INTERCEPTOR SQUADRON

T PROTECTORS OF  S. A. C.

 

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Lockheed F-80 "Shooting Star"

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 The Shooting Star was the first USAF aircraft to exceed 500 mph in level flight, the first American jet airplane to be manufactured in large quantities and the first USAF jet to be used in combat. Designed in 1943, the XP-80 made its maiden flight on Jan. 8, 1944. Several early P-80s were sent to Europe for demonstration, but WW II ended before the aircraft could be employed in combat. (The aircraft was re-designated in 1948 when "P" for "Pursuit" was changed to "F" for "Fighter.") Of 1,731 F-80s built, 798 were F-80Cs.

Although it was designed as a high-altitude interceptor, the F-80C was used extensively as a fighter-bomber in the Korean Conflict, primarily for low-level rocket, bomb and napalm attacks against ground targets. On Nov. 8, 1950, an F-80C flown by Lt. Russell J. Brown, flying with the 16th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, shot down a Russian-built MiG-15 in the world's first all-jet fighter air battle.

TYPE
XF-80
XF-80A
YF-80A
F-80A
XF-80B
F-80B
F-80C

Number built/Converted
1
3
13
917
1 (cv)
240 (cv)
798

Remarks
Prototype w/ British jet eng.
Imp. XF-80 w/ J-33-GE-5
Service test; 1 XF-80 conv.
1st prod. USAF jet
Speed record conv. P-80R
Mod. F-80A w/ J-36
Imp. F-80A w/ J-33-A

 

SPECIFICATIONS (F-80C)

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Span: 38 ft. 10 1/2 in.
Length: 34 ft. 6 in.
Height: 11 ft. 4 in.
Weight: 16,856 lbs. max.
Armament: Six .50-cal. machine guns and eight 5 in. rockets or 2,000 lbs. bombs
Engine: Allison J-33 of 5,400 lbs. thrust (with water-alcohol injection)
Crew: One

PERFORMANCE
Maximum speed:
580 mph
Cruising speed: 437 mph
Range: 1,090 miles
Service Ceiling: 46,800 ft

 

 

Lockheed F-80 "Shooting" Star A Brief History

By  Joe Baugher

 

Lockheed XP-80 "Shooting Star"


The Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star was the first American combat-ready jet fighter, and was the first American production combat aircraft to exceed 500 mph in level flight. It was the first American jet-powered aircraft to score a victory in air-to-air combat, and was the victor in the world's first jet-versus-jet combat. It participated in the world's first operational combat mission that was assisted by mid-air refuelling. For a brief time, it held the world's air speed record. And perhaps most significant, it formed the basis of the T-33 two-seat advanced trainer, one of the most successful trainers of the postwar era.

The USA got off to a late start in the new field of jet propulsion. The Germans had pioneered jet propulsion with the Heinkel He 178 V1, which was flown for the first time on August 27, 1939. The world's first jet-powered fighter, the Heinkel He 280 V1 flew for the first time on April 2, 1941. The Messerschmitt Me 262 V-3 took to the air under jet power for the first time on July 8, 1942. The British were not far behind the Germans, the Gloster E.28/39 experimental test bed having been flown for the first time on May 15, 1941 powered by a Whittle W2B turbojet engine with centrifugal supercharger. The Gloster Meteor flew for the first time on March 5, 1943, powered by a pair of 1500 lb.s.t. Halford H.1 turbojets. The prototype de Havilland DH-100 Vampire flew on September 21, 1943, powered by a single 2700 lb.s.t. Halford H.1 (Goblin) turbojet.

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Static engine test - Muroc 11-18-43

As far back as 1939, Lockheed engineers Clarence R. "Kelly" Johnson and Hall L. Hibbard had been interested in jet propulsion for aircraft, and had actually engaged in various paper projects. In particular, Lockheed had done some preliminary work on a company-financed project designated L-133 which had progressed to several different versions on the drawing board, culminating in the Model L-133-02-01, which was a canard design powered by a pair of Lockheed-designed L-1000 turbojet engines. The USAAF was not particularly interested in any of these projects and declined to finance any of them, so none of them ever progressed past the preliminary concept stage. However, spurred by reports from England on progress there with jet propulsion, and perhaps even more so by intelligence reports of German and Italian advances in the area of jet propulsion, the USAAF suddenly began to show more interest in jet-powered combat aircraft.

In exchange for the generous Lend-Lease aid provided to England by the USA, the British agreed to supply blueprints of their new jet engines to the USA, where they would be built under license by General Electric. Powered by a pair of General Electric I-A turbojets, the Bell XP-59A Airacomet made its maiden flight on October 19, 1942. Although the XP-59A provided valuable experience to the USAAF in the operation of jet-powered aircraft, it was basically a flying test bed and not a combat-capable aircraft. The USAAF had to look elsewhere in its search for an effective jet fighter.

In light of its pioneering work on the XP-59A Airacomet, the Bell Aircraft Corporation might have been a more likely choice than Lockheed for work on a more combat-capable jet fighter. However, the Bell corporation was heavily committed to other projects and could not take on any more work. In view of Lockheed's earlier studies in jet propulsion, in late 1942, the USAAF transferred to Lockheed the preliminary design studies undertaken by Bell for the XP-59B single-engine version of the Airacomet. In March of 1943, the specifications and drawings for the Halford H.1B (Goblin) turbojet were also transferred to Lockheed. This engine was to built under license in the USA by Allis-Chalmers as the J36.

In the spring of 1943, preliminary discussions were carried out between Lockheed representatives and the Air Technical Service Command about the production of a combat-capable jet fighter. On May 17, 1943, a conference chaired by Brig-Gen Franklin O. Carroll, chief of the Army Air Forces Engineering Division formalized these preliminary discussions. Lockheed was invited to submit a fighter proposal built around the de Havilland-built Halford H.1B turbojet. Immediately afterwards, Lockheed undertook a preliminary design investigation for a jet fighter project named L-140 by the company. On June 17, 1943 the USAAF gave its approval to the L-140 project, and on June 24 a formal Letter Contract was issued. The designation XP-80 was chosen for the project. On October 16, a formal contract was issued. One of the key requirements imposed on Lockheed was the need to complete the first aircraft within 180 days of the award of the Letter Contract.

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In order to meet this schedule, Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson, assisted by William P. Ralston and Don Palmer, assembled a small team of engineers and went to a ten-hour day/ 6-day week schedule. They housed themselves in a temporary building near the wind tunnel at Plant B-1 and set out to design the L-140 and to build the prototype XP-80 in record time and in complete secrecy. They operated almost completely outside the normal company bureaucracy, and proceeded with a minimum of paperwork and overhead. This was the origin of the famous Skunk Works.

The Skunk Works team adopted a simplistic approach. The team settled on a clean aircraft with a low aspect ratio, laminar-flow wing. Conventional tail surfaces and a retractable nose wheel undercarriage were adopted. The Halford H.1B engine was to be fed by air intakes positioned in the lower fuselage forward of the wing leading edge and exhausted through a straight tailpipe. The pilot sat in a pressurized cockpit underneath a rearward-sliding bubble canopy. The aft fuselage with engine and tail surfaces was detachable as a single unit for ready access to the power-plant. The armament was to consist of six 0.50-inch machine guns, all mounted in the nose.

The mockup of the XP-80 was ready for inspection on July 20-22, 1943. Only a few minor changes were recommended by the inspectors, and construction of the XP-80 (serial number 44-83020) proceeded rapidly. Since the project had the highest priority, construction went so rapidly that the XP-80 was soon ahead of schedule. The pressurized cockpit was considered unnecessary for the first prototype, so it was decided that an un-pressurized cockpit would be fitted in order to save time. However, the jet engine program did not proceed quite so rapidly and the delivery from England of the first non-flyable turbojet was delayed several times, forcing Lockheed to use a wooden engine mockup for the first tests.

The non-flyable engine was finally delivered on November 2, 1943. This engine was installed in the XP-80, and the aircraft was trucked from Burbank to Muroc Dry Lake. On November 16, the XP-80 was formally accepted by the USAAF, beating the schedule by completing the aircraft within 143 days from the date of award of the Letter Contract.

While the XP-80 was still under construction, some consideration had been given to installing a less powerful General Electric I-16 (license-built Whittle W2B) jet engine for initial testing, with production aircraft being powered by the more powerful Halford H.1B built under license by Allis-Chalmers as the J36. However, the XP-80 would be decidedly underpowered with the I-16, and this idea was dropped.

However, the J36 program ran into difficulties and ultimately failed to produce anything useful. In September 1943, Lockheed proposed as an alternative a larger and heavier L-141 version, to be powered by a General Electric I-40 (later produced by both General Electric and Allison as the J33). The USAAF was sufficiently impressed that they issued a contract for two XP-80As. Serials were 44-83021 and 44-83022.

A flyable Halford engine was delivered to Lockheed in mid November of 1943. The de Havilland-built Halford H.1B turbojet had a bench thrust of 3000 pounds at 10,500 rpm and an installed thrust of 2460 pounds at 9500 rpm. On November 17, 1943, while the H.1B engine installation in the XP-80 was undergoing ground testing, both intake ducts collapsed, and the ingestion of debris damaged the engine. While waiting a replacement engine, the ducts were strengthened. The British selflessly rushed over a replacement engine which had been intended for the number 2 Vampire fighter. The replacement engine arrived on December 28 and was promptly installed in the XP-80. The XP-80 was finally ready for its maiden flight.

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The first flight of the XP-80 took place on January 8, 1944 with test pilot Milo Burcham at the controls. The first flight had to be cut short after only five minutes because of undercarriage retraction failure and the pilot's concern over boosted aileron sensitivity. These problems were quickly fixed. Subsequent test flights reached a top speed of 502 mph at 20,480 feet, the XP-80 becoming the first USAAF aircraft to exceed 500 mph in level flight. However, the flight tests also disclosed a number of problems including bad stall and spin characteristics, an excessively-high stick force, unsatisfactory fuel management systems, and poor engine reliability and performance. At low speeds, it had a tendency to stall and roll sharply to the right with little or no warning. These problems were addressed one-by-one. The original blunt-tipped wing and tail surfaces were replaced with rounded tips after the fifth flight, and sharp leading edge fillets were added at the wing roots. The tailplane incidence was increased by 1 1/2 degrees.

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     "Lulubell" at Muroc    12-4-43

The XP-80 weighted 6287 pounds empty and 8196 pounds loaded. Dimensions were wingspan 37 feet 0 inches, length 32 feet 10 inches, height 10 feet 3 inches, and wing area 240 square feet. During tests, the XP-80 reached a top speed of 502 mph at 20,480 feet, becoming the first USAAF aircraft to exceed 500 mph in level flight. Service ceiling was 41,000 feet, and initial climb rate was 3000 feet per minute. The aircraft was armed with six 0.50-inch Browning M2 machine guns with 200 rounds per gun.

The XP-80 was eventually transferred to the 412th Fighter Group for tactical evaluation. Following that, the aircraft was returned to Muroc before being assigned to the AAF Training Command at Chanute Field in Illinois. The XP-80 survived all of these evaluation trials, and on November 8, 1946, it was transferred to the Smithsonian Institution for eventual display. Restoration work was completed in May of 1978. I presume that it is now sitting somewhere at the Paul Garber Restoration Facility, awaiting the availability of a suitable location for its display.

 

XP-80 Serial Number:

44-83020	Lockheed XP-80 Shooting Star c/n 140-1001
Now with National Air and Space Museum

 

Lockheed XP-80A "Shooting Star"

In September 1943, even before the XP-80 had made its first flight, Lockheed had proposed a larger and heavier L-141 version powered by the more powerful General Electric I-40 "Whittle" turbojet engine (later produced by both General Electric and Allison as the J33). The USAAF was sufficiently impressed that they issued a contract for two examples under the designation XP-80A. Serials were 44-83021 and 44-83022.

The General Electric I-40 engine that powered the XP-80A had a thrust of 4000 pounds, and was fed by intakes relocated a bit further aft to a position just below the cockpit windshield. The XP-80A was significantly larger and about 25 percent heavier than the XP-80 prototype in order to accommodate the larger engine. The wingspan was 39 feet 0 inches, two feet greater than that of the XP-80, but wing area was reduced to 237.6 square feet by using a narrower chord. Length was increased from 32 feet 10 inches to 34 feet 6 inches. Height increased to 11 feet 4 inches. Weights were considerably greater than those of the XP-80, being 7225 pounds empty, 9600 pounds gross, and 13,780 pounds maximum takeoff. The increased weight required a stronger undercarriage. Ammunition capacity increased from 200 to 300 rounds per gun, and internal fuel capacity increased from 285 to 485 US gallons. In contrast to the XP-80, the XP-80A was fitted with a pressurized cockpit.                                    

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XP-80A 44-83021 flew for the first time on June 10, 1944. It was followed on August 1 by XP-80A 44-83022. 44-83022 was fitted with a second seat which could carry an engineering observer. Early in the test program the XP-80A experienced excessively-high cockpit temperatures due to a faulty cabin pressurization valve. This problem was easily fixed, but there were more serious problems encountered with an unstable airflow through the intake ducts. Kelly Johnson took a ride in the rear seat of 44-83022 in order to try and figure out what was causing the problem. Kelly Johnson was an extremely talented aeronautical engineer, and he correctly diagnosed the cause as being boundary layer separation along the walls of the duct. The problem was solved by adding a series of boundary layer bleeds along the upper edges of the ducts. This feature was added to all subsequent production aircraft.

The second XP-80A became the first in the Shooting Star series to carry a 165 US-gallon drop tank underneath each wingtip. When carried, these tanks actually lowered rather than increased the drag. They could be brought home empty with no penalty in aerodynamic drag. The tanks also improved aileron effectiveness and wing loading.

The first XP-80A crashed after an engine failure on March 20, 1945, but test pilot Tony LeVier managed to parachute to safety and escaped with only back injuries. The second XP-80A was later used as a test-bed for the Westinghouse J34 axial-flow turbojet in support of the XP-90 program.

Serial numbers:
 

44-83021/83022	Lockheed XP-80A Shooting Star
			c/n 141-1001/1002
		83021 crashed March 20, 1945.  Pilot Tony LeVier parachuted
			to safety.

 

Lockheed YP-80A "Shooting Star"

 

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Thirteen YP-80A service test aircraft were ordered on March 10, 1944. Serials were 44-83023 through 44-83035. They were generally identical to the XP-80A and were powered by the General Electric I-40 turbojet, the production model of which was designated J33-GE-9 or -11. Armament was increased to six 0.50-in machine guns in the nose.

The USAAF wanted a photographic reconnaissance aircraft with the performance of the P-80, and, on September 23, 1944, they ordered that the second YP-80 (44-83024) be completed as an unarmed photo-recon ship. It was assigned the designation XF-14, the F designation being in the pre-1948 F-for-photographic reconnaissance series. In converting the aircraft to XF-14 configuration, the six 0.50-in machine guns in the nose of the YP-80A were taken out and replaced by a set of cameras. A window for the camera was built into the lower nose section in front of the nosewheel. The sides of the nose were left unblemished, unlike later P-80 reconnaissance models which had cameras on the side of the nose ahead of the air intakes. The career of the XF-14 was rather brief--it was destroyed on December 6, 1944 in a midair collision with a Lockheed-owned B-25 Mitchell during a test flight.

The first YP-80A took off on its maiden flight on September 13, 1944, beginning the manufacturer's trials. The trials got off to a horrible start. The third YP-80A (44-83025) crashed on its maiden flight on October 20, 1944, killing the well-known test pilot Milo Burcham.

In spite of the loss of the third YP-80A, four YP-80As were deployed to Europe in order to demonstrate their capabilities to combat crews and to help in the development of tactics to be used against Luftwaffe jet fighters. YP-80As 44-83026 and 44-83027 were shipped to England in mid-December 1944, but 44-83026 crashed on its second flight at Burtonwood, England, killing its pilot, Major Frederick Borsodi. 44-83027 was modified by Rolls-Royce to flight test the B-41, the prototype of the Nene turbojet. On November 14, 1945, it was destroyed in a crash landing after an engine failure. 44-83028 and 44-83029 were shipped to the Mediterranean. They actually flew some operational sorties, but they never encountered any enemy aircraft. Both of them fortunately managed to survive their tour of duty in Europe, but one of them crashed on August 2, 1945 after returning to the USA. The other one ended its useful life as a pilot less drone.

The remaining nine YP-80As were used for a variety of purposes, including operational evaluation and service trials. The first YP-80A was specially instrumented and was used by NACA at the Ames Aeronautical Laboratory at Moffett Field in California for high-speed diving trials. The tenth, eleventh, and twelfth YP-80As were delivered in 1945 to the 31st Fighter Squadron of the 412th Fighter Group at Bakersfield Municipal Airport in California for service tests.

 

Serial numbers:

44-83023	Lockheed YP-80A Shooting Star
			c/n 080-1002
44-83024	Lockheed XF-14 Shooting Star
			c/n 080-1003
			Originally YP-80A No 2, redesignated during
			production.  Destroyed in mid-air collision
			with B-25J 44-29120 near Muroc AB Dec 6, 1944.
			All crew on both planes killed.
44-83025/83035	Lockheed YP-80A Shooting Star
			c/n 080-1004/1014
			83025 crashed Oct 20, 1944 Burbank, CA, killing Milo
				Burcham.
			83026 crashed Burtonwood, England, killing pilot
				Maj. Frederick Borsodi
			83027 fitted with Rolls-Royce Nene. Damaged beyond
				repair in accident Nov 14, 1945.

 

Lockheed P-80A "Shooting Star"

 

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Four aircraft formation - S/N 44-85313, 44-85280, 44-85338, 44-85274

The initial production version of the Shooting Star, the P-80A, was ordered on April 4, 1944, when a Letter Contract for two batches of 500 aircraft was issued. In June of 1945, 2500 additional P-80As were ordered. However, following V-J Day this second contract was cancelled in its entirety and the first contract was cut back to 917 aircraft.

The P-80A was much the same as the YP-80A which preceded it, differing only in minor details. The P-80A introduced under-fuselage dive brakes which opened forward at the wing join, and had a landing light installed behind a transparent fairing in the upper nose. The intake lip was moved slightly further aft, and the tailplane incidence was raised by 1.5 degrees.

The first 345 aircraft of this contract (serials 44-84992 to 44-85336) were designated P-80A-1-LO. Some of them were powered by the 3850 lb.s.t. General Electric J33-GE-11 turbojet, the production version of the I-40 which had powered the XP-80A and the YP-80A. Others were powered by the Allison J33-A-9, a version of the same engine built by the Allison Division of the General Motors Corporation.

The next 218 aircraft in the contract (44-85337 to 44-85941 and 45-8301 to 45-8262) were built as the P-80A-5-LO production block and differed by being equipped with the more powerful 4000 lb.s.t. Allison J33-A-17. The -5 also introduced a boundary layer control splitter plate inside the air intake. The landing light was relocated from the nose to the nose wheel landing gear strut. Later, the initial production P-80A-1-LOs were retrofitted with the higher rated Allison engine during routine engine overhauls.

  • On January 19, 1945, North American Aviation had been awarded a contract to produce one thousand P-80As in its Dallas plant. The designation given to these license-produced Shooting Stars was P-80N. However, this contract was cancelled shortly after V-E Day, and no P-80Ns were ever completed.

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    In flight towed by a B-29

    The first P-80A was accepted by the AAF in February of 1945, and the last was delivered in December 1946. Early P-80As had a overall light grey finish which was used to seal all skin joints. This finish proved to be too hard to maintain in service, and was deleted in favor of a natural metal finish.

    Another F-80A-1-LO (44-85042) was modified in the field as ERF-80A-1-LO to test new photographic equipment in a nose of modified contour.

    One P-80A-1-LO airframe (44-85201) was modified as an unarmed photographic reconnaissance aircraft, with the guns being replaced by a set of cameras. The aircraft was re-designated XFP-80A, the F-14 designation originally planned for the reconnaissance version of the Shooting Star having been dropped. The XFP-80A differed from the original XF-14 in having a more elongated nose which hinged upward to provide better access to the cameras.

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    38 P-80A-5-LOs were completed during construction as FP-80A-5-LO photographic reconnaissance aircraft. Serials were 44-85383, 58385, 85399, 85425, 85433, 85439, the odd numbers in the batch of 44-85443 to 44-85491 inclusive, and the even-numbers in the batch 45-8301 to 45-8314 inclusive. Following the production of these modified recon aircraft, a new batch of aircraft (45-8364 to 45-8477) was manufactured from scratch as FP-80A-5-LO. This designation was later changed to RF-80A. Camera installation consisted of one K-17 camera and two K-22 split-vertical cameras. These all had camera noses that were generally similar to that of the XFP-80A. They were initially powered by the 3850 lb.s.t. General Electric J33-GE-11 engine.

    In addition 66 production P-80A fighters were converted by Lockheed Aircraft Services, Inc as photo-reconnaissance ships. They differed from factory-built models in having a less even contour over the nose at the very front of the aircraft. They were re-designated RF-80A-15-LO. An unknown number of RF-80As were modified to RF-80A-10-LO standard with the installation of an AN/ARN-6 radio compass, JATO, plenum chamber fire warning units, modified heating, cooling, and pressurization. The -10 block aircraft were powered by J33-A-9A or -9B and J33-GE-11A or -11B engines. However, in 1953, 98 of these -10 and -15 FP-80As were re-engined with the 5400 lb.s.t. Allison J33-A-25 engine. These were re-designated RF-80A-20-LO and RF-80A-25-LO respectively.

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    - "Honk" S/N 44-85065 with Capt. G.M. Hensley at the Washington National Air Show, 19 May 1946

    Three P-80As (44-8500, 44-85005, and 45-85235) were transferred to the US Navy for trials. They received BuNos 29667, 29668 and 29689 respectively, but apparently never got a Navy designation. 29667 was turned over to the Navy on May 17, 1945, and carried out simulated carrier landings at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, with much of the flying being done by Cmdr Najeeb Halaby. 29668 reached the Navy on Dec 18, 1945 and was fitted with a catapult bridle and arrestor hook. 29668 was used for carrier-suitability trials aboard the aircraft carrier *Franklin D. Roosevelt*, with Marine Corps LtCol Marion Carl carrying out several landings and takeoffs. However, the Navy never experienced any interest in acquiring a carrier-based version of the single-seat Shooting Star fighter.

    One of the problems experienced by all early jet fighters was their relatively limited range and endurance as compared to conventional piston-engine fighters. One idea that was given serious thought at the time was for jet fighters to be towed like gliders behind bombers until they reached the combat zone. These fighters would then be cut free, start their engines, and engage in combat. When combat was over, the fighters would re-link to the bombers for the tow back home. In May of 1945, P-80A serial number 44-84995 was transferred to Wright Field for use in testing of the feasibility of this idea. An attachment bar for the cable tow was installed in the nose of the P-80A. It could be engaged or released by the pilot. The cable not only provided a tow, it also provided electrical power to the P-80A. Several tests were carried out in which the aircraft was towed behind a Boeing B-29A-10-BN (42-93921). On September 23, 1947, Lt. Col Pat Fleming took off and attempted to link up in midair to the B-29 tow cable. After several attempts were frustrated by air turbulence from the B-29, he finally succeeded in linking up to the end of the tow cable. He was towed through the air for 10 minutes. When it came time to unhook, the tow bar stubbornly refused to release. Fleming finally maneuvered underneath the B-29, where the bomber's bow wave snapped the attachment point backwards, blocking his forward view. Fleming managed to land safely, but the program was immediately terminated as being impractical. 44-84995 was eventually repaired and restored to standard P-80A configuration and returned to active service.

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    "Rhapsody in Rivets" S/N 44-85069

     P-80A-1-LO 44-85044 was tested with a modified rotating nose housing four machine guns which could be elevated up to an angle of 90 degrees. The idea was for the P-80 to be able to approach an enemy bomber from below and be able to fire on it without being in danger of return fire. However, when these guns were fired, the P-80A bucked and trembled and the accuracy of fire left much to be desired, and the idea was abandoned. It was later fitted with a second cockpit in the nose in which the pilot lay prone. The regular cockpit was occupied by a safety pilot who made takeoffs and landings, navigated, and handled flaps and speed brakes. However, the prone pilot was situated so far forward that he experienced vertigo during maneuvers. The idea was abandoned as being impractical.

    P-80A-1-LO 44-85116 was fitted with jettisonable racks for 5-inch HVAR rockets in place of the wingtip tanks. Later, it was fitted with a rocket launcher gun in a modified nose. The nose incorporated louvers to exhaust the gases produced by the firing rockets.

    P-80A 44-85354 was experimentally fitted with four 20-mm cannon in place of the standard six machine guns. However, this cannon armament was never adopted as standard.

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    Large group bound for Chanute AFB, 19 May 1946

    P-80A 44-85214 was fitted with a 30-inch diameter Marquardt C30-10B ramjet on each wingtip. 44-85042 used a pair of 20-inch Marquardt C20-85D ramjets. The ramjets were first used in flight on March 12, 1947 and on June 17, 1948 44-85214 flew briefly on ramjet power alone. About a hundred sorties were made at Muroc, mainly by Lockheed test pilot Herman R. "Fish" Salmon. The ramjet program was discontinued when it became apparent that the ramjet consumed fuel at a much too rapid rate to make it a practical means of aircraft propulsion.

    In June of 1948, the P-80A and FP-80A were re-designated F-80A and RF-80A respectively.

    After the end of the Korean War, 137 F-80As and RF-80As were partially brought up to F-80C standards. These were re-designated F-80C-11-LO and RF-80C-11-LO respectively, and were issued to ANG and USAF reserve units. These RF-80Cs had improved camera installations in a nose of modified contour. The conversion consisted of the installation of the J33-A-35 engine, the installation of an ejector seat using an M-5 catapult and M-3 actuator, and provision for an AN/ARC-27 command radio.

     

    Specification of the P-80A:

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    Rocket Assisted Take-off - S/N 44-85231

    Engine: One General Electric J33-GE-11 or Allison J33-A-9 turbojet, rated at 3850 lb.s.t. Later production blocks powered by 4000 lb.s.t. Allison J33-A-17. Dimensions: wingspan 38 feet 10 1/2 inches (without wingtip tanks), length 34 feet 6 inches, height 11 feet 4 inches, and wing area 237.6 square feet Weights were 7920 pounds empty, 11,700 pounds gross, and 14,000 pounds maximum takeoff. Fuel load: 425 US gallons normal, 885 US gallons maximum. Performance: Maximum speed was 558 mph at sea level and 492 mph at 40,000 feet. Initial climb rate was 4580 feet/minute, and an altitude of 20,000 feet could be attained in 5.5 minutes. Service ceiling was 45,000 feet. Normal range was 780 miles, and maximum range was 1440 miles. Armament: Six 0.50-inch machine guns.

     

     

    Serial numbers of Lockheed P-80A

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    Acrojet S/N 45-8358 (1951)

    S/N 44-85356 of the 63rd FS, 56 FG, Selfridge AFB (1948)

     

    44-84992/85336	Lockheed P-80A-1-LO Shooting Star
    
    		c/n 080-1015/1359
    		84994 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		84999 at Hill AFB Museum, UT.
    		84995 used for tests in towing by B-29
    		85000 transferred to US Navy as BuNo 29667.
    		85001 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85004 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85005 transferred to US Navy as BuNo 29668.
    		85007 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85009 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85012 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85013 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85014 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85015 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85019 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85024 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85025 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85029 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85038 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85039 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85041 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85042 tested with wingtip-mounted ramjets.
    		85047 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85049 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85051 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85057 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85060 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85062 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85063 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85071 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85072 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85088 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85088 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85098 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85101 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85104 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85105 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85107 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85109 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85110 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85112 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85116 tested with wingtip rocket racks
    		85120 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85122 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85123 at Edwards AFB, CA.
    		85124 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85125 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85128 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85132 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85134 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85135 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85142 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85150 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85151 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85154 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85155 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85160 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85161 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85163 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85166 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85167 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85168 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85171 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85172 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85175 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85176 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85177 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85178 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85179 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85180 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85181 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85182 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85183 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85190 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85191 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85196 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85200 modified as XP-80B.  Later modified as XP-80R and set
    			world's air speed redord of 623.738 mph June 19, 1947
    			flown by Col. Albert Boyd.  Now at USAF Museum, 
    			Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio.
    		85201 modified as XFP-80A.  Later modified as RF-80C-11-LO
    		85205 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85210 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85214 tested with wingtip-mounted ramjets.
    		85216 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85217 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85225 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85226 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85227 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85229 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85230 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85231 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85235 transferred to USN as BuNo 29689
    		85237 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85239 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85240 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85242 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85244 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85245 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85246 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85247 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85249 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85252 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85253 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85260 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85261 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85262 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85264 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85268 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85269 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85270 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85279 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85281 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85283 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85284 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85285 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85287 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85290 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85291 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85293 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85297 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85300 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85310 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85315 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85320 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85321 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85322 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85324 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85328 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85330 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85333 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85334 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    44-85337/85382	Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    		c/n 080-1360/1405
    		85342 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85345 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85356 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85363 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85364 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85366 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    		85370 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85371 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85372 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85373 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85374 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    		85379 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    44-85383	Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1406
    44-85384	Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1407.  Upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    44-85385	Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1408
    44-85386/85398	Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1409/1421
    			85386 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    			85390 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    			85392 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    			85393 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    			85394 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    			85395 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    			85397 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    			85398 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    44-85399	Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1422
    44-85400/85424	Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1423/1447
    			85400 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    			85402 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    			85405 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    			85406 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    			85410 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    			85411 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    			85414 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    			85416 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    			85418 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    			85423 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    			85424 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    44-85425	Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1448
    44-85426/85432	Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1449/1455
    44-85433	Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1456
    44-85434/85438	Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1457/1461
    			85435 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    			85437 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    44-85439	Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1462
    44-85440/85442	Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1463/1465
    			85440 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    			85441 upgraded to F-80C-11-LO
    			85442 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    44-85443	Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1466
    44-85444	Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1467
    44-85445	Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1468
    44-85446	Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1469
    			modified as F-80C-11-LO
    44-85447	Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1470
    44-85448	Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1471.  Modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    44-85449	Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1472
    44-85450	Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1473.  Modified as F-80C-11-LO
    44-85451	Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1474
    44-85452	Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1475
    44-85453	Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1476
    44-85454	Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1477
    44-85455	Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1478
    44-85456	Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1479.  Modified as F-80C-11-LO
    44-85457	Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1480
    44-85458	Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1481
    44-85459	Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1482
    44-85460	Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1483
    44-85461	Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1484
    44-85462	Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1485
    44-85463	Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1486
    44-85464	Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1487.  Modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    44-85465	Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1488
    44-85466	Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1489.. Modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    44-85467	Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1490
    44-85468	Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1491.  Modified as F-80C-11-LO
    44-85469	Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1492
    44-85470	Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1493
    44-85471	Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1494
    44-85472	Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1495
    44-85473	Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1496
    44-85474	Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1497
    44-85475	Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1498
    44-85476	Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1499.  Modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    44-85477	Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1500
    44-85478	Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1501
    44-85479	Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1502
    44-85480	Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1503.  Modified as F-80C-11-LO
    44-85481	Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1504
    44-85482	Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1505.  Modified as F-80C-11-LO
    44-85483	Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1506
    44-85484	Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1507
    44-85485	Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1508
    44-85486	Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1509.  Modified as F-80C-11-LO
    44-85487	Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1510
    44-85488	Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1511
    44-85489	Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1512
    44-85490	Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1513.  Modified as F-80C-11-LO
    44-85491	Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1514
    45-8301		Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1515
    45-8302		Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1516
    45-8303		Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1517
    45-8304		Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1518
    45-8305		Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1519.  Modified as F-80C-11-LO
    45-8306		Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1520
    45-8307		Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1521
    			Modified as F-80C-11-LO
    45-8308		Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1522
    45-8309		Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1523
    45-8310		Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1524
    45-8311		Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1525
    45-8312		Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1526
    45-8313		Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1527
    45-8314		Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1528
    45-8315/8363	Lockheed P-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1529/1577
    			8315 modified as F-80C-11-LO
    			8319 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    			8324 modified as F-80C-11-LO
    			8325 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    			8327 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    			8330 modified as F-80C-11-LO
    			8331 modified as F-80C-11-LO
    			8334 modified as F-80C-11-LO
    			8335 modified as F-80C-11-LO
    			8337 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    			8346 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    			8347 modified as F-80C-11-LO
    			8348 modified as F-80C-11-LO
    			8350 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    			8351 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    			8354 modified as F-80C-11-LO
    			8357 modified as F-80C-11-LO.  Now on display at Robins
    				AFB, GA.
    			8358 modified as F-80C-11-LO
    			8359 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    			8362 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    			8363 modified as F-80C-11-LO
    45-8364/8477	Lockheed FP-80A-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1578/1691
    			8372/8375 upgraded to RF-80C-11-LO
    			8383 upgraded to RF-80C-11-LO
    			8406 modified as RF-80A-15-LO
    			8421 upgraded to RF-80C-11-LO
    

     

    Lockheed P-80B "Shooting Star"

     

    Click on Picture to enlarge

    The Whole Nine Yards!    

    The next production version of the Shooting Star was the P-80B. The prototype for the series was designated XP-80B and was produced by modifying the ninth P-80A-1-LO (44-85200). A 4000 lb.st. Allison J33-A-17 turbojet engine equipped with water/methanol injection was fitted. In order to provide space for the water-alcohol tanks, the internal fuel capacity was reduced from 470 to 425 US gallons. Contrary to other reports, the P-80B did not have a thinner wing or a thicker skin, the wing thickness actually remaining the same all throughout the P-80 series. A Lockheed-designed ejector seat was fitted, making the P-80B the first operational American warplane to be equipped with an ejector seat. Provisions were made for the installation of JATO bottles. A dark-colored nose fairing housed a loop aerial for an AN/ARN-6 D/F set. The P-80B retained the wingspan, length and height, of the P-80A. The B could be distinguished from the A by relocating the pitot tube from the nose to the vertical fin.

    A total of 240 P-80Bs were delivered between March 1947 and March 1948. These included 209 P-80B-1-LOs and 31 P-80B-5-LOs. The latter block were winterized models with canopy defrosting. In addition, they used special greases and natural rubber optimized for Arctic service in Alaska. In addition, on the P-80B-5-LO the 0.50-inch M-2 machine guns of the P-80B-1 were replaced with improved M-3 machine guns of identical caliber.

    The first operational P-80Bs were issued to the 1st Fighter Group at March Field, California in June of 1946.

    P-80B 45-8557 was transferred to the U. S. Navy, where it became BuNo 29690 and was used for experimental purposes.

    At least five P-80Bs (45-8484, 8485, 8528, 8538, and 8561 were modified to duplicate the functions and guidance system of the Bell GAM-63 Rascal air to surface missile. They were fitted with modified noses and wing tip tanks, and were equipped with additional vertical control surfaces both above and below the wings.

    Click on Picture to enlarge

     117 F-80Bs were later brought partially up to F-80C standards, and were re-designated F-80C-12-LO. They were issued to Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve squadrons after the end of the Korean War.

    In late 1946, it had been over ten years since any aircraft of US manufacture had held the world's speed record. At that time, the world's speed record was 615.8 mph, set on September 7, 1946 by Group Captain E. M. Donaldson of the RAF flying a modified Gloster Meteor F.4. In the autumn of 1946, the USAAF decided that it would be a good idea for the USA to regain this record. In pursuit of this aim, the USAAF instructed Lockheed to modify the XP-80B (44-85200) to make an attempt to set a new world's aircraft speed record.

    Click on Picture to enlarge

    The modified XP-80B aircraft was re-designated XP-80R, and was fitted with a set of experimental flush air intakes and a low-profile canopy. It was initially powered by a J33-A-17 engine. On its first attempt, the XP-80R failed to average over 600 mph in four passes over a 3 km course. In pursuit of more speed, the XP-80R was returned to Burbank for modifications. The experimental flush intakes were replaced by conventional intakes, and a 4600 lb.s.t. Allison Model 400 engine was fitted. This engine was a modified J33 equipped with water-methanol injection. The wings were clipped and were fitted with sharper leading edges.

    On June 19, 1947, the XP-80R was ready for another attempt. Piloted by Colonel Albert Boyd (chief of Flight Test at the Air Materiel Command), the XP-80R succeeded in setting a new record of 623.738 mph. The P-80R was subsequently used operationally by the Air Training Command as an advanced trainer. It is now on display at the USAF Museum at Wright Patterson AFB in Ohio.

    In June of 1948, the P-80B was re-designated F-80B.

     

    Specifications of the P-80B:

    Click on Picture to enlarge

     

    Engine: One Allison J33-A-17 turbojet, rated at 5200 lb.s.t. Dimensions were wingspan 39 feet 0 inches (without wingtip tanks), length 34 feet 6 inches, height 11 feet 3 inches, and wing area 237.6 square feet Weights were 8176 pounds empty, 12,200 pounds gross, and 16,000 pounds maximum takeoff. Performance: Maximum speed was 558 mph at sea level and 577 mph at 6000 feet. Initial climb rate was 6475 feet/minute, and an altitude of 20,000 feet could be attained in 5.5 minutes. Service ceiling was 45,500 feet. Normal range was 790 miles, and maximum range was 1210 miles. Armament consisted of six 0.50-inch machine guns in the nose. Ten five-inch rockets could be carried underwing.

     

    Serial numbers of Lockheed P-80B

    44-85200	Lockheed P-80A-1-LO Shooting Star
    		c/n 080-1223
    		85200 modified as XP-80B.  Later modified as XP-80R and set
    			world's air speed redord of 623.738 mph June 19, 1947
    			flown by Col. Albert Boyd.  Now at USAF Museum, 
    			Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio.
    45-8478/8480	Lockheed P-80B-1-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1692/1694
    45-8481		Lockheed P-80B-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1695
    45-8482/8565	Lockheed P-80B-1-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1696/1779
    			8484,8485,8528,8538,8561 used in tests of
    			   guidance system of Bell GAM-63 missile 
    			8490 at Castle Air Museum, CA.
    			8501 at Chanute AFB Museum, IL
    			8557 transferred to USN as TO-1 BuNo 29690
    45-8566/8595	Lockheed P-80B-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1780/1809
    45-8596/8717	Lockheed P-80B-1-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1810/1931
    			8612 at Pima Air Museum, Tucson, AZ.
    			8704 retired to MASDC July 1958.  Now on display at 
    				McClellan AFB, CA.
    45-8718/8800	Lockheed P-80B Shooting Star
    			Contract cancelled
    
    1. Click on Picture to enlarge


     

    Lockheed P-80C "Shooting Star"

     

    Click on Picture to enlarge

     

    Prone pilot test aircraft

    The final production version of the Shooting Star was the P-80C, which was a heavier and more powerful version of the P-80B. The first P-80C flew on March 1, 1948. Whereas the P-80A and B had been delivered under original wartime contracts, the P-80C was built under postwar Fiscal Year 1947, 1948, and 1949 contracts.

    The first two production batches included 162 P-80C-1-LOs and 76 P-80C-5-LOs. These were initially powered by the 4600 lb.s.t. Allison J33-A-23 jet engine. The last 561 P-80C aircraft were from the P-80C-10-LO production block and were powered by the 5400 lb.s.t. Allison J33-A-35 engine. The contract included four aircraft (49-3957/3600) that were originally ordered by Peru but delivered to the USAF in the fall of 1951. The P-80C could be externally distinguished from the B by the relocation of the pitot tube from the fin back to a position underneath the nose. The wingspan was 39 feet 9 inches, and the length was 34 feet 5 inches. It used the improved M3 machine guns first introduced on the later production blocks of the P-80B.

    In June of 1948, the designation of the P-80C was changed to F-80C

    The F-80C bore the brunt of Shooting Star combat in Korea, most of the F-80As and B's either remaining stateside or going on duty in Europe. In service, many P-80C aircraft were fitted with two additional wing pylons, and provision for the mounting of sixteen 5-inch rockets were made. Service modifications included the use of either 265 US gallon under-tip tanks (sometimes named "Misawa" tanks after the air base in Japan where they were first introduced) or 230 US-gallon centerline tip tanks. When the latter type of tanks were carried, the wingtips were squared off, reducing the span to 38 feet 9 inches.

    Click on Picture to enlarge

     

    Side view of dual cockpit aircraft

    During the Korean War, an uncertain number of F-80A and F-80C fighters were modified to RF-80C standards. They differed from other Shooting Star reconnaissance aircraft by having a smooth fighter-style nose. The guns were replaced by one or two K-14 cameras, but the gun barrels were painted over to give the appearance of retaining weapons.

    After the end of the Korean War, 137 F-80As and RF-80As were partially brought up to F-80C standards by Lockheed Air Services, Inc. These were re-designated F-80C-11-LO and RF-80C-11-LO respectively, and were issued to ANG and USAF reserve units. The RF-80Cs had improved camera installations in a nose of modified contour. The conversion consisted of the installation of the J33-A-35 engine, the installation of an ejector seat using an M-5 catapult and M-3 actuator, and provision for an AN/ARC-27 command radio.

    One F-80C (47-171) was constructed of magnesium throughout. It was re-designated NF-80C. One shudders to think of what would have happened if a fire ever broke out! In fact, the aircraft was originally on display at the Air Force Museum in Ohio, but removed after its all-magnesium construction was deemed to be a fire risk. Another usual experiment took place with F-80C serial number 49-429. It was tested on skis in Alaska.

     

    Specifications of the P-80C:

    Click on Picture to enlarge

    Engine: One Allison J33-A-23/35 turbojet, rated at 4600 lb.s.t./5400 lb.s.t. Dimensions were wingspan 38 feet 9 inches (without wingtip tanks), length 34 feet 5 inches, height 11 feet 3 inches, and wing area 237.6 square feet. Weights were 8420 pounds empty, 12,200 pounds gross, and 16,856 pounds maximum takeoff. Maximum speed was 594 mph at sea level and 543 mph at 25,000 feet. Initial climb rate was 6870 feet/minute, and an altitude of 25,000 feet could be attained in 7 minutes. Service ceiling was 46,800 feet. Normal range was 825 miles, and maximum range was 1380 miles. Fuel load: 425 US gallons normal, 755 US gallons max. Armament consisted of six 0.50-inch machine guns. An underwing load of 2000 pounds of bombs, napalm or rockets could be carried.

     

    Serials of Lockheed P-80C Shooting Star:

    47-171/224	Lockheed P-80C-1-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1932/1985.  Redesignated F-80C in 1948.
    47-525		Lockheed P-80C-1-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1986.  Redesignated F-80C in 1948.
    47-526/600	Lockheed P-80C-5-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-1987/2061.  Redesignated F-80C in 1948.
    47-601/604	Lockheed P-80C-1-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 2062/2065.  Redesignated F-80C in 1948.  
    47-1380/1411	Lockheed P-80C-1-LO Shooting Star  
    			c/n 080-2066/2097.  Redesignated F-80C in 1948.
    48-376/396	Lockheed F-80C-1-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-2099/2119
    48-863/912	Lockheed F-80C-1-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-2105/2119
    49-422/878	Lockheed F-80C-10-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-2120/1269
    49-1800/1899	Lockheed F-80C-10-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080/26207/2726
    49-3597/3600	Lockheed F-80C-10-LO Shooting Star
    			c/n 080-2727/2730
    

     

     

    Lockheed TO-1/TV-1

     

    Click on Picture to enlarge

    In the years 1947-1948, the US Navy was finding that deliveries of its newly-ordered Grumman F9F Panthers and McDonnell F2H Banshee carrier-based jet fighters were taking place at a considerably slower rate than expected. In order to fill in the gap until adequate numbers of these fighters could be delivered and to provide for a nucleus of trained jet pilots, the Navy arranged for 49 USAF P-80C-1-LOs and one USAF P-80C-5-LO to be transferred to them. These Shooting Stars were all powered by the 4600 lb.s.t. Allison J33-A-23 engine.

    In Navy service, the Shooting Stars bore the designation TO-1. The T (rather than F) letter indicated that these aircraft were considered as trainers rather than as operational combat aircraft. This TO-1 designation was changed to TV-1 after 1950. Their original USAF serials had been 47-218/224, 47-525, 47-601/604, 47-1380/1394, 48-382,47-1396/1411 and 48-376/381. These USAF serials were replaced by Navy BuNos 33821 through 33870 respectively.

    These Navy- and Marine Corps-operated TV-1s were strictly land-based aircraft and were not equipped with any carrier-landing equipment. TV-1s operated during the 1950s with at least two squadrons (VF-52 of the Navy and VMF-311 of the Marine Corps). When sufficient numbers of Panthers and Banshees became available, the TV-1s were transferred to reserve units and were eventually phased out of service.

     

    Lockheed F-80D Shooting Star

     

    Click on Picture to enlarge

    The F-80D was a 1948 proposal for a progressive development of the F-80C. It was known by the company as Model 680-33-07. The F-80D was to be powered by an Allison J33-A-29 turbojet and was to have improved instrumentation and a more efficient cockpit arrangement. It was not proceeded with.

     

     

    P-80 & T-33 Ejection Seat

     

     

    Lockheed F-80E

     

    Click on Picture to enlarge

    The F-80E was a proposed F-80C development with swept wing and tail surfaces. Studied under the company design designation L-181, the new design retained the nose, center fuselage, and vertical tail of the F-80C. The aft fuselage was enlarged to house an afterburning Allison J33-A-27 turbojet. The wing and tailplane were swept back at an angle of 35 degrees. At that time, the USAF was perfectly satisfied with the F-86 Sabre, and felt no need for the F-80E, so the project was abandoned. Projected maximum speed of the F-80E was 662 mph at sea level.

     

     

    Lockheed TP-80C/TF-80C/T-33A

     

    Click on Picture to enlarge

    Early in the development cycle of the P-80, Lockheed had identified the need for a two-seat training version of the Shooting Star. However, the AAF was initially not very interested in the project. The AAF became much more interested in a two-seat Shooting Star in 1947, when the alarmingly high accident rate of the P-80 pointed to an urgent need for a jet transition trainer. In August of 1947, the Air Force authorized the modification of a P-80C airframe (48-356) as a two-seat trainer. The modified aircraft was redesignated TP-80C. In order to accommodate the second seat, a 38.6-inch plug was inserted forward of the wing and a 12-inch plug aft. Fuselage fuel capacity was decreased from 207 to 95 US gallons. To offset this loss of fuel capacity, nylon cells were installed in the wings in place of the P-80's self-sealing tanks. Internal fuel capacity was 353 gallons as compared to the P-80C's 425 gallons. The two crew members were seated in tandem ejector seats under a clear canopy. To save weight, built-in armament was reduced to only two 0.50-inch machine guns.

    The TP-80C completed its maiden flight on March 22, 1948, flown by Tony LeVier. On June 11, 1948, its designation was changed to TF-80C. After 128 TF-80Cs had been produced, the designation changed yet again to T-33A on May 5, 1949. The two-seat T-33 was one of the most successful trainers of the post-war era--no less than 5691 examples being built in the USA, with 210 more being built in Japan and 656 in Canada. It remained in production until 1959, and served with the air forces of no fewer than 30 nations. But the T-33 is a story for another day.

     

    Lockheed QF-80

     

    Click on Picture to enlarge

    The QF-80 was a drone version of the F-80 for use as a gunnery target.

    Click on Picture to enlarge

     

    Drone and Controller - S/N 44-85046 (drone) and 44-85288 (controller)

    Sperry Gyroscope began converting eight F-80s to QF-80 drone configuration in 1951 under a project known as Bad Boy. The armament was all removed, and radio control equipment was installed. The pilot's controls were retained, which made it possible for the drone to be operated either manned or unmanned. A second batch of 14 drones featured larger center-mounted Fletcher wingtip tanks equipped with cameras rather than fuel so that attacking aircraft could be photographed. These cameras could be jettisoned by remote control and lowered by parachute.

    Sperry received contracts for 55 more QF-80 drones (plus 10 DT-33 drone directors) in November of 1954. Most were converted F-80Cs. Several of these were completed as QF-80F, which was a modernized QF-80A/QF-80C target drone with improved radio control equipment and provision for runway arrester hooks.

    The drones were usually painted all red, but with natural metal finish on the top surfaces of both wings. Some QF-80 drones were still operating as aerial targets as late as 1962. Many QF-80s were operated as pilot less drones to collect radioactive samples from mushroom clouds during nuclear tests.

     

    F-80 Service History

     

    Click on Picture to enlarge

    The service history of the Shooting Star begins in 1944, when the decision was made to deploy four service test YP-80As to Europe to demonstrate their capabilities to combat crews and to help in the development of tactics to be used against Luftwaffe jet fighters. 44-83026 and 83027 were shipped to England in mid-December 1944, but 44-83026 crashed on its second flight in England, killing its pilot. 44-83027 was turned over to the British government and modified by Rolls-Royce to flight test the B-41, the prototype of the Nene turbojet. On November 14, 1945, 44-83027 was destroyed in a crash landing after an engine failure. 44-83028 and 83029 were shipped to the Mediterranean. They flew some operational sorties, but they never encountered any enemy aircraft. They were both returned to the USA after the war.

    The tenth, eleventh, and twelfth YP-80As were delivered in early 1945 to the 31st Fighter Squadron of the 412th Fighter Group at Bakersfield Municipal Airport in California for service tests. The first production P-80A was accepted by the AAF in February of 1945. The group relocated to Santa Maria AAF, California in July of 1945. It moved again in November of 1945 to March Field, California. After the war in Europe was over, P-80As began to replace the P-51D and the few P-59As which had served with stateside units. The first 17 P-80As off the line were assigned to the 31st Squadron of the 412th Fighter Group, supplementing the YP-80As that the Group had already received. More P-80As went to the 29th and the 445th Squadrons of this group in the summer of 1945. This group was in preparation for deployment to the Pacific when Japan surrendered.

    Click on Picture to enlarge

    In the summer of 1945, approximately 30 P-80As were sent aboard an aircraft carrier to the Philippines in preparation for the final assault on Japan. The planes were to be issued to the 414th Fighter Group, based at Florida Blanca. Unfortunately, the planes had been sent without their tip tanks and their aircraft batteries, so they sat aboard the aircraft carrier for 30 days waiting for this equipment. By the time that the batteries and wingtip tanks were delivered, the war in the Pacific had ended, so the P-80 never got a chance to enter combat in the war against Japan.

    The initial accident rate for the P-80A was alarmingly high. On July 1, 1945, Lt Joseph Mandl was killed when his P-80A (44-85017) stalled on takeoff and plowed through a fence and struck a parked A-26. On August 2,1945, Major Ira Jones was killed when his P-80A (44-83029) fell apart in midair in a flight over Kentucky. August 6, 1945, Major Richard Bong, Medal of Honor holder and leading USAAF fighter ace with 40 victories in the Pacific, was killed when the engine of his P-80A-1-LO (44-85048) exploded shortly after takeoff. By that time, no less than eight YP-80As and P-80As had been destroyed in crashes, seven had been severely damaged, and six pilots had been killed. The day after Bong's fatal crash, the USAAF ordered the Shooting Star grounded until the problems could be corrected. The grounding order was lifted on November 7, but was soon followed by another grounding, this time caused by problems with the J33-A-9 jet engine. The aircraft was cleared for flight shortly thereafter, but the accident rate still remained high, with no less than 61 Shooting Stars being involved in accidents by September of 1946. Most of these accidents were not the result of any critical flaws in the basic design of the Shooting Star, but were caused primarily by errors on the part of pilots inexperienced with the particular idiosyncrasies of jet aircraft.

    In spite of its high accident rate, the USAAF was anxious to show off its new jet fighter to the public. On January 26, 1946, three P-80A-1-LOs equipped with auxiliary fuel tanks in place of the guns and ammunition broke the transcontinental speed record between Long Beach, California and LaGuardia Airport, New York City. Carrying standard 165-US gallon wingtip tanks, Captain Martin Smith's 44-85113 and Captain John Babel's 44-85131 completed the trip respectively in 4 hours 33 minutes 25 seconds and 4 hours 23 minutes 54 seconds, which included a re-fuelling stop in Topeka, Kansas. The fastest time--4 hours 13 minutes 26 seconds for an average speed of 580.93 mph over 2453.8 miles was obtained by Col. William Council who was able to fly nonstop since his aircraft (44-85123) was fitted with special 310-gallon drop tanks. Three months later, Col. Council flew a P-80A from New York to Washington DC in 20 minutes 15 seconds. In June 1946, Lt. Henry Johnson set a 1000-km speed record of 426.97 mph.

    Click on Picture to enlarge

    In the first postwar National Air Races held in Cleveland in August of 1946, Shooting Stars won three trophies: the Bendix Trophy awarded to Col Leon Gray for flying an FP-80A from Van Nuys, California to Cleveland in

     4 hours 8 minutes, the Thompson Trophy 180-km closed circuit race won by Colonel Gustav Lundquist in a P-80A, and the Weatherhead Jet Speed Dash Trophy won by Lieut W. Reilly at a speed of 576.4 mph in a P-80A. The P-80A won the Bendix and Thompson trophies again in 1947.

    In order to show off the USAAF's new jet fighter, in May of 1946, twenty-five P-80As of the 412th Fighter Group toured the United States. However, the 412th Fighter Group was inactivated in July of 1946 after completing the operational evaluation of the first two USAAF jet fighters, the P-59A and the P-80A.

    Apart from the four P-80s that had been sent to Europe just prior to V-E Day, the first overseas P-80s were issued to the 55th Fighter Group under Col Horace Hanes, which received 32 Shooting Stars for its 38th Fighter Squadron based at Gibelstadt in Germany. This unit evolved into the 31st Fighter Group. In 1946, Shooting Stars were delivered to the 38th Squadron of the 55th Fighter Group and the 27th, 71st, and 94th of the 1st Group stationed in the USA, the 31st Group (307th, 308th, and 309th Squadrons) based in Germany, and the 18th Fighter Bomber Wing (12th, 44th, and 67th Squadron) based on Okinawa. In early 1946, 30 P-80s were sent to the 414th Fighter Group at Florida Blanca Airbase on Luzon in the Philippine Islands. In November 1946, twenty-five P-80Bs of the 94th Squadron were taken to Alaska for six months of cold-weather testing.

    Click on Picture to enlarge

    The 363rd Reconnaissance Group was activated at Brooks Field, Texas in July of 1946, and received FP-80As.

     In 1947, the following groups got the Shooting Star--the 4th Group (334th, 335th, 336th Squadrons) and 56th Group (61st, 62nd, and 63rd Squadrons) based in the USA, the 36th Fighter Bomber Group (22nd, 23rd, and 53rd Squadrons) based in Germany, and the 51st Interceptor Group (16th, 25th, and 26th Squadrons) based in Japan. Sixteen F-80A/F-80Bs of the 56th Fighter Group left Selfridge Field, Michigan on July 7, 1948 and made a multi-stop transatlantic flight and then took part in two weeks of training in Germany.

    In 1948, F-80Cs began to reach operational units, the first being the 57th Interceptor Group (64th, 65th, and 66th Squadrons) based in Alaska and the 49th Fighter Bomber Group (7th, 8th, 9th Squadrons) based in Japan. Later in 1948, the 36th Fighter Group took no less than 80 F-80Bs from Florida to the Canal Zone before moving permanently to Germany. In 1949, the 23rd Group (74th, 75, 76th Squadrons) and 81st Group (91st, 92nd, and 93rd Squadrons), both stationed in the USA, received Shooting Stars. In the same year, the 8th Fighter Bomber Group (35th, 36th, and 80th Squadrons) based in Japan received F-80Cs. The 35th Interceptor Group (39th, 40th, and 41st Squadrons) based in Japan received F-80Cs in early 1950.

    Click on Picture to enlarge

     

    By the late spring of 1950, F-80Cs equipped twelve Far East Air Force (FEAF) squadrons based in Japan--the 7th, 8th, and 9th Squadrons of the 49th Fighter Bomber Wing based at Misawa, the 35th, 36th, and 80th Squadrons with the 8th Fighter Bomber Wing based at Itazuke, the 39th, 40th and 41st Squadrons with the 35th Fighter Interceptor Wing at Yokota, and the 16th, 25th and 26th Squadrons with the 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing at Naha. RF-80As equipped the 8th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron at Yokota.

    When North Korea invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950, four groups equipped with the P-80C (the 8th, 51st, 49th, and 35th) were based in Japan, as well as the 8th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron flying FP-80As. Shooting Stars saw action from June 26 onwards, taking off from their bases in Japan and flying as escorts for transports and as interceptors. On June 26, four Shooting Stars intercepted eight North Korean Ilyushin Il-10 attack aircraft and shot down four of them, scoring the first combat victories for an American jet fighter. On June 28, RF-80As began flying operational reconnaissance sorties, while the F-80Cs began to fly ground attack missions in support of the retreating South Korean forces. On June 30, the ban against air operations over North Korea was lifted, and the initial commitment of US troops was approved.

    Click on Picture to enlarge

    During the early days of service in Korea, pilots complained that the F-80 was too fast and not sufficiently maneuverable to handle the propeller-driven North Korean Yaks and Lavochkins. Two of the three F-80 squadrons converted briefly to the F-51D Mustang, but this change was to prove short-lived.

     The F-80C was instrumental in quickly gaining and maintaining air superiority over the Korean battlefield, rapidly clearing the skies of any North Korean aircraft that dared to venture into the air. However, the introduction of the MiG-15 into Korean combat On November 1, 1950 proved to be a nasty surprise. On November 7, 1950, Lieut Russell J. Brown, flying F-80C #49-0737, shot down a MiG-15 near the Yalu River, scoring the first victory in air-to-air combat between jet fighters.

    However, it was soon apparent that the F-80C was no match for the swept-wing MiG-15, being almost 100 mph slower than its Russian-built opponent. Thereafter, F-80s were employed primarily in the ground attack role, leaving air-to-air combat against the MiGs for the more capable F-86 Sabre.

    In order to increase the endurance of Shooting Stars operating from Japanese bases, personnel from the 49th Fighter Bomber Wing developed larger wingtip tanks by inserting sections of Fletcher tanks in the middle of standard F-80 tanks. These tanks (named "Misawa" tanks, after the airbase where the 49th was stationed) had a capacity of 265 US gallons and were carried beneath the wingtips of the Shooting Star and increased the aircraft's radius of action by 125 miles to 350 miles when carrying rockets. Later on, new centerline tip tanks with a 230 US gallon capacity were adopted as standard.

    One of the problems that faced early USAF operations with jet fighters was their relatively limited endurance and range. In order to extend the endurance of its jet fighters, experiments were made with in-flight re-fuelling. The Wright Air Development Center fitted a probe on each of the tip tanks of a group of F-80Cs and RF-80As. Success of these trials lead to the installation by the Far East Air Material Command of similar probes to the tanks of RF-80As of the 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing. On July 6, 1951 three RF-80As were re-fuelled three times by a Boeing KB-29M, flying the world's first air-re-fuelled combat mission. Similar operational trials were made with F-80Cs beginning on September 28, 1951. However, the air re-fuelling procedure proved to be cumbersome and was not adopted as standard in Korea by the Shooting Star.

    Specifications:
    Lockheed P-80A Shooting Star
    Dimensions:
    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)
    Weights:
    Empty: 7,920 lb (3,593 kg)
    Gross: 11,700 lb (5,307 kg)
    Max. Take-Off: 14,000 lb (6,350 kg)
    Performance:
    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)
    Range:
    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)
    Power plant:
    One General Electric J33-GE-11 or
    Allison J-33 -A-9 with 3,850 lb S.T. (1,746 kg).
    Armament:
    six .50 machine guns; 2,000 lb (907 kg) bomb,
    or ten .5 inch rockets

    The Shooting Stars were superseded by later types as the Korean War proceeded. The 49th Fighter Bomber Wing traded in its F-80Cs for F-84Es in June/August of 1951. The 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing acquired F-86Es in October/November of 1951. The 8th and 18th Fighter Bomber Wings exchanged their F-80Cs for F-86Fs in 1953. By the time of the armistice agreement of July 27, 1953, the only Shooting Stars still flying combat missions in Korea were the RF-80As of the 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing.

    During the Korean War, Shooting Stars flew 98,515 sorties and were credited with the destruction of 37 enemy aircraft in the air (six of them MiG-15s) and 21 on the ground. They dropped 41,593 tons of bombs and napalm and fired over 81,000 rockets. In 34 months of combat, the F-80C suffered heavy losses (equal to 35 percent of the F-80C production). 14 were shot down by enemy MiG fighters, 113 were brought down by ground fire, 16 were lost to unknown causes, and 150 were lost in operational accidents.

    There was a report that the Communist side managed to obtain a flyable F-80 during the war and actually managed to use it to harass UN troops. If true, this would be yet another example of an aircraft which fought on both sides during a conflict.

    While the Korean War was in progress, the F-80A/Bs continued in service in the USA where they were primarily used for training. By late 1951, they were finally phased out. In Europe, F-80Bs were replaced in the 36th Fighter Bomber Group by F-84 Thunderjets during 1950. In Alaska, the Shooting Stars were replaced by F-94 Starfires in 1951. The recon Shooting Stars remained in service for a bit longer, the last RF-80A/Cs being withdrawn from USAF service at the end of 1957.

    The Air National Guard (ANG) was issued with Shooting Stars at a fairly early stage. The F-80B entered service in June 1947 with the 196th Fighter Squadron of the California ANG. When the Korean War began, the ANG had six squadrons of Shooting Stars, but they all transitioned to other types before being called to active duty. After the Korean War, the Shooting Star reentered Guard service, with F-80Cs (including rebuilt F-80C-11/12-LO aircraft) equipping some twenty-two squadrons and the RF-80A/C serving with some five squadrons. Air Force Reserve squadrons also flew F-80Cs from the summer of 1953 to the autumn of 1957. In 1958, the F-80C was finally phased out of the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve.

    Click on Picture to enlarge

    In the mid-1950s, the F-80C was chosen as the replacement type for Latin American nations that were equipped with the Republic F-47 Thunderbolt. 113 Shooting Stars, including original F-80Cs as well as some rebuilt F-80C-11/12-LOs, were transferred to South American air forces under the US Military Assistance Program (MAP). The Forca Aerea Brasileira operated 33 F-80C-10-LOs between the years 1958 and 1973. During the same period, the Fuerza Aerea del Peru ( whose 1947 order for four factory-fresh F-80Cs had for some reason been taken over by the USAF) operated sixteen Shooting Stars. Other Latin American operators of the Shooting Star included the Fuerza Aerea de Chile (18 aircraft), the Fuerza Aerea Colombiana (16 aircraft), the Fuerza Aerea Ecuatoriana (16 aircraft), and the Fuerza Aerea Uruguaya (14 aircraft). Several other Latin American Thunderbolt-operators (including Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico) were offered Shooting Stars but elected not to take them on charge. In only one example was a Latin American F-80C used in action--this was in Peru when a few low-level passes helped to persuade a local garrison to give up its insurrection. The last Latin American user of the Shooting Star was Uruguay, which finally turned its last F-80Cs in exchange for Cessna A-37Bs in 1975.

    No Shooting Star survives in flyable condition today, although numerous examples are displayed in museums.

    Sources:

    1. The American Fighter, Enzo Anguluci and Peter Bowers, Orion Books, 1987.
       
    2. United States Military Aircraft since 1909, Gordon Swanborough and Peter M. Bowers, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989.
       
    3. Fighters of the United States Air Force, Robert F. Dorr and David Donald, Temple Press Aerospace, 1990.
       
    4. American Combat Planes, Ray Wagner, Third Enlarged Edition, Doubleday, 1982.
       
    5. Lockheed Aircraft since 1913, Rene J. Francillon, Naval Institute Press, 1987.
       
    6. Lockheed F-80--A Star is Born, Robert F. Dorr, Air International, Volume 47 No. 2, p. 94, 1994.
       
    7. Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star Variant Briefing, Robert F. Dorr, Wings of Fame, Volume 11, 1998.
       
    8. E-mail from Stan Wood.

    Joe Baugher

     

     

    The F-80  to  The T-33

     

    The Lockheed T-33A

     

    Click on Picture to enlarge

    The AAF definitively endorsed the P-80 on 4 April (2 months ahead of the XP-80A's first flight) with a LC that introduced the first production contract. This contract, as approved in December, called for two lots of P-80s (500 in each). Delivery of the first 500 was to be completed by the end of 1945; the rest, by February 1946. Germany's growing use of jet fighters (and the North American P-51's inability to measure up) underlined the P-80's urgency. In January 1945, the P-80 production got the same high priority as the B-29. This came after concluding that a slowdown of P-38 production would not solve the manpower, space, and part shortages preventing Lockheed from speeding up the P-80 production. Each of the first 500 P-80s would cost $75,913; the later ones, $20,000 less per aircraft. A second production contract in June 1945 raised the P-80 procurement above 3,600-most of them subsequently cancelled. An additional 1,000 P-80s were to be built by North American and labeled P-80Ns to distinguish them from the Lockheed productions. They too were cancelled.

    Despite major problems, the AAF received its first P-80A on schedule. The P-80 actually attained quantity production in March (only 21 months from its design), even though precision tools were lacking and the engines were either in short supply or unacceptable.

    Accelerated service tests showed that with proper maintenance the P-80A was safe for flight. Many mechanical "bugs" were found, however. An engineering inspection of the 126th P-80A in mid-November (delayed for months because the first planes were practically handmade and hardly typical of later ones) also disclosed a number of deficiencies.

    The close of WW II brought a sharp curtailment of the P-80 procurement. The second production contract (June 1945) was completely cancelled on 5 September; the first went through several changes before settling for a total of 917 airplanes, against the 1,000 originally contracted for. Moreover, the P-80's cost climbed some $19,000 per unit, due to reduced procurement, readjusted delivery schedules, and more particularly, required configuration changes. Nevertheless, postwar procurement through fiscal year 1950 raised the entire program to 1,731 P-80s (by then redesignated F-80s) of one model or another. This Air Force Logistics Command (AFLC) figure included all experimental and prototype planes, some 60 P-80s bought for the Air National Guard (ANG), and 128 F-80Cs converted to TF-80Cs (also referred to as T-33s). Lockheed reported F-80 production to be below 1,700. Headquarters AAF/USAF showed 1,562 F-80s bought for the active forces. All three sets of figures were correct, being based on different accounting methods.

    Months after many of the P-80s had been accepted, the aircraft were assigned to the 412th Fighter Group. After testing the aircraft, this unit had reported in mid-1945 that the P-80 "was the only fighter airplane with sufficient speed to escort proposed jet propelled bombers." The 412th also thought the P-80 well-suited for other tactical roles--counter air and ground support. In the spring of 1946 the AAF had 301 P-80s, hardly any of them overseas. The main reason was the same shortage of parts and engines that had kept the P-80 out of WW II. All P-8OAs using J33-9 engines had been grounded in 1945, while a General Motors strike the following year further complicated the engine situation. Furthermore, the P-80 had the highest accident rate in the AAF (More than twice that of any other fighter, excluding the P-59 which was seldom flown.)-36 crashes alone between March and September 1946. Here, low pilot experience played a part.

    Beginning with the 346th production, Lockheed put the Allison J33-17 engine in the P-80A. The GE J33-11 and Allison J33-9 engines, used interchangeably by earlier P-80As, would be reconfigured along the lines of the new J33-17. There was no money for Allison to do the work. It would be handled over several years during regular depot engine overhauls.

    The AAF paid Lockheed $8.5 million to give the P-8OAs some features of the next model (P-80B). This took roughly 1 year. By March 1948, all P-80As in service had received under-wing rocket launchers, and all but a few got an engine water-alcohol injection system to ease takeoff. To cure canopy problems at high speed, Lockheed installed newly-developed canopy remover kits on many of the P-80As as part of the $8.5 million modernization deal. Oversea units did their own canopy work. The same fund shortages that kept Allison from improving the engines of the early P80As slowed other postproduction modifications. Faulty aileron boost pumps (the cause of several accidents) and hydraulic pressure losses still existed. These, like upgrading the original engines, would eventually be corrected during regular depot overhauls.

    Production terminated with delivery of 12 last aircraft in December 1946. 525 p-80s were accepted; AAF accepted 33 P-80As in FY 45, 311 in FY 46, and 181 in FY 47. Cost per aircraft was approximately $95,000, Average cost of the various P-80s ordered under the first production contract of December 1944. If included, research and development costs boosted the aircraft's average price to over $110,000. [an error occurred while processing this directive] September 30, 2004 - 17:22 [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    The Shooting Star was the first USAF aircraft to exceed 500 mph in level flight, the first American jet airplane to be manufactured in large quantities, and the first USAF jet to be used in combat.  Designed in 1943, the XP-80 made its maiden flight on January 8, 1944.  Several early P-80s were sent to Europe for demonstration, but World War II ended before the aircraft could be employed in combat.  The aircraft was re-designated in 1948 when "P" for "Pursuit" was changed to "F" for "Fighter."  Of 1,731 F-80s built, 798 were F-80Cs.

    Although designated a high-altitude interceptor, the F-80C was used extensively as a fighter-bomber in the Korean Conflict, primarily for low-level rocket, bomb and napalm attacks against ground targets.  With the beginning of hostilities in June 1950, Warner Robins Air Logistics Center (WR-ALC) modernized F-80s assigned to federalized Air National Guard units in a crash program called "Project Hold-Off." On November 8, 1960, an F-80C flown by Lt. Russell J. Brown, flying with the 16th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, shot down a Russian-built MIG-15 in the world's first all-jet fighter air battle.

    "Frantic" best describes the pace of some aircraft development programs during World War II. Surely falling into this category was the Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star program. By the summer of 1943, the poor performance of the Bell Airacomet spelled the need for the development of a new U.S. jet fighter. Lockheed had been making design studies of such an aircraft and in June 1943 was awarded a prototype development contract with the stipulation that the aircraft be ready for flight in 180 days. Completion of the aircraft actually required only 150 days, but first flight was delayed by engine problems until January 1944. The intitial contract was for one plane, at a cost of $515,000. Production of the F-80A, using a different engine (the J-33) began in 1945.

    Conventional in basic configuration, the F-80 featured an unswept wing of 13-percent thickness mounted in the low position and, unlike the twin-engine Meteor and the Me 262, had a single engine located in the fuselage behind the pilot. Air was delivered to the engine by side inlets located on the fuselage just ahead of the wing root, and the jet exhaust nozzle was at the extreme end of the fuselage. Adjacent to the fuselage side may be seen the bleed slots that removed the fuselage boundary layer from the engine intake air and thus prevented flow separation inside the inlet. No such slots were provided on the prototype, and intermittent separation did occur in the inlets. "Duct rumble" was the term used to describe this phenomenon because of the alarming noise heard by the pilot. Evident in the photograph is the deployed speed brake located on the bottom of the fuselage. Like the P-38 , the F-80 had a small dive-recovery flap near the leading edge of the lower surface of the wing. Again like later versions of the P-38, the F-80 had power-operated ailerons. The other controls were manually operated. Split trailing-edge flaps provided lift augmentation at low speeds.

    The cockpit of production models of the Shooting Star was pressurized and air-conditioned. In the prototype, no air-conditioning was provided so that the temperature resulting from a combination of the high temperatures of the California desert and sustained high Mach number flight at low altitude caused the interior surfaces of the cockpit and controls to become uncomfortably hot. For example, with an ambient temperature of 90 some parts of the aircraft would reach a temperature of 150 in prolonged flight at a Mach number of 0.73. Another advance in cockpit equipment was the ejection seat incorporated in the F-80C model of the Shooting Star. (The first successful manned test of an ejection seat took place in July 1946.)

    Although the F-80 was conventional in appearance, the aircraft was the result of a careful synthesis of weight, size, and thrust parameters, as well as close attention to aerodynamic refinement. As a consequence, it had performance far superior to that of the P-59A although the thrust-to-weight ratio of the earlier aircraft was actually about 12 percent greater than that of the F-80A. For example, the maximum sea-level speed of 558 miles per hour was 145 miles per hour greater than that of the maximum speed of the P-59A, which occurred at 30 000 feet. As seen in table V, the climbing performance of the F-80A was also far superior to that of the earlier aircraft; the much smaller wing and resultant drag area of the F-80A no doubt played a significant role in ensuring the higher performance of the Shooting Star. In comparison with the drag area of the famous World War II Mustang, the drag area of 3.2 square feet of the F-80A was about 15 percent lower than that of the earlier propeller-driven aircraft.

    The F-80 came too late for operational service in World War II, but the F-80C did see action in the Korean conflict of the early 1950's. Designed as an air-superiority fighter, the F-80 could not compete in that role with the Soviet-built MiG-15 supplied to the opposing forces by the Soviet Union. It was, however, extensively employed in the ground-attack mode. Armament consisted of six .50-caliber machine guns in the nose and externally mounted bombs and rockets.

    The F-80 was withdrawn from first-title United States Air Force (USAF) service in 1954; production of the aircraft consisted of about 1700 units. But, this is not quite the end Of the F-80 story. A two-seat trainer version of the aircraft appeared in 19-18. Known in the USAF as the T-33 and in the Navy as the T2V, over 5000 of these trainers were built; a number of them are still in service and can be seen frequently at air bases in different parts of the country. Certainly a long and useful life for an airplane developed in the closing years of World War II.

    The AAF definitively endorsed the P-80 on 4 April (2 months ahead of the XP-80A's first flight) with a LC that introduced the first production contract. This contract, as approved in December, called for two lots of P-80s (500 in each). Delivery of the first 500 was to be completed by the end of 1945; the rest, by February 1946. Germany's growing use of jet fighters (and the North American P-51's inability to measure up) underlined the P-80's urgency. In January 1945, the P-80 production got the same high priority as the B-29. This came after concluding that a slowdown of P-38 production would not solve the manpower, space, and part shortages preventing Lockheed from speeding up the P-80 production. Each of the first 500 P-80s would cost $75,913; the later ones, $20,000 less per aircraft. A second production contract in June 1945 raised the P-80 procurement above 3,600-most of them subsequently cancelled. An additional 1,000 P-80s were to be built by North American and labeled P-80Ns to distinguish them from the Lockheed productions. They too were cancelled.

    Despite major problems, the AAF received its first P-80A on schedule. The P-80 actually attained quantity production in March (only 21 months from its design), even though precision tools were lacking and the engines were either in short supply or unacceptable.

    Accelerated service tests showed that with proper maintenance the P-80A was safe for flight. Many mechanical "bugs" were found, however. An engineering inspection of the 126th P-80A in mid-November (delayed for months because the first planes were practically handmade and hardly typical of later ones) also disclosed a number of deficiencies.

    The close of WW II brought a sharp curtailment of the P-80 procurement. The second production contract (June 1945) was completely cancelled on 5 September; the first went through several changes before settling for a total of 917 airplanes, against the 1,000 originally contracted for. Moreover, the P-80's cost climbed some $19,000 per unit, due to reduced procurement, readjusted delivery schedules, and more particularly, required configuration changes. Nevertheless, postwar procurement through fiscal year 1950 raised the entire program to 1,731 P-80s (by then re-designated F-80s) of one model or another. This Air Force Logistics Command (AFLC) figure included all experimental and prototype planes, some 60 P-80s bought for the Air National Guard (ANG), and 128 F-80Cs converted to TF-80Cs (also referred to as T-33s). Lockheed reported F-80 production to be below 1,700. Headquarters AAF/USAF showed 1,562 F-80s bought for the active forces. All three sets of figures were correct, being based on different accounting methods.

    Months after many of the P-80s had been accepted, the aircraft were assigned to the 412th Fighter Group. After testing the aircraft, this unit had reported in mid-1945 that the P-80 "was the only fighter airplane with sufficient speed to escort proposed jet propelled bombers." The 412th also thought the P-80 well-suited for other tactical roles--counter air and ground support. In the spring of 1946 the AAF had 301 P-80s, hardly any of them overseas. The main reason was the same shortage of parts and engines that had kept the P-80 out of WW II. All P-8OAs using J33-9 engines had been grounded in 1945, while a General Motors strike the following year further complicated the engine situation. Furthermore, the P-80 had the highest accident rate in the AAF (More than twice that of any other fighter, excluding the P-59 which was seldom flown.)-36 crashes alone between March and September 1946. Here, low pilot experience played a part.

    Beginning with the 346th production, Lockheed put the Allison J33-17 engine in the P-80A. The GE J33-11 and Allison J33-9 engines, used interchangeably by earlier P-80As, would be reconfigured along the lines of the new J33-17. There was no money for Allison to do the work. It would be handled over several years during regular depot engine overhauls.

    The AAF paid Lockheed $8.5 million to give the P-8OAs some features of the next model (P-80B). This took roughly 1 year. By March 1948, all P-80As in service had received under-wing rocket launchers, and all but a few got an engine water-alcohol injection system to ease takeoff. To cure canopy problems at high speed, Lockheed installed newly-developed canopy remover kits on many of the P-80As as part of the $8.5 million modernization deal. Oversea units did their own canopy work. The same fund shortages that kept Allison from improving the engines of the early P80As slowed other postproduction modifications. Faulty aileron boost pumps (the cause of several accidents) and hydraulic pressure losses still existed. These, like upgrading the original engines, would eventually be corrected during regular depot overhauls.

    Production terminated with delivery of 12 last aircraft in December 1946. 525 p-80s were accepted; AAF accepted 33 P-80As in FY 45, 311 in FY 46, and 181 in FY 47. Cost per aircraft was approximately $95,000, Average cost of the various P-80s ordered under the first production contract of December 1944. If included, research and development costs boosted the aircraft's average price to over $110,000.

     

    The RF-80A was an F-80A, with a longer and deeper nose to house cameras in place of the six M 2 guns, initially on the basic aircraft. The RF80A's prototype (the XF 14) was flown in the fall of 1944. It was followed by the XRF-80A, a reconnaissance version of the production F-80A. The AAF earmarked 152 of the 917 F-80s procured under the first production contract for conversion to photographic models. These FP-80As were all accepted in FY 47.

    To better fit these RF-80As for Korean operations, they were given improved photographic equipment. In 1953, 98 RF-80As exchanged their J33 A 11 engines for the more powerful J33 A25s. This upped performance and prolonged aircraft service life. However, no variant of the F-80A ever directly took part in the Korean conflict. In 1950 they were used in the United States for training. Production of jet fighter pilots was too important to be curtailed even temporarily. This fact rather than the aircraft's obsolescence was the reason they were kept at home.

    The Air Force flew a few RF-80s until late 1957.

     

    The F-80B was an improvement upon the F-80A models. It had thinner wings with thicker skin, stronger nose bulkheads to support greater fire power (six M,3 .50 in machine guns), and a stainless steel armored compartment containing the new Allison J33 21 engine, with water alcohol injection and and the capacity for jet assisted take off (JATO). The F-80B also featured under-wing rocket launchers, cockpit cooling and canopy anti-frosting systems, and a jettisonable pilot seat (designed, manufactured, and installed by Lockheed).

    The F-80B got its start in early 1945, when Lockheed presented plans for the F-80Z an advanced F-80 type. The Lockheed's sophisticated F-80Z plans were unrealistic. To follow them would amount to building a whole new aircraft. Instead, the AAF settled for a much simpler model. This aircraft also bore the F-80Z designation until the spring of 1947. A March engineering inspection found that after 65 changes the F-80Z still differed little from the P 80A. The F-80Z accordingly became the F-80B one month later.

    In all a total of 240 F-80Bs were produced.

     

    The F-80C was basically just an F-80B with an improved engine and armaments. Procurement began in 1950. Still little more than an improved F-80, the F-80Cs early days achieved scant recognition. Yet, it was this aircraft that introduced the jet fighter into the Korean conflict. Most FEAF fighter wings had F 80Cs, months before the Korean war. In May 1950, 365 of the 553 aircraft in FEAF operational units were F 80Cs.

    Because of FEAF's defensive mission, F-80Cs on 25 June 1950 (when the war broke out) had only .50 caliber machineguns. As counter air interceptors, they were equipped with mid wing rocket posts for carrying up to 16 5 inch high velocity rockets. Designed as fighters, none of them were fitted with pylon bomb racks. The F-80C used the least fuel at 15,000 feet, but its range at that altitude was still quite short. Yet, before they knew it, the F-80Cs were tapped for all types of jobs from escorting B 29s to flying interdiction and close air support. As fighter bombers, they stood down on 1 May 1953, but a few remained committed to the interceptor role until the truce on 27 July.

    The F 80C's radius of action was around 100 miles. With two Lockheed external 165 gallon tanks (and a full rocket load) it was only 225 miles. Lieutenants Edward R. Johnston and Robert Eckman of the 49th Fighter Bomber Wing at Misawa Air Base in Japan came up with one answer. Two center sections of a standard disposable tank were inserted in the middle of each of the two external tanks. These modified "Misawa" tanks each held 265 gallons enough fuel for 1 extra hour of flight and a 350 mile radius of action, depending on the type of combat mission. Every FEAF F 80C would get a pair of Misawa tanks, even though they might overstress the wing tips.

    As early as March 1951, pilots realized the F-80C's shortcomings as escort. The MIGs were able to fly through bomber formations before the F-80Cs (100 mph slower at 25,000 feet) could engage them.21 The F 80Cs proved excellent fighter bombers and stood up well under rough field conditions. The strain of combat flying, however, caused them to deteriorate faster than they could be repaired. In 1952, they already required more routine maintenance for each hour flown than any other fighter, including the F51 of WW II note. In air to air combat, the F-80C's success was short lived. Soon, these aircraft relied on F-86 support to keep them out of MIG 15 gun-sights. In the long run, enemy aircraft downed only 14 F 80cs. Still, operational losses were high (277), 113 of them due to ground fire. The 277 represented almost one-half of the entire F-80c production.

    An F-80C fuselage, taken off the production line in August 1947, was extended by 38.5 inches to fit an extra seat under the lengthened canopy. This prototype trainer was first flown on 22 March 1948. Re-designated TF-80C in June, it became the T-33A within a year. The TF-80C first had the J33A-23 engine, then the more powerful J33A-25. The trainer also retained 2 of the F-8OC's .50 caliber machineguns that were optional in the T-33A. Commonly called the T Bird, the T-33 was produced in larger quantities than any other F-80.

     

    Eventually, given a still better engine (the J33A-35), the T-33 served as the Air Force's standard jet trainer for almost two decades.

     

     

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