Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star

P80 Shooting Star US jet fighter

The P-80 was the first operational US jet fighter, a fairly conventional design apart from the jet engine and laminar flow wing. A few were sent to Europe during WWII, but they did not see any combat during WWII. In Korea it was already obsolete as a fighter, but served well as attack aircraft. 1732 were built. The two-seat trainer version T-33 was more successfull than the P-80 itself. There was also an unarmed RF-80 reconnaissance version, and the F-94 nightfighter was developed from the T-33.

The Shooting Star was possibly the best Allied jet fighter to emerge from World War II (called the P-80 until after WWII), however, like the other Allied jets it was too late to be used in combat. Several were flown around Italy late in the war, but they never saw the enemy.

The design was launched in June 1943 using the de Havilland H.1B turbojet. In an incredible feat of engineering the P-80 was designed, built and flown in 143 days. The P-80 had a fairly conventional design apart from the jet engine and laminar flow wing. It first flew in January, 1944. The power plant was soon changed to the Allison turbojet. This aircraft was a sleek, low-wing monoplane with tricycle landing gear and all round canopy visibility. The P-80 version with an improved wing, began to enter service in January 1945, and a total of just 45 of this variant had been delivered before the end of the war. Production plans for 5,000 aircraft were cancelled, but the development of more improved versions continued production to 5,691 aircraft.

The dual seat trainer version, the T-33 is one of the world's best known aircraft, having served with the air forces of more than 20 different countries for almost 40 years. Many are still in use throughout the world. The two-place T-33 jet was designed for training pilots already qualified to fly propeller-driven aircraft. It was developed from the single-seat F-80 fighter by lengthening the fuselage slightly more than three feet to accommodate a second cockpit. In addition to its use as a trainer, the T-33 has been used for such tasks as drone director and target towing, and in some countries even as a combat aircraft.

By the time of the Korean war the F-80 was being supplanted in the role of the American front-line fighter by the F-86 Sabre, however, the Americans sent the F-80s to Korea in the mistaken belief that they could do the job. They didn't count on the strong opposition from Russian MiG-15s. Sabres were sent to Korea to protect the B-29 bombers and the Shooting Stars were relegated to the ground attack role with support from F-86s. They excelled at this role due to their good performance at low altitudes and their ability to carry a reasonable tonnage of bombs.

Technical Details
The F-80 was designed as a single seat fighter. The engine of the F-80B was the Allison J33-A-21 turbojet with 4,000 lb (2,041 kg) of thrust. Maximum speed was 577 mph (967 km/h) at 6,000 ft (1,830 m). It was armed with the American standard six .50 caliber machine guns in the nose of the aircraft. It was capable of carrying two 1,000 lb bombs on the wings or wing-mounted, disposable fuel tanks.

Type: P-80C
Country: USA
Function: fighter
Year: 1945
Crew: 1
Engines: 1 * 24.03kN Allison J33-A-35
Wing Span: 11.81 m
Length: 10.49 m
Height: 3.43 m
Wing Area: 22.07 m2
Empty Weight: 3819 kg
Max.Weight: 7646 kg
Max. Speed: 967 km/h
Ceiling: 14265 m
Range: 1328 km
Armament: 6*mg 12.7 mm 2*b454kg

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