Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star

Country of originUnited States
First flight8 January 1944
Numbers built1,715
Unit costsUS$110,000 in 1945
Max speedMaximum speed: 600 mph (P-80A 558 mph at sea level and 492 mph at 40,000 feet) (965 km/h)

Cruise speed: 410 mph (660 km/h)
Max rangeRange: 1,200 mi (1,930 km)
Service ceiling: 46,000 ft (14,000 m)
DimensionsLength: 34 ft 5 in (10.49 m)
Wingspan: 38 ft 9 in (11.81 m)
Height: 11 ft 3 in (3.43 m)
Wing area: 237.6 ft² (22.07 m²)
WeightEmpty weight: 8,420 lb (3,819 kg)
Loaded weight: 12,650 lb (5,738 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 16,856 lb (7,646 kg)
Powerplant1 × Allison J33-A-35 centrifugal compressor turbojet, 5,400 lbf (24.0 kN)
ArmamentGuns: 6 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns (300 rpg)
Rockets: 8 × unguided rockets
Bombs: 2 × 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs
OperatorsFormer Operators:
Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, United States, Uruguay

The Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star was developed to be pitted with the German Messerschmitt Me-262 jet fighter. It was designed in 1943 and was the first jet fighter served with the United States Army Air Forces. The production was considerably fast as the fighter was ready in only 143 days from the beginning of the design process. The production models were successful to fly however they were not ready for service by the end of World War II. The P-80 featured straight wings and finally the type was ready for combat in Korean War with the United States Air Force (USAF) as the F-80.

The P-80 was the first successful American turbojet-powered combat aircraft but later as the Soviet Union produced a swept-wing transonic fighter called the MiG-15; the P-80 was replaced by the North American F-86 Sabre. The P-80 could not be pitted with the MiG-15 then to maintain air superiority on the side of the United States.

Notable derivatives of the P-80 were the F-94 Starfire, an all-weather interceptor which experience fierce aerial battles over the skies of Korea throughout Korean War, and the T-33 Shooting Star trainer that had been serving with United States Air Force and Navy until 1970s. As a matter of fact, the trainer has been being operated both for military purpose and privately owned as of today.

The Design and Development of P-80

The XP-80 was a regular, all-metal airframe with a slim low wing and tricycle landing gear. Similar to the majority of early jets developed during the Second World War, the XP-80 featured straight wings, just like preceding propeller-driven fighters. It was the first operational jet fighter that featured engine in the fuselage, a design earlier put into use in the revolutionary Heinkel He 178 of 1939, and later the Gloster E. 28/39 demonstrator of 1941. Other sorts of old jets typically featured two engines as a consequence of their limited power and mounted the engines in external pods for less complicated maintenance. As the United Kingdom developed more powerful jet engines, fuselage mounting was more practical and would be utilized by almost all future fighter aircraft.

In 1943, Lockheed began the concept of XP_80 with a design being crafted around the blueprint dimensions of a British de Havilland H-1 B turbojet or Goblin. The first prototype, designated as 44-83020, mostly known as was Lulu-Belle or Green Hornet to refer its painting. The Lulu-Belle was powered by the substitution Halford H1 obtained from the prototype de Havilland Vampire jet fighter and it had its maiden flight on 8 January 1944. The test pilot said, “It was a magnificent demonstration, our plane was a success – such a complete success that it had overcome the temporary advantage the Germans had gained from years of preliminary development on jet planes.” In test flights, the XP-80 eventually hit a top speed of 502 mph at 20, 480 feet, turning it into the first USAAF aircraft to surpass 500 mph in level flight.

However, the P-80 testing program proved very dangerous. Reportedly four prototypes were crashed and killing some of the test pilots.

Some Variants of the P-80

  • P-80/F-80 – 1714 production aircraft were delivered to the Air Force prior to any conversions or redesignations, with their original block numbers.
  • XP-80 – Prototype, one built.
  • XP-80A – Second prototype variant, two built.
  • YP-80A – 12 pre-production aircraft.
  • XF-14 – USAAF photo reconnaissance prototype. One built from YP-80A order (44-83024), lost in midair collision with B-25 Mitchell chase plane on 6 December 1944.
  • P-80A – 344 block 1-LO aircraft; 180 block 5-LO aircraft. Block 5 and all subsequent Shooting Stars were natural metal finish.
  • F-80A – USAF designation of P-80A.
  •  XFP-80A – Modified P-80A 44-85201 with hinged nose for camera equipment.
  • FP-80A – 152 block 15-LO; operational photo reconnaissance aircraft.
  •  P-80B – 209 block 1-LO; 31 block 5-LO; first model to be fitted with ejection seat (retrofitted into -As)
  •  TP-80C – First designation for TF-80C trainer prototype.
  • TF-80C – Prototype for T-33 trainer.
  • TO-1/TV-1 –  U.S. Navy variant of F-80C; 49 block 1-LO and one block 5-LO aircraft transferred to USN in 1949; 16 initially went to U.S. Marine Corps.

P-80 Shooting Star videos

Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star


Vintage T-33 Thunderbird/F-80 Shooting Star at Wings Over Homestead November 2009

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