The LOCKHEED P-80 SHOOTING STAR was the first jet fighter used
operationally by the
United States Army Air Forces (USAAF). Designed
and built by Lockheed in 1943 and delivered just 143 days from the
start of the design process, production models were flying, and two
pre-production models did see very limited service in Italy just
before the end of
World War II
* 1 Design and development
* 1.1 Costs
* 2 Operational history
* 2.1 U.S. Navy service * 2.2 Korean War
* 3 Variants
* 3.1 P-80/F-80 * 3.2 Derivatives
* 4 Operators
* 5 Aircraft on display
* 5.1 Brazil * 5.2 Chile * 5.3 United States * 5.4 Uruguay
* 6 Specifications (P-80C/F-80C) * 7 See also
* 8 References
* 8.1 Notes * 8.2 Citations * 8.3 Bibliography
* 9 External links
DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT
The XP-80 had a conventional all-metal airframe, with a slim low wing
and tricycle landing gear . Like most early jets designed during World
War II—and before the Allies captured German research data that
showed the speed advantages of swept-wings —the XP-80 had straight
wings, similar to previous propeller-driven fighters. It was the first
operational jet fighter to have its engine in the fuselage, a format
previously used in the pioneering German
Heinkel He 178 V1 of 1939,
and the slightly later British
Concept work began on the XP-80 in 1943 with a design being built around the blueprint dimensions of a British Halford H-1 B turbojet (later called the de Havilland Goblin), a powerplant to which the design team did not have actual access. Lockheed's team, consisting of 28 engineers , was led by the legendary Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson . This teaming was an early product of Lockheed's Skunk Works , which surfaced again in the next decade to produce a line of high-performance aircraft beginning with the F-104 . The original XP-80 prototype Lulu-Belle.
The impetus for development of the P-80 was the discovery by Allied
intelligence of the
The project was so secret that only five of the more than 130 people working on it knew that they were developing a jet aircraft, and the British engineer who delivered the Goblin engine was detained by the police because Lockheed officials could not vouch for him. After the engine had been mated to the airframe, foreign object damage during the first run-up destroyed the engine, which delayed the first flight until a second engine (the only other extant) could be delivered from Britain.
The first prototype (44-83020) was nicknamed Lulu-Belle (also known as "the Green Hornet" because of its paint scheme). Powered by the replacement Halford H1 taken from the prototype de Havilland Vampire jet fighter, it first flew on 8 January 1944, with Lockheed test pilot Milo Burcham at the controls. Following this flight, Johnson 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." The donated British jet program data had no doubt proved invaluable. In test flights, the XP-80 eventually reached a top speed of 502 mph (808 km/h; 436 kn) at 20,480 ft (6,240 m), making it the first turbojet-powered USAAF aircraft to exceed 500 mph in level flight, following the August 1944 record flight of 502 mph (808 km/h; 436 kn) by a special high-speed variant of the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt. Contemporary pilots, when transitioning to pioneering jets like the Shooting Star, were unused to flying at high speed without a loud reciprocating engine and had to learn to rely on the airspeed indicator . XP-80A 44-83021 Gray Ghost in flight.
The second prototype, designated XP-80A, was designed for the larger
The P-80 testing program proved very dangerous. Burcham was killed on 20 October 1944 while flying the third YP-80A produced, 44-83025. The Gray Ghost was lost on a test flight on 20 March 1945, although pilot Tony LeVier escaped. Newly promoted to chief engineering test pilot to replace Burcham, LeVier bailed out when one of the engine's turbine blades broke, causing structural failure in the aircraft's tail. LeVier landed hard and broke his back, but returned to the test program after six months of recovery. The top-scoring World War II USAAF ace Major Richard Bong was also killed on an acceptance flight of a production P-80 in the United States on 6 August 1945. Both Burcham and Bong crashed as a result of main fuel pump failure. Burcham's death was the result of a failure to brief him on a newly installed emergency fuel pump backup system, but the investigation of Bong's crash found that he had apparently forgotten to switch on this pump, which could have prevented the accident. He bailed out when the aircraft rolled inverted but was too close to the ground for his parachute to deploy.
After the war, the USAAF compared the P-80 and
The costs are in approximately 1947 United States dollars and have not been adjusted for inflation.
P-80A FP-80A (RF-80A) P-80B F-80C/TF-80C
Flyaway cost $110,000 $107,796 $95,000 $93,456
Operational P-80Bs at Langley AFB.
The Shooting Star began to enter service in late 1944 with 12 pre-production YP-80As, one of which was destroyed in the accident in which Burcham was killed. A 13th YP-80A was modified to the sole F-14 photo reconnaissance model and lost in a December crash.
Four were sent to Europe for operational testing (demonstration,
familiarization, and possible interception roles), two to England and
two to the
1st Fighter Group
World War II
The initial production order was for 344 P-80As after USAAF
acceptance in February 1945. A total of 83 P-80s had been delivered by
the end of July 1945 and 45 assigned to the 412th Fighter Group (later
1st Fighter Group
On 27 January 1946, Colonel William H. Councill flew a P-80 nonstop
across the U.S. to make the first transcontinental jet flight. He
completed the 2,457 miles (3,954 km) run between Long Beach and New
York in 4 hours, 13 minutes 26 seconds at an average speed of 584 mph
(940 km/h) to set a
Fédération Aéronautique Internationale
The P-80C began production in 1948; on 11 June, now part of the USAF,
the P-80C was officially redesignated the F-80C. The USAF Strategic
Air Command had F-80 Shooting Stars in service from 1946 through 1948
with the 1st and 56th Fighter Groups. The first P-80s to serve in
Europe joined the 55th Fighter Group (later redesignated the 31st FG)
at Giebelstadt , Germany, in 1946, remaining 18 months. When the
The 4th ( Langley Air Force Base , Virginia), 81st (Kirtland Air Force Base , New Mexico), and 57th ( Elmendorf Air Force Base , Alaska) Fighter Groups all acquired F-80s in 1948, as did interceptor squadrons of the Air Defense Command . The first Air National Guard unit to fly the F-80C was the 196th FS of the California ANG in June 1947.
U.S. NAVY SERVICE
TO-1 Shooting Star of VMF-311
Several P-80A Shooting Stars were transferred to the United States
Navy beginning 29 June 1945, retaining their P-80 designations. At
Naval Air Station Patuxent River
The U.S. Navy had already begun procuring its own jet aircraft, but
the slow pace of delivery was causing retention problems among pilots,
particularly those of the Marines who were still flying Vought F4U
Corsairs . To increase land-based jet-transition training in the late
1940s, 50 F-80Cs were transferred to the U.S. Navy from the U.S. Air
Force in 1949 as jet trainers. Designated TO-1 by the Navy (changed to
TV-1 in 1950), 25 were based at
Naval Air Station North Island
F-80Cs of the 8th Fighter-Bomber Group
Shooting Stars first saw combat service in the Korean War , employing both the F-80C variant and RF-80 photo-recon variants. The F-80 flew both air-to-air and air-to-ground sorties, claiming several aerial victories against North Korean Yak-9s and Il-10s. On 8 November 1950, the first American claim for a jet-versus-jet aerial kill was made when Lieutenant Russell J. Brown, flying an F-80, reported that he shot down a MiG-15. Soviet records showed that the MiG survived the encounter. Despite initial claims of success, the speed of the straight-wing F-80s was inferior to the 668 mph MiGs. The MiGs incorporated German research that showed that swept wings delayed the onset of compressibility problems, and enabled speeds much closer to the speed of sound. F-80s were soon replaced in the air superiority role by the North American F-86 Sabre, which had been delayed to also incorporate swept wings into an improved straight-winged naval FJ-1 Fury . However, F-80 pilots still claimed to have destroyed a total of six MiG-15s in aerial combat. When sufficient Sabres were in operation, the Shooting Star flew exclusively ground-attack missions, and were also used for advanced flight training duties and air defense in Japan. By the end of hostilities, the only F-80s still flying in Korea were photo-reconnaissance variants.
F-80Cs equipped 10 USAF squadrons in Korea:
* 8TH FIGHTER-BOMBER WING (35th, 36th, and 80th Fighter-Bomber Squadrons), based at Suwon Air Base , was the longest-serving F-80 unit in Korea. It began missions from Japan in June 1950 and continued to fly the Shooting Star until May 1953, when it converted to F-86 Sabres . * 49TH FIGHTER-BOMBER GROUP (7th, 8th, and 9th FBS) deployed to Taegu AB (K-2) , Korea, from Japan in September 1950 and continued fighter-bomber missions in the F-80C until June 1951, when it converted to the F-84 Thunderjet . * 51ST FIGHTER-INTERCEPTOR WING (16th and 25th FIS) operated F-80Cs from Kimpo AB (K-14) and Japan from September 1950 to November 1951 when it transitioned to F-86s. * 35TH FIGHTER-INTERCEPTOR GROUP and two squadrons, the 39th and 40th FIS, went to Pohang , Korea in July 1950, but converted to the P-51 Mustang before the end of the year.
One RF-80A unit operated in Korea:
* 8th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, later redesignated 15th TRS, served from 27 June 1950 at Itazuke, Japan, Taegu (K-2), and Kimpo (K-14), Korea, until after the armistice. The squadron also utilized a few converted RF-80Cs and RF-86s.
Of the 277 F-80s lost in operations (approximately 30% of the existing inventory), 113 were lost ground fire and 14 to enemy aircraft. F-80s are credited by the USAF with destroying 17 aircraft in air-to-air combat and 24 on the ground. Major Charles J. Loring, Jr. was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions while flying an F-80 with the 80th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, 8th Fighter-Bomber Wing on 22 November 1952.
1714 production aircraft were delivered to the Air Force prior to any conversions or redesignations, with their original block numbers. EF-80 prone pilot test aircraft XP-80 Prototype powered by a de Havilland-built Halford H.1B turbojet and first flown 8 January 1944, one built. XP-80A Production prototype variant powered by a General Electric I-40 turbojet, increased span and length but wing area reduced, two built. YP-80A 12 pre-production aircraft. One aircraft, 44-83027, lent to Rolls-Royce Limited and used for development of the Nene engine. XF-14 One built from YP-80A order (44-83024), lost in midair collision with B-25 Mitchell chase plane on 6 December 1944; USAAF photo reconnaissance prototype. P-80A 344 block 1-LO aircraft; 180 block 5-LO aircraft. Block 5 and all subsequent Shooting Stars were natural metal finish. Fitted with 225 US gal (187 imp gal; 850 l) tiptanks. F-80A USAF designation of P-80A. EF-80 Modified to test "Prone Pilot" cockpit positions. A F-14A/FP-80A reconnaissance aircraft F-14A Unknown number of conversions from P-80A, all redesignated FP-80A. XFP-80A Modified P-80A 44-85201 with hinged nose for camera equipment. F-80A test aircraft (s/n 44-85044) with twin 0.5 in (12.7 mm) machine guns in oblique mount, similar to World War II German Schräge Musik , to study the ability to attack Soviet bombers from below. F-80 with Schräge Musik configuration at full elevation. FP-80A 152 block 15-LO; operational photo reconnaissance aircraft. RF-80A USAF designation of FP-80A, 66 operational F-80A's modified to RF-80A standard. ERF-80A Modified P-80A 44-85042 with experimental nose contour. XP-80B Reconfigured P-80A, improved J-33 engine, one built as prototype for P-80B P-80B 209 block 1-LO; 31 block 5-LO; first model fitted with an ejection seat (retrofitted into -As) F-80B USAF designation of P-80B. P-80R Modification of XP-80B to racer. P-80C 162 block 1-LO; 75 block 5-LO; 561 block 10-LO F-80C USAF designation of P-80C; 128 F-80A modified to F-80C-11-LO with J-33-A-35 engine and ejection seat installed; fitted with 260 US gal (220 imp gal; 980 l) tiptanks; major P-80 production version. RF-80C 70 modified F-80A and F-80C, and six modified RF-80A, to RF-80C and RF-80C-11, respectively; upgraded photo recon plane. DF-80A Designation given to number of F-80As converted into drone directors. QF-80A/QF-80C/QF-80F Project Bad Boy F-80 conversions by Sperry Gyroscope to target drones. Q-8 was initially proposed as designation for the QF-80. TP-80C First designation for TF-80C trainer prototype. TF-80C Prototype for T-33 (48-0356). 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.
Lockheed also produced a two-seat trainer variant with a longer
fuselage, the T-33, which remained in production until 1959 and was
produced under license in Japan and Canada. The trainer was used by
more than 20 different countries. A total of 6,557 T-33s were built
and some are still flying.
Lockheed F-94 Starfire
Two TF-80Cs were modified as prototypes for the F-94 STARFIRE, an all-weather fighter produced in three variants.
Peruvian F-80C preserved in a
Uruguay at least 17 F-80C delivered, withdrawn from use in 1971.
AIRCRAFT ON DISPLAY
* 49-0433 – Museu Aeroespacial in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
* 49-0787 – Museo Nacional Aeronautico y del Espacio, Los Cerrillos Airport , Santiago, Chile .
Lockheed XP-80 "Lulu-Belle" at the National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C. XP-80
* 44-83020 (Lulu-Belle) –
National Air and Space Museum
* 44-84999 –
Hill Aerospace Museum at
Hill AFB ,
* 45-8357 – Museum of Aviation at
Robins Air Force Base , Warner
Robins, Georgia .
* 45-8490 –
Castle Air Museum in
Atwater, California .
* 45-8501 –
Kirtland AFB ,
Albuquerque, New Mexico .
* 45-8517 – Anna Jordan Park,
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Data from Quest for Performance
* CREW: 1 * LENGTH: 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) * ASPECT RATIO : 6.37 * EMPTY WEIGHT : 8,420 lb (3,819 kg) * LOADED WEIGHT: 12,650 lb (5,738 kg) * MAX. TAKEOFF WEIGHT : 16,856 lb (7,646 kg) * ZERO-LIFT DRAG COEFFICIENT : 0.0134 * DRAG AREA: 3.2 ft² (0.30 m²) * POWERPLANT : 1 × Allison J33 -A-35 centrifugal compressor turbojet , 4600 lbf (20.46 kN) / 5400 lbf (24.02 kN) with water injection
* MAXIMUM SPEED : 600 mph, Mach .76 (P-80A 558 mph at sea level and 492 mph at 40,000 ft) (965 km/h) * CRUISE SPEED : 410 mph (660 km/h) * RANGE : 1,200 mi (1,930 km) * SERVICE CEILING : 46,000 ft (14,000 m) * RATE OF CLIMB : 4,580 ft/min (23.3 m/s) 5.5 min to 20,000 ft (6,100 m) * WING LOADING : 53 lb/ft² (260 kg/m²)
* THRUST/WEIGHT : 0.364 (0.427 with water injection) * LIFT-TO-DRAG RATIO : 17.7
* GUNS: 6 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) M3 Browning machine guns (300 rpg) * ROCKETS: 8 × 127mm unguided rockets * BOMBS: 2 × 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs
* United States Air Force portal * Military of the United States portal
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Bell P-59 Airacomet
Royal Air Force
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