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P-80 / F-80 Shooting Star
P-80A 44-85004
Role Fighter
National origin United States
Manufacturer Lockheed
Designed by Clarence "Kelly" Johnson
First flight 8 January 1944
Introduction 1945
Status Retired
Primary users United States Air Force
United States Navy
Number built 1,715
Unit cost US$110,000 in 1945[1]
Variants T-33 Shooting Star
F-94 Starfire

The Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star was the first jet fighter used operationally by the United States Army Air Forces,[2] and saw extensive combat in Korea with the United States Air Force as the F-80. As one of the world's first successful turbojet-powered combat aircraft, it helped usher in the "jet age" in the USAF and other air forces worldwide. One of its claims to fame is in training a new generation of pilots, especially in its closely-related T-33 Shooting Star trainer development.

Contents

Design and development

The XP-80 was a conventional, all-metal airframe with a slim low wing and tricycle undercarriage (landing gear). The P-80 was the first operational jet fighter to have its engine integrated within the main fuselage, a design first flown in 1941 in the Gloster E.28/39 demonstrator. Other early jet fighters generally had two engines because of their limited power and mounted these in external pods for easier maintenance. With the advent of more powerful engines, fuselage mounting was more effective and would be used by nearly all subsequent fighter aircraft.

Concept work began on the XP-80 in 1943 with a design being built around the blueprint dimensions of a British de Havilland H-1 B turbojet, 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 would surface again in the next decade to produce a line of high-performance aircraft beginning with the F-104 Starfighter.

The original XP-80 prototype Lulu-Belle.

The impetus behind the development of the P-80 was the discovery by Allied intelligence of the German Me 262 jet in the spring of 1943. Commanding General of the U.S. Army Air Forces Henry H. Arnold believed an airframe could be developed to accept the British-made jet engine, and the Materiel Command's Wright Field research and development division tasked Lockheed to design the aircraft. With the Germans clearly far ahead in development, Lockheed was pressed to develop a comparable jet in as short a time as possible. Kelly Johnson submitted a design proposal in mid-June and promised that the prototype would be ready for testing in 180 days. The Skunk Works team, beginning 26 June 1943, produced the airframe in 143 days, delivering it to Muroc Army Airfield on 16 November. However after the Goblin engine was mated to the airframe, foreign object damage during the first run-up destroyed the engine, delaying the first flight until a second engine could be delivered.[3]

The first prototype (44-83020), nicknamed Lulu-Belle (and also known as "the Green Hornet" because of its green paint scheme), flew on 8 January 1944 with Lockheed test pilot Tony LeVier at the controls, powered by the replacement Halford H1, taken from the prototype de Havilland Vampire jet fighter. Following its first 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."

XP-80A 44-83021 Gray Ghost in flight.

The second prototype, designated XP-80A, was designed for the larger General Electric I-40 (an improved Rolls-Royce Derwent engine, later produced by Allison as the J33) engine, with two aircraft (44-83021 and 44-83022) built. 44-83021 was nicknamed the "Gray Ghost" after its "pearl gray" paint scheme, while the second XP-80A, left unpainted for comparison of flight characteristics, became known as the "Silver Ghost". Its first test flight was unimpressive, but most of the problems with the design were soon addressed and corrected in the test program. Initial opinions of the I-40 powered P-80A were not positive, with Lockheed chief engineering test pilot Milo Burcham commenting an aircraft that he very much enjoyed (powered by the Halford engine) had now become a "dog." The XP-80As were primarily testbeds for bigger engines and intake duct design, and consequently were larger and 25% heavier than the XP-80.

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 airplane's tail. LeVier landed hard and broke his back, but returned to the test program after six months of recovery. Noted 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 he had apparently forgotten to switch on the emergency fuel pump that 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.

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Navy service

TO-1 Shooting Star of VMF-311

Several P-80A Shooting Stars[4] were transferred to the United States Navy beginning 29 June 1945, retaining their P-80 designations. At Naval Air Station Patuxent River, one Navy P-80 was modified (with required add-ons, such as a tail hook) and loaded aboard the aircraft carrier USS Franklin D. Roosevelt at Norfolk, Virginia, on 31 October 1946. The following day the aircraft made four deck-run takeoffs and two catapult launches, with five arrested landings, flown by Marine Major Marion Carl. A second series of trials was held 11 November.[5]

The 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 Corsairs. To increase land-based jet transition training in the late 1940s, 50 F-80Cs were transferred to the Navy from the 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, California, with VF-52, and 16 assigned to the Marine Corps, equipping VMF-311 at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro. These aircraft were eventually sent to reserve units. The success of these aircraft led to the procurement by the Navy of 698 T-33 Shooting Stars (as the TO-2/TV-2) to provide a two-seat aircraft for the training role. Lockheed went on to develop a carrier-capable version, the T2V SeaStar, which went into service in 1957.[5]

Costs

The costs are in approximately 1947 United States dollars and have not been adjusted for inflation.[1]

P-80A FP-80A (RF-80A) P-80B F-80C/TF-80C
Airframe 75,967 62,050
Engine 21,584 21,192
Electronics 4,195 5,536
Armament 3,715 4,678
Ordnance 2,335
Flyaway cost 110,000 107,796 95,000 93,456

Operational history

Operational P-80Bs at Langley AFB.

The Shooting Star began to enter service in late 1944 with 12 pre-production YP-80A's one of which was destroyed in the accident that killed Burcham. A thirteenth 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 (two to England and two to the 1st Fighter Group at Lesina Airfield, Italy) but when test pilot Major Frederic Borsodi was killed in a crash caused by an engine fire on 28 January 1945, demonstrating YP-80A 44-83026 at RAF Burtonwood, the YP-80A was temporarily grounded. Because of the delay the Shooting Star saw no combat in World War II.

The initial production order was for 344 P-80As after USAAF acceptance in February 1945. Eighty-three (83) had been delivered by the end of July 1945 and 45 assigned to the 412th Fighter Group (later redesignated the 1st Fighter Group) at Muroc Army Air Field. After the war, production continued, although wartime plans for 5,000 were quickly reduced to 2,000 at a little under $100,000 a copy. A total of 1,714 single-seat F-80A, F-80B, F-80C and RF-80s were manufactured by the end of production in 1950, of which 927 were F-80Cs (including 129 operational F-80As upgraded to F-80C-11-LO standards). However, the two-seat TF-80C, first flown on 22 March 1948, became the basis for the T-33 trainer, of which 6,557 were produced.

The P-80B prototype, modified as a racer and designated XP-80R, was piloted by Colonel Albert Boyd to a world air speed record of 623.73 mph (1,004.2 km/h) on 19 June 1947. The P-80C began production in 1948; on 11 June, now part of the United States Air Force, 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 eighteen months. When the Soviet Union blockaded Berlin, a squadron of the 56th FG led by Colonel David C. Schilling made the first west-to-east Atlantic crossing by single-engined jets in July, flying to Germany for 45 days in Operation Fox Able I.[6] Replaced by the newly F-80-equipped 36th Fighter Group at Fürstenfeldbruck, the 56th FG conducted Fox Able II in May 1949. That same year F-80s first equipped the 51st Fighter Group, based in Japan.

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 P-80 was the 196th FS of the California ANG in June 1947.

Korea

Shooting Stars first saw combat service in the Korean War, employing both the F-80C variant and RF-80 photo-recon variants. The first jet-versus-jet aircraft battle took place on 8 November 1950 in which Lieutenant Russell J. Brown, flying an F-80, claimed a MiG-15 shot down.[7] Despite the initial claim of success, the straight-wing F-80s were inferior in performance to the MiGs and were soon replaced in the air superiority role by the swept-wing F-86 Sabre. When sufficient Sabres were in operation, the Shooting Star was assigned to ground attack missions, advanced flight training duties and air defense in Japan. By the end of hostilities the only F-80s still flying in Korea were photo-recon variants.

F-80Cs equipped ten USAF squadrons in Korea:

  • The 8th Fighter-Bomber Wing (35th, 36th, and 80th Fighter-Bomber Squadrons), based at Suwon, 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.
  • The 49th Fighter-Bomber Group (7th, 8th and 9th FBS) deployed to Taegu, Korea, from Japan in September 1950 and continued fighter-bomber missions in the F-80C until spring 1952, when it converted to the F-84 Thunderjet.
  • The 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing (16th and 25th FIS) operated F-80Cs from Kimpo and Japan from September 1950 to November 1951 when it transitioned to F-86s.
  • The 35th Fighter-Interceptor Group and two squadrons, the 39th and 40th FIS, went to Pohang, Korea in July 1950, but converted to P-51 Mustang before the end of the year.

One RF-80A unit operated in Korea:

  • The 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 ulilized a few converted RF-80Cs and RF-86s.

Of the 277 F-80s lost in operations (approximately 30% of the existing inventory), 113 were destroyed by ground fire and 14 shot down by enemy aircraft.[1] F-80s are credited by the USAF with destroying 17 aircraft in air-to-air combat and 24 on the ground.[8] 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.

Variants

P-80/F-80

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, one built.
XP-80A
Second prototype variant, two built.
YP-80A
12 pre-production aircraft.
XF-14
One built from YP-80A order (44-83024), lost in mid-air collision with chase B-25 Mitchell on December 6, 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 gal (188 Imp gal, 625 l) tiptanks.[9]
F-80A
USAF designation of P-80A.
EF-80
Modified to test "Prone Pilot" cockpit positions.[10]
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 to be fitted with ejection seat (retrofitted into -As)[11]
F-80B
USAF designation of P-80B.
XP-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-80; 128 F-80A modified to F-80C-11-LO with J-33-A-35 engine and ejection seat installed; fitted with 260 gal (217 Imp gal, 985 l) tiptanks;[9] major P-80 production version.[9]
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
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.

Derivatives

T-33 Shooting Star

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.

F-94 Starfire

Two TF-80Cs were modified as prototypes for the F-94 Starfire, an all-weather fighter which was produced in three variants.

Survivors

  • The first prototype XP-80 (s/n 44-83020), nicknamed Lulu-Belle that flew on 8 January 1944 was restored right after the 1976 opening of the National Air and Space Museum and is still in their collection.

Operators

Peruvian F-80C preserved in a Lima park.
 Brazil
33 F-80C delivered starting in 1958, withdrawn from service in 1973.[13]
 Chile
around 30 F-80C delivered from 1958 on, last ones retired from service in 1974.[14]
 Colombia
16 F-80C delivered starting in 1958, retired by 1966.[15]
 Ecuador
16 F-80C delivered between 1957 and 1960, six returned to the USA in 1965.[16]
 Peru
16 F-80C delivered starting in 1958, used by the 13th Fighter-Bomber Group until the type was phased-out in 1973.[17]
 United States
 Uruguay
at least 17 F-80C delivered, withdrawn from use in 1971.[18]
 Yugoslavia

Specifications (P-80C/F-80C)

USAF P-80A of the first production series.
F-80C Shooting Star

Data from Quest for Performance[19]

General characteristics

Performance

Armament

See also

Related development

Comparable aircraft

Related lists

References

Notes

  1. ^ a b c Knaack 1978
  2. ^ Green and Swanborough 2001, p. 345.
  3. ^ Heppenheimer, T.A.. "The Jet Plane is Born". American Heritage magazine. http://www.americanheritage.com/articles/magazine/it/1993/2/1993_2_44.shtml. Retrieved 10 July 2008.  
  4. ^ Polmar states three, but Joseph Baugher at F-80 lists serial and bureau numbers for four: 44-85000 and -85005 became 29667 and 29668 with 44-85235 and 45-8557 becoming 29689 and 29690.
  5. ^ a b Polmar 2001, pp. 12–14.
  6. ^ Royal Air Force jets had made the first crossing of the Atlantic in the reverse direction two weeks earlier.
  7. ^ Knez, Saso, Diego Fernando Zampini and Joe L. Brenan. "Korean War Database." AirCombat Information Group, (ACIG), 28 October 2003. Retrieved: 6 July 2008. Note: This claim of first has been disputed on by some researchers, citing Soviet records.
  8. ^ Air Force Historical Study 81: USAF Credits for the Destruction of Enemy Aircraft, Korean War p. 46.
  9. ^ a b c Fitzsimons 1978, p. 2319.
  10. ^ see also Gloster Meteor F8 "Prone Pilot" for background on prone pilot
  11. ^ Jones 1975, p. 202.
  12. ^ United States Air Force Museum 1975, p. 52
  13. ^ Andrade 1982, p. 81.
  14. ^ Andrade 1982, p. 126.
  15. ^ Andrade 1982, p. 143.
  16. ^ Andrade 1982, p. 167.
  17. ^ Andrade 1982, p. 239.
  18. ^ Andrade 1982, p. 263.
  19. ^ Loftin, L.K. Jr. Quest for Performance: The Evolution of Modern Aircraft NASA SP-468. Retrieved: 22 April 2006.

Bibliography

  • Andrade, John. Latin-American Military Aviation. Leicester, UK: Midland Counties Publications, 1982. ISBN 0-90459-731-8.
  • Baugher, Joe. Lockheed P-80/F-80. [1] Access date: 21 December 2006.
  • Davis, Larry. MiG Alley: Air to Air Combat Over Korea. Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications, 1978. ISBN 0-89747-081-8.
  • Davis, Larry. P-80 Shooting Star. T-33/F-94 in action. Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications, 1980. ISBN 0-89747-099-0.
  • Dorr, Robert F. "P-80 Shooting Star Variants". Wings of Fame Vol. 11. London: Aerospace Publishing Ltd., 1998. ISBN 1-86184-017-9.
  • Fitzsimons, Bernard, ed. "Shooting Star, Lockheed F-80/T-33." Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare, Volume 21. London: Phoebus, 1978.
  • Green, William. War Planes of the Second World War, Volume Four: Fighters. London: MacDonald & Co. (Publishers) Ltd., 1961 (Sixth impression 1969). ISBN 0-356-01448-7.
  • Green, William and Gordon Swanborough. The Great Book of Fighters. St. Paul, Minnesota: MBI Publishing, 2001. ISBN 0-7603-1194-3.
  • Green, William and Gordon Swanborough. WW2 Aircraft Fact Files: US Army Air Force Fighters, Part 2. London: Macdonald and Jane's Publishers Ltd., 1978. ISBN 0-354-01072-7.
  • Jones, Lloyd S. U.S. Fighters, Army-Air Force: 1925 to 1980s. Los Angeles: Aero Publishers Incorporated, 1975. ISBN 0-8168-9200-8.
  • Knaack, Marcelle Size. Encyclopedia of US Air Force Aircraft and Missile Systems: Volume 1 Post-World War II Fighters 1945-1973. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History, 1978. ISBN 0-912799-59-5. Encyclopedia of US Air Force Aircraft and Missile Systems: Volume 1 Post-World War II Fighters 1945-1973 (PDF).
  • Pace, Steve. Lockheed Skunk Works. St. Paul, Minnesota: Motorbooks International, 1992. ISBN 0-87938-632-0.
  • Norman Polmar, "Lots of Shooting Stars". Naval History, August 2001 (Vol.14, No. 4), United States Naval Institute, pp. 12–14.
  • Wooldridge Jr., E.T. The P-80 Shooting Star: Evolution of a Jet Fighter (Famous Aircraft of the National Air and Space Museum Ser., Vol. 3). Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1979. ISBN 0-874749-65-4.
  • United States Air Force Museum. Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio: Air Force Museum Foundation. 1975.  

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