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T-33 Shooting Star

The T-33 trainer, "T-Bird," came from the F-80 fighter which also bore the name Shooting Star. By adding three feet to the fuselage the world's first jet trainer was born. The cockpit grew to two places and the six machine guns came out.

Design work for the P-80 began in 1943 with the first flight on Jan. 8, 1944. The F-80, then P-80, was the first jet fighter to enter squadron service in the Army Air Force and saw action in Korea. As more advanced jets entered service, the F-80 took on another role - training jet pilots.

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.

Originally designed the TF-80C, the T-33 made its first flight in March 1948. Production continued until August 1959 with 5,691 T-33s built. 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. The RT-33A version, reconnaissance aircraft produced primarily for use by foreign countries, had a camera installed in the nose and additional equipment in the rear cockpit.

Some T-33s kept two machine guns for gunnery training and some allies used T-33s in the 1960s, but T-33s continued to fly as currency trainers and test platforms right into the 1980s.

The T-33 served many missions during its time. It was used to transport pilots to other bases to pick up tactical aircraft, and afterward led them home on long over-water flights. The aircraft also provided realistic combat training. While deployed as the "enemy" during exercises, T-33 pilots flew far out to sea and returned to penetrate the radar defenses of Okinawa, testing the interception ability of jets defending the island. The aircraft also served as a high-speed courier service for the delivery of classified materials, as well as ferrying aircraft parts to various bases in the Pacific.

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. T-33s have also been built under license in Canada and Japan. A reconnaissance version, RT-33, was built for export.

TO-1, TO-2 / TV-1, TV-2 Shooting Star

With the conclusion of WW II, a new era began to unfold in Naval Aviation - the jet age - creating new requirements for training aircraft. Navy policy had been to utilize obsolete fleet aircraft in the advanced training stage but, with the development of jet fighters, there were no old or obsolete jet fighters available for training. This led the Navy to acquire three P-80A Shooting Stars from the Air Force to evaluate the suitability of jet aircraft for operations aboard carriers and for training.

Testing began with the delivery of a P-80A to NAS Patuxent River on June 29, 1945. On November 11, 1946, a P-80A was used for catapult launches, free takeoffs and arrested landings aboard USS Franklin D. Roosevelt. However, this was not the first shipboard testing of a jet. On July 21, 1946, an FD-1 (FH-1) Phantom had operated aboard Roosevelt.

By 1946, the FJ-1 Fury and FH-1 Phantom were in the fleet and the need for a jet training aircraft was evident. To fill this gap, the Navy procured 50 Lockheed P-80s from the Air Force to use as interim familiarization trainers for fighter pilots until enough Navy jets became available. The P-80 Shooting Stars were designated TO-1s and were not equipped with arresting hooks or catapult fittings. They were assigned to VF-6A and VMF-311. They acted as the training squadrons for pilots and maintenance personnel, providing basic operations and tactics in jet aircraft. On May 5, 1948, VF-17A, flying the FH-1 Phantom, became the first Navy jet squadron to become carrier qualified.

The TO-1 Shooting Stars arrived at Whiting Field, Fla., in 1949 to transition pilots from the SNJ to the new F9Fs. Pilots selected for training in the TO-1 had already completed advanced training in fighter-type aircraft at Corpus Christi, Texas, and had carrier qualified aboard Roosevelt at Pensacola.

The Navy continued to use the Shooting Star as a training plane and ordered the two-seater training version which had been produced for the Air Force. With the designation TO-2, the aircraft were not only assigned to Navy and Marine Corps training squadrons, units and groups, but one or two also went to various carrier air groups (wings) in 1951, for crew training.

The TO-1 and TO-2 designations were later changed to TV-1 and TV-2.

T2V-1 / T-1A Seastar

The Navy used the T-33 as the T2V-1 Seastar, later re-designating it as the T-1A Sea Star. The TV-2s were adequate for familiarization training in jets but were not suitable for operational training aboard carriers. Lockheed, builder of the TV-1 and TV-2, developed a new jet trainer along the lines of the TV-2, which was capable of carrier operations. Lockheed had proposed its L-245 design for an improved version of the T-33, and built a private venture prototype. The new aircraft was first flown on December 15, 1953, and the Navy immediately placed an order. The prototype introduced a raised instructor's seat under a modified canopy. Test flights revealed the need for a dorsal fin to restore longitudinal stability. Other changes were leading edge slats, a larger tail unit, and a boundary layer control system. This resulted in reduced take off and approach speeds.

The Navy ordered the T2V-1 Seastar with an arrester hook, non jettison able tip tanks, a strengthened airframe, and beefed up land gear. The T2V-1 Seastar, the Navy's first jet aircraft designed as a trainer for carrier operations, was powered by a single J-33.

USS Antietam reported for duty to Chief of Naval Air Training at Pensacola, providing the command its first angled-deck carrier for flight training. The first T2V-1 Seastar jet trainer arrived at the Naval Air Advanced Training Command at Corpus Christi on 27 May 1957, further upgrading the training command. Reflective of the growing dominance of jet aircraft, an all-jet program in basic flight training began in May 1957 when 14 students reported to ATU-206 at Forrest Sherman Field, Pensacola, Fla., to fly the T2V Seastar. On May 4, 1958, the T2V-1 moved from advanced training to the all-jet basic training program at Pensacola. It continued to serve as a trainer until it was phased out in favor of the T2J-1 for basic flight training. The type's service career was short because of maintenance problems.

In 1962 the type was redesigned T-1A [not T1A, which would have implied a change in manufacturer from Lockheed [V] to Noorduyn Aviation, Ltd. of Canada [A] ]. It should not be confused with the completely unrelated T-1 Jayhawk.

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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 02:38:08 ZULU