T-33 Shooting Star

Oddly enough, there was not an immediate move by the USAAF/USAF to procure trainer versions of its early jet fighters, a lack of foresight that would result in a high loss rate during the early postwar years. However, even with no official requirement, Lockheed embarked on a private venture trainer program, using as a basis the P-80C version of the Shooting Star. First flown in March 1948, the TP-80C had a slightly stretched fuselage to accomodate a second seat, and would soon be coming off the Lockheed lines in numbers that would end up being greater than those of its single-seat counterpart.

Redesignated first as the TF-80C and then as the T-33, the two-seat Shooting Star would be phased out of its original role in the 1960s as T-37s and T-38s became available, but would persist in service as a utility aircraft for much longer, in particular serving as a hack and aggressor aircraft for interceptor units into the late 1980s. NT-33A 51-4120 was the USAF's last Shooting Star, flown as a variable-stability testbed in support of many aircraft development programs until finally being retired in 1997.

T-33 Bibliography:

Sperry Flight Systems ad, with artwork depicting an all-red QT-33 Aviation Week & Space Technology May 4, 1970 p.20

Photo: "Bolivian AT-33s Re-built" Air Forces Monthly February 2003 p.16

Color profile of a "NAVY-MARINE" marked Reserve T-33B. Scale Aircraft Modelling September 2017