Lockheed TP-80C/TF-80C/T-33A

Last revised July 16, 1999






Early in the development cycle of the P-80, Lockheed had identified the need for a two-seat training version of the Shooting Star. However, the AAF was initially not very interested in the project. The AAF became much more interested in a two-seat Shooting Star in 1947, when the alarmingly high accident rate of the P-80 pointed to an urgent need for a jet transition trainer. In August of 1947, the Air Force authorized the modification of a P-80C airframe (48-356) as a two-seat trainer. The modified aircraft was redesignated TP-80C. In order to accommodate the second seat, a 38.6-inch plug was inserted forward of the wing and a 12-inch plug aft. Fuselage fuel capacity was decreased from 207 to 95 US gallons. To offset this loss of fuel capacity, nylon cells were installed in the wings in place of the P-80's self-sealing tanks. Internal fuel capacity was 353 gallons as compared to the P-80C's 425 gallons. The two crew members were seated in tandem ejector seats under a clear canopy. To save weight, built-in armament was reduced to only two 0.50-inch machine guns.

The TP-80C completed its maiden flight on March 22, 1948, flown by Tony LeVier. On June 11, 1948, its designation was changed to TF-80C. After 128 TF-80Cs had been produced, the designation changed yet again to T-33A on May 5, 1949. The two-seat T-33 was one of the most successful trainers of the post-war era--no less than 5691 examples being built in the USA, with 210 more being built in Japan and 656 in Canada. It remained in production until 1959, and served with the air forces of no fewer than 30 nations. But the T-33 is a story for another day.

Sources:

  1. Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star Variant Briefing, Robert F. Dorr, Wings of Fame, Volume 11, 1998.