Lockheed P-80B Shooting Star

Last revised July 16, 1999






The next production version of the Shooting Star was the P-80B. The prototype for the series was designated XP-80B and was produced by modifying the ninth P-80A-1-LO (44-85200). A 4000 lb.st. Allison J33-A-17 turbojet engine equipped with water/methanol injection was fitted. In order to provide space for the water-alcohol tanks, the internal fuel capacity was reduced from 470 to 425 US gallons. Contrary to other reports, the P-80B did not have a thinner wing or a thicker skin, the wing thickness actually remaining the same all throughout the P-80 series. A Lockheed-designed ejector seat was fitted, making the P-80B the first operational American warplane to be equipped with an ejector seat. Provisions were made for the installation of JATO bottles. A dark-colored nose fairing housed a loop aerial for an AN/ARN-6 D/F set. The P-80B retained the wingspan, length and height, of the P-80A. The B could be distinguished from the A by relocating the pitot tube from the nose to the vertical fin.

A total of 240 P-80Bs were delivered between March 1947 and March 1948. These included 209 P-80B-1-LOs and 31 P-80B-5-LOs. The latter block were winterized models with canopy defrosting. In addition, they used special greases and natural rubber optimized for Arctic service in Alaska. In addition, on the P-80B-5-LO the 0.50-inch M-2 machine guns of the P-80B-1 were replaced with improved M-3 machine guns of identical calibre.

The first operational P-80Bs were issued to the 1st Fighter Group at March Field, California in June of 1946.

P-80B 45-8557 was transferred to the U. S. Navy, where it became BuNo 29690 and was used for experimental purposes.

At least five P-80Bs (45-8484, 8485, 8528, 8538, and 8561 were modified to duplicate the functions and guidance system of the Bell GAM-63 Rascal air to surface missile. They were fitted with modified noses and wing tip tanks, and were equipped with additional vertical control surfaces both above and below the wings.

117 F-80Bs were later brought partially up to F-80C standards, and were redesignated F-80C-12-LO. They were issued to Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve squadrons after the end of the Korean War.

In late 1946, it had been over ten years since any aircraft of US manufacture had held the world's speed record. At that time, the world's speed record was 615.8 mph, set on September 7, 1946 by Group Captain E. M. Donaldson of the RAF flying a modified Gloster Meteor F.4. In the autumn of 1946, the USAAF decided that it would be a good idea for the USA to regain this record. In pursuit of this aim, the USAAF instructed Lockheed to modify the XP-80B (44-85200) to make an attempt to set a new world's aircraft speed record.

The modified XP-80B aircraft was redesignated XP-80R, and was fitted with a set of experimental flush air intakes and a low-profile canopy. It was initially powered by a J33-A-17 engine. On its first attempt, the XP-80R failed to average over 600 mph in four passes over a 3 km course. In pursuit of more speed, the XP-80R was returned to Burbank for modifications. The experimental flush intakes were replaced by conventional intakes, and a 4600 lb.s.t. Allison Model 400 engine was fitted. This engine was a modified J33 equipped with water-methanol injection. The wings were clipped and were fitted with sharper leading edges.

On June 19, 1947, the XP-80R was ready for another attempt. Piloted by Colonel Albert Boyd (chief of Flight Test at the Air Materiel Command), the XP-80R succeeded in setting a new record of 623.738 mph. The P-80R was subsequently used operationally by the Air Training Command as an advanced trainer. It is now on display at the USAF Museum at Wright Patterson AFB in Ohio.

In June of 1948, the P-80B was redesignated F-80B.

Specifications of the P-80B:

Engine: One Allison J33-A-17 turbojet, rated at 5200 lb.s.t. Dimensions were wingspan 39 feet 0 inches (without wingtip tanks), length 34 feet 6 inches, height 11 feet 3 inches, and wing area 237.6 square feet Weights were 8176 pounds empty, 12,200 pounds gross, and 16,000 pounds maximum takeoff. Performance: Maximum speed was 558 mph at sea level and 577 mph at 6000 feet. Initial climb rate was 6475 feet/minute, and an altitude of 20,000 feet could be attained in 5.5 minutes. Service ceiling was 45,500 feet. Normal range was 790 miles, and maximum range was 1210 miles. Armament consisted of six 0.50-inch machine guns in the nose. Ten five-inch rockets could be carried underwing.

Serial numbers of Lockheed P-80B Shooting Star:

44-85200		Lockheed P-80A-1-LO Shooting Star
			c/n 080-1223
			85200 modified as XP-80B.  Later modified as XP-80R and set
				world's air speed redord of 623.738 mph June 19, 1947
				flown by Col. Albert Boyd.  Now at USAF Museum, 
				Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio.
45-8478/8480	Lockheed P-80B-1-LO Shooting Star
			c/n 080-1692/1694
45-8481		Lockheed P-80B-5-LO Shooting Star
			c/n 080-1695
45-8482/8565	Lockheed P-80B-1-LO Shooting Star
			c/n 080-1696/1779
			8484,8485,8528,8538,8561 used in tests of
			   guidance system of Bell GAM-63 missile 
			8490 at Castle Air Museum, CA.
			8501 at Chanute AFB Museum, IL
			8557 transferred to USN as TO-1 BuNo 29690
45-8566/8595	Lockheed P-80B-5-LO Shooting Star
			c/n 080-1780/1809
45-8596/8717	Lockheed P-80B-1-LO Shooting Star
			c/n 080-1810/1931
			8612 at Pima Air Museum, Tucson, AZ.
			8704 retired to MASDC July 1958.  Now on display at 
				McClellan AFB, CA.
45-8718/8800	Lockheed P-80B Shooting Star
			Contract cancelled

Sources:

  1. The American Fighter, Enzo Angelucci and Peter Bowers, Orion Books, 1987.

  2. United States Military Aircraft since 1909, Gordon Swanborough and Peter M. Bowers, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989.

  3. Fighters of the United States Air Force, Robert F. Dorr and David Donald, Temple Press Aerospace, 1990.

  4. American Combat Planes, Ray Wagner, Third Enlarged Edition, Doubleday, 1982.

  5. Lockheed Aircraft since 1913, Rene J. Francillon, Naval Institute Press, 1987.

  6. Lockheed F-80--A Star is Born, Robert F. Dorr, Air International, Vol. 47 No. 2, p.94, 1994.

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