The final production version of the Shooting Star was the P-80C, which was a heavier and more powerful version of the P-80B. The first P-80C flew on March 1, 1948. Whereas the P-80A and B had been delivered under original wartime contracts, the P-80C was built under postwar Fiscal Year 1947, 1948, and 1949 contracts.
The first two production batches included 162 P-80C-1-LOs and 76 P-80C-5-LOs. These were initially powered by the 4600 lb.s.t. Allison J33-A-23 jet engine. The last 561 P-80C aircraft were from the P-80C-10-LO production block and were powered by the 5400 lb.s.t. Allison J33-A-35 engine. The contract included four aircraft (49-3957/3600) that were originally ordered by Peru but delivered to the USAF in the fall of 1951. The P-80C could be externally distinguished from the B by the relocation of the pitot tube from the fin back to a position underneath the nose. The wingspan was 39 feet 9 inches, and the length was 34 feet 5 inches. It used the improved M3 machine guns first introduced on the later production blocks of the P-80B.
In June of 1948, the designation of the P-80C was changed to F-80C
The F-80C bore the brunt of Shooting Star combat in Korea, most of the F-80As and B's either remaining stateside or going on duty in Europe. In service, many P-80C aircraft were fitted with two additional wing pylons, and provision for the mounting of sixteen 5-inch rockets were made. Service modifications included the use of either 265 US gallon under-tip tanks (sometimes named "Misawa" tanks after the air base in Japan where they were first introduced) or 230 US-gallon centerline tip tanks. When the latter type of tanks were carried, the wingtips were squared off, reducing the span to 38 feet 9 inches.
During the Korean War, an uncertain number of F-80A and F-80C fighters were modified to RF-80C standards. They differed from other Shooting Star reconnaissance aircraft by having a smooth fighter-style nose. The guns were replaced by one or two K-14 cameras, but the gun barrels were painted over to give the appearance of retaining weapons.
After the end of the Korean War, 137 F-80As and RF-80As were partially brought up to F-80C standards by Lockheed Air Services, Inc. These were redesignated F-80C-11-LO and RF-80C-11-LO respectively, and were issued to ANG and USAF reserve units. The RF-80Cs had improved camera installations in a nose of modified contour. The conversion consisted of the installation of the J33-A-35 engine, the installation of an ejector seat using an M-5 catapult and M-3 actuator, and provision for an AN/ARC-27 command radio.
One F-80C (47-171) was constructed of magnesium throughout. It was redesignated NF-80C. One shudders to think of what would have happened if a fire ever broke out! In fact, the aircraft was originally on display at the Air Force Museum in Ohio, but removed after its all-magnesium construction was deemed to be a fire risk. Another usual experiment took place with F-80C serial number 49-429. It was tested on skis in Alaska.
Specifications of the P-80C:
Engine: One Allison J33-A-23/35 turbojet, rated at 4600 lb.s.t./5400 lb.s.t. Dimensions were wingspan 38 feet 9 inches (without wingtip tanks), length 34 feet 5 inches, height 11 feet 3 inches, and wing area 237.6 square feet. Weights were 8420 pounds empty, 12,200 pounds gross, and 16,856 pounds maximum takeoff. Maximum speed was 594 mph at sea level and 543 mph at 25,000 feet. Initial climb rate was 6870 feet/minute, and an altitude of 25,000 feet could be attained in 7 minutes. Service ceiling was 46,800 feet. Normal range was 825 miles, and maximum range was 1380 miles. Fuel load: 425 US gallons normal, 755 US gallons max. Armament consisted of six 0.50-inch machine guns. An underwing load of 2000 pounds of bombs, napalm or rockets could be carried.
Serials of Lockheed P-80C Shooting Star:
47-171/224 Lockheed P-80C-1-LO Shooting Star c/n 080-1932/1985. Redesignated F-80C in 1948. 47-525 Lockheed P-80C-1-LO Shooting Star c/n 080-1986. Redesignated F-80C in 1948. 47-526/600 Lockheed P-80C-5-LO Shooting Star c/n 080-1987/2061. Redesignated F-80C in 1948. 47-601/604 Lockheed P-80C-1-LO Shooting Star c/n 2062/2065. Redesignated F-80C in 1948. 47-1380/1411 Lockheed P-80C-1-LO Shooting Star c/n 080-2066/2097. Redesignated F-80C in 1948. 48-376/396 Lockheed F-80C-1-LO Shooting Star c/n 080-2099/2119 48-863/912 Lockheed F-80C-1-LO Shooting Star c/n 080-2105/2119 49-422/878 Lockheed F-80C-10-LO Shooting Star c/n 080-2120/1269 49-1800/1899 Lockheed F-80C-10-LO Shooting Star c/n 080/26207/2726 49-3597/3600 Lockheed F-80C-10-LO Shooting Star c/n 080-2727/2730