The Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star (or T-Bird) is a subsonic American jet trainer aircraft. It was produced by Lockheed.


Lockheed T-33 T-Bird

The Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star (or T-Bird) is a subsonic American jet trainer aircraft. It was produced by Lockheed and made its first flight in 1948 piloted by Tony LeVier. The T-33 was developed from the Lockheed P-80/F-80 starting as TP-80C/TF-80C in development, then designated T-33A. It was used by the U.S. Navy initially as TO-2 then TV-2, and after 1962, T-33B. The last operator of the T-33, the Bolivian Air Force, retired the type in July 2017, after 44 years of service. The T-33 was developed from the Lockheed P-80/F-80 by lengthening the fuselage by slightly over three feet and adding a second seat, instrumentation, and flight controls. It was initially designated as a variant of the P-80/F-80, the TP-80C/TF-80C.

 

Design work on the Lockheed P-80 began in 1943 with the first flight on 8 January 1944. Following on the Bell P-59, the P-80 became the first jet fighter to enter full squadron service in the United States Army Air Forces. 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.

 

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Some T-33s retained two machine guns for gunnery training, and in some countries, the T-33 was even used in combat: the Cuban Air Force used them during the Bay of Pigs Invasion, scoring several kills. 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. T-33s continued to fly as currency trainers, drone towing, combat and tactical simulation training, "hack" aircraft, electronic countermeasures, and warfare training and test platforms right into the 1980s.

Lockheed
Lockheed T-33 T-Bird

The T-33 has served with over 30 nations, and continues to operate as a trainer in smaller air forces. Canadair built 656 T-33s on licence for service in the RCAF—Canadian Forces as the CT-133 Silver Star while Kawasaki manufactured 210 in Japan. Other operators included Brazil, Turkey, and Thailand which used the T-33 extensively.

 

Lockheed
T-33 T-Bird

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In the 1980s, an attempt was made to modify and modernize the T-33 as the Boeing Skyfox, but a lack of orders led to the project's cancellation. About 70% of the T-33's airframe was retained in the Skyfox, but it was powered by two Garrett AiResearch TFE731-3A turbofan engines.

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