The U.S. Air Force entered the jet age at the end of World War II with the introduction of the Lockheed P-80 “Shooting Star,” America’s first operational jet fighter. The entry of this aircraft and other jet aircraft into the inventory introduced substantial advancements in aircraft performance. Pilots with previous years of experience handling piston-powered fighters simply were not instant experts and the P-80’s safety record left much to be desired. It was clear that a jet trainer aircraft was needed to teach the different flying characteristics and finer points of flying aircraft in the jet age.
In May 1947, in response to an earlier suggestion and an increasing number of P-80 accidents, Lockheed initiated, at its own expense, the design of a two-seat trainer which was designated the Model 580. Three months later, the Air Force authorized the modification of a P-80C airframe to serve as the prototype for the TP-80C. To provide room for the instructor aft of the pilot, the fuselage fuel tank was reduced in size and the fuselage itself was lengthened by inserting a 26.6-inch plug forward of the wing and a 12-inch plug aft. To make up for the reduction in fuel in the fuselage tank, wing tip tanks were added and these eventually became standard
Originally designated the TF-80C, the T-33 made its first flight in March 1948. Production continued until August 1959 with 5,691 T-33s built. It was once said that every military jet pilot in the free world had spent time in a T-33. While very successful in the United States armed forces, the T-33 has flown with the air forces of more than 20 countries for nearly 40 years. In addition to hundreds of ex-US aircraft supplied to friendly governments, Canada and Japan have both built their own T-33s under license. While designed as a trainer, the T-33 has been used for such tasks as drone director and target towing, and in some countries even as a combat aircraft. The T-33 is truly a remarkably a very versatile aircraft and is recognized as one of the world’s best-known aircraft
The aircraft on display is a T-33 originally delivered to the Air Force in 1950 with the serial number 0-61767. With the concurrence of the National Museum of the Air Force, it is now painted in the color scheme of the last T-33 flown by the 48th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia in the late 1980s. The 48th FIS was part of the Air Defense Command, an organization which has gone through various name and organizational changes to become part of the current Air Combat Command.
Aircraft was painted by: Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation – Dallas Paint Shop
It is on loan from the National Museum of the United States Air Force