T-33 Shooting Star "Ace Maker"
The T-33 Shooting Star "Ace Maker" in action over Nellis AFB during Aviation Nation 2012.
Lockheed pushed the Army Air Corps for a jet trainer version but the Air Corps saw no need for such an aircraft and they didn't want to "waste" any fighter airframes. The methods for training jet pilots in 1947 was 180 hours in the T-6, 50 hours in P-51 mustangs, and about 25 hours in a "captive" P-80.
Finally in January 1948 a cost-conscious Air Force awarded a contract for 20 TF-80C jet trainers and the designation was later changed to T-33A.
The original trainer version was an F-80B fuselage with a 26 inch section added forward of the wingroot. Another 12 inch section was added forward of the rear fuselage for balance and stability. Additional differences between the P-80B and the TF-80C were: smaller 85 gallon fuselage fuel tank, nylon fuel cells, two .50 caliber guns instead of six, improved air conditioning, and of course dual fight controls. Also a six gun nose could be fitted to the T-33. Early models even had 1000 lb. bomb shackles on the wings. The only major change to the T-33 was the addition of Fletcher-type wingtip tanks. Almost 6000 T-33s were built, including 649 for the Navy and 1058 for foreign air forces. Canadair built 656 MKIIIs under license and Kawasaki built 210.
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