Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star


Back to the Virtual Aircraft Museum
  FIGHTERVirtual Aircraft Museum / USA / Lockheed  

Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star

In June 1943 Lockheed was instructed to proceed with the design and development of a new single-seat fighter, utilising as its power plant a British de Havilland H-1 turbojet. This was undoubtedly an exciting project for Lockheed, for the first US-built turbojet-powered aircraft - the Bell XP-59A prototype - had made its maiden flight less than nine months earlier. At that time the tempo of American aircraft production had got into high gear and C. L. "Kelly'" Johnson, leader of Lockheed's design team, used his genius and enthusiasm to such effect that the project details had been completed within a week.

The design proved acceptable to the USAAF. It was a low-wing cantilever monoplane with a knife-edge laminar-flow wing section; engine within the rear fuselage; air intakes on each side of the fuselage forward of the wing leading edge; and retractable tricycle-type landing gear. Equally attractive was the company's proposal to complete an initial prototype within 180 days and little time was lost in awarding contracts for three prototypes and 13 service trials aircraft. Work on the first prototype began in August 1943 and just 143 days later (on 9 January 1944) this aircraft flew for the first time.

Service designation of the prototype was XP-80. Its power plant was a 13.34kN de Havilland H-1 turbojet, predecessor of the Goblin and supplied to the USA in July 1943. Unfortunately plans for this engine to be built by the Allis-Chalmers Company in America went awry, so the next two prototypes each had a 16.68kN General Electric 1-40 turbojet. This was a larger and more powerful engine than the intended Allis-Chalmers J36, involving redesign which included increased span and length, a taller fin and strengthened landing gear. The exercise cost five months, for it was not until 10 June 1944 that the first of these two XP-80A was flown.

The YP-80A service trials aircraft, powered by Allison-developed General Electric J33, began to equip USAAF units in October 1944 but were too late to see operational service in World War II. The name allocated (Shooting Star) was indicative of the excitement generated by these new turbine-powered aircraft, able to demonstrate speeds of 160-240 km/h higher than those of the best piston-engined fighters. Because of such performance, war-end contract cancellations did not eliminate the P-80 (changed to F-80 in 1948), but ensured that production continued to re-equip USAAF first-line squadrons - beginning in December 1945.

Production P-80A had wingtip tanks and provision for bombs, rockets and fuel tanks to be carried beneath the wings, plus six 12.7mm guns mounted in the fuselage nose. P-80B which followed had a more powerful engine, thinner wing section, stronger bulkheads in the nose section to support greater fire-power, stainless steel armoured engine compartment and provisions for JATO. Final version was the P-80C (RF-80C unarmed photographic reconnaissance sub-variant), with a still more powerful engine and increased underwing weapons capability.

The Shooting Star has an established place in USAAF/USAF history: its first operational jet-powered aircraft, one of which set a world speed record of 1,003.91km/h on 19 June 1947. Soon after (in 1950) they were used in combat during the Korean War and an F-80C, flown by Lieut Russell J. Brown on 8 November 1950, achieved the first air-combat victory between two jet-powered fighters, destroying a Mikoyan MiG-15 of the Chinese People's Republic Air Force. For Korea, F-80 were adapted to carry two 227kg and four 118kg fragmentation bombs or two 450kg bombs plus eight rockets or four 40 US gallon napalm bombs.

Variants have included reconnaissance RF-80, QF-80A and QF-80F drones, and one F-80C was converted as a prototype two-seat trainer.

Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star

 ENGINE1 x Allison J33-A-35, 24.0kN
  Take-off weight7646 kg16857 lb
  Empty weight3819 kg8419 lb
  Wingspan11.81 m39 ft 9 in
  Length10.49 m34 ft 5 in
  Height3.43 m11 ft 3 in
  Wing area22.07 m2237.56 sq ft
  Max. speed966 km/h600 mph
  Ceiling14265 m46800 ft
  Range1328 km825 miles
 ARMAMENT6 x 12.7mm machine-guns, 2 x 454kg bombs or 8 missiles

Lockheed F-80 Shooting StarA three-view drawing (1710 x 1157)

Comments1-20 21-40 41-60
Bill Gund, e-mail, 28.08.2016 17:37

My dad started his AF career flying the F-80 during the Korean War. Naturally, he would have rather been flying the F-86, but when you're a newly minted 2nd LT, you take what's assigned to you. He still has fond memories of flying the F-80. On a side note, he started his career flying the Lockheed F-80 and retired 20 years later flying another Lockheed A /C: The F-104. And a whole lot of different A /C in between.


l.jvangorder@cox.net, 06.08.2016 20:11

I volunteer at the Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins GA.
I am helping the curator research the aircraft we have on site the F80C tail number 58357 is of interest and I would like the history of the aircraft. Please advise


martha everhard, e-mail, 04.08.2016 01:30

I am looking to purchase an F80 airfighter. we want to preserve the history of this plane. can someone let me know where in USA or latin America. find something like this
in any condition, the body is very important no matter if there is no engine / plase let me know thanks


Ken Bloomhorst, e-mail, 16.02.2016 22:25

I grew up betweem Wright and Patterson Field snd remember going to s bond rally open house at Wright Field. They had a P 80 on display. I can remember how beautiful and smooth it was. No rivits were showing. I also remember camping out in a large woods were Wright State University is now located. A P 80flewover really low and scared the crap out of us.


Lorayneandmaxpate@gmail.com, 01.04.2015 20:31

I was a Sgt in the Civil Air Patrol and a pilot. I was about 17 yrs old and was assigned as guard at the Willow Run Air Show in Ypsilanti, Mich. I was to guard and do walk arounds and tell people that the F-80 Shooting Star Fighter Jet, as well as the B-36 Bomber on display were still military secrets. I recall part of my description of the Shooting star was if you stood within 25 feet of the nose, you could get sucked into it, and if you were within 100 ft., of the back you could get 3rd degree burns (while running of course) I later became a flight instructor and taught many USAF, MARINE, and ARMY ROTC at the Gainesville FL Regional Airport in the 70's. I am proud to say, I gave a few Airline pilots their start as pilots also. I taught the first marine in the nation under the civilian pilot training program, and have over 13,000 PIC hours. Wanted to write a book, so looked up more info on these two great airplanes. Thank you much.


Mark, e-mail, 06.11.2014 07:03

My father was stationed on the east coast of Italy late in WW2. He told the story many times, that his crew received 4 P80 Shooting Stars, in crates under a cloud of secrecy. They assembled them, and the pilots that came with, test flew them over Italy. The war ended a couple three months after this so as far as he knew they never flew a combat mission. But suspected they went looking for Luftwaffe to make look lame. Most of the air combat and bombing had moved out of Italy into Germany by then any way.


Ken Robinson, e-mail, 14.10.2013 02:01

Story time. My wifes brother in law ( Neil Simmons) was in the Ga Air Nat Guard in the 50s at Travis Field Savannah Ga.
He said the first jet he worked on was the Lockheed F80.
His unit was the 158th and he was in aircraft maintenance.
He tells the story that any F 80 they received which did not run correctly was to be torn down, the engine removed and bolted on the test stand , adjusted and reassembled.
I believe the down time alloted for this by the book was 15 hours which did not look good on the ready report.
Neil had a better idea. He was 18 years old, 5`9" tall and weighed 135 #. Neil said he told his Lt that 2 men could insert him into the intake with the engine at idle, with his arms extended over his head with a 1 /2" open end wrench and an allen wrench in hand he could adjust the fuel control valve. He said they tried it and after two adjustments it was back in the air with little down time.
After that he was the man with a plan. I dont know how or if it was written up on the ready report .
He does tell other stories of their activation during Korea. They upgraded to the F84 Republic. I have some of his pictures that he shouldnt have taken. KR


Howard Lute, e-mail, 01.09.2013 18:55

I was a Aicraft Repairman at Beale AFB, CA. The CO of the base had "his" F-80 on the flightline with a radio problem. It was a Saturday and I went out to the A /C with the crew chief to take a look. The ground power was up and running and I turned on the radio to begin testing. The crew chief lowered the canopy so I could hear through the din of the GP unit. The chief waved as he indicated he was going to go pee. A few minutes went by while I checked out the system. I soon smelled smoke but saw nothing. I called the tower and advised them of the smell. Now there was smoke! It came from behind me and I unplugged my headgear as the crew chief came running. Flames were now up to the canopy and as it opened and I exited the now "on fire" A /C down the ladder I went! The chief climbed up and discharged the fire extinguisher into the cockpit as the fire trucks pulled up. The fire was quickly out as I walked away back to the shop for a cup of coffee and the inevitable and unending paperwork to explain this small disaster. Then the debriefings began.


Jessie, e-mail, 10.06.2013 23:00

Was the F-80 or the F-94 capable of any air to air missile capability?


Zippo, 23.06.2012 01:19

This plane, when it was declared obsolete by the USAF, was sold to other air forces, only Latin America. In 1958 they were sold 33 units of F-80 variant C to Brazil, which took them operational until 1973, Colombia received 16 units of variant C (in fact all Latin American countries received the variant C), which were operational until 1966, when they also withdraw to the F-86, relegating the defense to the T-33, Ecuador had 16 aircraft, withdraw in 1965 because the USAF units sold damaged, 6 of the 16 planes returned to USA, Peru had 16 aircraft in 1958, withdraw in 1973, replaced by the Mirage 5P, Chile received 30 aircraft in 1958, withdraw in 1974 replaced by the Hawker Hunter, and Uruguay received at least 17 units, withdraw in 1971. It was a great milestone in Latin American aviation because the F-80 was superior to other devices some air forces, was more superior than the Brazilian and Ecuadorian Gloster Meteor, and Chilean P-47 and Uruguayan P-51 but was not more superior than the peruvian & colombian F-86.


Magnum78, 07.05.2012 05:03

Who is the last user of the F-80? In Wikipedia don't say that information.


Alfred J. D'Amario, e-mail, 27.04.2012 06:49

I flew 100 combat missions in the F-80C in Korea from June 1952 to January, 1953. Though I flew all 16 of the planes assigned to the 35th Fighter Bomber Squadron at K-13, I was specifically assigned Aircraft number 49555, or Triple Nickel. It was my bird until it took two 40mm shells on the underside. One of them cracked the main spar all the way through, but she brought me home. I thought she was totalled but have heard she may have been repaired and assigned to a national guard outfit. If anyone knows, I'd appreciate an email. Following her demise, I was assigned aircraft number 623 which I flew on most of my subsequent missions. The F-80 was strong. I've puilled over 12 Gs with no apparent damage. And, yes, a comment above is correct. Without drop tanks she could carry four 1,000 bombs. You just couldn't take them very far. On one flight, I had a left tip tank that wouldn't feed, wouldn't drop and they wouldn't let me land with it full of fuel. I finally opened the canopy, took out my ,45 and shot it full of holes. I was able to drain the fuel out of it and then they let me land. I'v flown everything from T-6s to B-52s, but have a very special place in my heart for the F-80, especially Triple Nickel.


John Whistler, e-mail, 12.01.2012 03:55

I got acquainted with the F-80 in 1949 as my Fighter was changing from P-51's to jets. I ended up going to Korea with F-86's. After a couple of years, I was assigned to the 1708 Ferrying at Kelly AFB. We ferried all types of fighters to countries around the world and I flew several F-80's to countries in South America. It was a small cockpit compared to other newer jets. Its one that you put so to speak, but still a great little ship to fly.


Rodrigo OrtÝz Gasca, e-mail, 19.08.2011 05:07

I have been flying this fighter plane on Combat Flight Smulator 3 the battle of europe and it looks awsome, so i was looking at thedesign and i though how will be the navy version of this fighter plane ?

can someone pass me yor e-mail ?

i improvised on the desgin.


bombardier, e-mail, 23.05.2011 14:43

The F-80 was the first jet to enter quantity production and operational service.


Tony Veldhuizen, 03.12.2010 01:05

I was a crew chief on RF-80s in Panama in late 1948 and 1949. We had 21 airplanes and 127 officers and enlisted personnel. Most of our Officer /Pilots were senior officers who had enough pull to get assigned there so they could fly Jets. A few didn't survive their first flight because they tried to climb too quick and the slightly underpowered planes stalled too easily. We ferried the planes back to San Francisco in Sept 1949 and I believe some of them went to Korea. In 9150 Three of my compatriots were in Reserves (not me) and were immediately called up for Korea.


Wayne Donnay, e-mail, 29.11.2010 00:10

I don't know of any other airplane the size of the F-80 that can carry four 1,000 pound bombs and still fly. I cared for these babies as an airframe repairman in Korea in 1952 and the main structural damage was cracks to the wing webs near the inboard pylon area.


Sgt Robert Kassien, 10.11.2010 06:08

I was a crew chief on 426 F-80 at Elmendorf AFB Alaska when the Korea war started I was in 66 Fighter Sq 57 Fighter Gp I wonder what ever happened to that plane If any one knows my Email is RobeKassi@Gmail.com


PAUL R S KALLMEYER, e-mail, 27.10.2010 04:46

I flew the T-33 in advanced training in 53-B class at Webb AFB, Big Springs,TX. I enjoyed flying the bird, and West Texas was a challenge due to dust storms and dust haze. Daily, the dust would roll in from the Permian Basin Dust Bowl around 1500. We took off and "broke ground at 10K feet! My fun flights were out to our acrobatic area where we could join up with B-36s climbing out of Carlswell AFB, and even show off doing a barrel roll around them just to make them jealous. On our classfirst night flight we took off and
climbed to 30K and encountered lots of St.Emos Fire around the canopy! Very
beautiful, but frightening if you did not know what it was. Evidently our Flight
leader Michael Doumit may been startled and we heard base calling the roll of
aircraft airborne. Mike did not answer and we found out he had dove into the
ground West of the base. Big hole! Full tip tanks! Maybe hypoxia? We did some formation flying and one time a gaggle of all 24 (I think) T birds in close
formation made a low pass over the base at about 1500 feet above ground and it was so turbulent my feet were bouncing on the cockpit floor. But we stayed in a great tight formation, and I mean tight! After the low pass, the
Colonel leading the gaggle climbed us all to 25 and we flew to a large tornado
cloud about 50 miles away and still in formation, circled the cloud and viewed the path the tornado had trashed in the town below. The cloud was all alone
in the area and was a dissipating thunder storm. We saw loots of lightning as
we circled the cloud and flew back to Webb AFB. Next I went to All weather
school in T-33s at Moody AFB, Valdosta,GA. Here we only flew when there were thunder storms! We would climb under the hood up through the storms
flying attitude and air speed and getting lots of bumping around. The rate of climb would be pegged up or down as we climbed to on top usually at 35K.
Often there would be rime ice on the leading edges of the wings up there as we topped out. My instructor Jimmy Lynch was an F-94 back seat crash survivor who was badly burned. The pilot had not reset his altimeter and flew
into the trees short of the runway on an IFR approach to landing. Jim still loved to fly in spite of his burn injury scars which limited his range of motion.
Next I went to F-86Ds at Sherman Dennison,TX then to Suffolk County AFB,NY in the Air Defense Command.


Chuck Purcell, e-mail, 16.10.2010 22:47

In 1952 I went to Key Wast Florida for instrument training. I had to fill out a IFR flight and fill that. We taxed onto the runway I put my gryo compass on 0, the check pilot closed the hood I then took flew to Memphis and returned to Key West, I rhen made a GCA at the last minute the check took over and landed I had to make all radio calls and my fuel rate and ETA has to be with the standered.


1-20 21-40 41-60

Do you have any comments?

Name    E-mail


All the World's Rotorcraft

All rhe World's Rotorcraft AVIATION TOP 100 - www.avitop.com Avitop.com