The Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star (or T-Bird) is an Americanjettrainer 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. Despite its age, the T-33 remains in service worldwide.
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 for 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.
Originally designated the TF-80C, the T-33 made its first flight on 22 March 1948 with U.S. production taking place from 1948 to 1959. The US Navy used the T-33 as a land-based trainer starting in 1949. It was designated the TV-2, but was redesignated the T-33B in 1962. The Navy operated some ex-USAF P-80Cs as the TO-1, changed to the TV-1 about a year later. A carrier-capable version of the P-80/T-33 family was subsequently developed by Lockheed, eventually leading to the late 1950s to 1970s T2V-1/T-1A SeaStar. The two prototype TF-80Cs were modified as prototypes for an all-weather two-seater fighter variant which became the F-94 Starfire. A total of 6,557 Shooting Stars were produced, 5,691 by Lockheed, 210 by Kawasaki and 656 by Canadair.
Some T-33s retained two machine guns for gunnery training, and in some countries, the T-33 was even employed as a combat aircraft: 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.
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 cancellation of the project. About 70% of the T-33's airframe was retained in the Skyfox, but it was powered by two Garrett AiResearch TFE731-3Aturbofan engines.
In the late 1990s, 18 T-33 Mk-III and T-33 SF-SC from the Bolivian Air Force went to Canada to be modernized at Kelowna Flightcraft. New avionics were installed, and detailed inspection and renewal of the fuselage and wings were performed. Most of the aircraft returned in early 2001 and remain operational.
A limited number of T-33s have found their way into private hands. Current owners include Michael Dorn of Star Trek: The Next Generation fame, and northern California-based Greg Colyer of the T-33 Heritage Foundation, who operates a Canadair CT-133 Silver Star monikered "Ace Maker". Various T-33s are based out of Wendover Airport, Utah. Kay Eckhardt has his T-33s based at Wendover. They are a Blue Angels variant and a baremetal USAF version.
On 6 September 2006, Imperial War Museum Duxford's Canadair T-33 (G-TBRD), owned by the Golden Apple Trust, was destroyed in a takeoff accident; the crew survived. G-TBRD was the first jet warbird to be operated from Duxford, arriving in 1975; it was originally registered as G-OAHB.
In 2008, several T-33s in storage at CFD Mountain View, an old World War II era RCAF base south of Trenton, Ontario, were sold to various private collectors. Six airplanes were purchased by a newly formed museum out of London, Ontario, called the Jet Aircraft Museum (JAM), associated with the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association, which purchased the aircraft on behalf of JAM. The six airplanes, formerly designated #133346, now C-FUPM; #133500, now C-FUPO; and #133573, now C-FUPP, as well as #133052, #133263 and #133441, will be flown in airshows and for memorials across Canada and in parts of the USA. Other T-33s have also been sold to various U.S. and Canadian buyers.
In 2010, one of two T-33 Shooting Stars owned by Boeing was used as a chase aircraft during the maiden flight of the Boeing 787 and Boeing 747-8.
Original United States military designation for the Lockheed Model 580 two-seat trainer for the United States Army Air Forces. Designation changed to TF-80C on 11 June 1948 following establishment of the United States Air Force as a separate military service in 1947, and then to T-33A on 5 May 1949; 20 built.
U.S. Air Force
Two-seat jet trainer aircraft for the United States Air Force and delivery to foreign air forces under the Military Aid Program,
Close support variant of the T-33As fitted with underwing pylons and hard points for bombs and rockets for export.
This designation was given to a number of T-33As converted into drone directors.
This designation was given to a number of T-33As converted into special test aircraft.
This designation was given to number of T-33As converted into aerial target drones for the United States Navy.
T-33A modified before delivery as a single-seat reconnaissance variant; 85 built, mainly for export under the Military Aid Program.
U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps
U.S. Navy designation of P-80C, 50 transferred to USN in 1949 as jet trainers (not technically T-33 Shooting Star)
United States Navy designation for 649 T-33As diverted from USAF production. Two-seat land-based jet training aircraft for the U.S. Navy. First 28 were delivered as TO-2s before the Navy changed the designation to TV-2. Surviving United States Navy and United States Marine Corps aircraft were re-designated T-33B on 18 September 1962.
Re-designation of the TO-2 after the first 28 were built.
TV-2s modified as drone directors, later re-designated DT-33B.
TV-2s modified as radio-controlled targets, could be flown as a single-seater for ferry, later re-designated DT-33C.
Re-designation of the TV-2 in 1962.
Re-designation of the TV-2D drone director in 1962.
The T-33AN is a Rolls-Royce Nene powered-variant of the T-33A for the Royal Canadian Air Force; 656 built by Canadair with the company designation CL-30. Canadian military designation was later changed from T-33AN to CT-133.
One Lockheed owned fuselage with a more powerful engine. Was later developed into the T2V SeaStar.