P-80 Shooting Star

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The Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star was the first jet fighter used operationally by the United States Army Air Forces,[2] and saw extensive combat in Korea with the United States Air Force as the F-80. As one of the world's first successful turbojet-powered combat aircraft, it helped usher in the "jet age" in the USAF and other air forces worldwide. One of its claims to fame is in training a new generation of pilots, especially in its closely-related T-33 Shooting Star trainer development.


Design and development

The XP-80 was a conventional, all-metal airframe with a slim low wing and tricycle undercarriage (landing gear). The P-80 was the first operational jet fighter to have its engine integrated within the main fuselage, a design previously used in the Heinkel He 178 and the Gloster E.28/39 demonstrators. Other early jets generally had two engines because of their limited power and mounted these in external pods for easier maintenance. With the advent of more powerful engines, fuselage mounting was more effective and would be used by nearly all subsequent fighter aircraft.

Concept work began on the XP-80 in 1943 with a design being built around the blueprint dimensions of a British de Havilland H-1 B turbojet, a powerplant to which the design team did not have actual access. Lockheed's team, consisting of 28 engineers, was led by the legendary Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson. This teaming was an early product of Lockheed's Skunk Works, which would surface again in the next decade to produce a line of high-performance aircraft beginning with the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter.

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