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LOCKHEED P-80C “Shooting Star”

In the early 1940s, Lockheed designed America’s first jet propelled aircraft to see combat, which received the P-80 designation. The development of the Shooting Star produced five variants of the P-80. Lockheed manufactured more P-80C aircraft than any other variant. The Shooting Star was so successful that many P-80A and P-80B aircraft were rebuilt to P-80C standards.

The prototype F-80 (XP-80 Lulubelle) had a de Havilland H-1 Goblin engine from England and maxed out at speeds of just over 500 mph. The P-80C was powered by a J-33-A-21 engine with 4600 lbs. of thrust and could reach speeds in excess of 550 mph. The Shooting Star’s engine was mounted within the fuselage directly behind the cockpit.

Lockheed designed the P-80 to be extremely maneuverable. Even at high speeds, the hydraulic aileron boost and balanced empennage controls allowed the aircraft to be limited only by the pilot’s ability to handle the forces from tight turns and pull-outs. The fuselage flaps were arranged in an unbroken line with the wing flaps extending across the plane’s underside. These flaps are required to slow the Shooting Star down for landings at conventional speeds since there is no propeller to create drag. The P-80 was the first aircraft to use an explosive canopy remover with an ejection seat. Strengthened wings on the Shooting Star had racks that could hold either ten rockets or two 1000 lb. bombs.

The P-80Cs were ready in time for the outbreak of the Korean War, where the Shooting Star was the most prevalent type of aircraft. All the P-80Cs were based in Japan, a two hour and 40 minute flight from Korea. Many of the pilots flew back to back missions, stopping only for supplies in between. This arrangement made for a long commute to and from the base that complimented an even longer day of combat fighting.

EAA’s Shooting Star was restored for static display in the museum by Brian Feldmann, Damian Detlaff, and Vince Moehn. The restoration project began in September 1993 and was completed in October 1994. John Mark funded the restoration having the aircraft painted in 8th Fighter Bomber Group, 36th Squadron colors, personalized with his nose art, “Ave Maria,” and aircraft number from his experience in Korea. The Shooting Star has been on loan from the US Air Force since 1986.

Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star

Accredited by the American Association of Museums
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