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Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star
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Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star
   Just as well known as the F-80, it was not the first American fighter to see production; the Bell P-59 holds that distinction. Its long (13-year) career began in 1943 when Lockheed, then engrossed in producing the P-38, was asked to develop a low wing, tricycle landing gear, conventional single-seat fighter, in just 180 days. The Burbank, California plant of Lockheed took the task under C. L. Johnson, who had proposed a jet fighter way back in 1939. Actually, the scant deadline of 180 days was bested by a mere 143, when the XP-80, called 'Lulu Belle,' was completed. The engine was the same type as used by the P-59, the DeHavilland-built Goblin centrifugal-flow engine, which developed 3,00lbs of thrust.
   The first flight of the XP-80 was January 8th, 1944, at Muroc Dry Lake, California. Milo Burcham was at the controls, and after his initial report,  the P-80 was ordered into production. Two had reached Britain by the Victory in Europe, and at that time, May 1945, 16 total P-80s were operational back in the US.  Although there were several more aircraft built between the surrender of Germany and the ultimate surrender of Japan, no P-80s were ordered into combat against the Japanese. The first test pilot, Milo Burcham, was killed in a P-80 crash in October 1944, and the famous American high-scoring ace, Major Richard Bong, was also killed in a P-80. Ironically, Bong died the same day that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Japan, August 6th 1945.
   Development continued after the war ended, but since this is a World War 2 aviation website, we won't cover that here.

   Specifications for the F-80C Shooting Star, c. 1951
    Type: Single seat jet fighter
    Powerplant: One 5,400lb/thrust Allison J33-A-35 axial-flow turbojet engine
    Performance: Max speed 594mph at sea level; ceiling 46,000 feet; range on internal fuel 825 miles.
    Weights: empty 8,290 lbs; maximum weight 16,856 lbs.
    Dimensions: Span 38 feet 9 inches; length 34 feet 5 inches; height 11 feet 3 inches; wing area 237 sq feet.
    Armament: Six .50-calibre fixed forward firing machine guns, provisions for 2,000 lbs ordinance.
Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star

On to the P-51 Mustang