I have always had a fondness for the Lockheed P-80/ F-80 fighter. I like the lines of the rounded nose, the side mounted air intakes and clean wing and tail.
The aircraft never arrived in time to see actual combat in WWII, but it was employed as a fighter-bomber in in the Korean War.
The USAF variants were the F-80A. F-80B and F-80C. There were camera equipped RF-80Cs used in USAF service as well as dedicated reconnaissance platforms
The F-80C was selected by the Navy to train pilots in jets before jets entered in fleet service. The Navy designation was initially the TO-1, but was later designated as the TV-1 (T=Trainer, V=Lockheed, -1= first variant) when the Navy changed Lockheed's manufacturer's code from "O" to "V".
The classic design of the F-80 lent itself to many modifications and variations. All of these variants shared the following characteristics; Two side mounted intakes. Low or shoulder mounted wings with the leading edge of the wings aft of the intake lips. Single engine mounted in fuselage with a removable tail cone.
The T-33 was developed from the basic F-80C for a two seat trainer design. The aircraft was initially designated as the TF-80C. The T-33 was a long lived aircraft in the USAF serving into the 1990s. The Navy used many T-33s in service designated as the TV-2. After 1962, the TV-2 was redesigned as T-33B. There were camera equipped RT-33As used in USAF service as well as dedicated reconnaissance platforms.
The Navy urged Lockheed to develop a carrier based version of the T-33 to train Naval Aviators in jets. The resulting jet was designated as the T2V-1 (T-1A after 1962). The jet has a basic family resemblance to the T-33B, but the stepped cockpit to allow the IP to see during approaches and the taller vertical fin really changed the look of the jet. The T-1A served into the very early 1980s.
When the Russians detonated a nuclear weapon in the late 1940's, the development of a radar equipped two seat interceptor was accelerated. The F-89 was still some time off from entering service, so the initial T-33 design was given a Hughes AN/APG-33 radar installation as well as an uprated Allison J-33 engine incorporating an afterburner for additional climb performance. The F-94A and F-94B had four .050 machine guns in the nose. The F-94B saw combat in Korea as well. The F-94C was an extensive redesign of the basic F-94A/B and was initially designated as the YF-97 when it was being designed. The F-94C did not use guns, but incorporated 24 2.75 inch FFAR (Folding Fin Artillery Rockets) in nose launchers, just aft of the radome. A complete redesign of the wing, canopy and aft fuselage was incorporated and the engine was changed to the P&W J-48.
When the CIA approached Lockheed for a spy plane to overfly the Soviet Union, the U-2 was developed from the basic design of the F-80 with very long, thin wings, a modified J-57 engine that was designed to fly in the rarefied air at 70,000+ feet. For a good history of the U-2, I would recommend Ben Rich's excellent book "Skunk Works" as well as Jay Miller's Aerograph 3 on the U-2. The U-2s came in three basic families. The 'short' U-2A, U-2B, U-2C and TU-2C trainer as well as the two seat test U-2D models and the very long range U-2F variant that was used in Vietnam that was capable of in-flight refueling from a KC-135. In the late 1960s the improved U-2R was introduced. The aircraft was larger with much greater payload for sensors and greater range (and pilot comfort!!). In the 1980s, Lockheed started production of the U-2R again but these were built as TR-1As as the designation U-2 had gained notoriety over the years. All U-2Rs and TR-1As were rebuilt as the U-2S in the 1990s with uprated engines and a 'glass cockpit'. The U-2S is still in service.
The basic F-80 design would emerge in one more iteration as the F-104. Instead of the U-2s long wing, very short razor thin wings would be incorporated in place of the long span wings of the U-2. A GE J-79 engine powered the F-104. The USAF operated the F-104A in Air Defense Command service. The F-104B and F-104D were two seat opeartional trainer variants. The USAF had one wing of tactical F-104C fighter bombers that saw combat in the Vietnam war. The USAF also operated two squadrons of F-104G at Luke AFB, AZ for foreign military sales training.
Enjoy this look back at the F-80 and all of its decendents!
Listening to: Dave Brubeck Quartet - Last Set at Newport