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The Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star is an Americanmarker-built jet trainer 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 vintage, the venerable T-33 still remains in service worldwide.

Design and development

The T-33 (aka "T-Bird") 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 US 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. A total of 6,557 Shooting Stars were produced, 5,691 by Lockheed.

Operational history

Lockheed T-33A USAF
The two-place T-33 proved suitable as an advanced trainer, and it has been used for such tasks as drone director and target towing. The U.S. Air Force began phasing the T-33 out of front line pilot training duties in the Air Training Command in the early 1960s as the T-37 Tweet and T-38 Talon aircraft began replacing it under the Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) construct. Similar replacement also occurred in the U.S. Navy with the TV-1 (also renamed T-33 in 1962) as more advanced aircraft such as the T-2 Buckeye came on line. USAF and USN versions of the T-33 soldiered on into the 1970s and 1980s with USAF and USN as utility aircraft and proficiency trainers, with some of the former USN aircraft being expended as full scale aerial targets for air-to-air missile tests from naval aircraft and surface-to-air missile tests from naval vessels. Several T-33s were assigned to USAF F-101 Voodoo, F-102 Delta Dagger and F-106 Delta Dart units, to include similarly equipped Air National Guard units, of the Aerospace Defense Command as proficiency trainers and practice "bogey" aircraft. Others later went to Tactical Air Command and TAC-gained Air National Guard F-106 and F-4 Phantom II units in a similar role until they were finally retired.

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.

The T-33 has served with over 30 nations, and continues to operate as a trainer in smaller air forces. Canadair built 656 T-33s on licence for service in the RCAF - Canadian Forces as the CT-133 Silver Star while Kawasaki manufactured 210 in Japanmarker. Other operators included Brazilmarker, Turkeymarker and Thailandmarker which used the T-33 extensively.

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-33s airframe was retained in the Skyfox, but it was powered by two Garrett TFE731-3A turbofan 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; some current owners:Michael Dorn of Star Trek: The Next Generation fame, Canadair T-33. and northern California based Greg Colyer of the T33 Heritage Foundation who operates a Canadair CT-33 Silver Star monikered "Ace Maker".

On 6 September 2006, Imperial War Museum Duxfordmarker'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 CFB 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 US and Canadian buyers.


Lockheed NT-33A USAF


  • T-33A: Two-seat jet trainer aircraft.
  • AT-33A: Two-seat attack version of the T-33A.
  • DT-33A: This designation was given to a number of T-33As converted into drone directors.
  • NT-33A: This designation was given to a number of T-33As converted into special test aircraft.
  • QT-33A: This designation was given to number of T-33As converted into target drones.
  • RT-33A: Two-seat reconnaissance version of the AT-33A.

US Navy

  • TO-1/TV-1: U.S. Navy designation of P-80C, 50 transferred to USN in 1949 as jet trainers (not technically T-33 Shooting Star)
  • TO-2: Two-seat land-based jet training aircraft for the US Navy. It was the US Navy's version of the T-33A. Later redesignated TV-2.
  • TV-2KD: This designation was given to number of TV-2s converted into drone directors.
  • T-33B redesignation of Navy's TV-2 in 1962.
  • DT-33B redesignation of Navy's TV-2KD.



Two T-33s of the Bolivian Air Force
A T-33 Shooting Star of the Hellenic Air Force
T-33 Portuguese Air Force
T-33 Spanish Air Force

- See Canadair T-33
  • (One is on static exhibit outside the east entrance to the Mundo Maya International Airport near Floresmarker, restored to polished aluminum finish)
  • Paraguayan Air Force operated six AT-33A donated by Taiwan in 1990. The belonged to the Grupo Aerotáctico (GAT) 2nd. Fighter Squadron called "Indios". They were withdrawn from use in 1998.


A Lockheed T-33 in Reno, Nevada in 2004
Numerous T-33s have been preserved as museum and commemorative displays including:

Specifications (T-33A)

See also


  1. Lockheed P-80/F-80
  2. NASM Collections T-33 data page


  • Baugher, Joe. "Lockheed P-80/F-80." Lockheed P-80/F-80. Retrieved: 21 December 2006.
  • Davis, Larry. P-80 Shooting Star. T-33/F-94 in action. Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications, 1980. ISBN 0-89747-099-0.
  • Dorr, Robert F. "P-80 Shooting Star Variants". Wings of Fame Vol. 11. London: Aerospace Publishing Ltd., 1998. ISBN 1-86184-017-9.
  • Hiltermann, Gijs. Lockheed T-33 (Vliegend in Nederland 3) (in Dutch). Eindhoven, Netherlands: Flash Aviation, 1988. ISBN 978-9-0715-5304-2.
  • Pace, Steve. Lockheed Skunk Works. St. Paul, Minnesota: Motorbooks International, 1992. ISBN 0-87938-632-0.

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