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Two T-33s from the 95th Fighter Interceptor Training Squadron in flight near Tyndall AFB, Florida. The farther aircraft has been repainted and renumbered in anticipation of its delivery to the Mexican air force.
Role Training aircraft
Manufacturer Lockheed
Designer Clarence "Kelly" Johnson
First flight 22 March 1948
Primary users United States Air Force
United States Navy
Japan Air Self Defense Force
German Air Force
Produced 1948–1959
Number built 6,557
Developed from Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star
Variants Lockheed T2V SeaStar
Canadair CT-133 Silver Star
Developed into Lockheed F-94 Starfire
Boeing Skyfox

The Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star (or T-Bird) is an American 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 age, the T-33 remains in service worldwide.

Design and development[edit | edit source]

The T-33 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.[1]

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 U.S. 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. The two prototype TF-80Cs were modified as prototypes for an all-weather two-seater fighter variant which became the F-94 Starfire. A total of 6,557 Shooting Stars were produced, 5,691 by Lockheed, 210 by Kawasaki and 656 by Canadair.

Operational history[edit | edit source]

U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy[edit | edit source]

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 Cessna T-37 Tweet and Northrop T-38 Talon aircraft began replacing it under the Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) construct. The T-33 was used to train cadets from the Air Force Academy at Peterson Field (now Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs). The T-37 replaced the T-33 for Academy training in 1975.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 North American T-2 Buckeye and Douglas TA-4 Skyhawk II 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 McDonnell F-101 Voodoo, Convair F-102 Delta Dagger and Convair 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 McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom II units in a similar role until they were finally retired.

Military use by other nations[edit | edit source]

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.

Lockheed T-33A USAF

United States Air Force Lockheed RT-33 reconnaissance plane forced down in December 1957, on display in Gjirokastër, Albania.

USAF Lockheed NT-33A

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 Japan. Other operators included Brazil, Turkey and Thailand 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-33's airframe was retained in the Skyfox, but it was powered by two Garrett AiResearch 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.

Civilian use[edit | edit source]

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.[citation needed] and northern California based Greg Colyer of the T33 Heritage Foundation who operates a Canadair CT-133 Silver Star monikered "Ace Maker". Various T-33s are based out of Wendover Airport, Utah. Kay Eckhardt has his T-33s based at Wendover they are a Blue Angels variant and a baremetal USAF version.

On 6 September 2006, Imperial War Museum Duxford's Canadair T-33 (G-TBRD), owned by the Golden Apple Trust, was destroyed in a takeoff accident;[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

In 2008, several T-33s in storage at CFD Mountain View, an old World War II era RCAF base south of Trenton, Ontario, were sold to various private collectors.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] Other T-33s have also been sold to various U.S. and Canadian buyers.[citation needed]

In 2010, a T-33 Shooting Star owned by Boeing was used as a chase aircraft during the maiden flight of the Boeing 787[2] and Boeing 747-8

Variants[edit | edit source]

Original United States military designation for the Lockheed Model 580 two-seat trainer for the United States Army Air Forces. Designation changed to TF-80C on 11 June 1948 following establishment of the United States Air Force as a separate military service in 1947, and then to T-33A on 5 May 1949; 20 built.

U.S. Air Force[edit | edit source]

Two-seat jet trainer aircraft for the United States Air Force and delivery to foreign air forces under the Military Aid Program,
Close support variant of the T-33As fitted with underwing pylons and hard points for bombs and rockets for export.
This designation was given to a number of T-33As converted into drone directors.
This designation was given to a number of T-33As converted into special test aircraft.
This designation was given to number of T-33As converted into aerial target drones for the United States Navy.
T-33A modified before delivery as a single-seat reconnaissance variant; 85 built, mainly for export under the Military Aid Program.

U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps[edit | edit source]

U.S. Navy designation of P-80C, 50 transferred to USN in 1949 as jet trainers (not technically T-33 Shooting Star)
United States Navy designation for 649 T-33As diverted from USAF production. Two-seat land-based jet training aircraft for the U.S. Navy. First 28 were delivered as TO-2s before the Navy changed the designation to TV-2. Surviving United States Navy and United States Marine Corps aircraft were re-designated T-33B on 18 September 1962.[3]
Re-designation of the TO-2 after the first 28 were built.
TV-2s modified as drone directors, later re-designated DT-33B.
TV-2s modified as radio-controlled targets, could be flown as a single-seater for ferry, later re-designated DT-33C.
Re-designation of the TV-2 in 1962.
Re-designation of the TV-2D drone director in 1962.
Re-designation of the TV-2KD target in 1962

Canada[edit | edit source]

T-33AN/CT-133 Silver Star Mk 3
The T-33AN is a Rolls-Royce Nene powered-variant of the T-33A for the Royal Canadian Air Force; 656 built by Canadair with the company designation CL-30. Canadian military designation was later changed from T-33AN to CT-133.

Other[edit | edit source]

One Lockheed owned fuselage with a more powerful engine. Was later developed into the T2V SeaStar.[4]

Operators[edit | edit source]

T-33 of the Belgian Air Force

File:T-33 LA PAZ.jpg

Two T-33s of the Bolivian Air Force

T-33 of the Taiwan Air Force at Hsinchu Air Base 2012

A T-33 Shooting Star of the Hellenic Air Force

T-33 Portuguese Air Force

T-33 Republic of Korea Air Force

T-33 Spanish Air Force

T-33 Philippine Air Force

Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star belonging to the former Imperial Iranian Air Force (IIAF)

T-33 T-Bird of French Air Force in 1980 on the Air Base 705 of Tours

T-33 in Saudi Arabia

  • Bolivian Air Force 34 × T-33. Still in service, the only air force in the world which still operate this aircraft
 Burma (all retired)
 Canada—See Canadair T-33
 Chile (all retired)
 Republic of China
Flag of Denmark.svg Denmark
 Dominican Republic
 Ecuador (all retired)
 El Salvador (all retired)
 France (all retired)
  • (One is on static exhibit outside the east entrance to the Mundo Maya International Airport near Flores, restored to polished aluminum finish) (all retired)
 Honduras (all retired)
 Indonesia (all retired)
 Iran (all retired)
 Italy (all retired)
 Japan (all retired)
 Libya (all retired)
  • Fuerza Aérea de Nicaragua FAN received delivery of four AT- 33A aircraft from the US Government after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.Retired from service in 1979 (all retired)
  • 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.
 Peru (all retired)
 Saudi Arabia (all retired)
 South Korea
United States
 Uruguay (all retired)
 Yugoslavia (all retired)

Survivors[edit | edit source]

A Lockheed T-33 in Reno, Nevada in 2004

Numerous T-33s have been preserved as museum and commemorative displays including:

Albania[edit | edit source]

On display
  • RT-33A 51-4413 of the USAF was forced to land in December 1957 at Rinas Airport (Albania) by a squadron of 2 Albanian MiG-15bis - on display at Gjirokastra Museum[citation needed]

Burma[edit | edit source]

On display
  • Unknown T-33 - Armed Forces Museum in Yangon .

Brazil[edit | edit source]

On display

Canada[edit | edit source]

Most examples in Canada are Canadair CT-133 Silver Stars

On display
  • T-33A 53-5413 of the United States Air Force at Happy Valley, Goose Bay

Denmark[edit | edit source]

T-33A Royal Danish Air Force - Now gate guard at the Air Force Flying School

On display
  • T-33A RDAF DT-102 at Danmarks Flymuseum, Stauning
  • T-33A RDAF DT-289 at Garnisonsmuseet, Aalborg
  • T-33A RDAF DT-491 at Danmarks Tekniske Museum, Helsingør
  • T-33A RDAF DT-497 a Gate Guard at RDAF Flying School
  • T-33A RDAF DT-905 at Gedhus museum
Stored or under restoration
  • T-33A RDAF DT-104 in storage at Aalborg Air Force Base
  • T-33A RDAF DT-884 under restoration at Skrydstrup Air Force Base
  • T-33A RDAF DT-923 in storage at Danmarks Tekniske Museum, Helsingør

Greece[edit | edit source]

On display

Germany[edit | edit source]

On display

Japan[edit | edit source]

On display

Mexico[edit | edit source]

  • Various T-33s are on static display at the Mexican Air Force Museum, Mexican Army and Air Force Museum and individual air bases.

Norway[edit | edit source]

On display

Pakistan[edit | edit source]

People's Republic of China[edit | edit source]

On display

Peru[edit | edit source]

On display
  • T-33A at Las Palmas Air Base, Lima.

Philippines[edit | edit source]

On display
  • T-33 at the Philippine Air Force Museum at Villamor Air Base
  • T-33 at the Clark Air Base Pampanga Province.
  • T-33 at the Basa Air Base in Pampanga Province.

Saudi Arabia[edit | edit source]

Serbia[edit | edit source]

On display
Stored or under restoration

Singapore[edit | edit source]

A retired RSAF's T-33A 364 on static display

On display

South Korea[edit | edit source]

On display

Taiwan[edit | edit source]

On display

Thailand[edit | edit source]

On display
  • T-33A F11-23/13 of the Thai Air Force at the Royal Thai Air Force Museum, Don Muang AFB.
  • T-33A F11-27/13 of the Thai Air Force at Chitladda Palace.

United Kingdom[edit | edit source]

On display
  • T-33A 14286 of the French Air Force on display in USAF markings at the American Air Museum, Duxford.
  • T-33A 14419 of the French Air Force on display in USAF markings at the Midland Air Museum, Coventry.
  • T-33A 17473 of the French Air Force on display in Royal Canadian Air Force markings at the Midland Air Museum, Coventry.
  • T-33A 54439 of the French Air Force at the North East Aircraft Museum, Sunderland.

United States[edit | edit source]

On display
  • T-33 is on outside display in Memorial Park, Flagler, Colorado (tail number 0-70587). A Mace missile (tail number 81463) also on display.
  • T-33 as a gate guard at the DeFuniak Springs Airport in Walton county Fla. Has been there since 1970 or earlier.
  • T-33A 51-2129? at the Collings Foundation in Stow, Massachusetts.
  • T-33A 51-4301 at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma.
  • T-33A 51-9091 at Houma, Louisiana, since May 1970
  • T-33A 51-4300 at the Linear Air Park, Dyess AFB, Texas

T-33 in Willacoochee, Georgia. A T-33 crashed here ca. 1960s

T-33A, Jackson County Airport

Stored or under restoration
  • Unknown T-33, is under restoration to flying condition with the Collings Foundation out of their Houston, Texas facility.
  • Unknown T-33 in storage at Carolinas Aviation Museum, Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, Charlotte, North Carolina.
  • Second unknown T-33 in storage at Carolinas Aviation Museum, Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, Charlotte, North Carolina.

Uruguay[edit | edit source]

On display
  • Uruguayan Air Force Airbase #2 (St. Bernardina, Durazno)
  • Airbase #1 (Carrasco Intl. Airport)
  • ETA (Technical Air School)
  • Cnel. (Av.) Jaime Meregalli.Museo Aeronáutico (Air Museum)

Specifications (T-33A)[edit | edit source]

General characteristics

  • Crew: Two
  • Length: 37 ft 9 in (11.49 m)
  • Wingspan: 38 ft 10.5 in (11.86 m)
  • Height: 11 ft 8 in (3.57 m)
  • Empty weight: 8,300 lb (3,775 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 15,100 lb (6,865 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Allison J33-A-35 centrifugal compressor turbojet, 5,400 lbf (23 kN)


  • Maximum speed: 600 mph (970 km/h)
  • Range: 1,275 mi ferry (2,050 km)
  • Service ceiling: 48,000 ft (14,600 m)


  • Guns: 2 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) Browning M3 machine guns with 350 rpg (for AT-33)
  • Hardpoints: 2 with a capacity of 2,000 lb (907 kg) of bombs or rocket pods

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Lockheed P-80/F-80
  2. "787 First Flight from the chase plane." wired.com. Retrieved: 22 April 2010.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Jansen, Clay. " US Marine Corps Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star." Cloud 9 Photography, October 1961. Retrieved: 6 August 2013.
  4. Beck, Simon. "Lockheed Shooting Star Series." US Warplanes.net. Retrieved: 21 October 2011.
  5. "History of the Kawasaki Aerospace Division." Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. Retrieved: 21 March 2010.
  6. "Aircraft Enquiry: N109X." FAA Registry. Retrieved: 11 Mar 2012.
  7. "First Weapons Shed." Chinese People's Revolutionary Military Museum. Retrieved: 6 August 2013.
  8. "NASM Collections: T-33 data page". nasm.si.edu. Retrieved: 22 April 2010.
  9. "T-33." Wings Over the Rockies Museum. Retrieved: 6 August 2013.
  10. "T-33." American Airpower Museum. Retrieved: 6 August 2013.
  11. Strategic Air & Space Museum
  12. "Wood County Regional Airport History." woodcountyairport.us. Retrieved: 7 March 2011.
  13. "T-33 Display." hector.govoffice.com. Retrieved: 6 August 2013.
  14. "T-33." City Of Muskogee. Retrieved: 6 August 2013.
  15. "T-33." OSU Library. Retrieved: 6 August 2013.
  16. "T-33." Illinois Aviation Museum. Retrieved: 6 August 2013.
  17. "Lockheed TV-2 (T-33) 'Shooting Star'." New England Air Museum. Retrieved: 6 August 2013.

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • Baugher, Joe. "Lockheed P-80/F-80." USAF Fighters. Retrieved: 11 June 2011.
  • 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 978-90-71553-04-2.
  • Pace, Steve. Lockheed Skunk Works. St. Paul, Minnesota: Motorbooks International, 1992. ISBN 0-87938-632-0.

External links[edit | edit source]

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