Aviation of World War II
XP-80 Shooting Star
As part of the Lend-Lease agreements, the British supplied blueprints for their turbojet engines for production in the United States under a General Electric license. The choice of the aircraft manufacturer was surprisingly simple - they chose the closest to General Electric - the Bell Aircraft Corporation, since both were located in New York. Already on October 19, 1942, the first American turbojet aircraft took off Bell XP-59A Eiracomet , equipped with a pair of General- Electrician 1-A. Although the XP-59A allowed the Americans to gain the necessary experience with turbojet aircraft, it was more an experimental machine than a real combat aircraft. The training battles of the serial P-59 with the piston fighters of the American Army Air Force P-38 and P-47 disappointed - the only thing the jet fighter had an advantage in was ... the bend radius. As a result, the US Army Aviation was forced to order the development of a new, more efficient jet fighter.
For the first time, the XP-80 new fighter took off on January 8, 1944, during which the XP-80 showed high flight characteristics - the "barrel" was executed in a second! The test pilot reported: “It was a new feeling of flying!”. The flight speed reached 750 km/h. However, subsequent flights showed poor spin characteristics and a high stall speed of the aircraft - after the flaps were extended, the aircraft could fall to the right without warning. In addition, there were great loads on the control stick, the fuel system was working unsatisfactorily, and the engine was notable for its low reliability, and its power was clearly not enough.
After the modifications, the XP-80 was handed over to the 412th fighter group for military trials - on February 12, despite the engine limitation in terms of thrust of 75% of the power, the XP-80 became the first American aircraft to exceed the speed limit of 800 km/h. By March 29, the plane had already flown up to 20 hours. Shooting tests were carried out in April, joint tests with the army were completed on April 13, 1944.By this time, the new H-1 engine arrived at Lockheed and was ready for flights on May 26, but already on May 31, England received a notification about the limitation of the engine power - in during the tests, several engines exploded.
After the corkscrew tests, the XP-80 was included in the Tactical Command and transferred to Chanyute Field in Illinois, where it was used mainly as a demonstration model and conducted separate tests on it. November 8, 1946 XP-80 was transferred to the exhibition of the Smithsonian Institution.
F-80 Shooting Star
F-80 Shooting Star was the first mass production jet fighter to enter service with the USAAF. In 1947, after changing the designation system in the US Air Force, when the letter P from Pursuit - "hunter" was replaced by F from Fighter - "fighter" and "Shooting Star" received a new designation - F-80. He, like the British Gloster Meteor, had a traditional simple design at that time, which allowed him to become a real workhorse of the American tactical fighter-bomber aircraft and remain in this role for five years after the end of World War II.
The F-80A was followed by the F-80B and then the F-80C, and it was this variant that became the most common. The F-80C was widely used as a fighter-bomber during the Korean War. In the first four months alone, these aircraft made 15,000 sorties. Pilots considered this aircraft ideal for low-level attacks, but the F-80 was not able to compete on an equal footing with the North Korean piston Yaks due to its limited maneuverability.
On November 1, 1950, a meeting of the MiG-15 and F-80C units took place. At the same time, pilot Semyon Khominykh shot down one Shooting Star by an attack from the side of the sun (pilot Frank Van Sickle was killed). It was supposedly the first ever air battle between two jet aircraft. The MiG-15 with a swept wing was significantly superior to the F-80, therefore, starting in December 1950, they were replaced by the F-86A Saber. In addition, the all-weather Lockheed F-94 Starfire interceptors, created on the basis of the F-80A, were used in Korea.
According to official US data, during the entire operation of the F-80 in the USAF, 18 enemy aircraft (including 4 MiG-15s) were destroyed in air battles by fighters of this type. All victories were won in during the Korean War (1950-1953). At the same time, 371 F-80Cs and 28 RF-80 scouts were lost, not counting the training T-33s.
In total, 1,718 F-80s rolled off the assembly line, many of which, after completing active service, were converted into target aircraft.
* Note. PTB - outboard fuel tank.