The T-33 is based on the P/F-80 Shooting Star was the first jet fighter in United States service, and while its origins go back to 1944 it saw no service in WWll – it was not until 1950 and the Korean war that the F-80C saw action. A P-80C fuselage, taken off the production line in August 1947, was extended by 38.5 inches to fit an extra seat under the lengthened canopy. This prototype trainer was first flown on 22 March 1948. Re-designated TF-80C in June, it became the T-33A within a year. The trainer also retained 2 of the F-80C .50 calibre machine guns that were optional in the T-33A.
Commonly called the T-Bird, the T33 was produced in larger quantities than any other F-80. Eventually, given a still better engine (the J33-A-35), the T-33 served as the United States Air Force’s standard jet trainer for almost two decades. The T-33 was so popular it became the chosen jet trainer for many foreign air forces. The last aircraft were retired by the Bolivian Air Force in 2017.
Our example flew with the Belgian Air Force, and was acquired by the museum in the early 1980s.