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Lockheed F-94 Starfire turbojet fighter

Written by Sakhal

Lockheed T-33

In the years just after the Second World War it occurred such a large and continuous progress in aeronautical technology that many of the aircraft developed then had a very short lifespan; such was the case of the F-80 Shooting Star. In 1945 its presence in the European or Japanese skies would have given this aircraft a hardly disputed aerial superiority; in 1948, few months after entering service, the F-80 started to face obsolescency. Lockheed tried to take advantage of the effort made and by means of a very simple modification - essentially elongating by a meter the fuselage to accommodate a second pilot with the corresponding duplicated controls - it started the production of the T-33, first turbojet training aircraft in the world. The excellent conditions of the "T- Bird" - as it was called by the crews - granted a success in sales and a service life out of the ordinary. Lockheed produced 5871 units, to which were added 210 units built by Kawasaki under license and another 656 built by Canadair, named Silver Star and equipped with the engine Rolls-Royce Nene 10, with similar prestations than the American counterpart.

It happens often that the prestations of two-seater versions are unworthy of the ones from the original single-seater fighters, but surprisingly, in this case it happened otherwise, for the T-33 became faster than the F-80. A large number of exemplars were built for the US Navy or transferred to it with the designation TV-2 (later T33B); later the US Navy would purchase the modified version T2V Sea Star, later named T-1A. Additional versions included the AT-33 for light tactical support, the single-seater RT-33 for reconnaissance, with electronic equipment installed in the rear cockpit, and the DT-33 for directing drones. In 1980 Lockheed had registered the existence of about 800 units of the T-33 in service in numerous countries, albeit the descent was already very pronounced. The T-33 however reached longevity in very good condition and in many air forces it was replaced more due to availability of a more updated aircraft than to operation problems. This was the case of Spain, where the T-33 served during 30 years, from March 1954 to the early 1984, when they were totally replaced by the C-101BB Aviojet.

Lockheed F-94 Starfire turbojet fighter

Lockheed T-33A from the Japanese Air Force. This aircraft was built under license by Kawasaki. The last deliveries to Japan were effectuted in 1959.

Specifications for T-33A

Type: Two-seater dual-control trainer

Engine: One Allison J33-A-35 with 2360 kilograms of thrust

Wingspan: 11.85 meters (excluding tiptanks)

Length: 11.48 meters

Height: 3.55 meters

Weight (empty): 3667 kilograms

Weight (full load): 6551 kilograms

Maximum speed: 950 kilometers/hour

Maximum range: 2165 kilometers

Service ceiling: 14500 meters

Armament: When armament is installed, it usually consists of two Browning M3 12.7-millimeter machine guns and a weapons load of up to 454 kilograms under each wing

Lockheed F-94 Starfire

The Lockheed F-94 Starfire night and all-weather fighter was developed from the T-33A trainer, starting by the reconversion of two of these aircraft into the prototypes YF-94. The first of them flew for the first time the 16th April 1949 and, four months later, the USAAF signed a contract for 17 aircraft type F-94A-1-LO and 92 of the type F-94A5-LO, along with one YF-94B, carrying this one fuel tanks in the wing tips, instead of the ones mounted under the wings. The F-94A, which incorporated the 75 percent of the components used in the T-33 and the F-80, carried 426 kilograms of radar equipment in the nose and an armament of four Colt-Browning 12.7-millimeter machine guns. The engine was an Allison J33-A-33 of centrifugal flow with post-combustion, allowing for increased power in comparison with the Allison J33-A-35 installed in the T-33, which lacked afterburner. The F-94A entered production in 1949, being produced 200 units; the first of them entered service in June 1950 with the 319th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. The YF-94B was a reconversion started in 1950 from the aircraft number 19 of the F-94A; 357 F-94B were produced. The F-94B was fitted with Fletcher tiptanks with a capacity of 886 liters each. Apart from this, it differed from the F-94A in the modified hydraulic system and the avionics, including a flight recorder Sperry Zero Reader. The rear cockpit, which housed the flight instructor in the T-33, was occupied by the radar operator. Both cockpits were fitted with ejection seats; however, the F-94A and F-94B had their cockpits widened due to the injuries suffered by a number of pilots during ejection.

Lockheed F-94 Starfire turbojet fighter

Lockheed F-94B Starfire FA-408 (number 51-5408) operated by the 319th Fighter Interceptor Squadron in Korea.

The next version, F-94C, differed so much from its predecessors that it was named originally as YF-97A. Such designation continued being valid after the inaugural flight, the 16th January 1950, until the 12th September, when it was officially adopted the designation F-94C. This version was fitted with the turbojet engine Pratt & Whitney J48P-5 provided with afterburner, which was a licensed version of the engine Rolls-Royce Tay. To accommodate this larger engine the F-94C was built with an enlarged tailpipe. Fuel tanks in the wings and fuselage held 1385 liters while the long-range wingtip fuel tanks added 1893 liters to the fuel load, with total capacity being greatly improved from the previous versions. Another modifications were the increased dihedral angle in the wings, a reduction in the width/thickness ratio of the wings - from 13 to 10 percent -, tail planes with redesigned shape and a peculiar feature: the suppression of the cannons to be replaced by an "annular" rocket launcher installed around the nose, housing 24 Mk 4 70-millimeter folding-fin air-to-air rockets; these were actually installed in groups of six, behind four snap-action doors. Later - from the 100th aircraft built and retrofitted to earlier machines - it was added capability for another 24 rockets carried under the wings, effectively doubling the firepower carried. The F-94C carried 543 kilograms of electronic equipment and two 453-kilogram RATOG (Rocket Assisted Take-Off Gear) propellers could be installed under the fuselage to assist in takeoff maneuvers with heavy payloads. The weight of the nose radar and armament compensated for the additional weight of the larger engine and its afterburner, thus preventing a major change in the center of gravity. Total production for the F-94C reached 387 exemplars before being completed the series in 1954.

Lockheed F-94 Starfire turbojet fighter

Lockheed F-94C Starfire FA-641 (number 51-5641) operated by the 84th Fighter Interceptor Squadron from the Air Defense Command, as it was seen in 1954 in Yuma, Arizona.

Operating in Korea in the role of escorting bombers, the F-94C effectuated barrier patrols flying in squadrons with four or six aircraft about 50 kilometers ahead the bomber formation, while the F3D Skynight would fly from 600 to 900 meters above the bombers. These tactics soon gave results, registering two downings the Skynight under the light of the moon, on the nights of the 28th and 31st January 1953. In the night of the 30th January, Captain Ben Fithian and Lieutenant Sam R. Lyons registered the first downing in Korea with the F-94: a piston-engine fighter Lavochkin La-9. The Skynight and Starfire shot down 15 enemy aircraft in the first half of 1953. It was a relatively small contribution in terms of number of destroyed aircraft, but it helped the B-29 to survive during the last months of the conflict.

Lockheed F-94 Starfire turbojet fighter

The F-94 Starfire was initially deployed in Korea to fight against piston-engine night fighters, which were very hard to hunt. The percentage of F-94 aircraft in flight was very low.

Specifications for F-94A

Type: Two-seater all-weather interceptor

Engine: One Allison J33-A-33 with 2724 kilograms of thrust

Wingspan: 11.85 meters (excluding tiptanks)

Length: 12.20 meters

Height: 3.89 meters

Weight (empty): 5030 kilograms

Weight (full load): 7125 kilograms

Maximum speed: 933 kilometers/hour

Maximum range: 2050 kilometers

Service ceiling: 15700 meters

Armament: Four Browning M3 12.7-millimeter machine guns

Article updated: 2015-01-19

Categories: Aircraft - Cold War - 20th Century - [General] - [General]


Website: Military History

Article submitted: 2014-11-19

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