Why is the TV-1 Shooting Star Special?

During a transitional moment in aviation history, the TV-1 was used to teach pilots who had only flown prop planes to fly jets.

The Lockheed TV-1 Shooting Star was the first American Jet Fighter. When Germany’s Messerschmitt 262 jet fighter appeared over European war zones in 1943, it was clear that jet power would soon be critical in the battle for aerial dominance. The TV-1 jet fighter, developed by Clarence “Kelly” Johnson of Lockheed’s Skunk Works, was created in just 143 days.

The TV-1 first flew on January 18, 1944, but the slow supply of the Goblin engines from the British meant the war was over before the TV-1 saw combat. Although it was the primary jet fighter at the beginning of the Korean War, its straight wing design eventually took a back seat to the newer, swept wing F-86 Sabre Jet.

The Museum’s TV-1 was built in 1944 for the US Navy. In the early ‘50s, this aircraft was part of a training unit and was one of a small handful of Shooting Stars ever ordered by the Navy for one of their active-duty training units, “ATU-3.” These ATUs were set up to provide jet transition training to active-duty pilots. The pilots had previously been flying prop aircraft and were transitioning to squadrons that had or were about to receive jets.

ATU-3 Class 11A taken on December 13, 1951, at the Naval Air Station in Kingsville, TX. In the background are the unit’s TV-1s.

Airplane Specs

TV-1 Shooting Star

Type: Jet fighter
Crew: 1
First Flight: 8 January 1944 (XP-80)
Years Built: 1945-1950
Retired: 1959
Military branches (USA): Air Force, Navy
Manufacturer: Lockheed
Total Built: 1,715
Weight: 8,420 lbs (empty), 12,200 lbs (gross)
Wingspan: 38 ft, 9 in
Length: 34 ft, 5 in
Height: 11 ft, 3 in

Engine: x1 Allison J33-A-35 centrifugal compressor turbojet, 4,600 lbf (20 kN) thrust dry
Max speed: 594 mph
Range: 825 miles
Flight ceiling: 46,800 ft
Guns: 6 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) M3 Browning machine guns: (300 rpg)
Rockets: 8 × 127 mm (5.00 in) HVAR unguided rockets
Bombs: 2 × 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs

Airframe History

Serial Number: 33866

The Museum’s TV-1 was built in the late 1940s. It was used to transition Navy pilots to jet aircraft.

Photo appeared in General Aviation Magazine in 2016

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