Design work began in 1943 with the design being built around a British de Havilland H1-B turbojet. The powerplant was soon changed to a GE or Allison design. The design was conventional, an all-metal airframe with a slim low wing and tricycle undercarriage. The first prototype, dubbed XP-80, flew on January 8, 1944. Lockheed Chief Pilot Milo Burcham was killed on October 20, 1944 while flying the second production prototype. World War II ace Richard Bong was also killed test flying a P-80.
After the war production continued, although the initial order for 5,000 was quickly reduced to 2,000 at a little under $100,000 each. 1,715 single-seater P-80A, B or C's were made up to the end of production in 1950, of which 798 were P-80C's. A modified P-80B, designated XP-80R, set a record of 623.8 mph on June 19, 1947. the P-80C began production in 1948 and in June the P-80C was officially renamed the F-80C.
They saw combat service in the Korean War, mainly the more powerful F-80C variant, including the first jet vs. jet success on November 8, 1950 when a MiG-15 was shot down. However, they were being replaced with the F-86 Sabre at this time and they were usually out-classed by the superior Russian designed aircraft. When sufficient Sabres were built the Shooting Star was soon relegated to ground attack duties.
Lockheed also produced a two-seat trainer variant with a longer fuselage, the T-33A also known as the "T-bird", which remained in production until 1959 and was produced under license in Japan and Canada. The trainer was used by more than 20 different countries. Almost 7,000 T-33s were built and some are still in service.
Lockheed P-80A Shooting Star