Korean War era P-80 Shooting Star ‘Flies’ Once Again

Armed with six . 50 caliber machine guns in the nose with 200 rpg, the P-80 Shooting Star was one of “Kelly” Johnson’s kids and, with its first flight in 1944, only barely missed mixing it up with Luftwaffe Me-262s in combat over Germany. In fact, the prototype aircraft was developed by Johnson’s team in just 143 days, with the 262 as the goal to match/beat.

It nonetheless made a lot of “firsts.”

In addition to making the first U.S. transcontinental jet flight, the Shooting Star was the first American aircraft to exceed 500 mph in level flight, the first American jet airplane manufactured in large quantities, and the first U.S. Air Force jet used in combat. It was in an F-80C of the 16th FIS that the first American claim for a jet-versus-jet aerial kill was made when 1st Lt. Russell J. Brown reported that he downed a MiG-15 over Korea in November 1950– just six years after the type’s first flight.

In all, some 1,700 P/F/RF-80s were produced, along with over 6,500 of its dopey T-33 Shooting Star younger brothers, and the type remained in at least limited USAF and U.S. Navy service well into the 1980s.

Well, some 50 years or so since the type left U.S. martial service, an Iowa Air National Guard F-80 just took a flight, of sorts.

S/N 47-0171, a P-80C-1-LO built in Burbank in 1947, is the sole example constructed almost entirely of magnesium (talk about a nightmare if it ever caught fire!).

After service at the Wright Air Development Center as the only NF-80C model, she was later sent to the Air Force Museum and preserved on static display in Canton, Ohio, wearing Ohio ANG livery in the 1990s.

She was then restored and has been on display in the livery of the Iowa ANG’s 174th Fighter Interceptor Squadron (which flew F-80Cs from 1953 to 1955), at the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum aboard Camp Dodge since 2012.

Well, after a decade of outside display, she needed a new paint job and was taken to an ANG paint facility in Sioux City last September.

To get the aircraft back to the state headquarters last week after the refresh, she was carried via sling lift under an Iowa ARNG CH-47 Chinook of the Davenport-based B/171 Aviation Regiment.

Air National Guard photo Senior Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot

Air National Guard photo Senior Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot

Air National Guard photo Senior Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot

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