37¢ P-80 Shooting Star
American Advances in Aviation
Issue Date: July 29, 2005
City: Oshkosh, WI
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
Perforations: Serpentine Die Cut 10.75 x 10.5
The Shooting Star was the first U.S.Air Force plane to exceed 500 miles per hour in level flight and the first American mass-produced turbojet aircraft.
Wary of German advances in jet propulsion, the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) was anxious to get a jet flying. On June 24, 1943, the USAAF gave Lockheed Aircraft an order to deliver a jet within 180 days. Led by engineer Clarence “Kelly” Johnson, a Lockheed team went to work.
With the factory floors heavily engaged in wartime production, Johnson set up shop in a parking lot, using packing-crate walls and a circus-tent ceiling. In just 143 days, the prototype Shooting Star was ready to fly.
The P-80 was a streamlined, low-wing monoplane with retractable landing gear. The pressurized cockpit was fitted with a sliding bubble canopy and the first ejector seat in a U.S. warplane. World War II ended, however, before P-80s could enter battle.
In the Korean War, Shooting Stars (now called F-80s) flew as interceptors and as escorts for transports. On June 26, 1950, four F-80s shot down four North Korean aircraft, the first combat victories for a U.S. jet. In November 1950, an F-80 shot down a Russian-built MiG-15 in the first jet-to-jet battle in history.