The Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star was the first jet fighter used operationally by the USAAF and saw extensive combat in Korea with the USAF as the F-80. As one of the world's first successful turbojet-powered combat aircraft, it helped usher in the jet age in the USAF and other air forces worldwide. One of its claims to fame is in training a new generation of pilots, especially in its closely-related T-33 Shooting Star trainer development. The Shooting Star began to enter service in late 1944 with 12 pre-production YP-80 but entry into combat was delayed because of accidents associated with bringing in a new fighter. Because of the delay the Shooting Star saw no combat in WWII.
The initial production order was for 344 P-80As after USAAF acceptance in February 1945. Eighty-three (83) had been delivered by the end of July 1945 and 45 assigned to the 412th Fighter Group (later re designated the 1st Fighter Group). After the war, production continued, although wartime plans for 5,000 were quickly reduced to 2,000. A total of 1,714 single-seat The F-80A, F-80B, F-80C and RF-80s were manufactured by the end of the production run in 1950, of which 927 were F-80Cs (including 129 operational F-80As upgraded to F-80C-11-LO standards). However, the two-seat TF-80C, first flown on 22 March 1948, became the basis for the T-33 trainer, of which 6,557 were produced.
The P-80B prototype, modified as a racer and designated XP-80R, was piloted by Colonel Albert Boyd to a world air speed record of 623.73 mph (1,004.2 km/h) on 19 June 1947.
Shooting Stars first saw combat service in the Korean War, employing both the F-80C variant and RF-80 photo-reconnaissance variants. The first jet-versus-jet aircraft battle took place on 8 November 1950 in which Lieutenant Russell J. Brown, flying an F-80, claimed a Mig 15 shot down. Despite the initial claim of success, the straight-wing F-80s were inferior in performance to the Migs and were soon replaced in the air superiority role by the swept-wing F-86 Sabre. When sufficient Sabres were in operation, the Shooting Star was assigned to ground attack missions, advanced flight training duties and air defence in Japan. By the end of hostilities the only F-80s still flying in Korea were photo-reconnaissance variants.
F-80C equipped ten USAF squadrons in Korea:
- The 8th Fighter-Bomber Wing (35th, 36th, and 80th Fighter-Bomber Squadrons), based at Suwon, was the longest-serving F-80 unit in Korea. It began missions from Japan in June 1950 and continued to fly the Shooting Star until May 1953, when it converted to F-86 Sabre.
- The 49th Fighter-Bomber Group (7th, 8th and 9th FBS) deployed to Taegu, Korea, from Japan in September 1950 and continued fighter-bomber missions in the F-80C until spring 1952, when it converted to the F-84 Thunderjet.
- The 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing (16th and 25th FIS) operated F-80C's from Kimpo and Japan from September 1950 to November 1951 when it transitioned to F-86s.
- The 35th Fighter-Interceptor Group and two squadrons, the 39th and 40th FIS, went to Pohang, Korea in July 1950, but converted to P-51 mustang before the end of the year.
One RF-80A unit operated in Korea:
- The 8th Tactical reconnaissance Squadron, later re-designated 15th TRS, served from 27 June 1950 at Itazuke, Japan, Taegu (K-2) and Kimpo (K-14), Korea, until after the armistice. The squadron also utilised a few converted RF-80Cs and RF-86s.
Of the 277 F-80s lost in operations (approximately 30% of the existing inventory), 113 were destroyed by ground fire and 14 shot down by enemy aircraft. F-80s are credited by the USAF with destroying 17 aircraft in air-to-air combat and 24 on the ground. Major Charles J. Loring. Jr was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions while flying an F-80 with the 80th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, 8th Fighter-Bomber Wing on 22 November 1952. The citation read:
Maj. Loring distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. While leading a flight of 4 F-80 type aircraft on a close support mission, Maj. Loring was briefed by a controller to dive-bomb enemy gun positions which were harassing friendly ground troops. After verifying the location of the target, Maj. Loring rolled into his dive bomb run. Throughout the run, extremely accurate ground fire was directed on his aircraft. Disregarding the accuracy and intensity of the ground fire, Maj. Loring aggressively continued to press the attack until his aircraft was hit. At approximately 4,000 feet, he deliberately altered his course and aimed his diving aircraft at active gun emplacements concentrated on a ridge north west of the briefed target, turned his aircraft 45 degrees to the left, pulled up in a deliberate, controlled manoeuvre, and elected to sacrifice his life by diving his aircraft directly into the midst of the enemy emplacements. His selfless and heroic action completely destroyed the enemy gun emplacement and eliminated a dangerous threat to United Nations ground forces. Maj. Loring's noble spirit, superlative courage, and conspicuous self-sacrifice in inflicting maximum damage on the enemy exemplified valour of the highest degree and his actions were in keeping with the finest traditions of the U.S. Air Force.
2 x plastic injected sprues. Plastic is very smooth and glossy. Panel lines are superb and very finely done. There is just a little hint of flash on some parts that should clean up quickly. The sprue attachments are a bit on the thick side, so I would recommend a decent pair of snips to separate the components. There are also no location points on any of the components.
1 x transparent sprue with a two piece canopy, separately packed.
4 x blocks of resin separately bagged with an ejector seat, landing lights, gun sight, main and front undercarriage bays. Main bay features the air brake well also.
1 x Decal sheet,
1 x 8 page instruction booklet and painting guide in black and white. Instructions are of the exploded view type, drawings are well done and clear.
All of these are contained in a somewhat flimsy side opening box, which had flattened and burst in the post! Thankfully all the contents are in a large resealable plastic bag and nothing seemed missing.
There are no parts numbers on the sprues, but there is a parts map with parts numbered in the instructions.
All plastic, except for the resin ejector seat and gun sight. The cockpit is made up of side consoles attached to the floor. Attached to the floor also are the rudder pedals. Separate rear bulkhead, control stick, instrument panel, instrument panel hood and gun sight. The resin seat is superbly cast including harnesses and should look good with some careful painting. Detailing of the instruments and switches on the plastic is good for this scale and again would benefit from careful painting. There is also a part for the top of the fuselage, just behind the seat.
Good shape, capturing the pinched nose very well. The exposed machine guns in the nose look a bit nondescript. The air intake has separate splitter plates each made up from two parts. These are joined to the inside of the fuselage. There is no representation of ducting or compressor fan at the front of the engine. There is a blanking piece attached to the splitter plate preventing you seeing into the fuselage , although I think you will be struggling to see anything down the air intakes. Panel lines are excellent. The jet pipe is in two pieces and the join runs the length of the pipe. Also there is a bulkhead attached to both halves and the cleaning up of the internal join will be difficult. It would be easier to use a suitable sized piece of tubing to replace this item. Resin front undercarriage bay is very well detailed. Instructions remind you to place weight in the nose. The canopy and windscreen are separate and are thin and well moulded.
Main wing is in three parts, with a one piece lower wing. Resin main undercarriage and air brake bays are glued directly into the lower wing. The resin undercarriage bay does not extend into the wing. The detail for the roof of the undercarriage bay in the wing is moulded into the upper wing and looks fine. There are two weapon points one under each wing that must be drilled out if you want to hang the two 1000lb bombs included in the kit. Don't forget the F-80 was used as ground attack aircraft. There are two types of wing tip mounted fuel tanks included: the 265 gallon Masawa tanks, or the 230 gallon Fletcher tanks. As with the fuselage, the panel lines are nicely done, although some of the lines don't tally with my references. But they would be very simple to redo. Both horizontal tailplanes are moulded in one piece and are beautifully thin. There is no attaching stub to attach them to the fuselage, which will make attaching and levelling a bit tricky. The instructions include a head on diagram illustrating the sit of the tailplane and the undercarriage components, which is very useful. The fit of the wing to fuselage particularly the joint aft of the main undercarriage will need some attention. It's only a tiny bit out, so some careful sanding is necessary. Better for it being slightly too big than too small.
A special note on these as they are quite a complex shape on the real thing. Looking at photographs particularly on the natural metal finished aircraft is incredibly difficult to judge the shape because of the reflections and shadows. But on the whole the shape of the intakes by Sword look very well done. The only slight question about them is that the lips of the intakes are a little too sharp particularly on the lower lip. The overall shape to me looks very good. Very good effort Sword.
Undercarriage Air brake.
Front undercarriage is made up of 6 components. There are two different nose wheels on the sprue although only one is used. The wheel is in one piece with some spoke detail. Detailing on the leg and struts is good although there are no brake hoses. Landing lights are resin. The two undercarriage doors would benefit with some light sanding to reduce the depth of the detail on the inside faces of the doors. One area that is confusing is which side the axle attachment point on the front oleo leg should be. In the head on diagram it's on the right, yet in the construction diagram it's on the left. According to my research the attachment point is on the left when viewed head on. Main undercarriage is made up of 12 parts. The wheels are one piece with some spoke detailing on the hub on one side. Undercarriage doors are nicely done with detail on the inside faces, although like the nose doors the depth should be reduced a little. The two air brakes are built up with 4 parts and can be displayed open. Looking at references the air brakes seem to be always lowered when the aircraft is power off.
There are two choice of markings:
F-80C-10-LO 49-765 “LI'L DOTTIE”.
80th Fighter Bomber Squadron, 8th Fighter Bomber Group, flown by Lt Roy Marsh, based at Taegu, Korea, December 1950.
F-80C-10-LO 49-705, “RAMBLIN=RECK=TEW”.
35th Fighter Bomber Squadron, 8th Fighter Bomber Group, flown by Lt Robert Dewald, Korea, June 1950.
Both aircraft are finished in natural metal.
There are no references to any paint manufactures or FS/BS references in regards to colours.
Slightly glossy, thin, with little carrier film in fact generally very good looking. All aircraft markings are included. Plenty of stencils and no step lines. Even the tiniest stencils are readable. The olive drab anti glare panel in front of the windscreen is on the decal sheet. Printed by Techmod.
I joined the two fuselage halves together and also the three part wing. Overall fit is pretty good and I would imagine a lot better when gluing properly. The only part of the main structure of this kit is as a mentioned early, the wing/fuselage joint aft of the undercarriage bay. As the finish is natural metal care will be needed to blend in the surface.
I like it, I like it a lot. I have never been a great fan of this aircraft because of it's hybrid nature. Piston engined design married to a jet engine. But now it's in front of me it seems to have a character all of it's own. I am impressed with the components and the resin parts are an added bonus. Not one for the absolute beginner, but any modeller from intermediate up will enjoy this kit. It would be a very good one for anyone wanting to venture into the world of limited run kits. Highly recommended.