An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Iowa ANG commemorates Aviation History month part 1: Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star

  • Published
  • By Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot
  • 185th Air Refueling Wing

Sioux City Air Base -- In part one of a week-long series, as part of National Aviation History Month, we take a look at the history of each of the 185th Air Refueling Wing aircraft that are on static display in Sioux City, Iowa.

Many Air Guard Wings grew out of fledgling, post World War 2 flying squadrons. Since their beginnings in the late 1940s each unit, like the 185th have jostled for missions and equipment. 

When units received a particular airframe, and how long they kept them in service is also a unique part of the Air National Guard story. Much of the ANG story is rooted in taking cast-off equipment and keeping them flying for as long as possible.

After saddling up in their P-51 Mustangs in 1946, the unit thundered their way through a series of F-84 aircraft through the 1950s. The Group picked up Sabres in the 1960s then wielded Corsairs through the 1980s. Eventually the unit stretched their Wings and soared with the Falcons through the 1990s.

The oldest aircraft on display in Sioux City is the T-33 Shooting Star.

The U.S. Air Force T-33 Shooting Star tail number 51-9282 on display at the Iowa Air National Guard in Sioux City, Iowa is a two seat training vision of the F-80.  Because of its training designation, and ironically because its longevity the T-33/F-80 became one of the forgotten jet fighters. Advances in jet aviation happened quickly in the 1950s as faster and more capable aircraft quickly stole the limelight. 

The T-33 or T-Bird was used as a training aircraft by the 174th Fighter Squadron during the 1950s when they were assigned various versions of the F-84. The T-33 remained in use into the 1960s in Sioux City as part of the 185th Fighter Group while the unit flew the F-100 Super Sabre.

According to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, the two-place T-33 jet was first developed for training pilots who were already qualified to fly propeller-driven aircraft.

Originally designated the TF-80C, the T-33 made its first flight in 1948. Production continued until 1959 with 5,691 T-33s built. In addition to its use as a trainer, the T-33 was relegated to tasks such as drone director and target towing.

The plaque in front of the aircraft in Sioux City reads:

Originally designated the TF-80C, the T-33A is a two seat version of the F-80, and made it first flight in March 1948. Production continued until August 1959 with 5,691 T-33s built. In addition to its use as a trainer, the T33A has been used for such tasks as drone director and target towing, and in some countries even as a combat aircraft. The RT-33 version, reconnaissance aircraft produced primarily for use by foreign countries, had a camera installed in the nose and additional equipment in the rear cockpit. The T-33A is one of the world’s best known aircraft, having served with the air forces of more than 20 different countries for almost 40 years.

The 174th Fighter Squadron used the T-33A as a trainer and support aircraft with the F-80 and F-100 Fighter Aircraft.

Armament: Two .50-cal. machine guns in nose
Maximum speed: 525 mph
Cruising speed: 455 mph
Range: 1,000 miles
Ceiling: 45,000 ft.
Span: 37 ft. 6 in.
Length: 37 ft. 8 in.
Height: 11 ft. 7 in.
Weight: 15,000 lbs. maximum