Design and development
The T-33 was developed from the Lockheed P-80/F-80 by lengthening the fuselage by slightly over 3 feet (1 m) and adding a second seat, instrumentation, and flight controls. It was initially designated as a variant of the P-80/F-80, the TP-80C/TF-80C.
Design work on the Lockheed P-80 began in 1943, with the first flight on 8 January 1944. Following on the Bell P-59, the P-80 became the first jet fighter to enter full squadron service in the United States Army Air Forces. As more advanced jets entered service, the F-80 took on another role—training jet pilots. The two-place T-33 jet was designed for training pilots already qualified to fly propeller-driven aircraft.
Originally designated the TF-80C, the T-33 made its first flight on 22 March 1948 with Lockheed test pilot Tony LeVier at the controls. Production at Lockheed ran from 1948 to 1959. The US Navy used the T-33 as a land-based trainer starting in 1949. It was designated the TV-2, but was redesignated the T-33B in 1962. The Navy operated some ex-USAF P-80Cs as the TO-1, changed to the TV-1 about a year later. A carrier-capable version of the P-80/T-33 family was subsequently developed by Lockheed, eventually leading to the late 1950s to 1970s T2V-1/T-1A SeaStar. The two TF-80C prototypes were modified as prototypes for an all-weather two-seater fighter variant, which became the F-94 Starfire. A total of 6,557 T-33s were produced: 5,691 of them by Lockheed, 210 by Kawasaki, and 656 by Canadair.