Lockheed L-133

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L-133 "Starjet"
Role Jet fighter
National origin United States
Manufacturer Lockheed
First flight never flew
Primary user United States Army Air Forces

The Lockheed L-133 was designed to be the first jet fighter of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) during the first half of World War II.

Development[edit]

The Lockheed aviation company was the first in the United States to start work on a jet-powered aircraft, the L-133 design started in 1939 as a number of "Paper Projects" by engineers Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, Willis Hawkins and Hall J. Hibbard. By 1940 preliminary work on a company-financed jet fighter had been started, which progressed to several different versions on the drawing board. In the meantime, Lockheed was working on an axial-flow L-1000 turbojet engine of their own design, which was intended to power the culmination of the jet fighter project, the Model L-133-02-01.

Throughout World War II, the development of a jet-powered fighter had the potential to bring a decisive advantage in the air battles of the war; as history played out, only the Luftwaffe built significant numbers of jet fighters before the war ended, and they reached service too late to make a difference.

On March 30, 1942, Lockheed formally submitted the L-133-02-01 to the USAAF for consideration.[1] Powered by two L-1000 turbojets and featuring a futuristic-appearing canard design with slotted flaps to enhance lift, the single-seat fighter was expected to have a top speed of 612 mph (985 km/h) in level flight,[1] but a range of only 310 mi (500 km)[2]

The L-133 had a main wing shape that essentially that of the outer wing sections of a Lockheed P-38. In many respects the L-133 was far ahead of its time, with futuristic features including:

  • canard layout;
  • blended wing-body planform; and,
  • two engines in a very low-drag integral fuselage location.

The USAAF considered the L-133 to be too advanced for the time, and did not pursue the project.[1] The experience gained with the design served Lockheed well in the development of the USAAF's first operational jet fighter, the P-80 Shooting Star. Although entering service after the war had ended, the P-80 was less advanced than the L-133. Because the USAAF didn't give the L-133 project the go-ahead, the advanced engines intended for the L-133 had long pauses in their development. The most expedient engine choice for the P-80 thus became the Allison J33, based on British centrifugal compressor designs. The P-80 was a cheap-to-build single-engine aircraft with a conventional wing and tailplane design, not using the blended wing-body and canard layout of the L-133.

Specifications (L-133-02-01)[edit]

Data from [3]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 48 ft 4 in (14.73 m)
  • Wingspan: 46 ft 8 in (14.22 m)
  • Wing area: 325 ft2 (30.194 m2)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Lockheed L-1000 axial-flow turbojets, 5100 lbf (23 kN) each each

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 625 mph (985 km/h)

Armament

  • 4 × 20mm nose-mounted cannon

See also[edit]

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ a b c Norton 2008, p. 221
  2. ^ Planes That Never Flew — America's First Jet Fighter, 17:48 min.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3viiJ4g5G8&feature=relmfu — accessed Aug. 29, 2012
  3. ^ Francillon 1982, p. 468
Bibliography
  • Francillon, René J. (1982). Lockheed Aircraft since 1913. London: Putnam & Company. ISBN 0-370-30329-6. 
  • Norton, Bill. U.S. Experimental & Prototype Aircraft Projects: Fighters 1939-1945. North Branch, Minnesota: Specialty Press, 2008. ISBN 978-1-58007-109-3.

External links[edit]