“Fastest fighter in existence” is the description tied onto the new P-80, the AAF’s first jet-propelled combat plane, by its manufacturers, Lockheed and the General Electric Company. Unlike the P-59 Airacomet, a Bell-built twin-engined jet fighter-trainer, the P-80 is powered by a single gas turbine engine. The new ship, called the Shooting Star, has hydraulic aileron boosters for maneuverability at high speeds, and electrically operated flaps. It can carry heavy loads of ammunition, photo equipment, bombs and fuel, and has a pressurized cabin equipped for pilot “G” suits that ease discomfort and danger of sharp turns and pullouts. A small maintenance crew can make a complete engine change in 15 minutes.

First announcement of production of the Shooting Star came from Gen. H.H. Arnold. He didn’t say when the ship would get into combat.

p-80 shooting star

Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star in flight

For More Reading Jets in WWII Check Out:

Fighting Hitler’s Jets: The Extraordinary Story of the American Airmen Who Beat the Luftwaffe and Defeated Nazi Germany

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