Lockheed / Canadair CT-133 Silver Star


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CT-133 Cockpit

Our CT-133 Cockpit section was built in 1957 by Canadair in Montreal. Canadair eventually built 656 CT-133, of which 28 were still flying with the Canadian Armed Forces in 1999. This  CT-133 (133635) was involved in a “Category A” accident and was written off in 1965, while serving at CFB Moose Jaw. It was later turned into a ground instructional airframe and after a period of time was made surplus. It was donated to the museum in 1988, by Bart Bourne of Prince Edward Island.  In the time that it has been at the museum, it has been very popular with some of our younger visitors.

Many of which have had a chance to sit in the cockpit and fantasize about what it would be like to fly, including the author of this article himself. In the Fall of 2007 the T-Bird cockpit was relocated to the MacLoon Gallery.

The T-Bird was a steady sight in the skies of Nova Scotia for a long time prior to its retirement. The classic T-Bird served the tax payers of Canada well, in fact, 1998 was the 50th anniversary of the first flight of Lockheed’s T-Bird. When you consider the average life of many jet aircraft, this plane has had an incredible history.

 

 

In October of 2003 ACAM took delivery of a complete CT-133 (133174) by bidding on the aircraft when it was disposed of by DDSAL. At a cost of nearly $10,000 she was not cheap for the Museum to acquire. This particular aircraft is painted in 434 Squadron “Bluenose Squadron” markings and has the 50th Anniversary markings on the tail similar to the photo below. 133174 has served on both coasts and was the color bird for 414 Squadron at one time. Currently she is on display in the MacLoon Gallery of the Museum without her wings as we lack the space to assemble her at this time.

 

 

 

Specifications:

Maximum Speed:    599 m.p.h. at sea level
Cruising Speed:       454 m.p.h. at optimum altitude
Range:                   1,270 miles with tip tanks
Ceiling:                   48,000 feet

Max. takeoff weight:    15,030 lbs

Dimensions:

Span:          38 ft.  10 in.
Length:       37 ft.    9 in.
Height:        11 ft.   8 in.
Wing Area:  235 square feet

 

CT-133′s on Display in Atlantic Canada:

  • 133635        Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum (Halifax Stanfield International Airport, N.S.)
  • 133174        Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum (Halifax Stanfield International Airport, N.S.)
  • 133038        Shearwater Aviation Museum (Dartmouth, N.S.)
  • 133411        Gate Guard (At the former CFB Cornwallis, N.S.)

DEVELOPMENT:

Designed by V.F. “Mae” Short, the Lockheed T-33 filled an important requirement for a jet trainer for the United States Army Air Force. While other countries, such as, England were developing training aircraft like the Gloster Meteor T.7 and the DH Vampire T.11, the USAAF lacked a two seat jet training aircraft Short, therefore, campaigned Lockheed to build his two seat training version of its P-80 Short had managed to persuade Lockheed to built his two seat P-80.
Short’s design team, headed by Don Palmer, was given a budget of $1 Million to built and fly the new airplane. The newly formed United States Air Force, quickly showed interest in the project and contracted Lockheed to built an initial batch of 20 TP-80Cs (later renumbered T-33A). The Navy was not far behind ordering 30 TO-2′s; later changed to TV-2 (finally changed to T-33B under the 1962 renumbering system).

FIRST FLIGHT:

The first flight was made at Van Nuys Airport, California on March 22, 1948 with Tony LeVier as the pilot. As initial flight testing continued and other development aircraft joined the test program, it became very clear the Lockheed had a winner. As a result, Lockheed would eventually build a total 5,606 two seat trainers and another 85 single seat reconnaissance aircraft for a total cost $736 Million. a great return on Lockheed’s $1 Million dollar gamble. However, these were not the only T-Birds built. Lockheed granted production licenses to Canadair which built 656 in Canada. Also, Kawasaki built 210 aircraft in Japan. Most of these licensed aircraft going to Canadian Armed Forces or the Japanese Self Defense Force. Licensed production aircraft were somewhat different then Lockheed built aircraft. The most notable change being the Rolls-Royce Nene 7 Turbo jet engines replacing the J 33 of Lockheed’s Aircraft.

COUNTRIES WHICH FLEW THE T-33 SILVER STAR:

Many T-33′s were supplied to foreign operators under the Military Assistance Program (MAP). This program provided friendly nations aircraft and weapons during the Cold War. Nations which have flown the T-33 include:

Bolivia

Greece

Pakistan

Turkey

Burma

Guatemala

Paraguay

United States

Canada

Honduras

Philippines

Uruguay

Chile

Iran 

Portugal

West Germany

Colombia

Japan

Singapore

Yugoslavia

Ecuador

South Korea

Taiwan

 

France

Mexico

Thailand

 


There are still an estimated 750 T-33′s flying in the world today. Users include:

Bolivia

Iran

Pakistan

Thailand

Canada

Japan

Paraguay

Uruguay

Greece

Mexico

Philippines

 

Besides these military users, there are many ex-USAF, ex-USN, and ex-CAF flying with civilian operators, such as Boeing and Tracor Systems, as well as Warbird museums.

SKY FOX:

In 1982 a group of former Lockheed employees got together and proposed rebuilding T-33 Airframes into state of the art training jets at a fraction of the cost of new aircraft, such as the BAe Hawk. They got as far as building one prototype, named the Skyfox. however, no orders were placed and the program has since been terminated.

THE FUTURE:

What does the future hold for the classic T-Bird? Well In Canada, the Armed Forces are still flying about 45 CT-133 (as they are designated in Canada). Most of these operate in the electronic warfare training and target towing roll. Their new found Electronic Warfare roll, is something at which they have excelled. The fact, the government has contracted Kelowna Flight Craft to update the avionics, cockpit and airframe to keep them in service until at least the year 2005. This means that there will be CT-133′s  still flying in the CAF, 52 years after the first Silver Star was accepted. A very impressive feat!
Additionally Kelowna Flight Craft is updating 18 Bolivian Air Force T-33′s with glass cockpits and new communications and airframe upgrades. This contract alone is worth $20 Million Canadian.
Right now the future still appears to be bright for the T-33, fifty years after its first flight. For your information, the Meteor T.7 Vampire T.11 and P-80, that the T-33 were either in competition with, or were designed from, have long since been outshone by the Silver Star.

 

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