Doug Matthews and Classic Fighters of America are the owners and operators of this beautifully restored Lockheed/Canadair T-33 Silver Star that is available for airshows, flybys and film.
The T-33 is the most widely used jet trainer in the world. A two-seat version of the USAF’s first jet fighter, the F-80 Shooting Star, the T-33 continues to serve in various armed forces today.
The T-33 is an F-80 with a lengthened fuselage to make room for the second tandem seat. It entered service during the 1950s, and the US Navy also acquired the type and had it modified for blue-water operation as the TV-2. It was the USAF’s first jet trainer. It soon was dubbed the ‘T-Bird’ and was being produced under license in both Japan and Canada. In Japan, Kawasaki built 210 of these trainers. Limited numbers were also produced for export, some being modified to carry light armament.
Until recently, the T-33 continued to serve in Canada as a target tug and general utility aircraft, having been re-designated the CT-133. Additional examples are still in active military service in Japan and several other nations. About 50 are in the hands of warbird operators, mostly in the United States.
The Canadair T-33 is the result of a 1951 contract to build T-33 Shooting Star Trainers for the RCAF. The power plant would be a Rolls-Royce Nene 10 turbo jet instead of the Allison J33 used by Lockheed in the production of the original T-33. A project number of CL-30 was given by Canadair and the name was changed to the Silver Star. The appearance of the T-33 was very distinctive due to large centrally-mounted fuel tanks on each wing-tip. While only 1,718 P-80 Shooting Stars were built, nearly 7,000 T-33s saw active service around the world. A total of 656 T-33 aircraft were built by Canadair.
The T-33 entered service in the RCAF as its primary training aircraft for fighter/interceptors. Its name is an interesting take of the USAF designation “Shooting Star”; the RCAF named it the “Silver Star”, in honor of Canada’s (and the British Empire’s) first flight of a heavier-than-air craft, the AEA Silver Dart.
The T-33 was reliable and had forgiving flight properties. Its service life in the RCAF (& later the Canadian Forces) was very long. Although they had stopped using it as a trainer in 1976, there were still over 50 aircraft in the RCAF’s inventory in 1995. The youngest of these aircraft was then 37 years old and had exceeded its expected life by a factor of 2½. Their uses at this time were Communication, Target towing & enemy simulation. The designation of the Silver Star in the Canadian Forces was CT-133.