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Lockheed L-133 Starjet - United States (1942)

Detailing the development and operational history of the Lockheed L-133 Starjet Single-Seat, Jet-Powered Fighter Proposal.

 Entry last updated on 1/7/2018; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©

  Lockheed L-133 Starjet  
Picture of Lockheed L-133 Starjet Single-Seat, Jet-Powered Fighter Proposal
Picture of Lockheed L-133 Starjet Single-Seat, Jet-Powered Fighter Proposal

The Lockheed L-133 Starjet was submitted for USAF consideration as a single-seat, jet-powered fighter - it was not furthered.

Jet-powered flight was a concept already taking hold even before the events of World War 2 1939-1945) ushered it along. However, the global conflict helped to push it along at a rather brisk pace, forcing the evolution of many components forward. European engineers led the way in the field and were ultimately joined in their participation by the Americans before the end. The United States eventually poured much financing, manpower, and materials into producing a serviceable operational-level fighter and this became the late-war Lockheed P-80 "Shooting Star".

American work in the field was underway in 1940 as jet engine research progressed at a modest pace. That same year, Lockheed engineers invested in a new in-house turbojet engine design known as the "L-1000" - promising a thrust output of 5,000 pounds. On March 30th, 1942, with America fully involved in World War 2, the company submitted a single-seat fighter design proposal to the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) for which to match their new engine to. The L-133 "Starjet" would feature two of these engines in a side-by-side arrangement to help maximize thrust output, overall reliability, and straight line performance. Control surfaces would be hydraulically-assisted due to the forces at play. Among the names attached the L-133 project were Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, Willis Hawkins, and Hall Hibbard.

Based on their research, Lockheed engineers accordingly held optimistic estimated performance specifications for their new fighter - maximum speed could reach in the neighborhood of 612 miles per hour (625 mph published in other sources). Construction would incorporate a fair amount of steel and the undercarriage would be a rather modern, fully-retractable wheeled tricycle system. A "blended wing-body" configuration was selected which featured the wing mainplanes well-aft while canard foreplanes added stabilization/controlling at front. A nose-mounted intake would serve the twin turbojet configuration internally. As it stood, the L-133 was a very futuristic fighter design submission for its time - on par with even the far-reaching designs the Germans were putting forth.

The tail of the aircraft was also unique in that it lacked any horizontal planes - just a single vertical fin being fitted. The cockpit was to feature a simple two-piece canopy which presented strong forward and side views for the pilot. The raised dorsal spine, however, obstructed some of the rearward vision. The use of a long nose section could also prove challenging to the pilot during ground running. Dimensions included a length of 48.3 feet and a wingspan of 46.7 feet.

The L-1000 engines to be featured in the L-133 were of the multi-stage, axial-flow design. Originally these were to showcase integrated intercoolers, devices specifically committed to the engine's cooling, but were not fitted in the finalized form. The engines would be fed by way of long sections of duct work emanating from the single nose-mounted intake, running along the sides of the fuselage (straddling the cockpit), before meeting the twin turbojet layout located in the rear section. The Army funded development of this powerplant during 1943 when it was known as the "XJ37-1".

Proposed armament for the fighter was a hard-hitting battery of 4 x 20mm cannon, these guns fitted to the nose section and seated around the upper regions of the intake opening.

Despite the impressive proposal that the L-133 was, it was simply too far-reaching a project for the comfort level of the USAAF which was committed on many other fronts of the war by this time. As such, the aircraft was not developed further and ultimately abandoned though it served Lockheed engineers well on delivering a high-level, jet-powered fighter to the USAAF eventually - this becoming the classic P-80 Shooting Star.

Lockheed L-133 Starjet Specifications

Service Year: 1942
Status: Cancelled
Type: Single-Seat, Jet-Powered Fighter Proposal
National Origin: United States
Manufacturer(s): Lockheed - USA
Total Production: 0

Operating Crew, Dimensions and Operating Weights

Operating Crew (Typical): 1
Overall Length: 48.39 feet (14.75 meters)
Overall Width: 46.75 feet (14.25 meters)
Overall Height: 11.15 feet (3.40 meters)

Weight (Empty): 10,174 lb (4,615 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 18,001 lb (8,165 kg)

Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

Engine: 2 x Lockheed L-1000 turbojet engines developing 5,100 lb of thrust each.

Maximum Speed: 612 miles-per-hour (985 kilometers-per-hour; 532 knots)
Maximum Range: 746 miles (1,200 kilometers; 648 nautical miles)
Service Ceiling: 44,619 feet (13,600 meters; 8.45 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 4,600 feet-per-minute (1,402 meters-per-minute)

Armament / Mission Payload

4 x 20mm cannons in the nose

Global Operators (A-to-Z)

United States (not adopted)

Series Model Variants

L-133 "Starjet" - Base Series Designation
L-133-02-01 - Official Company Model Designation

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