America's first operational jet-powered fighter became the P-80 Shooting Star of World War 2. The type was a single-engine, single-seat fighter featuring straight wing appendages, a conventional tail unit and a tricycle undercarriage. The aircraft was developed amidst the technology development fervor that was World War 2 and entered service in 1945, too late to see combat service in World War 2. The type did, however, see combat in the upcoming Korean War (1950-1953) and some 1,715 examples were ultimately produced. The P-80, by this time becoming the F-80, was ultimately evolved into a two-seat jet trainer by lengthening the fuselage and this form was designated as the T-33 Shooting Star - which would go on to be the definitive mark in the series lineage. 6,557 aircraft of this type were produced and stocked the inventories of dozens of nations worldwide. Production spanned until 1959.
With that said, the Canadian aircraft concern of Canadair was granted a license in 1951 for local production of the T-33 as the Canadair CT-133 "Silver Star". While more or less a direct copy of the original American aircraft, the main differentiating quality of the Silver Star was its inclusion of the British Rolls-Royce Nene 10 series turbojet engine over that of the original's Allison J33 fitting. The CT-133 was initially designated as the CL-30 by Canadair.
The CT-133 shared the same external design lines and internal structure configuration of the T-33 before it. The aircraft sported a well streamlined fuselage which contained the critical working components of the machine including the tandem seat cockpit. The cockpit shared a single glass canopy hinged at the rear with the student residing in the forward seat and the instructor aft. The nose cone assembly was well-rounded and fitted ahead of the rounded air intakes to either side of the fuselage. The twin intakes were utilized in aspirating the single engine installation buried within the central portion of the fuselage. The empennage was rather traditional with a single, well-rounded vertical tail fin and a pair of horizontal tailplanes. Wings were low-mounted monoplane assemblies capped by wingtip fuel tanks for improved ranges. The wings sported noticeable dihedral (upwards angle). The undercarriage was conventional with a nose landing gear leg and two main landing gear legs. This arrangement gave the CT-133 a pronounced low-set appearance when at rest or taxiing.
Power was supplied via the fitting of the Rolls-Royce Nene 10 series turbojet engine which was rated at 5,000 lbs thrust. This provided for a top speed of 570 miles per hour with a service ceiling of 47,000 feet. Maximum take-off weight was listed at 16,800lbs.
As the CT-133 began deliveries to the Royal Canadian Air Force it quickly was adopted as the branch's primary jet trainer. In service, the type proved excellent for the training role and brought many-a-Canadian airmen into the realm of jet powered flight. Additionally, many had previously garnered their "wings" in prior piston-engined aircraft designs so the CT-133 served as a stepping stone to the new technology. Pilots likened her good strong aerial qualities and stability when in the air. The CT-133 soldiered on in this role for the Canadians up until 1976 before being retired from frontline use. The aircraft also saw service in the aggressor and target towing roles for additional training.
Despite their World War 2 lineage, the CT-133 was not formally retired from Canadian service until 2005 - and amazing testament to the well-thought out design.
The CT-133 ultimately existed in several well-known variants throughout her lengthy operational life. The initial production model was the T-33A M 1 which were originally produced by Lockheed and loaned out to the Royal Canadian Air Force prior to localized license production of the type. This was followed by the CT-133ANX Mk 2 mark which proved the Canadian prototype version of which only one was built. This paved the way for the definitive set of marks which embodied the Silver Star line as the CT-133 Mk 3. The Mk 3 variant sported three subvariants in the Mk 3PT, Mk 3AT and Mk 3PR representing an unarmed variant, an armed variant and a photographic reconnaissance variant respectively. Several other non-CT-133 marks existed and these became the CE-133 electronic warfare aircraft (EWA) platform, the CX-133 developmental airframe and the ET-133 and TE-133 simulation aircraft.
CT-133 use went beyond Canadian Air Force use as well, examples being operated by the Canadian Navy. Interested global operators became Bolivia (passed on from Canadian stocks), Dominican Republic, France, Greece, Portugal and Turkey. Some are still flying operationally (Bolivia) despite the decades of service.
CT-133s were also used as aerobatic aircraft for a time. 656 total CT-133 aircraft were ultimately produced.
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