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.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Air-to-Air Combat, Fighter
General ability to actively engage other aircraft of similar form and function, typically through guns, missiles, and/or aerial rockets.
✓X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.
48.4 ft (14.75 m)
46.8 ft (14.25 m)
11.2 ft (3.40 m)
10,174 lb (4,615 kg)
18,001 lb (8,165 kg)
+7,826 lb (+3,550 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Lockheed L-133 Starjet production variant)
2 x Lockheed L-1000 turbojet engines developing 5,100 lb of thrust each.
The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com.
Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world, WDMMA.org, the World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft, and SR71blackbird.org, detailing the history of the world's most iconic spyplane.