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Boeing Skyfox


Advanced Jet Trainer Proposal


United States | 1983



"The Boeing Skyfox was a promising - though failed - initiative designed to update the 1950s-era Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star jet trainers to a more modern standard."



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 03/17/2017 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The Boeing Skyfox was a modification program intended to modernized the large fleet of existing Lockheed T-33 "Shooting Star" jet-powered trainers which saw widespread service and sales during the Cold War. The T-33 was developed as a two-seat trainer aircraft from the single-seat P-80/F-80 "Shooting Star" fighter originating during World War 2. The F-80 saw combat action in the Korean War while the T-33 served to bring about whole new generations of jet pilots into the fold. With its World War 2 origins, it was only a matter of time before the system faced its technological limitations (T-33s, though largely retired from service today, were still being operationally used as recently as 2005). The T-33 was produced in over 6,500 examples by Lockheed with a further 656 examples produced by Canadair in Canada (as the CT-133 "Silver Star" with its Rolls-Royce Nene turbojet engine) and several hundred were manufactured under license by Kawasaki of Japan.

With the T-33 in quantitative use, Skyfox Corporation (founded as Flight Concepts, Incorporated in 1982) was established by former Lockheed engineers. A design initiative came about to drastically modify these older aircraft to a more modern appearance with completely reworked internals while offering much improved performance capabilities and lower operating costs. The program proved promising enough that The Boeing Company acquired Skyfox Corporation in 1986 to begin offering the modification kit to a larger market. However, few potential buyers emerged and stiff competition was being offered by cheaper propeller-driven alternatives. The program eventually fell to naught with only a single prototype being completed in 1982 - this being a converted former Canadian CT-133 "Silver Star" variant. First flight of the Skyfox prototype occurred on August 23rd, 1983. The program was shelved in whole by 1997.

The Skyfox program would have seen a complete redesign of the exterior surfaces of the T-33 to the point that the original aircraft was barely recognizable under its new guise. A new, more pointed nose cone was developed while the single-piece cockpit canopy took on more of a "tear drop" shape. The wings remained straight appendages and low-mounted along the fuselage sides but they were given additional surface area at the wing roots while the wingtip droptanks were optional. While the original T-33 made use of a single turbojet engine buried in the fuselage and aspirated by a pair of side-mounted air intakes, the Skyfox kit installed two external engine nacelles at the rear sides of the fuselage just aft of center. The original intakes were faired over and contoured with the aircraft's general shape while this internal volume was replaced by fuel tanks. This forced the horizontal tailplanes to be raised from the fuselage to the vertical tail fin itself in a "T" style arrangement. The undercarriage remained a traditional tricycle configuration and fully retractable with steering added to the nose wheel as well as power braking for improved ground control. Additional upgrade packages were to be offered to the Skyfox line that would have improved the avionics suite and electronics.

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The original T-33s were powered by a single Allison J33-A-35 series turbojet engine while the Skyfox modification introduced a pair of more modern Garret branded TFE731-3A series turbofan engines of both increased performance and improved efficiency with a rated output of 3,700lbs thrust from each unit. In testing, the Skyfox prototype reported an operational range of 2,200 miles on internal fuel with external stores as optional. The airframe reached a service ceiling of 40,000 feet at a 4,900 feet per minute rate of climb while the new engines drastically reduced the aircraft's take-off distance from 4,600 to 2,600 feet and increased its time to altitude. Maximum take-off weight was 20,000lbs.

The Skyfox design effort went beyond that of developing an advanced modern jet trainer as a ground attack role was also envisioned. The airframe could therefore carry an estimated 6,000lbs of external stores across multiple underwing hardpoints and ordnance options would have included machine gun and cannon pods as well as provision for conventional drop bombs and rocket pods for use in the close-support strike role. This effectively broadened the tactical and logistical capabilities of the aircraft for a much broader market appeal.

Despite the impressive effort there was only mild interest generated on the market for a more modern T-33 alternative and this primarily emerged from interest within Bolivia and Ecuador while the United States Air Force and Portugal were also mentioned as candidates. As such, the Skyfox initiative fell to the pages of aviation history without much fanfare.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Boeing Skyfox Advanced Jet Trainer Proposal.
2 x Garrett TFE731-3A turbofan engines developing 3,700 lb thrust each.
Propulsion
40,000 ft
12,192 m | 8 miles
Service Ceiling
2,256 miles
3,630 km | 1,960 nm
Operational Range
1,500 ft/min
457 m/min
Rate-of-Climb
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Structure
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Boeing Skyfox Advanced Jet Trainer Proposal.
2
(MANNED)
Crew
44.0 ft
13.41 m
O/A Length
38.8 ft
(11.83 m)
O/A Width
12.3 ft
(3.76 m)
O/A Height
8,501 lb
(3,856 kg)
Empty Weight
16,235 lb
(7,364 kg)
MTOW
Armament
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Boeing Skyfox Advanced Jet Trainer Proposal .
Various ordnance options depending on customer requirements. Was to include machine guns, cannons, conventional drop ordnance and rocket pods.
Variants
Notable series variants as part of the Boeing Skyfox family line.
Skyfox - Base Series Designation; single prototype completed; retired in 1997.
Operators
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Boeing Skyfox. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 1 Units

Contractor(s): Sky Corporation / Boeing Company - USA


[ None. ]
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
1
36183
44000
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
Aviation Timeline
EarlyYrs
WWI
Interwar
WWII
ColdWar
Postwar
Modern
Future
1 / 4
Image of the Boeing Skyfox
The Boeing Skyfox as it stands next to its T-33/CT-133 predecessor
2 / 4
Image of the Boeing Skyfox
Front right side view of the Boeing Skyfox sans engines; image in the public domain via Wikipedia
3 / 4
Image of the Boeing Skyfox
Rear right side view of the Boeing Skyfox; note lack of engine nacelles; image in the public domain via Wikipedia
4 / 4
Image of the Boeing Skyfox
Front right view of the Boeing Skyfox sans engine nacelles; image in the public domain via Wikipedia

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
X-PLANE
TRAINING
Recognition
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Boeing Skyfox Advanced Jet Trainer Proposal appears in the following collections:
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