An F-80A named 'Honk'
This photo from May 1946 shows one of the planes that evolved from the XP-80. The Lockheed F-80A -- this one is on the tarmac at the Washington National Air Show with Capt. G.M. Hensley -- would become the first production jet for the U.S. Air Force; more than 900 were built. Other milestones for various editions of the F-80 Shooting Star: it was the first American jet airplane to be manufactured in large quantities, the first USAF aircraft to exceed 500 mph in level flight, and when the Korean War came around in the early 1950s, the first USAF jet to be used in combat.
But let's go back for a moment to 1943 and those early days at the Skunk Works. The work on the XP-80 was led by Kelly Johnson, an engineer in his early thirties who had already made a name for himself at Lockheed. For that initial Skunk Works project, Lockheed's top brass gave him free rein and the OK to pull people off other duties, and he quickly assembled, by one account, a team of 23 engineers and 103 shop mechanics.
June 23, 2013 8:45 AM PDT
Photo by: U.S. Air Force photo
| Caption by: Jonathan Skillings
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