The CT-133 Silver Star, or T-33 or T-Bird, has a long and distinguished history with the Canadian Armed Forces. The world’s first purpose built jet trainer, it evolved from America’s first successful jet fighter, the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star. Initially known as the P-80C, the trainer variant flew better than its single seat cousins. Initially powered by an Allison J33-35 single shaft, turbojet engine with a thrust rating of 5200 lbs, the improvements to the trainer meant it climbed faster, cruised better, and was slightly faster overall than the fighter version. The aircraft’s designation was officially changed to T-33 in May 1949.
The first of twenty Lockheed built T-33As ( the Silver Star Mark 1), were delivered on loan to the RCAF two years later, followed by ten more aircraft. On 13 September 1951, Canadair signed a license agreement with Lockheed to build T-33 aircraft for the RCAF. This version, the CL-30, (or the T-33ANX by Lockheed and the USAF), was to be powered by an uprated Nene 10 engine licensed by Rolls Royce, supplied by Orenda Ltd. The RCAF designated the aircraft as T-33 Silver Star Mk 3. Several versions were produced for functions such as armament training (AT), photo-reconnaissance (PR) and pilot training (PT). Initially, 576 aircraft were ordered, but a total of 656 aircraft would be delivered to the RCAF between 1952 and 1959. In Comox, the “T-Bird” was used by a number of units until 2002, when it was struck off strength after the closure of 414 Squadron.
Manufacturer: Canadair Licensed Version of Lockheed Design Designation: CL 30, RCAF T-133 Silver Star Model No: CL 30 MK 3 Marks: Mk I, II, III Role: Pilot Trainer, Photo/Reccee, EW Jammer, TOS: 1953
SOS: Approx 2005
No: 656 Comox Squadron/Unit Use: 409 Sqn, VU-33, 414
SqnService: RCAF, CF, NATO, and NATO Countries France, Portugal, Greece, Turkey
MK IV Crew: 2 Seat Ejection Equipped Powerplant: one 5100 lb Rolls Royce Nene 10 Turbojet(5100 lb Thrust)
Max Speed: 570 mph (917 km/h) Cruising Speed: 190 mph (306 km/h) Service Ceiling: 47,000 ft (14325 m) Range: 1,400 m (2,253 km) with tip tank
Empty: 8,440 lb (3,832 kg) Gross: 16,800 lbs (7,627 kg)
Span: 42 ft 5 in (12.93m) Length: 37 ft 8 1/2 in (11.49m) Height: 11 ft 8 in (3.6 m) Wing Area: 238 sq ft ( 22.11 sq m) Armament: none – but provisions for two .50 calibre Browning Machine guns and underwing pylons Original Cost: $165,000
Facts verified by Brian O’Cain-Aircraft Archivist, CAFM.