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Lockheed F-94 Starfire

The Lockheed F-94 Starfire was a first-generation jet aircraft of the United States Air Force.

It was developed from the twin-seat Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star in the late 1940s as an all-weather, day/night interceptor.

The aircraft reached operational service in May 1950 with Air Defence Command, replacing the piston-engined North American F-82 Twin Mustang in the all-weather interceptor role.

The F-94 was the first operational USAF fighter equipped with an afterburner, and first jet-powered all-weather fighter to enter combat during the Korean War in January 1953.

It had a relatively brief operational life, being replaced in the mid-1950s by the Northrop F-89 Scorpion and North American F-86D Sabre.

The last aircraft left active-duty service in 1958 and Air National Guard service in 1959.

Built to a 1948 USAF specification for a radar-equipped interceptor to replace the aging Northrop F-61 Black Widow and North American F-82 Twin Mustang, it was specifically designed to counter the threat of the USSR’s new Tupolev Tu-4 bombers (reverse-engineered Boeing B-29).

The Curtiss-Wright XF-87 Blackhawk had been designated to be the USAF first jet night fighter, but its performance was subpar, and Lockheed was asked to design a jet night fighter on a crash program basis. 

The F-94 was derived from the TF-80C (later T-33A Shooting Star) which was a two-seat trainer version of the F-80 Shooting Star.

A lengthened nose area with guns, radar, and automatic fire control system was added.

Since the conversion seemed so simple, a contract was awarded to Lockheed in early 1949, with the first flight on 16 April 1949.

The early test YF-94s used 75% of the parts used in the earlier F-80 and T-33As.

The fire control system was the Hughes E-1, which incorporated an AN/APG-33 radar (derived from the AN/APG-3, which directed the Convair B-36’s tail guns) and a Sperry A-1C computing gunsight.

This short-range radar system was useful only in the terminal phases of the interception.

Most of the operation would be directed using ground-controlled interception, as was the case with the earlier aircraft it replaced.

The added weight of the electronic equipment required a more powerful engine, so the standard Allison J33A-35 centrifugal turbojet engine, which had been fitted to the T-33A, was replaced with a more powerful afterburning version, the J-33-A-33.

The combination reduced the internal fuel capacity. The F-94 was to be the first US production jet with an afterburner.

The J33-A-33 had standard thrust of 4,000 pounds-force (18 kN), and with water injection this was increased to 5,400 lbf (24 kN) and with afterburning a maximum of 6,000 lbf (27 kN) thrust.

The YF-94A’s afterburner had many teething problems with its igniter and the flame stabilization system.



TF-80Cs converted into YF-94 prototypes, two built.


Initial production version, 109 built.


One F-94A modified on the production line with new flight director, modified hydraulic systems, and two enlarged wingtip tanks.


Production model based on YF-94B, 355 built.


F-94Bs modified with Pratt and Whitney J48 engine, leading edge rocket pods, and swept tailplane, originally designated YF-97A, two modified.

F-94C Starfire

Production version of the YF-94C with longer nose, gun armament replaced with nose mounted rockets, and provision for under fuselage JATO rockets, originally designated F-97A, 387 built.


Test aircraft for proposed reconnaissance variant


Prototype single-seat close support fighter version based on the F-94C, one partly built but construction was abandoned when program was cancelled.


Production version of the YF-94D, 112 on order cancelled, none built.


Original designation of the YF-94C.


Original designation of the F-94C.





44 ft 6 in (13.56 m)


42 ft 5 in (12.93 m)


14 ft 11 in (4.55 m)

Wing area

232.8 sq ft (21.63 m2)

Empty weight

12,708 lb (5,764 kg)

Gross weight

18,300 lb (8,301 kg)

Max take-off weight

24,184 lb (10,970 kg)


1 × Pratt & Whitney J48-P-5 centrifugal-flow turbojet engine,

6,350 lbf (28.2 kN) thrust dry,

8,750 lbf (38.9 kN) with afterburner


Maximum speed

640 mph (1,030 km/h, 560 kn)

Maximum speed

Mach 0.84


805 mi (1,296 km, 700 nmi)

Ferry range

1,275 mi (2,052 km, 1,108 nmi)

Service ceiling

51,400 ft (15,700 m)

Rate of climb

7,980 ft/min (40.5 m/s)

Wing loading

78.6 lb/sq ft (384 kg/m2)





24 or 48 × 2.75 in (70 mm) Mk 4/Mk 40 Folding-Fin Aerial Rockets


AN/APG-40 radar.



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