F-94 Starfire

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F-94C Starfire
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F-94 Starfire

F-94C Starfire
RoleAll-weather interceptor
First Flight16 April 1949
Entered ServiceDecember 1949
Length44 ft 6 in13.6 m
Wingspan42 ft 5 in12.9 m
Height14 ft 11 in4.5 m
Wing area232.8 ft²21.63 m²
Empty12,708 lb5,766 kg
Loaded18,300 lb8,303 kg
Maximum takeoff24,184 lb10,973 kg
Engines1x P&W J48-P-5 turbojet
Thrust8,750 lbf38.9 kN
Maximum speed640 mph1,024 km/h
Combat range805 miles1,288 km
Ferry range1,275 miles2,040 km
Service ceiling51,400 ft15,670 m
Rate of climb7,980 ft/min2,432 m/min
Wing loading78.6 lb/ft²383.9 kg/m²
AvionicsAN/APG-40 radar
Rockets24 or 48 x 2.75 in (70 mm) FFARs

The Lockheed F-94 was the United States Air Force's first operational jet-powered all-weather interceptor aircraft.


Built to a 1948 USAF specification for an interceptor to replace the aging F-61 Black Widow against the threat of the USSR's new Tupolev Tu-4 bombers, the F-94 was derived from the TF-80C (later T-33) two-seat trainer version of the F-80 Shooting Star, with guns, a radar and automatic fire control system added.

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. The TF-80C fuselage was lengthened to hold the electronics and radar. Since the conversion seemed so simple, a contract was awarded to Lockheed in early 1949, with the first flight on 16 April 1949.

The added weight of the electronic equipment soon dictated that a more powerful engine be fitted, the afterburning Allison J33-A-33 replacing the regular J-33. The F-94 was to be the first US production jet with an afterburner. The combination of the new, larger engine and the electronics gear reduced the internal fuel capacity; removable tip tanks were added to compensate.

The initial model was the F-94A. Its armament was four 0.50 in (12.7 mm) M2 machine guns mounted in the fuselage, with the muzzles exiting just behind the radome. Two 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs could also be carried, giving the aircraft a secondary fighter bomber role. 109 were produced.

The subsequent F-94B, which entered service in January 1951, had upgraded and more reliable electronics and engines, as well as a new ILS. 356 were built. A detachment were sent to Korea, where they saw some combat in the Korean War, shooting down four enemy fighters. The F-94B remained in USAF service through 1954 before being transferred to the Air National Guard. In ANG service, some were modified with a pod under each wing for two additional 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns, bringing the total to eight.

The F-94C Starfire was significantly modified from the early F-94 variants; in fact, it was initially designated F-97, but it was decided to treat it as just a new version of F-94. Initially USAF interest was lukewarm, so Lockheed funded development themselves. To improve performance, a totally new wing was fitted, much thinner than the previous one. The J33 engine was replaced by a more powerful Pratt & Whitney J48, a license-built version of the afterburning Rolls-Royce Tay. The fire control system was upgraded to the new Hughes E-5 with AN/APG-40 radar in a much larger nose. The guns were removed, replaced with an all-rocket armament mounted in a ring around the nose radome.

The F-94C was technically the only variant to be named Starfire.

The first production aircraft were delivered in July 1951, 387 examples being delivered before May 1954. The largest problem discovered in service was that the nose-mounted rockets, while effective, blinded the crew with their smoke and fire. Mid-wing fuel and rocket pods were added, each holding twelve rockets. Most of the time, the nose rockets were not installed, and the midwing pod rockets were the sole armament.

An F-94D model was proposed as a fighter bomber, with bombs and rockets under the wings. A single prototype was built, but the model was not accepted for production. The prototype was later used as a testbed for the M61 Vulcan 20mm cannon subsequently used on the F-104 Starfighter and many others.

The F-94C was retired from service in 1959, as newer and more capable interceptors entered service.

Related content
Related development F-80 Shooting Star - Lockheed T-33
Similar aircraft

Yakovlev Yak-25

Designation series

XF-91 - XF-92 - YF-93 - F-94 - YF-95 - YF-96 - F-97

Related lists List of military aircraft of the United States - List of fighter aircraft

Lists of Aircraft | Aircraft manufacturers | Aircraft engines | Aircraft engine manufacturers

Airports | Airlines | Air forces | Aircraft weapons | Missiles | Timeline of aviation


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