Shooting Star was the first USAF aircraft to exceed 500 mph in
level flight, the first American jet airplane to be manufactured
in large quantities and the first USAF jet to be used in combat.
Designed in 1943, the XP-80 made its maiden flight on Jan. 8,
1944. Several early P-80s were sent to Europe for demonstration,
but WW II ended before the aircraft could be employed in combat.
(The aircraft was redesignated in 1948 when "P" for
"Pursuit" was changed to "F" for
"Fighter.") Of 1,731 F-80s built, 798 were F-80Cs.
Although it was designed as a
high-altitude interceptor, the F-80C was used extensively as a
fighter-bomber in the Korean Conflict, primarily for low-level
rocket, bomb and napalm attacks against ground targets. On Nov. 8,
1950, an F-80C flown by Lt. Russell J. Brown, flying with the 16th
Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, shot down a Russian-built MiG-15 in
the world's first all-jet fighter air battle.