The city of Truth or Consequences, in cooperation with the newly forming Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter, is proud to announce a restoration effort to bring back to our Lockheed T-33 to a more dignified condition.
In 1943 the XP-80 was the top-secret project that called for a design and build of a jet fighter in 150 days. The designer, Kelly Johnson from Lockheed, and his team delivered ahead of schedule in 143 days. Kelly would go on to start “Skunkworks” and design and build the SR-71 and U-2. The T-33 was based on the Lockheed P-80/F-80 in which they stretched the fuselage three feet to accommodate a second tandem seat and flight controls.
The T-33 was the first jet trainer for pilots that were already qualified on propeller-driven aircraft. Almost all T-33s were assigned to pilot training squadrons. However, our T-33, serial number 19022 had a special mission. It was built in 1951 and served at Holloman Air Force Base until 1964. Our T-33 was assigned to Air Force Missile Development Center, Air Force Research and Development Command, later re-designated Air Force Systems Command (AFSC) in 1961.
Our T-33’s mission was to assist in the development of our missile program by being a chase vehicle for missile testing. The T-33 was instrumental in the development of the Matador/Mace program that became our first Tactical Cruise Missile that was nuclear armed. They not only used the T-33 in support of missile chasing, but also the guidance systems for the Matador/Mace Missiles were installed on the T-33. By doing this, they could simulate long distance guidance systems that could extend the reach of our cruise missiles, they would also use the T-33 for exercises for the Matador.