Aircraft Type History
The Silver Star is more often referred to as the T-33 or T-Bird. The CT-133 Silver Star has a long and distinguished history with the Canadian Forces. The world’s first purpose-built jet trainer, the T-33 evolved from America’s first successful jet fighter, the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star which briefly flew operationally during the Second World War. Initially known as the P-80C, the trainer variant flew better than its single seat cousins. Powered by an Allison J33-35 single-shaft, turbojet engine with a thrust rating of 5,200 lbs, the improvements to the trainer meant it climbed faster, cruised better and overall was slightly faster than the fighter version. In May 1949, the designation for the aircraft was officially switched to T-33.
The RCAF’s introduction to the aircraft followed two years later, when the first of twenty Lockheed built T-33As were delivered on loan. The aircraft was designated by the RCAF as the Silver Star Mk 1. This first batch was followed by a second loan of ten more aircraft. On September 13, 1951, Canadair signed a license agreement with Lockheed to build T-33 aircraft for the RCAF.
The Canadair built version was powered by an up-rated Nene 10 engine licensed by Rolls Royce and supplied by Orenda Ltd. Once in production, the aircraft was designated T-33 Silver Star Mk 3. Initially, the RCAF ordered 576 aircraft, but eventually a total of 656 would be delivered between 1952 and 1959. The T-Bird was used by a wide variety of Air Force and Navy units, until being de-commissioned in 2005. The Bolivian Air Force acquired some of these aircraft, using them until 2017.
Our T-33’s History
Waterloo Warbird’s Silver Star was built in 1957 by Canadair and entered RCAF service with tail number 133577. She served with 414 Squadron, based on Vancouver Island at CFB Comox in British Columbia and later with 417 Squadron, based at Cold Lake, Alta. Our aircraft was used for training, electronic warfare and target towing roles while in RCAF service. As with all other RCAF T-Birds, our plane received an extensive avionics upgrade and overhaul performed by Kelowna Flightcraft in 1996 (known as the “AUP” upgrade). She was placed into flyable preservation in 2002 and then acquired in 2007 by an ownership group that eventually became Waterloo Warbirds. Her unique “Mako Shark” paint scheme is based on a similar commemorative livery that flew for one season in 1992 with VU32 Squadron, based at CFB Shearwater in Nova Scotia. The Mako Shark is very popular wherever she flies!
The Technical Stuff
- Crew: one/two
- Length: 11.48 m (37 ft 8 in)
- Wingspan: 12.93 m (42 ft 5 in)
- Height: 3.55 m (11 ft 8 in)
- Empty weight: 3830 kg (8440 lb)
- Max. takeoff weight: 7630 kg (16800 lb)
- Powerplant: 1 × Rolls-Royce Nene 10 turbojet, 22 kN (5000 lb)
- Maximum speed: 920 km/h (500 kn, 570 mi/h)
- Service ceiling: 14000 m (47000 ft)