Friday, June 2, 2017

Lockheed P/F-80 Shooting Star Tip Tanks

It may seem like I'm going off the reservation again with this topic but it does, peripherally, pertain to a airplane operated by the U.S. Navy.

It is also a work in progress, since I personally don't have a lot of material to work with. Gerry Asher has yet to fully weigh in, so there will be changes. Since I posted it today, I've modified the source of the second and the final tank to be Fletcher Aviation Corporation, an aerospace manufacturer that subsequently became Sargent Fletcher a decade or so later.

The P-80 wing tip incorporated a shackle from which to hang a jettisonable fuel tank or 1,000-lb bomb (the requirement to do both dictated its location under the wing; otherwise the tank would have been mounted in-line on the wingtip to maximize the end-plate effect).
The original 165-gallon tip tank was a thing of zaftig beauty, with a rounded nose and sculptured afterbody, that was mounted directly under the wing tip and smoothly faired into it.

Note the flange going from nose to tail on the top and bottom of the tank since it was assembled from two halves.

This tank was sometimes dropped in flight or otherwise damaged and needed to be replaced. As a result, a cheaper design was procured from Fletcher.

Note that it has a pointed nose, a constant-diameter midsection (barrel), and a more conical afterbody. It would appear that this tank was manufactured in three sections: forward, mid, and aft that were then assembled together.

It is this tank that was the basis for the so-called Misawa tank, which added two more of the barrel sections to increase its fuel capacity by a much-needed 90 (some sources state 100) gallons (Misawa was the Air Force base in Japan where this kludge was created: see

However, Lockheed, Fletcher, or some other source designed and manufactured yet another tank that had a higher fineness ratio and a rounded nose. This tank is frequently seen on RF-80s:

And also on most U.S. Navy TO/TV-1s:

And on early T-33s and F-94s:

Note that it appears to be slung somewhat lower than the other tanks with a fairing enclosing the attachment to the wing. This is my best guess as to its size and shape.

The final F-80 tank, similar in configuration to the Misawa tank, was also procured from Fletcher. It was mounted inline with the wingtip rather than under it and sported a side-mounted fin on the afterbody. It increased the capacity of the tip tank to 230 gallons.

I'd appreciate information on and links to drawings and dimensions of these tanks.