Captured Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star
During the first months of 1945 a number of P-80A prototypes were tested by the USAAF in Italy. The idea was to gather information on the behavior of the new fighter under combat conditions without risking an exposure to the German Luftwaffe.
After the Allied invasion of Italy and the subsequent surrender of Italy in 1943 the southern front had been relatively quiet during 1944. In February 1945 however, the German army launched a counter attack and quickly advanced south through Italy. In their advance they overran the airbase near Rome where the P-80s were stationed.
The US personal tried to evacuate all classified equipment and documents, the P-80s taking of literally minutes before the German army arrived. One of the P-80s suffered an engine failure on takeoff and had to abort. The plane was captured before the pilot could destroy it and was transferred to Rechlin where if was tested by the famous "Beute Zirkus Rosarius".
It received the code T9+YK. It was painted Dark Green RLM 71 over Yellow RLM 04. It was flown in mock combat against the Ta-152 and Me-262. In these simulations it was found superior to the Ta-152 but, except for the engine, the Me-262 was to be preferred. The Me-262 was faster and better maneuverable. After intensive testing the aircraft was transferred to the Heinkel Werke in July. There is was broken up and its construction studied.
Years ago I built an Airfix P-80. This year I decided to try again, but felt it was a shame to just chuck the old one out. So the captured P-80 was born.