Lockheed XP-80 Lulu Belle

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    Lockheed XP-80 Lulu Belle

    Lockheed's most capable engineer, Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, and a team of designers began work on a prototype, designated the XP-80 but nicknamed "Lulu-Belle," on June 21, 1943. Lulu-Belle" flew on January 8, 1944, and later starred in a series of exercises conducted to develop tactics that American heavy bomber crews could use against attacks by jet fighters. The trials showed that enemy jet fighter pilots would much prefer rear aspect attacks. Based on these findings, AAF planners moved the formations of American fighters protecting the bombers to higher altitudes.

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    This media is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

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    Lockheed XP-80 Lulu Belle

    Goblin engine fit in middle of XP-80 fuselage, narrow intakes on both sides of fuselage, several feet aft of the nose. Six mounted .50 caliber machine guns installed in the nose, pressurized cockpit. Wing Span 1,130 cm (445 in.), Length 1,000 cm (394 in.), Height 310 cm (122 in.), Weight 2,852 kg (6,287 lb)

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    CCO - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

    This media is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

    View Manifest

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    Lockheed XP-80 Lulu Belle

    Lockheed's most capable engineer, Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, and a team of designers began work on a prototype, designated the XP-80 but nicknamed "Lulu-Belle," on June 21, 1943. Lulu-Belle" flew on January 8, 1944, and later starred in a series of exercises conducted to develop tactics that American heavy bomber crews could use against attacks by jet fighters. The trials showed that enemy jet fighter pilots would much prefer rear aspect attacks. Based on these findings, AAF planners moved the formations of American fighters protecting the bombers to higher altitudes

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    CCO - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

    This media is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

    View Manifest

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    Lockheed XP-80 Lulu Belle

    Lockheed's most capable engineer, Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, and a team of designers began work on a prototype, designated the XP-80 but nicknamed "Lulu-Belle," on June 21, 1943. Lulu-Belle" flew on January 8, 1944, and later starred in a series of exercises conducted to develop tactics that American heavy bomber crews could use against attacks by jet fighters. The trials showed that enemy jet fighter pilots would much prefer rear aspect attacks. Based on these findings, AAF planners moved the formations of American fighters protecting the bombers to higher altitudes.

    4 of 15

    CCO - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

    This media is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

    View Manifest

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    Lockheed XP-80 Lulu Belle

    Lockheed's most capable engineer, Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, and a team of designers began work on a prototype, designated the XP-80 but nicknamed "Lulu-Belle," on June 21, 1943. Lulu-Belle" flew on January 8, 1944, and later starred in a series of exercises conducted to develop tactics that American heavy bomber crews could use against attacks by jet fighters. The trials showed that enemy jet fighter pilots would much prefer rear aspect attacks. Based on these findings, AAF planners moved the formations of American fighters protecting the bombers to higher altitudes. Highlighted in this image is the nose of the Lockheed XP-80.

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    CCO - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

    This media is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

    View Manifest

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    Lockheed XP-80 Lulu Belle

    Lockheed's most capable engineer, Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, and a team of designers began work on a prototype, designated the XP-80 but nicknamed "Lulu-Belle," on June 21, 1943. Lulu-Belle" flew on January 8, 1944, and later starred in a series of exercises conducted to develop tactics that American heavy bomber crews could use against attacks by jet fighters. The trials showed that enemy jet fighter pilots would much prefer rear aspect attacks. Based on these findings, AAF planners moved the formations of American fighters protecting the bombers to higher altitudes. Highlighted in this image is a wing of the Lockheed XP-80.

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    CCO - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

    This media is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

    View Manifest

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    Lockheed XP-80 Lulu Belle

    Lockheed's most capable engineer, Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, and a team of designers began work on a prototype, designated the XP-80 but nicknamed "Lulu-Belle," on June 21, 1943. Lulu-Belle" flew on January 8, 1944, and later starred in a series of exercises conducted to develop tactics that American heavy bomber crews could use against attacks by jet fighters. The trials showed that enemy jet fighter pilots would much prefer rear aspect attacks. Based on these findings, AAF planners moved the formations of American fighters protecting the bombers to higher altitudes. Highlighted in this image is a wheel of the Lockheed XP-80.

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    CCO - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

    This media is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

    View Manifest

    View in Mirador Viewer

    Lockheed XP-80 Lulu Belle

    Lockheed's most capable engineer, Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, and a team of designers began work on a prototype, designated the XP-80 but nicknamed "Lulu-Belle," on June 21, 1943. Lulu-Belle" flew on January 8, 1944, and later starred in a series of exercises conducted to develop tactics that American heavy bomber crews could use against attacks by jet fighters. The trials showed that enemy jet fighter pilots would much prefer rear aspect attacks. Based on these findings, AAF planners moved the formations of American fighters protecting the bombers to higher altitudes. Highlighted in this image is a wheel of the Lockheed XP-80.

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    CCO - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

    This media is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

    View Manifest

    View in Mirador Viewer

    Lockheed XP-80 Lulu Belle

    Lockheed's most capable engineer, Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, and a team of designers began work on a prototype, designated the XP-80 but nicknamed "Lulu-Belle," on June 21, 1943. Lulu-Belle" flew on January 8, 1944, and later starred in a series of exercises conducted to develop tactics that American heavy bomber crews could use against attacks by jet fighters. The trials showed that enemy jet fighter pilots would much prefer rear aspect attacks. Based on these findings, AAF planners moved the formations of American fighters protecting the bombers to higher altitudes. Highlighted in this image is the air intake of the Lockheed XP-80.

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    CCO - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

    This media is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

    View Manifest

    View in Mirador Viewer

    Lockheed XP-80 Lulu Belle

    Lockheed's most capable engineer, Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, and a team of designers began work on a prototype, designated the XP-80 but nicknamed "Lulu-Belle," on June 21, 1943. Lulu-Belle" flew on January 8, 1944, and later starred in a series of exercises conducted to develop tactics that American heavy bomber crews could use against attacks by jet fighters. The trials showed that enemy jet fighter pilots would much prefer rear aspect attacks. Based on these findings, AAF planners moved the formations of American fighters protecting the bombers to higher altitudes. Highlighted in this image is the cockpit of the Lockheed XP-80.

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    CCO - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

    This media is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

    View Manifest

    View in Mirador Viewer

    Lockheed XP-80 Lulu Belle

    Lockheed's most capable engineer, Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, and a team of designers began work on a prototype, designated the XP-80 but nicknamed "Lulu-Belle," on June 21, 1943. Lulu-Belle" flew on January 8, 1944, and later starred in a series of exercises conducted to develop tactics that American heavy bomber crews could use against attacks by jet fighters. The trials showed that enemy jet fighter pilots would much prefer rear aspect attacks. Based on these findings, AAF planners moved the formations of American fighters protecting the bombers to higher altitudes. Highlighted in this image is the exhaust of the Lockheed XP-80.

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    CCO - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

    This media is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

    View Manifest

    View in Mirador Viewer

    Lockheed XP-80 Lulu Belle

    Lockheed's most capable engineer, Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, and a team of designers began work on a prototype, designated the XP-80 but nicknamed "Lulu-Belle," on June 21, 1943. Lulu-Belle" flew on January 8, 1944, and later starred in a series of exercises conducted to develop tactics that American heavy bomber crews could use against attacks by jet fighters. The trials showed that enemy jet fighter pilots would much prefer rear aspect attacks. Based on these findings, AAF planners moved the formations of American fighters protecting the bombers to higher altitudes. Highlighted in this image is the US Air Force roundel of the Lockheed XP-80.

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    CCO - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

    This media is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

    View Manifest

    View in Mirador Viewer

    Lockheed XP-80 Lulu Belle

    Lockheed's most capable engineer, Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, and a team of designers began work on a prototype, designated the XP-80 but nicknamed "Lulu-Belle," on June 21, 1943. Lulu-Belle" flew on January 8, 1944, and later starred in a series of exercises conducted to develop tactics that American heavy bomber crews could use against attacks by jet fighters. The trials showed that enemy jet fighter pilots would much prefer rear aspect attacks. Based on these findings, AAF planners moved the formations of American fighters protecting the bombers to higher altitudes. Highlighted in this image are the vertical stabilizer and horizontal stabilizer of the Lockheed XP-80.

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    Lockheed XP-80 "Lulu Belle"

    The Lockheed XP-80 Lulu Belle was an American combat jet developed during World War II.

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    Lockheed XP-80 "Lulu Belle" Panorama

    Panoramic view inside the Lockheed XP-80 "Lulu Belle."

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Germany and Great Britain went to war in 1939 with jet aircraft programs well underway, but the United States took longer to appreciate and develop the new technology. By 1943, mounting combat losses of American strategic bombers to German propeller-driven interceptors, and the knowledge that Germany was preparing to field the potent Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter (see NASM collection), encouraged the United States Army Air Forces (AAF) to push for a new combat jet. AAF leaders asked the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation to develop the aircraft.

Lockheed's most capable engineer, Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, and a team of designers began work on a prototype, designated the XP-80 but nicknamed "Lulu-Belle," on June 21, 1943. To keep the work secret, Johnson walled off the production area with discarded engine crates and a circus tent. Someone nicknamed this site the "Skunk Works" after the still that made moonshine, hidden deep in the cartoon backwoods of Al Capp's "Lil' Abner." "Lulu-Belle" flew on January 8, 1944, and later starred in a series of exercises conducted to develop tactics that American heavy bomber crews could use against attacks by jet fighters. The trials showed that enemy jet fighter pilots would much prefer rear aspect attacks. Based on these findings, AAF planners moved the formations of American fighters protecting the bombers to higher altitudes. These tactics proved effective in fending off Me 262 attacks during the last months of the war and undoubtedly saved the lives of many American bomber crewmen. In 1949, the AAF transferred the aircraft to the Smithsonian Institution.