The T-33 Silver Star served with distinction in the RCAF from 1953 to 2005. It was the world’s first purpose built jet trainer and was developed from the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star, the United States’ first operationally deployed jet fighter. As more advanced jets entered military service, a two-seat trainer version of the Shooting Star, the T-33, was developed to introduce aspiring pilots to jets.
The Canadair T-33 Silver Star resulted from a 1951 contract to build T-33s for the RCAF. The Canadair version incorporated a Rolls Royce Nene 10 turbojet instead of the Allison J33 used by Lockheed. Canadair produced 656 CT-133s and the jets were used extensively by the RCAF across the country and overseas.
418 (City of Edmonton) Squadron had two of them, based in the hangar that is now home to the Alberta Aviation Museum. Besides its primary pilot training role, some CT-133s were utilized for photo reconnaissance work, armament training and maritime support.
The Silver Star’s jet trainer role ended in 1976 but there were still fifty of the aircraft serving with the Canadian Forces in 2005. The last serving Canadair Silver Star was retired from the Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment at CFB Cold Lake in 2005. It had been used as an ejection seat test bed for 46 years.