“I believe the Shooting Star was the best ground support plane made at that time. It could be shot all to pieces and still fly. I’ve seen as much as four feet shot off the wing of one and the pilot would still get her home. It could sneak up on the enemy and clobber them before they could even react. Once I was strafing a hilltop when my wingman, Joe, came in too low and mushed his airplane into the ground as he attempted to pull up. Fortunately, he did not hit hard enough to cause fatal damage, but it was a long trip back across the straits to Japan. He landed with tree branches, rocks, and grass embedded in the underside of his F-80!
The F-80 absorbed punishment very well and was a superb instrument aircraft (very unusual for that time for a fighter). The bird was reliable and easy to maintain. Our in-commission rate stayed close to 80 percent until the end of the year, when some of the aircraft were getting about 1,500 hours on their airframe, with no major overhaul. By the end of December, most F-80s in the Far East were war-weary, their wing tip castings had elongated or broken due to the oversized ‘Manchuria’ tanks. We couldn’t get parts or replacement aircraft. By February of 1951, things began to get a little better, though.”
– Ernie Fahlberg