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T-33 Seat trying to complete

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Here are a couple of pics of my T-33 seat which is fairly complete. I am going to keep it intact instead or stripping and repainting. I think this is pretty early it does not have a seat kicker. The shoulder belt stamps are between 1959 and 1962 but I don't know if that is significant. The seat cushion reads Weber Aircraft Corp. 71415 but since Weber is defunct i have not been able to find any production records to know what year it was made. If anyone has a manual or any technical specs on this I would love to have a copy. Also if anyone knows where to get a dummy catapult or initiator for this model I would be very grateful for the assistance.




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Nice T-33 seat in really good condition. I would not strip and repaint it either. I believe the gray

and possibly black painted T-33 seats were later. Also, later seats had canopy breakers installed and

the lap belt and shoulder straps were probably white or light gray in color. Maybe even sage green.

A seat parachute assy. made from sage green nylon would be used for the 1959-1962 time-frame. The lap

belt and shoulder straps from the early 1950s were probably all manual opening and may not have had a

steel braided air hose for automatic opening. The installed inertia reel may have been upgraded also?

Is there an aircraft tail number stenciled anywhere on the seat? If your seat was used by the USN/USMC

instead of the USAF, there would probably be differences in the lap belt, shoulder straps, seat parachute

assy., and life raft (if used). Try the following sources for parts and manuals:










Hope this helps.

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I tried to edit the previous post, but the website would not let me. Here is some additional information.

The lap belt lever and belt assy. was probably upgraded throughout the years. The removal of the metal

guide loops on the ends of the shoulder straps was a modification. The USAF usually had the tail number

on their seats because they put the same seat back in the same aircraft. The USN/USMC usually did not not

mark their seats with an acft. tail number/Bureau Number (BuNo) because they usually put a different seat

back in the acft. after overhaul, etc. They kept a logbook with the seat that recorded the BuNos of the

USN/USMC acft. the seats were previous installed in.

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Thanks northcoast for the clue links and for your detailed observations from the low-res pictures.


I think you are right about the belts being added later. I was confused by the gas line to the lap belt buckle since that implies a separate and timed charge that was anachronistic. Now it makes more sense.


No tail numbers anywhere and no dataplate but there are a few empty rivet holes here and there. Some part numbers survive on individual components like the jackscxrew motor and the up/down switch.

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Not a problem. Glad that I could help. The original lap belt and shoulder straps for

your seat may have been olive drab nylon also. Maybe they were changed due to wear

and tear or upgraded with the latest designs of the time. I have had aircraft seat

lap belts and shoulder straps dated in the early 1950s that were made from olive drab

nylon webbing. There may have been a cartridge fired initiator installed somewhere on

the seat that attached to the braided metal covered air hose to automatically open up

the lap belt lever sometime after the seat left the cockpit. There may have been an

initiator for the inertia reel which automatically retracted the shoulder straps also.

In the present configuration of your seat, a seat style parachute assy. with an

automatic ripcord release/parachute opener would have been used. I am not sure when

the lap belt key and lanyard connection from the automatic parachute opener arming

knob located in the seat parachute assy. was introduced for the T-33 seat to

automatically deploy the parachute just after the lap belt automatically opened if

ejection occurred at low altitude (usually below 10,000 ft.) or to arm the automatic

parachute opener if ejection occurred above 10,000 ft. and then the auto opener would

activate/deploy the parachute when the pilot descended to the altitude set on the

auto opener (usually 10,000 ft.). In other words, the key and lanyard assy., which is

attached to the auto opener arming knob from the auto opener assy. which is installed

inside the parachute assy., stays with the lap belt that is attached to the seat after

the lap belt automatically opens from the forced air from the fired lap belt initiator

sometime after ejection. The forced air from the lap belt initiator does not open up

the lap belt lever, instead it breaks a linkage to separate the belts and the lever

stays closed and attached to the key from the auto opener webbing lanyard that is

attached to the arming knob that has a cable that is then pulled out from the auto

opener assy. (located inside the parachute assy.) which then arms the auto opener.

At least this is the way the later automatic lap belts and parachute assy's. for

some ejection seats operate. These upgraded seats probably have the initiator fired

powered seat-man separator strap assy. installed on them which is activated sometime

after ejection and after the lap belt automatically opens also. Hope this makes


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Also forgot to mention that the auto parachute openers that were installed inside the automatic back and

seat style parachute systems were also modified with a snap hook with lanyard that was sewn and tacked to

auto opener arming knob along with the lap belt key with lanyard. The snap hook with lanyard assy. was

either attached directly to the ripcord handle to open the parachute just after seat-man separation after

the lap belt automatically opened after ejection at lower altitudes or the snap hook with lanyard assy.

was attached to a break-away clip/ring that was tacked to the outside of the parachute harness so that

the automatic parachute opener would open/deploy the parachute when the pilot descended to the altitude

set on the parachute opener (usually 10,000 ft.) sometime after ejection and seat-man separation. The

snap hook with lanyard assy. was a modification to the auto opener arming knob that was introduced along

with the lap belt key with lanyard assy. or came out at a later date. For the back automatic parachute

assy., the snap hook with lanyard was attached to the top of the auto opener red or orange arming knob

and the lab belt key with lanyard was attached to the bottom of the knob. There was also a spring

attached to the lower part of the arming knob that stored some of the webbing from the lap belt key

lanyard. The snap hook was usually red in color. The automatic seat style parachute system lanyard

assy. with lap belt key, snap hook, and springs were configured differently from the auto back style

parachutes in that there were two springs with the lap belt key located in the center of them. One

of the outer ends was attached to the red or orange auto opener knob, and the other outer end had the

red snap hook installed. The auto opener knob was on one side of the harness with the webbing/spring/

lap belt key/spring/red snap hook sewn and tacked to it. The manual ripcord and possibly the break-away

clip/ring was attached to the opposite side. The lap belt key dangled from the center of the assy. so

that it could be inserted into the automatic lap belt lever assy. The last auto seat style parachute

assy. to be used with the T-33 was the SA-20, which was also used with the early seats in the

B-57 Canberra acft. Hope this helps.

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I will keep an eye open for the parachute assembly thanks for the info. I cleaned it up and searched every inch and found the nameplate. I think the T-33A-1-LO means this is from the first block of T-33A aircraft. Not sure exactly how to interpret the rest of the plate markings was it modified in Jan 58?



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Cool! You found the data plate. I agree that the 1 is most likely the first production block of the

T-33A Shooting Star. The L could stand for Lockheed. The O may stand for the production facility

or just part of the abbreviation for Lockheed? Will have to do some research on the production years and

USAF serial numbers for the block 1. Will also check if some were transferred to the USN/USMC with

Bureau Numbers and if any were delivered to foreign nations. The Squadron/Signal T-33 in Action and

United States Navy Aircraft Since 1911 books would be a good start along with joebaugher.com website.

I have access to all three and do not mind referencing them. The 1962 era USAF seat style parachute assy.

would be sage green in color. The riser releases on the shoulders may have one or two T-shaped Capewell

fittings with squeeze releases; two Capewell fittings with flat covers and squeeze releases underneath; or two

Capewell fittings with flat covers and cable pull releases underneath? The late 1950s-early 1960s was a

transitional period for the riser fittings. Will have to reference Dan Poynter's book The Parachute Manual

Volume 1 for exact details concerning the parachute harness/container, riser fittings, and if there was an

automatic ripcord release/parachute opener installed in the assy. (non-automatic or automatic parachute assy.)

If there was an auto opener installed, it was probably the F-1B series with a Class #. The early arming knob for

the F-1B units was a transparent red-orange in color. Not sure when the flat sided orange painted metal arming

knobs with an internal cable reel for the lap belt key were introduced-sometime by or during the mid 1960s.

Also need to find the correct lap belt key-there were a few variations based on the type of lap belt used-if used

and the rest of the lanyard/spring(s)/snap hook (if used). The earlier red snap hooks had a peak on the curved

tip and the later ones did not. The later ones were either modified with tip ground off or were manufactured this

way. The snap hooks used before the red ones may just have been a store bought silver colored metal type with

a swivel as found on dog leashes! The seat cushion for the parachute assy. may have contained the H-2 or

MD-1 emergency oxygen bailout bottle assy. with a black rubber hose with end fitting and activation cable with

a green painted wooden ball known as the green apple on the end. The life raft with container would have been

optional and would have been installed between the seat cushion and parachute container. There was also a

back pad style life raft container assy. that may have been used as an option? The diameter of the parachute

itself was the 28ft C-9 series. The parachute hardware for the chest and leg straps consisted of three

adjustable metal V rings and three metal non-adjustable snap hooks (or three quick ejector snap hooks?)

Both styles of snap hooks were non-removable. The harness may also have had a CRU-8/P oxygen connector

with a MSA mfr. mounting plate installed to connect the aircraft oxygen hose to the pilots oxygen mask 3-pin

hose end connector and the bailout bottle hose end fitting OR the pilots oxygen mask may have had a MSA

mfr. MC-3A hose end connector to connect the aircraft oxygen hose and bailout bottle hose end connector.

One of these two oxygen setups were used. The CRU-8/P connector was introduced during the mid-late

1950s for many USAF aircraft, possibly the T-33A also? A late 1950s dated USAF pamphlet titled Survival

and Emergency Uses of the Parachute was installed somewhere in the parachute assy. along with a parachute

logbook. A sage green nylon back cushion was used with the harness. A fixed hook blade parachute shroud

line cutter knife was located in a sage green nylon pouch that slid over the right front riser. If the SRU-16/P

Minimum Survival Kit was in service in 1962, you would need one of these too. A pilot parachute (MA-1?)

was attached via nylon webbing to the top of the C-9 main parachute. There may have been a sage green

nylon quarter deployment bag located inside the parachute container to stow part of the parachute lines and

canopy. The manual parachute ripcord could have been either a small T-handle (blast handle) one, the

T-shaped cloverleaf style, or maybe even the oval-shaped style-will have to do some research on this.

If you decide to configure your seat as a USN/USMC version, I guarantee that some of the items that you

would need will be different! That's all I can think of for now. Hope this helps.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I will keep an eye open for the parachute assembly thanks for the info. I cleaned it up and searched every inch and found the nameplate. I think the T-33A-1-LO means this is from the first block of T-33A aircraft. Not sure exactly how to interpret the rest of the plate markings was it modified in Jan 58?



Seems its construction number is 6231, making it 580-6231 thus T-33A-1-LO with serial number 51-6899.

This example had an accident on 17 March 1954 at Otis AFB, while flying for the 437 FIS, piloted by Robert O Witcher.


The date of 1962 on the belts might indicate that it was used afterwards, (see also the electrical seat height adjustment and hose to the lapbelt)


Have not tracked what happened to the airframe afterwards, but I keep looking.




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Ron thank you for adding to this history and putting me on to the serial number. I was stumped looking online as I kept trying to find XX-6231 and kept coming up empty in the AF serial number lists. I didn't realize Lockheed kept a separate serial number sequence.


So this confirms an original 1951 build date and helps explain the added features that came at a later refurb.


I was then able to find out the final disposition is here in AZ.


T-33A-1-LO s/n 51-6899

*1954: USAF 437th FIS (564th ADG).
*1/1965: Put into storage at the AMARC bone yard.

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No later dates on the belts. So the story keeps going a bit further if the USN took it from mothball, I wonder if it got used for target practice?


Seems during that timeframe the QT-33A program was in full effect. Modifications where done at China Lake and had their back seat removed, due to the installation of the flight controls. This might have lead to the removal of your seat. Unfortunately there is not a complete overview of what BuNo was assigned to wich T-33A.



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  • 4 weeks later...

Weber probably made the seat cushion as a sub-contractor or as a military spares second source so they wouldn't be a source of information for T-33 seats. Weber was purchased by a French company, Zodiac Aerospace, about 1992 and now operate from Gainesville, Texas under the Zodiac name. If anyone has a Weber seat, I would suspect that a lot of records got trashed during the move from California to Texas and there won't be any employees left who actually worked on ejection seats.

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  • 11 months later...
  • 1 month later...

Lorne from Canada did a nice piece on restoring his T-33A seat:




Here is my newest addition to the collection, also a very nice example of the T-33 series seats.

Many of them underwent modifications, some small (other initiators) some big like changing to rocat and adding man/seat separators.

Mine is a fairly early example (not yet modified to rocat)






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