Shooting Stars first saw combat service in the Korean War, employing both the F-80C variant and RF-80 photo-recon variants. The F-80 flew both air-to-air and air-to-ground sorties, claiming several aerial victories against North Korean Yak-9s and Il-10s.
On this day in 1950, the first American claim for a jet-versus-jet aerial kill was made when Lieutenant Russell J. Brown, flying an F-80, reported that he shot down a MiG-15. Soviet records dispute this showing that the MiG survived the combat. Despite initial claims of success, the speed of the straight-wing F-80s was inferior to the 668 mph MiGs. The MiGs incorporated German research that showed that swept wings delayed the onset of compressibility problems, and enabled speeds much closer to the speed of sound. F-80s were soon replaced in the air superiority role by the North American F-86 Sabre, which had been delayed to also incorporate swept wings. However, F-80 pilots still claimed to have destroyed a total of six MiG-15s in aerial combat.