McDonnell F-101 Voodoo

Country of originUnited States
ManufacturerMcDonnell Aircraft
First flight29 September 1954
IntroducedMay 1957
Producedcirca 1953
Numbers built807
Unit costsUS$1,276,145 (RF-101C)
US$1,754,066 (F-101B)
Max speedMach 1.72 (1,134 mph, 1,825 km/h) at 35,000 ft (10,500 m)
Max rangeRange: 1,520 mi (1,320 nm, 2,450 km)
Service ceiling: 58,400 ft (17,800 m)
DimensionsLength: 67 ft 5 in (20.55 m)
Wingspan: 39 ft 8 in (12.09 m)
Height: 18 ft 0 in (5.49 m)
Wing area: 368 ft² (34.20 m²)
WeightEmpty weight: 28,495 lb (12,925 kg)
Loaded weight: 45,665 lb (20,715 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 52,400 lb (23,770 kg)
Powerplant2 x Pratt & Whitney J57-P-55 afterburning turbojets
Dry thrust: 11,990 lbf (53.3 kN) each
Thrust with afterburner: 16,900 lbf (75.2 kN) each
4 (originally 6)x AIM-4 Falcon, or
2x AIR-2 Genie nuclear rockets, plus 2x AIM-4 Falcon
Falcon missile variants: AIM-4A, AIM-4B, AIM-4C only. The range was about 5 mi (8 km).
OperatorsFormer Operators:
Canada, Republic of China (Taiwan), United States

The McDonnell F-101 Voodoo was designed and developed by McDonnell Aircraft and intended to be a long-range bomber escort or penetration fighter for the Strategic Air Command (SAC). However, later the Voodoo was developed as a nuclear-armed fighter-bomber for the Tactical Air Command (TAC) and as a photo reconnaissance aircraft. Many modified versions were developed as all-weather interceptor aircrafts.

The Voodoo had served with the United States Air Force (USAF) and the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and its career as a fighter-bomber was relatively short. The fighter-bomber played important role throughout the Cuban Missile Crisis and saw extensive service during the Vietnam War.

The interceptor version had also served the Air National Guard as of 1982. The RCAF operated the Voodoo as of 1980s until the fighter-bomber was replaced by the McDonnell Douglas CF-18 Hornet in the 1980s.

The Design and Development of F-101 Voodoo

After the World War II, in 1946, the USAAF required a new fighter to replace the P-51 Mustang as a long-range high performance fighter for escorting their bombers. The USAAF launched a program called Penetration Fighter Competition. McDonnell Aircraft responded and finally won the program and awarded a contract on 14 February 1947. For the program, the company created two prototypes, called XF-88 Voodoo. The preliminary test shown the prototype met the handling and range requirements. However, the prototype could only reach 641 mph (1,032 km/h). To solve the problem, McDonnell equipped the aircraft with afterburners but this measure created reducing range as fuel consumption was extensively increased during afterburning.

The then emerging threat of the Soviet Union nuclear weapon program led to the change of intention. Instead of developed as a fighter, the XF-88 then developed as an interceptor to anticipate any coming threat from the Soviet Union’s bombers which are capable of delivering nuclear bombs. As further study of Korean War revealed that the USAF strategic bombers were vulnerable to fighter interception, the XF-88, with larger and higher powered version, and was developed as a bomber escort. In May 1951, the XF-88 was chosen and later in November the same year, it was designated the F-101 Voodoo.

The new design was drastically larger, having three times the original fuel load and designed around larger, extra powerful Pratt & Whitney J57 turbojets and modification to the intakes to enable a larger amount of airflow to the engine.

In an effort to improve aerodynamic efficiency and to decrease structural weight, the horizontal tail was moved to the top of the vertical stabilizer, rendering the F-101 its signature “T-tail”.

In late 1952, the mission of the F-101 was altered from “penetration fighter” to “strategic fighter”, which required equal emphasis on both the bomber escort mission and on nuclear weapons delivery. The first production A-model sent to Edwards AFB in August 1954. Its first flight was on 29 September 1954.

The Variants of F-101 Voodoo

Following are some variants of the F-101 Voodoo:

  • F-101A – The first version (fighter bomber), 77 produced.
  • NF-101A – A version for testing of the General Electric J79 engine.
  • YRF-101A – Prototype of reconnaissance model.
  • RF-101A – First reconnaissance version, 35 built.
  • F-101B – Two-seat interceptor, the most produced version, 479 built (including CF-101B).
  • CF-101 – The F-101Bs which transferred to Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).
  • RF-101B – Ex-RCAF CF-101B which modified for reconnaissance use.
  • TF-101B – Dual-control trainer version of F-101B, redesignated F-101F, 79 built.
  • EF-101B – Single F-101B converted for use as a radar target and leased to Canada.
  • NF-101B – F-101B prototype based on the F-101A airframe; the second prototype was built with a different nose.
  • F-101C – Enhanced fighter-bomber, 47 built.
  • RF-101C – Reconnaissance version of F-101C airframe, 166 built.
  • F-101D – Proposed version with General Electric J79 engines, not built.
  • F-101E – Another J79 proposal, not built.
  • F-101F – Dual-control trainer version of F-101B; 79 re-designated TF-101Bs plus 152 converted F-101B.
  • CF-101F – RCAF designation for 20 TF-101B/F-101F dual-control aircraft.
  • TF-101F – 24 dual-control versions of F-101B, re-designated F-101F.
  • RF-101G – 29 F-101As converted for ANG reconnaissance.
  • RF-101H – 32 F-101Cs converted for reconnaissance use.

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