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F-101 Voodoo
McDonnell F-101A Voodoo
Role Fighter aircraft
Manufacturer McDonnell Aircraft
First flight 29 September 1954
Introduced May 1957
Retired 1972, USAF
1982, US ANG
1984, Canada
Primary user United States Air Force
Number built 807
Unit cost US$1,276,145 (RF-101C)[1]
US$1,754,066 (F-101B)[2]
Developed from XF-88 Voodoo
Variants CF-101 Voodoo

The McDonnell F-101 Voodoo was a supersonic military fighter flown by the USAF and the RCAF. Initially designed as a long-range bomber escort (known as a penetration fighter) for the Strategic Air Command (SAC), the Voodoo was instead developed as a nuclear armed fighter bomber for the Tactical Air Command (TAC), and as a photo reconnaissance aircraft based on the same airframe. Extensively modified versions were produced as an all-weather interceptor aircraft, serving with the Air Defense Command, later renamed the Aerospace Defense Command (ADC), the Air National Guard, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the unified Canadian Forces after 1968.

The Voodoo's career as a strike fighter was relatively brief, but the reconnaissance versions served for some time. Along with the US Air Force's U-2 and US Navy's RF-8 Crusaders, the RF-101 reconnaissance variant of the Voodoo was instrumental during the Cuban Missile Crisis and saw extensive service during the Vietnam War.[3] Interceptor versions served with the Air National Guard until 1982, and in Canadian service they were a front line part of NORAD until their replacement with the CF-18 Hornet in the 1980s.

While the Voodoo was a moderate success, it may have been more important as an evolutionary step towards its replacement in most roles, the F-4 Phantom II, one of the most successful Western fighter designs of the 1960s. The Phantom would retain the twin engines, twin crew for interception duties, and a tail mounted well above and behind the jet exhaust. Both aircraft were influenced by the same company's F-3 Demon, a carrier-based naval fighter-interceptor that served during the 1950s and early 1960s.

All models of the aircraft were known by the nickname "One-oh-Wonder" and this was reflected on the aircraft type patches worn by crews.[4]

Contents

Design and development

Initial design on what would eventually become the Voodoo began just after World War II in response to a USAAF Penetration Fighter Competition in 1946 for a long-range high performance fighter to escort bombers, much as the P-51 Mustang had done in its time. After being awarded a contract (AC-14582), McDonnell built two prototypes, designated the XF-88 Voodoo. The first prototype (#46-6525), powered by two 3,000 lbf (13.3 kN) Westinghouse XJ34-WE-13 turbojets, flew from Muroc on 20 October 1948. Preliminary testing revealed that the top speed was a disappointing 640 mph (1,030 km/h) at sea level. After fitting McDonnell-designed afterburners, thrust was increased by 30% with corresponding performance increases in top speed, initial rate of climb and reduced takeoff distance.

Although the XF-88 won the "fly-off" competition against the competing Lockheed XF-90 and North American YF-93, the USAF (created in 1947) reevaluated the need for bomber escort and terminated the Penetration Fighter program in 1950. Analysis of Korean war missions, however, revealed that contemporary USAF strategic bombers were vulnerable to fighter interception. In 1951, the USAF issued a new requirement for a bomber escort with all major US manufacturers submitting designs. The McDonnell design was a larger and higher powered version of the XF-88, and won the bid in May 1951. The F-88 was redesignated the F-101 Voodoo in November 1951.[5]

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Design changes for new engines

The new design was considerably larger, carrying three times the initial fuel load and designed around larger, more powerful Pratt & Whitney J57 turbojets.[6] The greater dimensions of the J57 engines required modifications to the engine bays, and modification to the intakes to allow a larger amount of airflow to the engine. The new intake also was designed to be more efficient at higher Mach numbers. In order to increase aerodynamic efficiency, reduce structural weight and alleviate "pitch-up" phenomena recently identified in flight testing of the D-558-2, an aircraft with a control surface configuration similar to the XF-88, the horizontal tail was relocated to the top of the vertical stabilizer, giving the F-101 its signature "T-tail". In late 1952, the mission of the F-101 was changed from "penetration fighter" to "strategic fighter", which entailed equal emphasis on both the bomber escort mission and on nuclear weapons delivery. The new Voodoo mock-up with the reconfigured inlets, tail surfaces, landing gear, and dummy nuclear weapon was inspected by Air Force officials in March 1953.[7] The design was approved, and an initial order for 39 F-101As was placed on 28 May 1953, no prototypes being required as the F-101 was considered a simple development of the XF-88.[8]

F-101A, AF Serial No. 53-2418, at Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum, Pueblo, CO

First production

Serial number 53-2418 was the first production A-model delivered to Edwards AFB in August 1954. Its maiden flight was on 29 September 1954, with a McDonnell test pilot Robert C. Little. Test flight results: Mach 0.9 at 35,000 ft (10,500 m), with a maximum test speed to Mach 1.4.[9] This aircraft is on display at the Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum, Pueblo Memorial Airport, Pueblo, CO.

The end of the war in Korea and the development of the jet-powered B-52 negated the need for fighter escort and Strategic Air Command withdrew from the program.

Operational history

F-101A / RF-101G

Despite SAC's loss of interest, the aircraft attracted the attention of Tactical Air Command, and the F-101 was reconfigured as a fighter bomber, intended to carry a single nuclear weapon for use against battlefield targets such as airfields. With the support of TAC, testing was resumed, with Category II flight tests beginning in early 1955. A number of problems were identified during development, with many of these fixed. The aircraft had a dangerous tendency toward severe pitch-up at high angle of attack that was never entirely solved. Around 2,300 improvements were made to the aircraft in 1955–56 before full production was resumed in November 1956.

F-101A Voodoo

The first F-101A was delivered in May 1957 to the 27th Strategic Fighter Wing, replacing their F-84F Thunderstreak. The F-101A was powered by two Pratt & Whitney J57-P-13 turbojets, allowing good acceleration, climb-performance, ease in penetrating the sound barrier in level flight, and a maximum performance of Mach 1.52. The F-101's large internal fuel capacity allowed a range of approximately 3,000 mi (4,828 km) nonstop. The aircraft was fitted with an MA-7 fire-control radar for both air-to-air and air-to-ground use, augmented by an MA-2 Low Altitude Bombing System (LABS) system for delivering nuclear weapons, and was designed to carry a Mk 28 nuclear bomb. The original intended payload for the F-101A was the McDonnell Model 96 store, a large fuel/weapons pod similar in concept to that of the B-58 Hustler, but was cancelled in March 1956 before the F-101 entered service. Other operational nuclear payloads included the Mk 7, Mk 43, and Mk 57 weapons. (While theoretically capable of carrying conventional bombs or rockets, the Voodoo never used such weapons operationally). It was fitted with four 20mm M39 cannon, with one cannon often removed in service to make room for a TACAN beacon-receiver.

The F-101 set a number of speed records, including: a JF-101A setting a world speed record of 1,207 mph (1,942 km/h) on 12 December 1957 during "Operation Firewall", handily beating the previous record set by the Fairey Delta 2. On 27 November 1957, during "Operation Sun Run," an RF-101C set the Los Angeles-New York-Los Angeles record in 6 hours 46 minutes, the New York to Los Angeles record in 3 hours, 36 minutes, and the Los Angeles to New York record in 3 hours 7 minutes. An F-101A flew from Carswell, Texas to Bermuda without refueling.[10]

A total of 77 F-101As were built. They were gradually withdrawn from service starting in 1966. Twenty-nine survivors were converted to RF-101G specifications with a modified nose, housing reconnaissance cameras in place of cannons and radar. These served with the Air National Guard through 1972.

RF-101A

In October 1953, the USAF requested that two F-101As be built as prototype YRF-101A tactical reconnaissance aircraft. These were followed by 35 RF-101A production aircraft. The RF-101A shared the airframe of the F-101A, including its 6.33 g (62 m/s²) limit, but replaced the radar and cannons with up to six cameras in the reshaped nose. It was unusual in having provision for both flying boom and probe-and-drogue in-flight refueling capability. It entered service in May 1957, replacing the RB-57 Canberra.

USAF RF-101As from the 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at Shaw AFB, SC flew reconnaissance sorties over Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962.[3]

In October 1959, eight RF-101As were transferred to Taiwan, which used them for overflights of the Chinese mainland. Two were reportedly shot down.

F-101B / CF-101B / EF-101B

A two-seat McDonnell F-101B Voodoo of the Oregon Air National Guard
CF-101 Voodoo 101060 from 409 "Nighthawk" Squadron, CFB Comox on the ramp at CFB Moose Jaw in spring 1982.

In the late 1940s, the Air Force had started a research project into future interceptor aircraft that eventually settled on an advanced specification known as the 1954 interceptor. Contracts for this specification eventually resulted in the selection of the F-102 Delta Dagger, but by 1952 it was becoming clear that none of the parts of the specification other than the airframe would be ready by 1954; the engines, weapons and fire control systems were all going to take too long to get into service. An effort was then started to quickly produce an interim supersonic design to replace the various subsonic interceptors then in service, and the F-101 airframe was selected as a starting point.

Although McDonnell proposed the designation F-109 for the new aircraft (which was to be a substantial departure from the basic Voodoo), the USAF assigned the designation F-101B. The Voodoo featured a modified cockpit to carry a crew of two, with a larger and more rounded forward fuselage to hold a Hughes MG-13 fire control radar. It had transponders linking it to the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system, allowing ground controllers to steer the aircraft towards its targets by making adjustments through the plane's autopilot. The F-101B had more powerful Pratt & Whitney J57-P-55 engines, making it the only Voodoo not using the -13 engines. The new engines featured a substantially longer afterburner than J57-P-13s. To avoid a major redesign, the extended afterburners were simply allowed to extend out of the fuselage by almost 8 ft (2.4 m). The more powerful engines and aerodynamic refinements allowed an increased speed of Mach 1.75.

The F-101B had no cannons; instead, it carried four AIM-4 Falcon air-to-air missiles, arranged two apiece on a rotating pallet in the fuselage weapons bay. The initial load was two GAR-1 (AIM-4A) semi-active radar homing and two GAR-2 (AIM-4D) infrared-guided weapons with one of each carried on each side of the rotating pallet. After the first two missiles were fired, the door turned over to expose the second pair. Standard practice was to fire the weapons in SARH/IR pairs to increase the likelihood of a hit. Late-production models had provision for two 1.7-kiloton MB-1/AIR-2 Genie nuclear rockets in place of two of the Falcons, and Project "Kitty Car" upgraded most earlier F-101Bs to this standard beginning in 1961.

The AIM-4 Falcon side of the F-101B missile door

From 1961 through 1966, F-101Bs were upgraded under Project 'Bright Horizon', fitting them with an infrared sighting and tracking (IRST) system in the nose in place of the standard in-flight refueling probe.

The F-101B was made in greater numbers than the F-101A, with a total of 479 being delivered by the end of production in 1961. Most of these were delivered to the Air Defense Command (ADC) beginning in January 1959. The only foreign customer for the F-101B was Canada. For more details on the history of the Voodoo in Canada, see CF-101 Voodoo.

The F-101B was withdrawn from ADC service from 1969 to 1972. Surviving USAF aircraft were transferred to the Air National Guard, where they served until 1982.

TF-101B / F-101F / CF-101F

Some of the F-101Bs were completed as dual-control operational trainer aircraft initially dubbed TF-101B, but later redesignated F-101F. Seventy-nine new-build F-101Fs were manufactured, and 152 more existing aircraft were later modified with dual controls. Ten of these were supplied to Canada under the designation CF-101F. These were later replaced with 10 updated aircraft in 1971.

RF-101B

In the early 1970s, a batch of 22 ex-RCAF CF-101Bs were returned to the USAF and converted to RF-101B reconnaissance aircraft with their radar and weapons bay replaced with a package of three KS-87B cameras and two AXQ-2 TV cameras. An in-flight refueling boom receptacle was fitted. These aircraft served with the 192nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron of the Nevada Air National Guard through 1975. They were expensive to operate and maintain and had a short service life.

F-101C / RF-101H

The F-101A fighter-bomber had been accepted into Tactical Air Command (TAC) service despite a number of problems. Among others, its airframe had proven to be capable of withstanding only 6.33-g (62 m/s²) maneuvers, rather than the intended 7.33 g (72 m/s²). An improved model, the F-101C, was introduced in 1957. It had a 500 lb (227 kg) heavier structure to allow 7.33-g maneuvers as well as a revised fuel system to increase the maximum flight time in afterburner. There were no external differences between F-101A and F-101C other than the serial numbers. Forty-seven were produced.

Originally serving with the 27th Tactical Fighter Wing at Bergstrom AFB, Texas, the aircraft were transferred in 1958 to the 81st Tactical Fighter Wing which operated three squadrons from the twin RAF air stations Bentwaters & Woodbridge. The 78th Tactical Fighter Squadron was stationed at Woodbridge, while the 91st and 92nd were stationed at Bentwaters. The 81st TFW served as a strategic nuclear deterrent force, the Voodoo's long range putting almost all of the Warsaw Pact countries, and targets up to 500 miles deep into the Soviet Union within reach.

Both the A and C model aircraft were assigned to the 81st TFW, and were used interchangeably within the three squadrons. Operational F-101A/C were upgraded in service with Low Angle Drogued Delivery (LADD) and Low Altitude Bombing System (LABS) equipment for its primary mission of delivering nuclear weapons at extremely low altitudes. Pilots were trained for high speed, low level missions into Soviet or East Bloc territory, with primary targets being airfields. Although these were not discussed as one-way missions, it was assumed by all involved that chances of the pilots returning after delivering their weapons was virtually zero.

The F-101C never saw combat and was replaced in 1966 with the F-4C Phantom II. Thirty-two aircraft were later converted for unarmed reconnaissance use under the RF-101H designation. They served with Air National Guard units until 1972.

RF-101C

U.S. Air Force technicians prepare a McDonnell RF-101 Voodoo for a photo reconnaissance mission
U.S. Air Force McDonnell RF-101C over Vietnam, 1967.

Using the reinforced airframe of the F-101C, the RF-101C first flew on 12 July 1957, entering service in 1958. Like the RF-101A, the RF-101C had six cameras in place of radar and cannons in the reshaped nose. Unlike the RF-101A, the RF-101C retained the ability to carry a single nuclear weapon on the centerline pylon. 166 RF-101Cs were built, including 96 originally scheduled to be F-101C fighter-bombers.

The 1964 Project "Toy Tiger" fitted some RF-101C with a new camera package and a centerline pod for photo-flash cartridges. Some were further upgraded under the Mod 1181 program with automatic control for the cameras.

The RF-101C saw service during the Cuban Missile Crisis and soon followed the F-100 Super Sabres into combat when RF-101s from the 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing deployed to Vietnam in October 1961. The RF-101C saw heavy service during the Vietnam War, with the first F-101 being lost in November 1964 to ground fire. From 1965 through November 1970, its role was gradually taken over by the RF-4C Phantom II. In some 35,000 sorties, 39 aircraft were lost, 33 in combat,[11] including five to SAMs, one to an airfield attack, and one in air combat to a MiG-21 in September 1967. The RF-101C's speed made it largely immune to MiG interception. 27 of the combat losses occurred on reconnaissance missions over North Vietnam. In April 1967, ALQ-71 ECM pods were fitted to provide some protection against SAMs. Although the Voodoo was again able to operate at medium altitudes, the added drag decreased the speed enough to make RF-101 vulnerable to MiGs and thus requiring fighter escort.

On 27 November 1957 during Operation Sun Run, an RF-101C piloted by then-Captain Robert Sweet set the Los Angeles-New York-Los Angeles record in 6 hours 46 minutes, and the New York to Los Angeles record in 3 hours, 36 minutes. Another RF-101C, piloted by then-Lieutenant Gustav Klatt, set the Los Angeles to New York record in 3 hours 7 minutes.[10]

After withdrawal from Vietnam, the RF-101C continued to serve with USAF units through 1979.

In service, the RF-101C was nicknamed the "Long Bird;" it was the only version of the Voodoo to see combat.[12]

Variants

RF-101C-55-MC (56-0220), assigned to 18th TRS, 460th TRW. This aircraft was shot down by a SAM over North Vietnam on 7 March 1966, killing the pilot.
Section source: Angelucci, 1987. The American Fighter [13]
  • F-101A: initial production fighter bomber, 77 produced.
  • NF-101A: one F-101A used by General Electric for testing of the General Electric J79 engine.
  • YRF-101A: two F-101As built as prototype reconnaissance models.
  • RF-101A: first reconnaissance version, 35 built.
  • F-101B: two-seat interceptor, 479 built.
  • CF-101B: 112 F-101Bs transferred to Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).
  • RF-101B: 22 ex-RCAF CF-101B 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: improved 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 (these are included in the -F total).
  • RF-101G: 29 F-101As converted for ANG reconnaissance.
  • RF-101H: 32 F-101Cs converted for reconnaissance use.

Operators

McDonnell F-101B of the 18th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, Grand Forks AFB, ND
 Canada
 Republic of China (Taiwan)
 United States

Aircraft on display

F-101F AF Serial Number 58-0311, located at Devils Lake Regional Airport, North Dakota

Below is a list of F-101s on display, including museums with an F-101 (CF-101) in their collection:

Canada

Taiwan

  • ROCAF Hualien AFB, RF-101A (Tail no. 41499; ROCAF no. 5654) Serving as gate guard. Hualien.
  • ROCAF Academy Museum, Two RF-101As KangShan.

United Kingdom

United States

F-101B at Wings Museum, 2007.

Specifications (F-101B)

Data from The Great Book of Fighters[19]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 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)
  • Airfoil: NACA 65A007 mod root, 65A006 mod tip
  • Empty weight: 28,495 lb (12,925 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 45,665 lb (20,715 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 52,400 lb (23,770 kg)
  • Powerplant: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
  • * Internal fuel capacity: 2,053 gal (7,771 l) or 2,953 gal (11,178 l) with two external tanks

Performance

Armament

Avionics

  • Hughes MG-13 fire control system

Aircraft type badges

See also

Related development

Comparable aircraft

Related lists

References

Notes

  1. ^ Knaack 1978, p. 146.
  2. ^ Knaack 1978, p. 153.
  3. ^ a b Global's RF-101 History
  4. ^ "McDonnell F-101 Voodoo - World Military Airplanes." MilitaryFactory.com, 2003. Retrieved: 6 March 2009.
  5. ^ Peacock 1985, p. 76.
  6. ^ Francillon 1979, p. 538.
  7. ^ Knaack 1978, pp. 137–138.
  8. ^ Francillon 1979, p. 539.
  9. ^ Baugher, Joe. "McDonnell F-101A Voodoo." American Military Aircraft, 12 August 2001. Retrieved: 1 September 2009.
  10. ^ a b "Operation Sun Run." National Museum of the USAF. Retrieved: 7 February 2008.
  11. ^ "Vietnam Almanac", Air Force Magazine, September 2004, p. 57.
  12. ^ "Air Power Classics: F/RF-101 Voodoo." Air Force Magazine, May 2008, p. 168.
  13. ^ Angelucci 1987, pp. 309–310.
  14. ^ Grissom Air Museum (January 2010). "McDonnell Douglas F-101B Voodoo". http://www.grissomairmuseum.com/airexib/planes/F101BVoodoo.html. Retrieved 2010-01-25. 
  15. ^ McChord Air Museum (undated). "McDonnell CF-101 Voodoo". http://www.mcchordairmuseum.org/REV%20B%20MAM%20COLLECTION%20CF-101%20BORDER.htm. Retrieved 2010-01-25. 
  16. ^ "McDonnell F-101B 'Voodoo'." Travis Air Museum.
  17. ^ Wings Museum F-101B photos
  18. ^ United States Air Force Museum 1975, p. 76.
  19. ^ Green and Swanborough 2001

Bibliography

  • Angelucci, Enzo. The American Fighter. Sparkford, Somerset, UK: Haynes Publishing Group, 1987. ISBN 0-85429-635-2.
  • Characteristics Summary, F-101B, dated 16 August 1960.
  • Dorr, Robert F. "McDonnell F-88/F-101 Variant Briefing". Wings of Fame, Volume 1. London: Aerospace Publishing, 1995. ISBN 1-874023-68-9.
  • Francillon, Réne J. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft since 1920. London:Putnam, 1979. ISBN 0-370-00050-1.
  • Francillon, Réne J. "It's Witchcraft: McDonnell's F-101 Voodoo". Airpower, Vol. 10, no. 3, May 1980.
  • Green, William and Gordon Swanborough. The Great Book of Fighters. St. Paul, Minnesota: MBI Publishing, 2001. ISBN 0-7603-1194-3.
  • Gunston, Bill. Fighters of the Fifties. Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stephens Limited, 1981. ISBN 0-85059-463-4.
  • Hansen, Chuck. U.S. Nuclear Weapons. Arlington, Texas: Aerofax Inc., 1988. ISBN 0-517-56740-7.
  • Hobson, Chris. Vietnam Air Losses: United States Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps Fixed-Wing Aircraft Losses in Southeast Asia, 1961-73. North Branch, Minnesota: Specialty Press, 2002. ISBN 1-85780-1156.
  • Jones, Lloyd S. U.S. Fighters: Army Air-Force 1925 to 1980s. Fallbrook, California: Aero Publishers, Inc., 1975. ISBN 0-8168-9201-6.
  • Kinsey, Bert. F-101 Voodoo (Detail and Scale; vol. 21). Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania: Tab Books, 1986. ISBN 0-8306-8131-0.
  • Knaack, Marcelle Size. Encyclopedia of US Air Force Aircraft and Missile Systems: Volume 1 Post-World War II Fighters 1945-1973. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History, 1978. ISBN 0-912799-59-5.
  • Peacock, Lindsay. "The One-O-Wonder". Air International, Volume 29, No. 2, August 1985, pp. 75–81, 93–95. ISSN 0306-5634.

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