SAC's need for an escort fighter was reinforced by wartime experience in Korea, where the F-84 Thunderjets tasked with that mission proved to be outmatched by MiG-15s. This led to the GOR101 requirement of early 1951, for which McDonnell proposed a much scaled up outgrowth of the XF-88. Designated as the F-101, this would be powered by P&W J57s, and have much more internal fuel, a larger (but thinner) wing, and a repositioned horizontal tail.
Procurement of the F-101B interceptor version was pursued to provide an interim aircraft between the subsonic F-89 and the still under development F-106, development of the F-102 having hit many difficulties. The first F-101B flew in March 1957; at one point the USAF had intended to buy 651 examples, but ultimately 480 F-101Bs were built. Just over half of the force was put through the Bold Journey update program in the mid-1960s, receiving the MB-5 autopilot, MG-13 upgrades, and removal of the IFR probe to clear up space for the installation of an infrared sensor.
A few walk around pics of the F-101B preserved at Dayton:
|The F-101B was equipped with a rotary door under the forward fuselage that carried pairs of AIR-2 Genies and AIM-4 Falcons on opposing sides|
Unlike the XF-88, the F-101 featured a "T" tail. This led to troubles with disastrous "pitch up" behavior when the aircraft was flown at high angles of attack, a problem that was never entirely solved.
|The 123rd FIS of the Oregon ANG converted to the F-101B from the F-102 in 1972, and flew the Voodoo until 1982 when F-4Cs arrived.|
|The F-101B used the P&W J57-55; this powerplant was substantially more powerful than the -13s used on other Voodoos, but the longer afterburners extended quite far out of the airframe.|
The F-101 had enlarged inlets to furnish enough air to the J57s
RF-101 camouflage pattern
Even before the prototype Voodoo had flown, the USAF had expressed interest in buying a derivative as a tactical reconnaissance machine. The RF-101s would be the first American supersonic recon aircraft, and would end up being more important in the USAF force structure than strike-configured Voodoos.
The initial RF-101As replaced the cannon nose with a reconfigured unit capable of carrying six cameras; thirty five production examples and two prototypes were built before production shifted to the RF-101C, based on the structurally strengthened F-101C, with 166 being built.
RF-101C nose gear
RF-101C external tanks
RF-101s were to spend nearly a decade in Southeast Asia, starting with a quartet of aircraft deployed to Tan Son Nhut, South Vietnam under Operation Pipe Stem. This effort only ran for a month, but the following year, Voodoos were back in the theater, flying Able Mable missions over Laos and South Vietnam from Thailand.
|RF-101C exhaust detail|
F-101 model, depicting one the of the single-seat strike variants; note the cannon.
Photo: "McDonnell F-101A" Aviation Week March 12, 1956 p.79
Photo: "McDonnell F-101 With Experimental Bomb-Fuel Configuration" Aviation Week August 6, 1956 p.151
Photo: "First RF-101A Will Chase B-58" Aviation Week April 8, 1957 p.31
Photo: "McDonnell F-101B With Falcons" Aviation Week April 29, 1957 front cover
Erwin J. Bulban "Jet Tankers Add Margin in Speed Dash" Aviation Week December 9, 1957 p.34-37 2 photos
"F-101B Carries Retractable-Finned, Air-to-Air MB-1 Genie" Aviation Week January 27, 1958 p.29 4 photos
"External Radar on F-101B Tracks Missiles" Aviation Week & Space Technology June 7, 1965 p.57-58 4 photos
L.L. Doty "De Gaulle Seen Viewing RF-101 as Future Political Weapon" Aviation Week & Space Technology July 26, 1965 p.21
"RF-101s Photograph Surprised Red Troops" Aviation Week & Space Technology February 14, 1966 p.100-102 6 illustrations
Side-view drawings of F-101A, RF-101C Scale Modeler September 1980, p.8-9
Robbie Shaw "Voodoo Farewell" Air International February 1985 p.88-92. A look at Canadian CF-101s in the twilight of their careers; includes color photos of EF-101B 101067, and CF-101B 101043 in "Lynx Squadron Canada" special markings.
Larry Davis Planes, Names & Dames, Vol III 1955-1975 Includes a photo of RF-101C The Iron Eyeball of the 45th TRS at Tan Son Nhut
Color side-view: RoCAF F-101A Encyclopedia of 20th Century Air Warfare, p.353
Ray Bonds Classic Fighters: The Inside Story p.132-135. Includes an F-101B cutaway, frontal view of an F-101A, and a shot of three F-101Bs flying low over New York City.
1/48 scale Monogram Voodoo completed as an RF-101B
An excellent video (in color) showing the propeller-fitted XF-88B