Monday, July 21, 2008

F-101 Voodoo walk around

The Voodoo story began as early as 1946, when the not yet independent Air Force was looking forward to the requirements for fighting the next war. The ranges needed to conduct missions into the USSR were well beyond that of any jet fighter then under development, and McDonnell's design for the mission was correspondingly large to accomodate the required fuel. Powered by a pair of Westinghouse J34s fed through wing root intakes, the XF-88 had a 35-degree swept back wing planform. The first flight took place in October 1948, but the anemic Westinghouse engines gave inferior performance. The second aircraft, with afterburner-equipped engines, had greater speed but use of the afterburner greatly increased the fuel burn and cut into the aircraft's range.

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:

F-101B forward fuselage detail
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. 

F-101B Happy Hooligans tail insignia
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.

F-101B walk around exhaust detail
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
F-101B Voodoo intake detail

McDonnell F-101 Voodoo 3-view

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
McDonnell F-101 nose gear picture

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 Voodoo exhaust detail
RF-101C exhaust detail
Rf-101C tail from underneath

McDonnell F-101 Voodoo model
 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
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