McDonnell F-101 Voodoo "1954"

The McDonnell F-101 Voodoo is a supersonic jet fighter which served the United States Air Force (USAF) and the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).

McDonnell F-101 Voodoo "1954"

RoleFighter aircraft
ManufacturerMcDonnell Aircraft Corporation
First flight29 September 1954
IntroductionMay 1957
Retired1972, USAF
1982, US ANG
1984, Canada
Primary usersUnited States Air Force (historical)
Royal Canadian Air Force (historical)
Number built807
Developed fromMcDonnell XF-88 Voodoo
VariantsMcDonnell CF-101 Voodoo



McDonnell F-101 Voodoo "1954"

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McDonnell F-101 Voodoo "1954"

The McDonnell F-101 Voodoo is a supersonic jet fighter which served the United States Air Force (USAF) and the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).

Initially designed by McDonnell Aircraft Corporation as a long-range bomber escort (known as a penetration fighter) for the USAF’s Strategic Air Command (SAC), the Voodoo was instead developed as a nuclear-armed fighter-bomber for the USAF’s Tactical Air Command (TAC), and as a photo reconnaissance aircraft based on the same airframe. An F-101A set a number of world speed records for jet-powered aircraft, including fastest airspeed, attaining 1,207.6 miles (1,943.4 km) per hour on 12 December 1957.[1] They operated in the reconnaissance role until 1979.

Douglas F-101 Design


The Voodoo’s career as a fighter-bomber was relatively brief, but the reconnaissance versions served for some time. Along with the US Air Force’s Lockheed U-2 and US Navy’s Vought 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.[2] 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 1950s. The Phantom would retain the twin engines, twin crew for interception duties, and a tail mounted well above and behind the jet exhaust but was an evolution of the F3H Demon while the Voodoo was developed from the earlier XF-88 Voodoo.

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Douglas F-101 Voodoo (1954)

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


  • 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)
  • Empty weight: 28,495 lb (12,925 kg)
  • Gross weight: 45,665 lb (20,713 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 52,400 lb (23,768 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney J57-P-55 afterburning turbojet engines, 11,990 lbf (53.3 kN) thrust each dry, 16,900 lbf (75 kN) 
  • Maximum speed: 1,134 mph (1,825 km/h, 985 kn) at 35,000 ft (11,000 m)
  • Maximum speed: Mach 1.72
  • Range: 1,520 mi (2,450 km, 1,320 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 58,400 ft (17,800 m)
  • Rate of climb: 36,500 ft/min (185 m/s) 
  • Wing loading: 124 lb/sq ft (610 kg/m2)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.74



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Delays in the 1954 interceptor project led to demands for an interim interceptor aircraft design, a role that was eventually won by the B model of the Voodoo. This required extensive modifications to add a large radar to the nose of the aircraft, a second crew member to operate it, and a new weapons bay using a rotating door that kept its four AIM-4 Falcon missiles or two AIR-2 Genie rockets hidden within the airframe until it was time to be fired.

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