Citing numerous still-unsolved problems with the F-101, in May of 1956 the USAF ordered that production be halted yet
again. Although the hold order did not last very long, F-101A production remained limited to only eight airplanes per month
throughout most of the remainder of 1956. During this period, McDonnell spent most of its time in modifying existing F-101As
rather than in building new ones. Some 300 USAF-recommended changes were incorporated, plus some 2000
It took a long time for McDonnell to develop any sort of cure for the pitch-up problem. McDonnell fitted an active inhibitor
which helped to clear up the pitch-up problem, at least partially. Satisfied with the active inhibitor installed by McDonnell, the
Air Force finally rescinded its May production restrictions on November 26, 1956. Nevertheless, the pitch-up problem was
never completely cured, and remained a nuisance throughout the Voodoo's service life. Also never resolved was a problem
encountered in retracting the forward-folding nosewheel--beyond a speed of about 90 mph, it simply would not go up.
The F-101A was armed with four 20-mm cannon and could carry a single 1620 lb or 3271-lb "special store", i.e., a nuclear
bomb. The F-101As were equipped with the MA-7 fire control system as well with the LABS (Low-altitude Bombing
System) for toss-release of their nuclear bombs. The F-101A could not carry or deliver conventional bombs.
The first Voodoo delivered to an operational unit was a F-101A which reached the 27th Strategic Fighter Wing at Bergstrom
AFB on May 2, 1957. The last of 77 F-101As was delivered on November 21, 1957. Of the 77 F-101As accepted, only 50
of them actually reached operational units. The rest were used for experimental and test purposes to iron out various bugs and
never attained actual service.
On July 1, 1957, the 27th Strategic Fighter Wing was transferred to the Tactical Air Command and became the 27th
Fighter-Bomber Wing. The Wing had previously operated the F-84F Thunderstreak. The F-101A was assigned the mission of
nuclear strike, carrying a single nuclear bomb on its underfuselage centerline.
On September 25, 1958, an F-101A flew 1896 miles between Carswell AFB in Texas to Bermuda, completing the longest
nonstop/nonrefuelled flight yet accomplished in a Century Series fighter.
Once the problem with the tendency to pitch-up had been addressed by the installation of an active inhibitor, the F-101A
established an excellent safety record. In fact, the F-101A had the lowest first-year accident rate of any operational fighter in
Air Force history.
The F-101A began leaving the USAF inventory in 1965-66, when 27 of them were transferred to the Air National Guard. By
mid-1970, accidents, transfers, cannibalizations, and conversions had whittled down the USAF's F-101A fleet to only a
couple of planes.
The ninth F-101A (52-2426) was bailed to Pratt & Whitney to serve as a testbed for the more powerful J57-P-55 engines
planned for the F-101B interceptor. It was given the designation JF-101A, the "J" prefix indicating a temporary change of
configuration for test purposes. The new engine installations offered an afterburning thrust of 16,000 pounds, and featured a
large extension of the jetpipe to accommodate the longer afterburner section. Additional air scoops were installed underneath
the rear fuselage for afterburner cooling. The JF-101A was used by Major Adrian E. Drew to set a new absolute world speed
record of 1207.6 mph on December 12, 1957, taking the record away from the British Fairey Delta FD-2.
The first F-101A was bailed to General Electric in 1958 as a testbed for the J79-GE-1 turbojet. The designation NF-101A
was assigned to this modification, the N prefix indicating a permanent change in configuration for test purposes. This aircraft
was test flown with two J79s in 1958-59 before being retired to Amarillo AFB in Texas as a ground maintenance trainer.
Following their removal from active USAF service in 1965, eighteen ex-USAF F-101As (serial numbers 54-1445, 4119,
1452, 1455, 1457, 1461, 1462, 1463, 1468, 1469, 1470, 1472, 1475, 1479, 1481, 1482, 1484, and 1485) were modified
by Lockheed Aircraft Service Company of Ontario, California to serve as unarmed reconnaissance aircraft by the Air National
Guard. The armament was removed and new nose cones housing cameras were installed. These aircraft were redesignated
RF-101G. As compared to the RF-101A dedicated photo-reconnaissance version of the F-101A, the RF-101G had a
shorter and broader nose. Along with the RF-101H (an equivalent conversion of the F-101C), they served with the 154th
Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron of the Arkansas ANG, with the 165th TRS of the Kentucky ANG, and the 192nd TRS of
the Nevada ANG. Beginning in 1970, these aircraft were supplemented by RF-101Cs retired from active USAF stocks. The
last reconnaissance Voodoos were withdrawn from ANG service in 1979.
Serials of F-101A:
53-2418/2422 McDonnell F-101A-1-MC Voodoo
2418,2421/2425,2427 converted to JF-101A
53-2423/2430 McDonnell F-101A-5-MC Voodoo
53-2431/2436 McDonnell F-101A-10-MC Voodoo
53-2437/2446 McDonnell F-101A-15-MC Voodoo
54-1438/1443 McDonnell F-101A-20-MC Voodoo
54-1444/1452 McDonnell F-101A-25-MC Voodoo
1445 converted to RF-101G
1449 converted to RF-101G
1451,1452 converted to RF-101G
54-1453/1465 McDonnell F-101A-30-MC Voodoo
1453/1455 converted to RF-101G
1457 converted to RF-101G
1459/1464 converted to RF-101G
54-1466/1485 McDonnell F-101A-35-MC Voodoo
1466 converted to RF-101G
1468 converted to RF-101G
1470 converted to RF-101G
1472,1473 converted to RF-101G
1475/1477 converted to RF-101G
1479 converted to RF-101G
1481,1482 converted to RF-101G
1484,1485 converted to RF-101G
Specification of the F-101A:
Engine: Two Pratt & Whitney J57-P-13 turbojets, 10,200 lb.s.t. dry and 15,000
lb.s.t. with afterburner.
Dimensions: wingspan 39 feet 8 inches, length 67 feet 5 inches,
height 18 feet 0 inches, wing area 368 square feet.
Performance: Maximum speed 1009 mph at 35,000 feet. Initial climb
rate 44,100 feet/min. Service ceiling 55,800 feet, combat ceiling
49,450 feet. Normal range 1900 miles, maximum range 2925 miles.
Weights: 24,970 pounds empty, 48,120 pounds gross, 39,495 pounds
combat weight, 50,000 pounds maximum takeoff.
Fuel: Maximum internal fuel load was 2341 US gallons. A total of
three under-fuselage drop tanks could be carried, bringing maximum
fuel load to 3467 US gallons.
Armament: Four 20-mm Pontiac M-39 cannon in the nose with 200 rpg. A
single "special store" (i.e., nuclear bomb) could be carried on the
McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Since 1920: Volume II, Rene J.
Francillon, Naval Institute Press, 1990.
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft Armament, Bill Gunston,
United States Military Aircraft Since 1909, Gordon Swanborough and
Peter M. Bowers, Smithsonian, 1989.
The American Fighter, Enzo Angelucci and Peter Bowers, Orion, 1987.
Fighters of the United States Air Force, Robert F. Dorr and David
Donald, Temple Press Aerospace, 1990.
American Combat Planes, Third Enlarged Edition, Ray Wagner, Doubleday,
Post-World War II Fighters, 1945-1973, Marcelle Size Knaack, Office of
Air Force History, 1986.
McDonnell F-88/F-101 Voodoo Variant Briefing, Robert F. Dorr, Wings
of Fame, Vol 1, 1996.
Webmaster's note: All of the information above is provided by a friend of the FISRG, Joe Baugher (firstname.lastname@example.org)