McDonnell RF-101C Voodoo on static display
By kjfitz @ 2007-05-27 11:33:51
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, the Voodoo served in a variety of other roles, including the fighter bomber, all-weather interceptor aircraft and photo reconnaissance roles. Reconnaissance Voodoos saw extensive service during the Vietnam War.
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. One hundred and sixty-six RF-101C were built, including 96 originally scheduled to be F-101C fighter-bombers.
The RF-101C saw service during the Cuban Missile Crisis and was sent to Vietnam in 1961, becoming the first USAF jet aircraft to serve there. RF-101C saw heavy service during the Vietnam War, losing the first F-101 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, 44 aircraft were lost — 31 to anti-aircraft fire, five to SAMs, one to an airfield attack, six to operational accidents, and one in air combat to a MiG-21 in September 1967. The RF-101C's speed made it largely immune to MiG interception. 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.
After withdrawal from Vietnam, the RF-101C continued to serve with USAF units through 1979.
In service, the RF-101C was nicknamed "Long Bird;" it was the only Voodoo to see combat. [Wikipedia]