The all-weather-interceptor F-101 Voodoo aircraft was born from the McDonnell XF-88.

The McDonnell F-101 Voodoo served the U.S. Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force as a supersonic jet fighter. Initially designed for the Strategic Air Command by McDonnell Aircraft as a long-range bomber escort, the Voodoo was instead developed for the Tactical Air Command as a nuclear-armed fighter-bomber and as a photo-recognition aircraft based on the same airframe.

An F-101A set a number of world speed records for jet-powered aircraft, including fastest airspeed, on December 12, 1957, reaching 1943 km per hour. Until 1979, they operated in the role of recognition.

Originally created as one of the most versatile aircraft ever, during reconnaissance missions, the F-101 Voodoo cemented its place in history. It also has supersonic fighters, however, on its resume, all weather interceptors and bomber escorts.

The initial production of the F-101 Voodoo was to escort long-range bombers for Strategic Air Command. But the F-101 Voodoo escort services were no longer needed with the rise of the B-52, a high-altitude jet bomber. Since the B-52 came to power right at the start of production of the F-101, tweaks were made to the Voodoo to transform it into an Air Force tactical and air defense aircraft.

The all-weather-interceptor F-101 Voodoo aircraft was born from the McDonnell XF-88. It was the first flight over the Muroc Dry Lake Air Base in California in 1948. Not long after, the Air Force canceled the project when the Korean War began after only two XF-88s were produced. The Air Force was ready to continue the project four years later and gave McDonnell a contract to start production on the XF-88-based F-101 series.

Multiple versions of the F-101 Voodoo have been produced with multiple distinct intentions. The F-101A was a fighter / bomber; the F-101B was a long-range interceptor with two seats rather than one; the F-101C was an upgraded version of the F-101; the RF-101A was designed for recognition purposes just like the RF-101C. The main difference between the two was that for a two-man crew the RF-101C was built. The TF-101B was built as a trainer aircraft and the CF-101F was built and licensed for the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Speed was what put the F-101 Voodoo on the map, what made it famous was recognition during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The F-101 has established both transcontinental and world speed records. The RF-101A set the record for transcontinental flight on November 27, 1957–during Operation Sun Run. It was flying out of L.A. In amazing six hours and 46 minutes back to New York. Seventeen days later, the F-101A fighter / bomber set a new world speed record during Operation Firewall. The aircraft flew at 1,943 km/h over the Mojave Desert and then stamped the Voodoo in the record books.

But during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the F-101s were best known for their work. RF-101s flew over 80 reconnaissance flights across Cuba, and it was during one of those flights that images could be seen of Cuba dismantling its nuclear bases. Because of this important information, President Kennedy stated that during the reconnaissance flights of the Cuban Missile Crisis–the 363rd Tactical Recognition Wing pilots–the pilots had done as much to contribute to the safety of the United States as any other group of men in history.

At the Vietnam battlefield, the danger of the F-101 Voodoo did not come from the outstanding combat characteristics that come from its versatile role.

Specifically, the F-101 Voodoo could act as a long-range escort fighter, bomber-fighter, interceptor fighter or surveillance-reconnaissance aircraft. In every position, the F-101 Voodoo could work well in all weather conditions, it can be said that this fighter was an aerial “eye” of the US Air Force in the early 1960s at the Vietnam Battlefield.

In 1986, the last Voodoo was retired.

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