McDonnell F-101A Voodoo- the One-Oh-Wonder

Would you like to see this in-game?
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At what BR would you like to see this?
  • 8.7
  • 9.0
  • 9.3
  • 9.7
  • 10.0
  • I said no

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How would you like the cannon armament implemented?
  • 4 guns
  • 3 guns
  • 4 guns stock, 3 guns modification
  • 3 guns stock, 4 guns modification
  • I said no

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History

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Initial Development
The story of the F-101 begins in 1946 with the XF-88. Designed as a penetration (escort) fighter to replace the likes of the P-51, it made its first flight in 1948. In early 1949, it engaged in stiff competition with counterparts such as the Lockheed XF-90 and the North American YF-93. Emerging victorious, the XF-88 secured a contract from the Air Force. However, this contract was canceled following the Soviet Union’s first successful nuclear test later that year as defense funds were hurriedly redirected to interceptors. It seemed the XF-88 was dead.

Resurrection
During the Korean War, American bomber formations faced substantial losses. The F-84 escorts accompanying B-29s lacked the necessary speed to intercept Korean MiGs effectively. While the F-86 was capable of competing with the MiG-15, its limited range and endurance rendered it unsuitable for escort missions. Consequently, in 1951, the penetration fighter program was revived. McDonnell proposed an enlarged version of the XF-88, which competed against seven other proposals, including upgraded models of the XF-90 and YF-93 from the original 1949 competition. Considering the excellent performance of the XF-88 in 1949, it’s no surprise that it once again dominated the competition. The improved, enlarged XF-88 was redesignated the F-101. Fiscal Year 1952 allocated significant resources to the development of the F-101. In an attempt to get the aircraft into service as soon as possible, the F-101 was to enter production without creating any prototypes. If everything went right, this would produce an aircraft much faster than a conventional development cycle. If anything went wrong or there were significant changes made to the design requirements, it would result in delays and budget overflows.

Changing Requirements
Almost immediately, design requirements were changed. While the original XF-88 was propelled by a pair of J34 turbojets, the production model of the XF-88 and its successor, the F-101, were slated to adopt more robust J46 engines. However, in December of '51, this plan shifted towards the significantly more potent afterburning J71 engines. Offering double the power of the J46 and triple that of the J34, the J71 represented a substantial upgrade. Yet, despite the considerable power boost, the Air Force expressed dissatisfaction with the F-101’s engine capability and insisted on equipping it with a pair of afterburning J57s. Unlike the previous series of engines, which necessitated only minor adjustments to the airframe of the F-101, the installation of the J57s posed significant challenges. The air intakes required a complete redesign, and the fuselage had to be stretched and widened significantly in order to fit the 200% increased fuel capacity over the XF-88 required to maintain the aircraft’s range. To accommodate the higher mass and speed of the aircraft, the wings were redesigned to be larger and thinner. The tail was also relocated to the top of the vertical stabilizer. With the end of the Korean War, the F-101 was no longer as urgent of a priority. A tactical nuclear strike capability was requested, and prototypes were reintroduced as a requirement before production would begin. Despite the design modifications, McDonnell managed to deliver the first prototype right on schedule, with the F-101 completing its maiden flight in late 1954.

End of the Penetration Fighter
By 1954, the primary bomber of the USAF was no longer the B-29 that the XF-88 was originally designed to escort. The B-36 and B-52 had up to double the Superfortress’ range, rendering the F-101, with its XF-88-comparable range, inadequate for escort duties. In 1954, the Strategic Air Command abandoned the F-101 project.

Birth of the Tactical Fighter
While SAC had abandoned the F-101, the Air Force as a whole hadn’t given up on it yet. The addition of a tactical nuclear strike capability, though initially an afterthought, made the aircraft extremely appealing to the Tactical Air Command (TAC). Thus, the F-101 was reborn as a tactical fighter-bomber, tasked with executing high-speed tactical nuclear strikes and serving as a high-speed, high-altitude interceptor. The F-101 was already well-suited for these roles, requiring only minor avionics changes to accommodate the dual missions. The F-101A variant featured four chin-mounted M39 cannons, each carrying 200 rounds, along with an AN/APS-54 radar and advanced MA-7 Fire Control System. In service, the upper right M39 was usually replaced with a TACAN (navigation) antenna. Additionally, the F-101A could carry a single Mk 7, 28, or 43 “special store” (nuclear bomb). The AN/APS-54 radar and MA-7 FCS provided either radar ranging and lead indication or terrain navigation, depending on mission profile. Special stores could be dropped manually or utilizing the Low Altitude Bombing System.

Production and Problems
The first F-101A prototype rolled out in August 1954, followed by three more before the year’s end. Flight tests during 1955 revealed a number of issues, the most significant of which was the aircraft’s violent tendency to pitch up abruptly and aggressively even in level flight. This problem was exacerbated by the Voodoo’s T-tail design, a configuration plagued by extreme instability at high positive angles of attack. During 1955 and 1956, production continued slowly as over 2,000 changes and improvements were made to the design. By 1957, the aircraft’s issues had been resolved and it was approved for service. 50 operational aircraft would be delivered between May and November that year. Including 27 developmental and experimental aircraft, 77 F-101As were produced in total. Despite its teething problems during development (including the death of a Korean War double ace), the F-101A actually boasts the lowest first-year accident rate of any USAF fighter.

Service and Further Development
Fortunately, the Cold War never escalated to the point where the F-101 was needed to perform a nuclear strike or intercept nuclear bombers. As such, it had a rather short and uneventful service life. Nevertheless, it served as a crucial component of US nuclear capabilities during the height of the Cold War. Renowned for its smooth handling, excellent speed, and impressive climb rate, it earned the affectionate moniker “One-Oh-Wonder”. The type was phased out of service in 1965. The same year, 29 of the recently decommissioned F-101As were converted to RF-101G reconnaissance aircraft, serving in Vietnam. Furthermore, some of the 27 experimental aircraft were repurposed as testbeds for various technologies and engines. Notably, the JF-101, equipped with more powerful engines, held the air speed record of 1,943km/h between December 1957 and May 1958, when its record was surpassed by the YF-104A.

Meet the Family
The F-101 family had quite a few later variants, the simplest of these being the F-101C, essentially an F-101A with reinforced wings. By far the most successful variant was the F-101B and its Canadian CF-101B twin. Developed as a two-man interim interceptor due to delays in the F-102’s development, the F-101B dispensed with cannons in favour of Falcon air-to-air missiles. Additional variants included the unarmed RF-101A, C, and H fast reconnaissance aircraft. Alongside the previously mentioned RF-101G, these were the only variants to see active combat. The F-101F and TF-101F trainers also entered service, differing only in whether the airframe was newly built or converted. Canada converted some of their CF-101Bs into RF-101B reconnaissance aircraft and CF-101F trainers. Finally, a number of aircraft were converted to one-off prototypes, testbeds, and the like.

Specifications
Airframe
Length: 20.5m
Span: 12.1m
Height: 5.5m
Wing area: 34.2m^2
Minimum wing loading: 336.5kg/m^2
Maximum wing loading: 676.4kg/m^2
Aspect ratio: 4.28
Wing sweep: 36.6deg
Empty Weight: 11,509kg
Loaded Weight: 16,100kg
MTOW: 23,133kg

Performance
Max speed at sea level: 1,180km/h (Mach 0.96)
Max speed at altitude (10.7km): 1,624km/h (Mach 1.52)
Max climb rate at sea level: 235m/s
Minimum time sea level to 20,000ft (6.10km): 188s
Minimum time sea level to 30,000ft (9.14km): 324s
*time to altitude is at combat weight and includes takeoff
Max safe g: 6.33
Stall speed: 200km/h

Powerplant
2x Pratt and Whitney J57-P-13
Max thrust each (dry): 45.4kN
Max thrust each (wet): 66.7kN
Max total thrust (WEP): 133.4kN
Max TWR: 1.18

Avionics
APS-54 radar
MA-7 FCS- provides radar lead indication

Armament
3 or 4x 20mm M39, 200rpg
2x 450gal external fuel tanks

The F-101A in game
Performance-wise, the F-101 is very comparable to the MiG-19S. It features excellent speed, climb rate, and acceleration; good maneuverability; though somewhat limited firepower. Introducing the F-101 into the American tech tree would offer players a viable alternative to the less agile F-104s and F-100. In terms of placement, the F-101A would fit well either before or after the F-104A/C folder. After would be my suggestion, as it would provide a smoother progression to potential future additions to that line, such as the F-106.
While the F-101A never saw combat, it played a significant role both offensively and defensively in the Cold War nuclear standoff. Notably, it was the first production aircraft to surpass 1000mph in level flight, and RF-101s conducted some of the highest speed combat missions of any US aircraft, second only to the legendary SR-71. Furthermore, subsequent variants like the F-101B, CF-101B, and RF-101 remained operational as late as the 1980s. As such a historically significant aircraft, the F-101A deserves a spot in-game.

Photos

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The original XF-88 prototype

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1952 initial mockup of the F-101, note the lower tail plane and smaller intakes


Some basic schematics of the F-101A, showing dimensions and locations of internal features


Basic performance data on the F-101A


The first F-101A prototype, with visibly larger intakes for the J57s and much higher tail position

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First flight of the One-Oh-Wonder


An F-101A in flight over Texas, note the lack of a nose probe on operational aircraft


An F-101A with the external fuel tanks and what is likely a dummy bomb


The F-101A also features a drag chute to compensate for its high landing speed


The Century Series fighters- from bottom: F-104, F-100, F-102, F-101, and F-105


The F-101 is a big bird, here’s an F-101B alongside an F-4C and F-15A

Sources

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Avialogs: Aviation Library - F-101A Voodoo Standard Aircraft Characteristics - November 1962
Avialogs: Aviation Library - T.O. 1F-101(R)(Y)A-1 Utility Flight Manual F-101 and Rf/YRF-101A Aircraft
McDonnell F-101A and C > National Museum of the United States Air Force™ > Display
McDonnell F-101A Voodoo | This Day in Aviation
McDonnell F-101A Voodoo
1946 USAAF Penetration Fighter (XF-88, XF-90) | Secret Projects Forum
F-101 Competition | Secret Projects Forum

3 Likes

Hazzah! Someone made the post for the first Voodoo! I was considering it but then thought the writeup on the history might be too lengthy so I took a shortcut and did the variant with a shorter history haha.

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Honestly, this jet should have joined the game earlier on, but it will still be a nice addition to the game!
Also, for it’s armament, I think it should also receive the Falcon air-to-air missiles as an option since it was tested and developed on several platforms including F-101 (even if it wasn’t fully adopted in service until later on). This missile will be a bit worse than Aim-9Bs, but it’s always nice to have options, like the first AAM missiles for the British and French aircraft.

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Falcons were definitely not worse than AIM-9Bs, that’s a misconception originating from them being frequently fired out of envelope.

I’m not familiar with the 101A/Cs Falcon carriage or what variants that would be, but at least the AIM-4F/G could pull a whopping 25g. There’s not really any missile in-game with a 1:1 comparison, but the AIM-4 would most likely be essentially a worse R-60, better than any early AIM-9 less perhaps the D.

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F-101A would be 9.3 BR same MiG-19PT, MiG-19S, F-100A/F-100D/F-100F Super Sabre, Lightning F.6, Buccaneer S.2, Shenyang J-6A, Shenyang F-5, Chengdu J-7II, J-32B, MiG-21F-13, CL-13B Mk.6 and A-4N but maneuverability & climb rate better (except F-104A & F-104C Starfighter)

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I agree, that’s my idea
great flight performance except wing rip, and good gun armament but no missiles

But wouldn’t be at 8.7 & 9.0 BR ?

F-101C like F-101A but armed unguided bomb ?

The F-101 is extremely fast and has an exceptional climb rate, plus it benefits from the MA-7 FCS which calculates gun lead. I don’t believe it should be the same BR as subsonic aircraft such as MiG-15/17s and Sabres.

+1, I’ve always loved this aircraft and it’s a really huge shame Gaijin skipped out on most of the Century Series

3 Likes

I agree, especially the 101s, 106, and 111s
There are so many interesting Korean and Vietnam War aircraft that are yet to be added

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+1 Century series fighters are always a welcome addition

I think it would be a great addition to the game, tho maybe instead of in the fighter line, it could be foldered with the f84f.
I know some people will disagree but to me that feels like the best spot for it.
Either way, if it’s in the game I don’t really care where it ends up lol

Why would it go there? The F-84F is a strike fighter of BR 8.3 in the strike fighter line, while the F-101 is a pure interceptor with no air-to-ground ordinance at a BR of 9.3.

FINALLY, someone made a suggestion for the gun-armed Voodoo!
Immediate +1 from me! We need the see the rest of the Century Series, no matter how. If we could get this (F-101A or F-101C) as TT, the F-101B as maybe a premium or foldered vehicle, F-102A as premium, event, or TT, and the F-106 as TT, we’d have them all

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