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McDonnell F-101B Voodoo

McDonnell built 785 Voodoos, including 480 F-101Bs, which were two-seat, all-weather interceptors used by the Air Defense Command during the Cold War.  The Museum’s F-101 had been relegated to Aberdeen Proving Ground immediately after undergoing a major overhaul in the late 1980s and was in excellent condition. Unfortunately, because of its overall weight, the plane’s outer wing panels had to be removed to travel the Aberdeen Proving Ground roadways to an Army barge that transported it to Dark Head Cove lagoon before it was offloaded for delivery to Strawberry Point in 1994.  

F-101B Voodoo …..  Fast Facts  


  • The McDonnell F-101 Voodoo was originally designed as a long-range bomber escort for the US Air Force Strategic Air Command. However, when high-speed, high-altitude jet bombers like the B-52 entered active service, escort fighters were not needed. Therefore, before production began, the F-101's design was changed to fill both tactical and air defense roles. The F-101 eventually emerged as a tactical reconnaissance aircraft, as a long range interceptor, and as a nuclear strike aircraft.

  • The F-101 made its first flight on Sept. 29, 1954. The first production F-101A became operational in May 1957, followed by the F-101C in September 1957. Because of design modifications and the addition of a second seat, the F-101B was not delivered until January 1959.

  • By the time F-101 production ended in March 1961, McDonnell had built 807 Voodoos, including 480 F-101Bs, the two-seat, all-weather interceptor used by the Air Defense Command.

  • The Voodoo was the first production fighter capable of exceeding 1000 mph in level flight. On December 12, 1957 an F-101A fighter-bomber set a world speed record of 1,207 mph.

  • The F-101 was capable of delivering nuclear weapons.  In 1958 USAF operated three squadrons of Voodoos from RAF bases England. These units served as a strategic nuclear deterrent force, the Voodoo's long range putting almost all of the Warsaw Pact countries and targets up to 500 miles deep into the Soviet Union within reach.

  • In the reconnaissance versions, the Voodoo was the world's first supersonic photo-reconnaissance aircraft. These RF-101s were used widely for low-altitude photo coverage of missile sites during the 1962 Cuban Crisis and during the late 1960s in Southeast Asia.

  • The Air Force lost a total of 33 RF-101s in combat during the Vietnam War; an additional 6 were lost to other causes.

  • The museum’s F-101B (Serial No. 58-0303) was last flown by the 2nd Fighter Intercept Training Squadron, Tyndall AFB, FL.  Acquired from Aberdeen Proving Ground in 1995 and was transported to Lockheed Martin’s pier by barge. The plane is on loan to the museum from the US Army.

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