The F-101 Voodoo – an illustrated history of McDonnell’s Heavyweight Fighter

Title – The F-101 Voodoo – an illustrated history of McDonnell’s Heavyweight Fighter

Author – Ronald Easley

Author Ronald Easley has been able to bring together in this book some of the most fascinating insights to the F-101 Voodoo operations and recently declassified documents covering the F-101 design information and service testing. The famous Voodoo can be traced back to towards the end of 1945, with the wind down of WW2 approaching a new jet fighter was needed for the role of escorting the soon to be in service the large and long range B-36 Peacemaker on future USAF missions. Little did anyone know that in 1945….. this new jet fighter design would fly into the mid-1980s!.


This post war jet fighter was to be a long range escort and provide protection to the bomber. The new jet eventually flew in 1948 in prototype form as the McDonnell XF-88. For its time the XF-88 was in some test pilots recollections, a superb fighter which if it had improvements could have also served well in the Korean War. This large fighter then developed over the next decade into the improved and expanded role F-101 Voodoo and in doing so broke several speed records in the 1950s. Going behind the men and uniform, delving into aspects of the developmental and testing phases, Ronald explains to the reader various problems faced by the early F-101 pilots and ground crews.
Nicknamed the “One-oh-Wonder”, the F-101 became a highly capable platform as it was refined into a multi-use platform for the USAF. The F-101 evolved into new functions – strike fighter, interceptor and reconnaissance roles.

The F-101 became one of the first jet fighter / strike fighter to carry high yield nuclear weapons and which formed part of the USA nuclear deterrence force at home and in Europe during the Cold War. The aircraft type was part of weapon effect missions during nuclear testing in the US Pacific proving grounds.
The F-101 eventually loss the role of SAC fighter escort requirement by the mid 1950s and the capable airframe design was picked up by TAC instead and developed as a strike fighter and reconnaissance platform. TAC took the F-101 to war but its combat history was crafted around the RF-101 Voodoo reconnaissance version only, which served in Lebanon, Cuba and Vietnam. The Vietnam combat missions last until 1970 when the RF-101C fleet size was reduced to levels where it couldn’t sustain wartime attrition in Vietnam and were returned home. The photo capabilities of the RF-101 and its pilot’s braveness under fire with no weapons became the stuff of legends. The reconnaissance version last until 1979 in USAF/ ANG service.

USAF ADC also showed interest in the 1950s in the Voodoo and expanding on the old SAC requirements turned the baseline F-101 into the F-101B long range interceptor. Eventually the ANG used the F-101B for CONUS interceptor duties alongside the Royal Canadian Air Force. Using short range AIM-4 missiles alongside the fearsome AIR-2 Genie nuclear missile designed to destroy bomber fleets, the F-101 served alongside other Century series aircraft as a the vanguard of the US aerial defence in the very hot years of the cold war. The USAF ADC and ANG use ended in 1982. RF-101 operational use by the RCOF (Taiwan) in the 1950-1970s saw many reconnaissance missions flown over China.

The last ever flying Voodoo pair ceased flying in Canada during 1987 – the EF-101B, loaned from the US and a CF-101F both in Canadian markings.
Perhaps the most intriguing and startling revelation you gain from Ronald’s book is that some of the F-101 design, performance and capabilities are still classified nearly 70years later. A highly recommended book for anyone interested in the Cold War era jet fighter which served for so long despite not getting the same glory and recognition as other fellow Century Series aircraft.


Book detail

ISBN13: 9780764347993

Size: 8 1/2″ x 11″

Pages: 248 pages / 333 colour and black white photos.

Binding: hard cover

Available direct from Schifferbooks at for $59.99 US plus postage.