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F-101 Voodoo history and anecdotes

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  • F/A-XX
    Rank 5 Registered User
    • Apr 2011
    • 206

    F-101 Voodoo history and anecdotes

    Maybe it's the looks, maybe it's the fact that it never really seemed to find it's place in the USAF, but regardless I've always found the F-101 to be an interesting aircraft.

    I'm curious as to what pilots or ground crews thought of the aircraft. Did they consider it a capable machine? Were J79 powered variants ever seriously considered? What was the purpose of the F-101B when the F-102 Delta Dagger was introduced at about the same time?

    I've read a lot of interesting tales from the F-102 and F-106 community over the years, my father even witnessed some foolish pilot of one of these types loitering over an area where his National Guard unit was calling in mortar strikes for training. Yet I've never heard much about the Voodoo. Does anybody have anything interesting to say about this odd looking machine?
  • J Boyle
    With malice towards none
    • Oct 2004
    • 9793

    #2
    There is a new book, Voodoo Warriors, by Group Captain Nigel Walpole an RAF-exchange pilot (who would have guessed that with a name like Nigel? ) who discusses the type.

    He talks a lot about "tuck up" a pitch change that can occur under certain circumstances. Aside from that, he describes the VooDoo as a very capable jet in the three roles it was called onto do: nuke bomber, interceptor and reconnaissance
    Since he flew RF-101s and most of the book is anecdotal...filled with stories of his and his friends experiences. But, if something happened that wasn't in his circle of friends, it's not likely to be included in the book. He spends a great deal of time on RF-101 ops in SEA, but a friend of mine who won a Silver Star flying RF-101s in SEA isn't mentioned at all.

    The biggest fault of the book is he covers USAF F-101B interceptor operations, the largest user and most numerous of the type, in a mere 6 pages. However he spends 20+ pages on Canadian VooDoo ops. That's great if you want to know about the CAF, but the book is pretty much useless if you want to know about the nearly 30 years career of the 101 interceptors in the USAF and ANG. However, if you're looking for general comments about the type, the CAF F-101 stories are probably representative of USAF interceptor units.
    Last edited by J Boyle; 4th April 2012, 17:03.
    There are two sides to every story. The truth is usually somewhere between the two.

    Comment

    • lindoug
      Rank 5 Registered User
      • Mar 2006
      • 264

      #3
      For some detailed info and pilot anecdotes re the RF-101 in USAFE, PACAF, the USA, including Cuba, and Vietnam have a look at my book 'Tactical Reconnaissance in the Cold War', published by Pen and Sword 2006. I,think you'll find it interesting.
      Doug Gordon.
      Last edited by lindoug; 5th July 2012, 19:55.

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      • ~Alan~
        Rank 5 Registered User
        • Mar 2010
        • 5018

        #4
        Didn't they have some based at Alconbury back in the 60's ?
        Engine Failure:.... A condition which occurs when all fuel tanks mysteriously become filled with air.

        Comment

        • PhantomII
          Phantoms Phorever
          • Jan 2000
          • 8292

          #5
          They did indeed. I'm a few chapters past that part in Walpole's book.

          I currently reading about the 81st TFW and their nuke mission.

          J Boyle doesn't seem to think that highly of the book (perhaps I misread his comments though), but for the record, I've enjoyed it a great deal thus far. It's actually sitting on my bedside table as I type this.

          I like it for a number of reasons:

          1. The people side of the book is pretty extensive and once you get into a chapter a little ways, you get somewhat of a feel for what life was like being in the Voodoo community (especially the photo recce dudes). The personal side makes this book all the more enjoyable as it combines the information we can all read on the Internet about the F-101 (bases, mission types, etc.) with personal stories you'd be hard pressed to find in other places, or at least accounts of things that individuals did or were involved with in some way (some of which doesn't include crashes or other incidents).

          2. It seems to cover just about every aspect of the Voodoo's long career...as J Boyle pointed out there are some areas which are given much more attention than others (I'd have liked more info on Voodoo ops at Bergstrom with the 27th for example), but all in all you get an appreciation for just how important this jet was to the USAF in its heyday.

          3. I think it is great that someone from a foreign country has taken the time to write such an extensive work on such a classic American airplane.

          4. It's about the Voodoo! I guess I'm biased given that it's one of my favorite Cold War jets (or airplanes period really). Some of my earlier memories are of looking in awe at the RF-101C on display at Maxwell AFB, AL as a kid. Every time I see one today, I can't help but to stare. Each variant seems to have its own personality looks wise. It's a unique looking airplane for sure, but I like that aspect of it. I happen to think its a good looking airplane actually.

          Not to be disrespectful, but I think the TC underrates the aircraft and just how important it was in the various roles it performed for the USAF (don't forget Canada and Taiwan too) over the years.

          I strongly recommend "Voodoo Warriors" if you want to learn more about this most interesting of types.
          Fox-4!

          Comment

          • lindoug
            Rank 5 Registered User
            • Mar 2006
            • 264

            #6
            Originally posted by ~Alan~ View Post
            Didn't they have some based at Alconbury back in the 60's ?
            The F-101As and Cs were based at RAF Bentwaters with the 81st TFW. The RF-101As and Cs were based at Upper Heyford with the 66th TRW which came over from Laon, France as part of a unit shuffle when De Gaulle kicked the nuke based units out of France. The RF-101s were capable of carrying a 'special weapon' and the pilots practiced various delivery techniques.

            Comment

            • J Boyle
              With malice towards none
              • Oct 2004
              • 9793

              #7
              I enjoyed the book...especially the parts about the 81st at Bentwaters.

              My main complaints: that's it's too ancedotal..especially in SEA F-101 operations. A bit more research would have filled out the combat history.

              And
              That he doesn't give any details about USAF/ANG F-101B/F operations. Considering 480 of the VooDoos produced were interceptors and the ADC/ANG were the primary users of that type, it's a significant omission.

              He would have been better off restricting the book to just RF-operations.

              I give it 4 out of 5 stars...you simply can't write a book offering the history of the type and then ignore the most produced variant with the largest user.
              Last edited by J Boyle; 7th April 2012, 02:16.
              There are two sides to every story. The truth is usually somewhere between the two.

              Comment

              • Orion
                Rank 5 Registered User
                • Jun 2009
                • 704

                #8
                Is there a preserved F-101A/C?

                Regards
                David Mylchreest
                Steam and Model Railway videos http://www.youtube.com/user/PenrithBeacon
                Aviation videos http://www.youtube.com/user/austerfive

                Comment

                • pagen01
                  St Mawganphile
                  • Aug 2007
                  • 10711

                  #9
                  The first F-101A is preserved in a museum somewhere in Colorado, and an F-101C at Sheppard AFB ISTR.
                  http://www.abpic.co.uk/search.php?q=...t=most_popular

                  Comment

                  • Gooney Bird
                    Rank 5 Registered User
                    • Nov 2005
                    • 493

                    #10
                    Originally posted by lindoug View Post
                    The F-101As and Cs were based at RAF Bentwaters with the 81st TFW. The RF-101As and Cs were based at Upper Heyford with the 66th TRW which came over from Laon, France as part of a unit shuffle when De Gaulle kicked the nuke based units out of France. The RF-101s were capable of carrying a 'special weapon' and the pilots practiced various delivery techniques.
                    Weren't they also based at Woodbridge?

                    Comment

                    • J Boyle
                      With malice towards none
                      • Oct 2004
                      • 9793

                      #11
                      Originally posted by Gooney Bird View Post
                      Weren't they also based at Woodbridge?
                      Yes.
                      There are two sides to every story. The truth is usually somewhere between the two.

                      Comment

                      • PeterVerney
                        Rank 5 Registered User
                        • May 2009
                        • 1021

                        #12
                        Mention of the 81st TFW brings back memories. I worked on most of the airfields in East Anglia in the period 1958-66, and often visited their twin bases at Bentwaters and Woodbridge. It was always a bind doing work in the Special Weapons and Victor Alert areas, one had to be escorted by an unarmed guard who's job it was to parley with the armed guards, otherwise one was in serious danger of being shot. I could bore you all to death with stories of that era.
                        However, because I was a regular visitor, I had a 81st TFW pass in which the expiry date was marked as "Indefinite". On returning to the area in the middle '70s, I again occasionally visited BTW and WDB. On one occasion I inadvertently strayed into the VA area and was pounced on by a couple of squad cars, made to "spread em" against the side of my car and patted down. I was then hauled off to their little guardroom while my car was searched from end to end. I was put in a cell to await someone to positively ID me.
                        While there I heard the man in charge talking about me to someone in authority saying "we think we've got a NATO inspector who has a very unusual pass". However once the works and bricks man had been found who knew me it was all "Yessir, no sir" again, but I was told to get a new pass.
                        Man is not lost. Only temporarily uncertain of his position.

                        Comment

                        • ~Alan~
                          Rank 5 Registered User
                          • Mar 2010
                          • 5018

                          #13
                          So I take it that the F-101s which were at Alconbury, were only there for a
                          short while. Until they re-equipped with the RF-4C ?
                          Engine Failure:.... A condition which occurs when all fuel tanks mysteriously become filled with air.

                          Comment

                          • PhantomII
                            Phantoms Phorever
                            • Jan 2000
                            • 8292

                            #14
                            I apologize. I seem to have misspoken here. The 32nd TRS was flying the RF-101 at Laon in France before they went to Alconbury and there they got the RF-4C. Sorry about that.

                            If Voodoos ever flew out of Alconbury, I'm sure it was for their trip back to the States.

                            EDIT: J Boyle, I do see your point about the F-101B. I guess I was so happy to get some info on the A/C variants that I kinda overlooked the lack of ADC/ANG coverage. Still a good read though.
                            Fox-4!

                            Comment

                            • lindoug
                              Rank 5 Registered User
                              • Mar 2006
                              • 264

                              #15
                              Originally posted by Gooney Bird View Post
                              Weren't they also based at Woodbridge?
                              Yes, my apologies.
                              The 78th TFS of the 81st TFW was based at Woodbridge. The Voodoos were never based at Alconbury, which was the home of the 10th TRW.

                              Just, hopefully, to clarify(!!)
                              In the mid ‘60s much occurred which was to anticipate the departure of the Voodoo from Europe. The two most significant events were the imminent entry into service of the F-4 Phantom; and the decision by France to remove all foreign armed forces from the country. The disintegration and redeployment of the 66th TRW was one of the results of both these events. Both the 32nd and 38th TRS’ were transferred to the newly formed 26th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing which was activated on July 1st, 1965 at Toul Rosiere in France. The 32nd had been resident at Toul for a time and remained there; while the 38th remained at Ramstein. Both these units began immediate conversion to the RF-4C. Later in September, 1966; with the withdrawal of all NATO forces from France, the 26th TRW moved to Ramstein.

                              The 32nd TRS was assigned to the 10th TRW at Alconbury in 1966, although at this time it had no aircraft or aircrew assigned, these having been assigned to the 12th TRS at Mountain Home prior to deployment to SE Asia. The 22nd TRS ceased to be part of the 26th TRW in September, 1966, also joining the 67th TRW at Mountain Home AFB in Idaho. The Squadron did maintain a commitment to USAFE however.

                              On September 11th, 1966 the remaining two squadrons of the 66th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, the 17th and 18th TRS' landed at Upper Heyford.

                              The 17th TRS converted to the RF-4C and the 18th remained with the Voodoo before returning stateside to Shaw AFB the home of USAF Tac Recce in Sept. 1969; when the 20th TFW moved into UH. The 17th and their RF-4Cs moved to Zweibrucken to join the 86th TFW.
                              Last edited by lindoug; 5th July 2012, 19:55.

                              Comment

                              • ~Alan~
                                Rank 5 Registered User
                                • Mar 2010
                                • 5018

                                #16
                                Originally posted by PhantomII View Post
                                I apologize. I seem to have misspoken here. The 32nd TRS was flying the RF-101 at Laon in France before they went to Alconbury and there they got the RF-4C. Sorry about that.

                                If Voodoos ever flew out of Alconbury, I'm sure it was for their trip back to the States.
                                Way back then when I was in my teens, I used to go camping with my parents at weekends. A big group of us (about 20) were out for a Sunday morning walk. We walked along a country lane until we came to a gate across the road. On the other side were a lot of aircraft parked, and very soon US personnel turned up, probably thinking we were something to do with CND

                                Anyway, when I go home I consulted my Observers book of military aircraft, and came to the conclusion that they were F-101s.
                                Engine Failure:.... A condition which occurs when all fuel tanks mysteriously become filled with air.

                                Comment

                                • PhantomII
                                  Phantoms Phorever
                                  • Jan 2000
                                  • 8292

                                  #17
                                  Where was this?
                                  Fox-4!

                                  Comment

                                  • ~Alan~
                                    Rank 5 Registered User
                                    • Mar 2010
                                    • 5018

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by PhantomII View Post
                                    Where was this?
                                    If you were referring to my previous post, it was at Alconbury.
                                    Engine Failure:.... A condition which occurs when all fuel tanks mysteriously become filled with air.

                                    Comment

                                    • PhantomII
                                      Phantoms Phorever
                                      • Jan 2000
                                      • 8292

                                      #19
                                      Interesting. You happen to remember the year or approximate time?
                                      Fox-4!

                                      Comment

                                      • ~Alan~
                                        Rank 5 Registered User
                                        • Mar 2010
                                        • 5018

                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by PhantomII View Post
                                        Interesting. You happen to remember the year or approximate time?

                                        Blimey, my memory isn't that good.

                                        Early 60's is about as accurate as I can get, and would have been summertime.
                                        I think we were camping on a farm at Abbots Ripton
                                        Last edited by ~Alan~; 8th April 2012, 17:27.
                                        Engine Failure:.... A condition which occurs when all fuel tanks mysteriously become filled with air.

                                        Comment

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