Sixty-six years ago on 29th September 1954, the McDonnell F-101A Voodoo took to the air from Edwards Air Force Base for the first time. Not as well known as its successor, the McDonnell F-4 Phantom, the Voodoo was designed as a long-range escort fighter, but it was never used in that role.
It was first used as a penetration fighter intended to deliver tactical nuclear bombs on enemy military installations behind the Iron Curtain in the event that the Cold War became hot. It then achieved fame as an unarmed reconnaissance aircraft during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 and later in the early years of the Vietnam War.
Finally, of the 807 Voodoos built, most were used as two-seat all-weather interceptors, defending the North American continent from the waves of Soviet bombers expected to stream over the northern polar regions in the event that, again, the Cold War became hot. These Voodoos were also armed with nuclear weapons in this role, nuclear-tipped air-launched missiles intended to destroy many Soviet bombers with one atomic blast. It was a good idea at the time, apparently, provided the launching Voodoo was able to get away before it was destroyed by its own weapon!
The last Voodoos were retired from front-line active service in 1984.
McDonnell RF-101C Voodoo
Operation “Hand Clasp”, RAAF Amberley, October 1959