Conceived in the waning days of World War II as an escort for the mammoth Convair B-36 bomber, the McDonnell Model 36 Voodoo first took to the air in 1948. With advances in turbojet technology, aerial refueling, and miniaturized nuclear weapons, the Model 36 was recast as a fighter-bomber of unimaginable firepower: the F-101A Strategic Fighter. Overcoming tremendous developmental challenges, the Voodoo served into the late-1980s, nearly forty years after its maiden flight. As a nuclear strike aircraft, reconnaissance platform, and reliable high-performance interceptor, the McDonnell F-101 Voodoo carries the sole distinction among the famed Century Series fighters of serving in the most trouble spots, from the era of Eisenhower and Khrushchev through that of Reagan and Gorbachev, in the waning days of the Cold War. Based on hundreds of pages of recently declassified documents, this new work brings the Voodoo into its long-denied place in the limelight.
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Ronald Easley is a graduate of UC Davis and is a volunteer at the Aerospace Museum of California in Sacramento, in charge of the F-101B in the museum collection. He is a U.S. Army veteran of the Iraq campaign.
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