The Viking Voodoos - The F-101 Voodoo in Norwegian service

Started by Pellson, February 20, 2023, 02:49:46 AM

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During the Second World War, the German Kriegsmarine submarines thoroughly drove home the lesson of uninterrupted sea transport lanes across the northern Atlantic to the allies. Postwar, as the Soviet intention to dominate Europe became abundantly clear, the need to keep them out of the Atlantic in order to be able to defend western Europe became imminent. The solution was soon understood to be an as effective blocking as possible of the only choke point, the Greenland-Iceland-UK gap, abbreviated the GIUK gap. While both British and US naval forces formed task groups to deal with surface and submarine threats, the air arena initially was less monitored, mainly due to the vast distances a Soviet aircraft would have to travel to deploy to the area in question, and secondly due to the limited capacity of the existing fighter designs. But Soviet capacity grew and some American designs were fielded to counter this emerging threat.

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In the 1950's, the responsibility to monitor and defend the GIUK gap mainly rested on the long range F-89 Scorpion interceptors of the no 57th FIS, USAF, based on Keflavik, Iceland. Somewhat supporting the eastern flank was no 331 Skvadron RNoAF, flying F-86F's over the northern approaches. However, the Sabre's lack of radar meant that long range maritime patrol and strike aircraft with relative ease could sneak past the Norwegians at night, and despite radar stations in a chain from Greenland via Iceland, the Faroes and Shetlands to Norway, the coverage at low level was limited.
This problem got significantly worse in the late 1950's when the Soviet Naval Aviation began fielding Tu-95 Bears and Myasishchev 3M Bisons. These were long range for real and could carry heavy "carrier killer" antiship missiles. Worse – they were fast enough to make intercepts difficult even for the Scorpions.

In 1961, the 331st converted to the F-104G Starfighter. This brought both the much-vaunted allweather capability so often needed over the stormy northern Atlantic, but also the speed to catch any Soviet bomber. What it still lacked was range. As the weather was so unpredictable, many times, the RNoAF QRA fighters would have to divert south, and far south too. This left precious little time in the air off Nordkapp, and if the Soviets just bothered to have a distant peak at the north pole on their passing, the Starfighters were out of range. In 1962, The 57th also modernized, but they went for the F-102A Delta Dagger. While the Deuce's speed still left something to be desired, it had the range to cover more of the area around Iceland, and it also possessed better systems to cope with low visibility landings. Still, however, with only 16 Deuces and 16 Starfighters between eastern Greenland and Murmansk, the actual air superiority coverage was pretty thin. In the long run, this was untenable. On more than one occasion, NATO naval task forces were caught out by suddenly appearing Soviet bombers on the horizon, something that almost certainly would have spelled death for thousands of allied servicemen in a war.

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The obvious solution seemed to be stationing more American units in the region, but the American presence at Keflavik already put some strain on the local population, being rather small. Rather, in 1957, a programme had been initiated to reinforce allied air forces in order to gain an improved air defence coverage but at the same time make it as smooth on the affected populations as possible. Under this programme, the Royal Danish Air force were eventually given two squadrons of Delta Daggers for stationing on Greenland and the Faroes, but also the Royal Norwegian Air Force was approached with the aim of better covering the northern approaches and effectively create a multilayered air defence over the gap. The Norwegians were interested, but their experiences with the singleseat Sabres made them prefer the twoseat F-101B Voodoo over the singleseat F-102 due to the nature of the long, dark patrols and the frequent diversions to other bases because of the unreliable weather. Lessening the pilot workload was seen as a priority. Also, the Voodoo had a searchlight in the port side of the nose, a very helpful feature when trying to identify an unknown aircraft in the dark arctic night.

In 1962, the first 14 Voodoos were delivered to Andoya Air Base in northernmost Norway. They were identical to their American and Canadian counterparts and introduction went smoothly despite the Voodoo's reputation of being difficult and dangerous to fly. During the following year, no 334 Skvadron was declared operational and assumed the air defence over northernmost Norway and the Norwegian Sea. It soon became clear that the vast area of operations demanded more airframes why a second batch of 24 Voodoos were transferred, reinforcing no 334 but also equipping no 338 Skvadron which joined its sister unit at Andoya. As the Soviet maritime aviation operations over the northern Atlantic increased, together, the two viking Voodoo units performed several identifications every week.

In the late 1960's, the limitations of the Voodoo's AIM-4 Falcon missile armament was well understood and the Americans approached both the Royal Canadian Air Force as well as the RNoAF with a suggestion to replace the Voodoos with AIM-7 Sparrow carrying F-4 Phantoms. These would however come at a cost, and as both the Canadians and the Norwegians had reached very good serviceability records on their respective Voodoo fleets, both nations declined, rather initiating a study to modernize and rearm their existing interceptors. Also, the Voodoo enjoyed better combat radius, a factor important over the vast areas of operation these two air forces were responsible for.
Fairly quickly, it was decided to scrap the cumbersome and heavy rotating weapons bay door, and as the bay itself was too short for the newer missiles, these would have to be carried externally. However, the Voodoo fuselage design didn't have the obvious corners where the Phantom housed their semi-recessed weapons why a simpler solution was found. A pallet was introduced under/between the engines, allowing for one missile there, between the drop tanks, and a second missile was semi-recessed in front of the first one, its main wing sticking into the former weapons bay. That bay was now entirely occupied by a now permanent extra fuel tank, adding another 30 min on station.
The radar was changed to the AN/APG-120 from the F-4E, but as the Voodoo had more spacious electronic bays, improvements could be made, facilitating a better look down – shoot down capacity from the start. Also, most "Bold Journey"-programme improvements were carried over from the US Voodoos, including the pitch-up preventer and the surprisingly well-functioning passive IR seeker in place of the retractable refuelling probe in the upper nose. Finally, a light missile pylon rated for carrying a single AIM-9 Sidewinder was added under each outer wing as a clearly visible close range weapon was deemed useful also in peacetime operations, to emphasize the seriousness to any enemy aircraft being caught in an area where it wasn't supposed to be.

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While these improvements only produced an interceptor with two medium range SARH missiles in comparison to the Phantoms four, the markedly longer range of the Voodoo and the fact that it originally actually also only carried four missiles made the deal acceptable, and all Canadian and Norwegian Voodoos were refurbished and redelivered as (C)F-101J's  during 1970-1971. While being phased out in Canada during the late 1970's and early 1980's, in Norway, their systems were again upgraded in the early 1980's as the new F-16's lacked SARH capacity. Accordingly, one Sqn (no 338) was kept all the way to 1992 when they finally disbanded. By then, the Voodoos often were used as mini-AWACS's, using their WSO and the superior radar to guide accompanying F-16's in interceptions.
The Voodoo was well liked in Norwegian service and found a trusty companion over the dark arctic oceans. Only two hull losses occurred during the thirty years of service, a figure much vaunted by the Americans. Both these losses were found to originate from pilot mistakes, leading to the loss of one pilot and his WSO when they flew into a mountain top on approach to a dispersed base in bad weather. The other crew managed to bail out safely from their Voodoo, having run out of fuel due to a somewhat optimistic mission profile. 


This is another refurbishment of a build from my youth. Originally, it was an almost OOB Matchbox 1/72 USAF ADC Voodoo, but I never really fancied the big "US Air Force" logo on the nose, and having embarked on the GIUK gap reinforcement idea with the Danish Super Deuce, going further down that alley with a Norwegian counterpart seemed pretty straightforward.

While the scheme alterations are minimal, to say the least, (the Norwegian air defence grey is just a tad bluer than the ADC grey), the revamping of the missiles are somewhat more conspicuous. I always found the Voodoo all but unarmed, and considering the limited performance of the Falcon armament, adding Sidewinders seemed a good idea. And while at it, why not try to remedy the SARH situation too? Originally, I fiddled around with three to four Sparrows, but in the end, I realised that I wasn't easily going to fit more than two if I wanted clearance from the drop tanks on launch. So two it became, and as said in the backstory, it's no less than the original number.

In reality, like the Danish F-102, this would have been a much too expensive aircraft to operate for a small scandinavian country, but with an imagined operations support budget, it looks quite natural, methinks.
Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!


Scale?  Kit used?  Looks interesting but without that information I cannot tell if it is worth a second look...   :banghead:
How to reduce carbon emissions - Tip #1 - Walk to the Bar for drinks.


Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!


"I'm a precisional instrument of speed and aromatics." - Tow Mater.

"People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing all day." - A. A. Milne.

Old Wombat

I have a 1/72 (Hasegawa?) RF-101 Voodoo somewhere in the stash but I think it's in the box(es) of kits I've put aside for my grandson, when he's old enough (14 months is, perhaps, just a touch young for swinging hobby knives & sprue cutters).

However, it's an aircraft I really like the look of, so maybe I should get myself a 1/48 version. ;)

PS: A quick search indicates that that idea may be more difficult to achieve than I thought as Kitty Hawk seem to have been the only company to release a 1/48 Voodoo (3 versions, in fact) but they're out of business. :-\
Has a life outside of What-If & wishes it would stop interfering!

"The purpose of all War is Peace" - St. Augustine

veritas ad mortus veritas est


You can't go wrong with a Voodoo, such a good-looking machine.
What If? & Secret Project SIG member.
On the go: Beaumaris/Battle/Bronco/Barracuda/Flatning/Hellcat IV/Hunter PR11/Hurricane IIb/Ice Cream Tank/JP T4/Jumo MiG-15/P1103 (early)/P1154-ish/Phantom FG1/I-153/Sea Hawk T7/Spitfire XII/Spitfire Tr18/Twin Otter/FrankenCOIN/Frankenfighter


Quote from: kitbasher on February 20, 2023, 06:49:33 AMYou can't go wrong with a Voodoo, such a good-looking machine.

Second that.  Such a classic shape.  Great job with this one.   :thumbsup:
So I got that going for me...which is nice....


An epic backstory! The Voodoo has been on my mind lately so this hits the spot.


"Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot."
 - Sandman: A Midsummer Night's Dream, by Neil Gaiman

"I dunno, I'm making this up as I go."
 - Indiana Jones


Quote from: SPINNERS on February 20, 2023, 09:58:16 AMAn epic backstory! The Voodoo has been on my mind lately so this hits the spot.

Thanks! I have seen your recent F-101C renderings. They're great!
Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!

The Rat

As someone who fondly remembers the CF-101 flight displays,  :wub:  :thumbsup:  :wub:  :thumbsup:  :wub:  :thumbsup:
Love that Voodoo grey!
"My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought, cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives." Hedley Lamarr, Blazing Saddles

Life is too short to worry about perfection

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Quote from: Pellson on February 20, 2023, 03:23:32 AM
Quote from: Pellson on February 20, 2023, 02:49:46 AM...Originally, it was an almost OOB Matchbox 1/72 USAF ADC Voodoo...

Ah, OK, excellent choice, mate.  Only the Monogram kit is better.  The old Hasegawa one is OK but looking a bit old now.   :thumbsup:
How to reduce carbon emissions - Tip #1 - Walk to the Bar for drinks.


"Sticks and stones may break some bones but a 3.57's gonna blow your damn head off!!"


Quote from: rickshaw on February 20, 2023, 04:53:47 PM
Quote from: Pellson on February 20, 2023, 03:23:32 AM
Quote from: Pellson on February 20, 2023, 02:49:46 AM...Originally, it was an almost OOB Matchbox 1/72 USAF ADC Voodoo...

Ah, OK, excellent choice, mate.  Only the Monogram kit is better.  The old Hasegawa one is OK but looking a bit old now.   :thumbsup:

The Monogram kit is way better, but as said, this was already built, so..  ;)
I have a Monogram version in the StashTM, but I haven't decided what to do with that yet. As things stand currently, I think it will be Canadian, but that might change, as things do..
I would also love to build another Matchbox one, but as a recce bird.
Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!