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Monogram 1/48 RF-101B Voodoo Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review May 2007 Manufacturer Monogram
Subject RF-101B Voodoo Scale 1/48
Kit Number 5818 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Best RF-101B in any scale Cons
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look


McDonnell Aircraft Corporation developed a new aircraft design in response to the USAAF's need for a high-speed bomber escort fighter. The resulting XF-88 had disappointing performance until the twin engines were fitted with afterburners. While the results were good, the program was cancelled. With the outbreak of the Korean War a year later in 1951, a new bomber escort fighter was requested and McDonnell submitted an enlarged XF-88. They won the competition and the aircraft was redesignated RF-101 Voodoo.

The F-101 was a twin-engined fighter powered by the Pratt & Whitney J57 engine, the same powerplant that powered the Air Force's first supersonic fighter - the F-100 Super Sabre, as well as the Navy's first supersonic fighter, the F8U (F-8) Crusader. Unlike the Mach 1+ F-100, the F-101A fighter could reach Mach 2.25, with the F-101B interceptor capable of Mach 2.4.

The F-101B was supposed to be an interim interceptor solution after it became apparent that Convair's F-102 Delta Dart was going to face extensive production delays. McDonnell added the more powerful J57-P-55 engines which resulted in the afterburner sections extending aft of the airframe by nearly eight feet, but the added thrust pushed the new interceptor to Mach 2.4. The nose was enlarged to house a two-place cockpit, an improved fire control radar, and a ground control intercept datalink. The aircraft was armed with four AIM-4 Falcon missiles and up to two Genie nuclear rockets in place of two of the Falcons. As an Air Defense Command aircraft, the RF-101B fortunately never fired a shot in anger, but it did continue its service as long as the aircraft that was supposed to replace it - the F-102. The only nation to operate the RF-101 outside the US was Canada.

After Canada returned a number of CF-101Bs, the USAF converted 22 of these into reconnaissance aircraft. These retained the more powerful versions of the J57 and they were stripped of their radar, SAGE equipment, and armament. Cameras were installed in the nose, and these became the only two-seat recce Voodoos to fly. One airframe was assigned to a test lab while the remainder were directed to the 192 TRS of the Nevada ANG at Reno. These aircraft would only stay in service a few years before the 192nd received their RF-4C Phantom IIs.

Here is an oldie but moldy classic from Monogram. They took that beautiful F-101B, changed the nose and ventral pan and they had the RF-101B. It was a real pity that they didn't replace the whole fuselage and configure that with changeable forward fuselages to render the far more common RF-101A/C/G/H and even the armed F-101A/C Voodoos. Needless to say this version of the kit didn't get re-released much after its initial run in 1985/86.

This kit is molded in dark green styrene and presented on four parts trees, plus a single tree of clear parts. As this is two-decades-old tooling, the panel lines are raised, not scribed, but this should not be a problem for most modelers.

The cockpit tub has both front and rear cockpits molded together. This kit comes with two nice ejection seats, a separate throttle, pilot's control stick, radar operator's control stick, and two nice instrument panels. They even include the rear cockpit windscreen, a detail many kit companies leave out of many two-place jet aircraft kits.

Kit options include:

  • Optional crew figures
  • Positionable flaps
  • Positionable canopy
  • Positionable speed brakes

External stores include:

  • Two external fuel tanks

As with other members of the Monogram Century Series, this kit is an easy build and is very detailed straight out of the box, even by today's standards.

Markings are provided for one aircraft:

  • RF-101B-115-MC, 59-0397, 192 TRS, Nevada ANG

This is still the only RF-101 in 1/48th scale though it was the least common variant - the two-seat B. The good news is that Koster produces a vacuform conversion to transform this kit (or the standard F-101B kit) into one of the single-seat recce Voodoos. C&H Aero also produced a resin single-seat forward fuselage conversion but I am not certain this is still available.

In any case, this kit will build up into an impressive model though your marking options are just a bit limited. Definitely recommended for the collector of unique subjects!