How to weatherproof a beloved vintage aircraft, the CF-101 Voodoo

Back in 2019, exhibit planning was well underway for the new museum and the team had some tough choices to make about what aircraft to highlight and what stories to tell. They ultimately decided the historic McDonnell CF-101 Voodoo would be stationed outside, as the showpiece of Aviation Plaza. Knowing it would be exposed to all kinds of weather, they searched for a solution to protect it from the elements.

Seeking answers

There are a number of questions conservators ask when determining if a product is safe to apply to an artefact. Questions such as, is the application reversible? Will the application cause damage? Will the application of said product change the appearance of the artefact?

After a lot of research and discussion, the team had all the answers they needed. The solution? A protective coating based on nano-ceramic technology called Ceramic Pro.

A Museum volunteer cleans the Voodoo before application of Ceramic Pro coating

Based in San Diego, California, Ceramic Pro coatings “help to protect air vessels from corrosion, icing and help to save on maintenance costs. Exteriors can be protected from corrosion, contaminants and any accidental damage. Ceramic Pro coatings are non-organic and cannot be dissolved by acids, bases, and solvents. It will permanently remain on a vessel and save its brand-new appearance for years.”

Without this coating, the Voodoo would be susceptible to damage from UV-rays, wind, and moisture.

The Ceramic Pro solution

The Ceramic Pro protective coating for aircraft has a UV-blocker to keep the Voodoo’s paint from fading and peeling. The canopy is also safe from cracking and/or yellowing. The hydrophobic properties of the coating prevent rain from rusting the exterior. In addition, the coating provides a sealing effect to stop water from getting inside.

So, does it change the appearance of the CF-101? Not at all. While it goes on shiny, the shine slowly diminishes and all that’s left are the protective properties without any visual interference.

The coating is just one part of the overall protection of this aircraft. The team at RAMWC is taking additional steps to preserve it.

McDonnell CF-101 Voodoo on a foggy day outside the Royal Aviation Museum

Joel Nelson, VP of Operations and Facilities has commissioned the production of custom covers for the air intakes, engines, and wheels. These will be installed before winter sets in.

At nearly 13,000 kg (28,495 lbs)—more than double the weight of the CF-104 Starfighter—the Voodoo is an extremely heavy aircraft. As another preventative measure, it’s been jacked up approximately one millimetre off the ground to remove some of the load from its wheels.

The Voodoo jet also undergoes regular inspection for damage, bird activity, deterioration, and moisture. So far, there have been no issues.

The investment in this coating was significant at roughly $30,000, but will ensure the integrity of this aircraft for up to 25 years.


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