Legendary Military Battles: Vietnam War, Operation Bolo

Operation Bolo

Operation Bolo was headed by Col. Roin Olds. He used a deception tactic during the operation, which led the USAF to victory with zero losses.

Tricky Planning

The USAF could not bomb North Vietnamese airfields. So fighting them in the air was the only option. Moreover, the North Vietnamese were flying MiGs while the USAF generally flew in F-105s filled with bombs, giving the MiGs an advantage.

Col. Robin Old was the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing commander, and their tactics officer was Capt. John J.B. Stone. The pair worked on a plan to deceive the North Vietnamese MiGs-21s.

They decided to mimic an F-105 bombing formation to lure the MiCs out. The enemy planes were known to strike when they thought they had an advantage.

Operation Bolo

The 8th TFW F-4s made their play on January 2, 1967. They flew into North Vietnam from the west. The planes used the same flight path, altitude, and formation as the F-105 bomb strike.

To top off the deception, they also had the jamming pods commonly used by the F-105s. The North Vietnamese fell for the trap and flew up to attack what they thought were F-105s.

While this was happening, the 366th TFW F-4s flew into North Vietnam from the east. Their job was to make sure the MiGs could not get away to China and to ensure they could not land at their bases.

Though the weather was overcast, the F-4s pulled off Operation Bolo. While it only lasted 12 minutes, the F-4s shot down seven North Vietnamese MiG-21s.

The USAF did not lose any of their planes. They tried again four days later using a reconnaissance flight pattern and were able to shoot down two more MiG-21s. Olds plan took out half of the North Vietnamese MiGs, a blow that took months for them to recover from.

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