This Is How The Legendary F-4 Phantom “Wolfpack” Was Born [Operation Bolo]
In late 1966 during the Vietnam war, the United States Air Force was not permitted to bomb North Vietnamese airfields and they could only attack enemy fighters in the air. American F-105 Thundercheif and other bombers had a hard time in the air because of the North Vietnamese MiG-21 fighter aircraft. American bombers were easy pickings for the faster Vietnamese MiG-21s. American bombers were easy targets for the Vietnamese because of their predictable patterns and targets.
In 1966 Col. Robin Olds who was a world war II fighter pilot and the commander of the 8th tactical fighter wing was determined to destroy the power of Vietnamese fighters in the sky. Very experienced Col. Olds and his team came up with a solid plan to trick the Vietnamese and defeat them. This operation was named as the operation Bolo.
The operation Bolo commenced on January 2nd of 1967. A team of F-4 Phantom IIs led by the Col. Olds took off from the Thailand for the mission. To Vietnamese who were tracking the USAF aircraft through radars, the Phantoms looked like slow moving bombers which can be easily destroyed. That is because the F-4s were using the same patterns and routes of the American bombers. The F-4 Phantoms were also using the same radio frequencies, call signs and signal jamming equipment as the bombers to trick Vietnamese fighters.
The North Vietnamese were expecting easy targets and had to face the powerful F-4 Phantoms led by the Col. Olds himself. As a result of clever planning of the Col.Olds, 7 MiG aircraft were destroyed by the end of the day with no losses in the American side. The 7 destroyed MiGs were almost half of the North Vietnamese Air Force inventory.
Before the execution of the operation Bolo, Col. Olds said to his team,
“Alright you wolfpack, Let’s go get ’em.”
and that’s how the wolfpack was born.