January 2, 1967, is one of the most important days in U.S. Air Force Wolf Pack history. That was the day that the legendary Operation Bolo was executed.
A Brief History of Operation Bolo
In the late 1960s during the Vietnam War, American F-105 Thunder Chiefs and other bomber aircraft were getting picked out of the sky by the faster and nimbler North Vietnamese MiG-21 fighter aircraft during Operation Rolling Thunder.
American bombers became easy targets for the North Vietnamese because of their predictable routes, patterns, and targets.
In 1966, Colonel Robin Olds, a World War II fighter ace and commander of 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, was determined to end North Vietnam’s advantage in the sky.
Colonel Olds and his team came up with a plan to trick the North Vietnamese MiGs into an ambush. This plan became known as Operation Bolo.
Operation Bolo commenced on January 2nd, 1967. Led by Colonel Olds himself, 28 F-4 Phantom II fighter aircraft took off from Ubon Air Base, Thailand.
To North Vietnamese radar, the Phantoms looked like slow-moving, easy-to-target bombers. That’s because the F-4 Phantoms disguised themselves by using the same patterns and routes as the American bombers.
They also used the same radio frequencies, call signs and jamming-signal equipment as the bombers. The North Vietnamese MiG fighters flew in expecting easy pickings and found themselves baited into a trap by American F-4 Phantoms.
By day’s end, seven MiG aircraft were shot down with zero losses on the American side. The seven downed MiGs were significant because that was approximately 50% of the North Vietnamese Air Force’s inventory.
Before the execution of Operation Bolo, Colonel Olds said to his men, “All right you Wolf Pack, let’s go get ’em.” And thus the Wolf Pack was born.
Thank you U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Anthony Hetlage for the video.