Operation Bolo

Operation Bolo was a famous air battle fought in the skies of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam on January 2, 1967, during the Vietnam War, and in the context of the United States Air Force's Operation Rolling Thunder aerial bombardment campaign.

Bolo pitted the new American F-4 Phantom II multirole fighter against its rival, the Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 interceptor. Operation Bolo, considered to be one of the most successful combat ruses of all time, prompted North Vietnamese pilots and strategists, as well as Soviet tacticians, to reevaluate their employment of the MiG-21.

The D-Day of “Bolo” was January 2 1967. In the first hours of the evening 14 flights of F-4C Phantom of the 8th TFW (4 aircraft each) took off from Ubon RTAFB in Thailand towards the VPAF airfields around Hanoi, pretending to be F-105s. An eastern force of 366th TFW F-4s covered the possible MiG withdrawal routes. Olds commanded the first flight. The assigned call signs derived from American cars of the period: "Ford," "Rambler," and (inevitably) "Olds," for the CO's flight. Despite his long combat experience, he most likely thought: “Would they take the bait?”.