Printable daily planner with time slots mission featured fighter planes following the typical flight paths of bombers in order to lure enemy aircraft into attacking. Bolo pitted the F-4 Phantom II multirole fighter against its rival, the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 interceptor, and was considered to be one of the most successful combat ruses of all time, eventually prompting VPAF pilots and strategists, as well as Soviet tacticians, to re-evaluate the tactics and deployment of the MiG-21.
The F-4 Phantom II had been in operational service with the United States Air Force since 1964. The latest fighter in American service, the F-4 had powerful engines, excellent handling, and an air-to-air configuration of eight air-to-air missiles. It was also a large, heavy fighter, with high wing loadings that degraded its performance in high-G turns, and with engines that tended to produce large amounts of smoke, making it highly visible in combat.
The F-4’s missile armament consisted of the AIM-7 Sparrow and the AIM-9 Sidewinder. Both missiles had exhibited reliability problems in 1966 combat, exacerbated by maintenance problems caused by the tropical conditions of Southeast Asia, with the majority failing to ignite, fuse, or guide to the target.
Fishbed’, a small fighter designed as a short-range interceptor, a role that perfectly suited its use by the VPAF. A small, light fighter, its low wing loadings were excellent for air combat maneuvering and its small size made it difficult to spot even when its adversary was warned of its presence.
American strike formation, then executing a missile attack and diving away before fighter cover could intervene. The agility of the MiG-21 and the VPAF tactic of high-speed slashing attacks from astern under GCI control posed a significant challenge to American pilots, who had become predictable by staging large formation strikes from Thailand flying roughly the same routes and times of day allowing the VPAF to challenge them with a relatively small force of 15 or 16 MiG-21 fighters used as point defense interceptors. The USAF relied mostly on missiles to down enemy aircraft and, constrained by their rules of engagement and a fleeting adversary that only engaged when the situation was ideal, many American pilots were not even able to use these to their advantage.