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Okay so the Rolling Thunder campaign was never my favourite campaign from the series, in fact might be the most bland. The main reason for this was most probably the fact that there is no forward line of troops and tank columns to fight it out, and gain or lose ground after each mission.

 

Rolling Thunder for real
The campaign namesake this is based on was one of the most disastrous and misguided campaigns in the history of aerial warfare. What was hoped would be a few weeks of bombing missions to get North Vietnam back to the negotiating table to stop them trying to invade the South, turned into 3 or so years of bombing targets selected by Washington. Or to put it another way pussy footing around bombing things that did nothing more than improve North Vietnam's resolve to continue on its agenda and also allow it to build up its defenses with the help of the Soviet Union and China.
So, 3 years of bombing targets – many times the same targets over and over, and never achieving the desired US strategy.

 

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Rolling Thunder in game
In the Strike Fighters game engine this translates to what seems like a string of single missions and yes you don’t have much of an objective other than to try and not get shot down.
However, unlike auto generated Single missions, Campaign missions are more content filled and almost always include strike packages and flights that help you do your job (If you at least meet your timings). Not only that all the units have their markings and decals as they should.

Like history there are no SAMs until mid 1965 and the MiG regiments are limited in number. One great thing about TKs games is the use of "dates", so the game engine can just plonk in the correct objects (Guns/SAMs/MiGs) depending on the date you are flying. This also includes getting rebased and upgraded to better aircraft during the campaign.

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Vietnam Gold
Like most things in Strike Fighters World, mods can really help and I am using the Vietnam Gold mod with a variety of my own changes. This comes with quite a fearsome atmosphere with a ton of guns shooting at you with purple stuff, red stuff and grey puffy stuff. A major benefit is a bigger variety of targets and not just the sodding comms building again.

 

Gameplay
Feb 24 1966 and I am flying from Da Nang in an F-100D (1964 version) for the 416th “Silver Knights”. I don’t know what it is about the F-100D that I like because it is outclassed by pretty much all the MiGs.  

The Lang Chi Electric Power plant is my target (a welcome addition from gold pack I think) – and I need to be on target for 09:10 on the dot.

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I am maxing out the M-117s here – there are plenty of them available. The SF2 Super Sabre also allows TERS to carry 4 on the inner pylons by default but with extra drag.

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How to get there hmmm. Those that played Wings Over Vietnam will know various routes into the North to minimise exposure to the SAMs, some of which had a 90% plus probability of kill if you were not flying at about 5ft off the ground. Luckily the SAMs in SF2 and this pack allow you to fly a bit more as they tended too back then!
With a target near Yen Bai I can use the highlands as cover and cross in over South NVN where there are little to no SAMs.

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The Square box waypoint (the Initial Point /IP) is also the spawn point if you use Alt N, so can be moved around if you don’t have time to fly there.

Waypoint 3 is fixed as a rendezvous with other flights. If SF2 had been developed, it would have been nice to change the waypoint details for the flights like in Falcon so you could move the fixed waypoint for all flights.

Another thing that could have been improved was seeing your actual target area before flying. If you consider Jack Broughton spent all night memorising features etc before going on a mission you can understand the point of just marking the actual target with Padlock or a red dot!

As you can see only 2 MiG regiments active with MiG-17F and MiG-21F-13.
 

First Lt Eldon Atterbury is my wingy today. If you do take time to nurture the pilots their stats do improve (if they survive)


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Let's go then

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As we fly towards the target other flights are also on route to their targets.

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After a while several fights occur

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Due to meticulous planning we reach the target just fine and we roll in from above the cloud base

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I hit the target but get peppered by a lot of triple A

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Phew heading out but think my Wingy is a bit lost.

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Try to search, but no sign of him and no beeper! so off home alone

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Mystery solved, a MiG-21F-13 gunned him down and I had no idea that was in the area!  If only all Vietnam mysteries could be solved so easy!

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I then went on to fly A-4C/Es for the US Navy in which you get to take off from Carriers in the Gulf on Tonkin

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Mr SAM is always happy to see you

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This thud was just lucky!

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This thud was not so lucky

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What are all those blotches

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So still quite intense flying through all the anti air and check 6 for those MiGs as always!

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Green Hell 3.5

On further examination I think I'm already using the 'Gold' Vietnam air & ground expansion, with Green Hell 3.5 & it's enhancement package over the top, so "it's as good as it's gonna get". In any case I can't remember the last time I flew standard SF2 Vietnam, that's how good the A-G expansion is.

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