02 February, 2007

 

Concluding Linebacker 2 – back to the F-4


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When I initiated this blog, it was in an attempt to present an accurate and up-to-date account of gameplay experience in Wings Over Vietnam. This is what I had sought, without much luck, in trying to ascertain the strengths of the game prior to purchasing it. More precisely I wanted to give a sense of the totality of the game, something more than you get from the various indicators (of varying quality) that you come across on the fan sites and boards. For these reasons I set about detailing a chronologically ordered sequence of campaigns and missions (with a few little digressions) which I'm now going to bring to a conclusion.

The obvious star of WOV, and of the Strike Fighters series, is the F-4 Phantom. So what better way to finish of my Linebacker 2 missions, than with a Carrier based Phantom campaign. These shots depict missions with the F-4J of VMFA-333, flying from the USS America. The experience of this campaign was comparable to the F-4B campaign I describe here earlier, with the exception that the air defences over Hanoi are a whole lot hairier in the 1970s. Special mention must also go to the new(ish) hi-res F-4 pits (available at combat ace in Add-on aircraft/cold-war aircraft/F-4 the section) which have produced an even more evocative experience than the previous hi-res pits, which were themselves a big enhancement of the original pits.


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01 February, 2007

 

Swordsmen Strikes


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Although I've previously described flying the A-6A Intruder, it wasn't until reaching Linebacker 2 that I flew a full Intruder campaign – with the VA-145 'Swordsmen' from the USS Ranger (and using another great skin from Fist of the Fleet). As the intruder is subsonic and lacks defensive armament, you really have to fly your missions by getting in and getting out, without any loitering. In fact some of the most exciting moments in this campaign were achieved in leaving the target zone. With flack, SAMs and Migs buzzing around, the simulation won't let you warp to safer waypoints, forcing you (rewardingly I think) to fly your way out of trouble.

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Linebacker 2 Aardvarks


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Another of the nicest add-on aircraft for WOV, and the SF series, is the F-111. Coupled with a separate add-on cockpit available here, the Aardvark makes for an great addition to WOV campaigns. In 1968 Operation Combat Lancer saw the introduction of the F-111 to Vietnam. For my installation of WOV, I added the 430 TFS at Tahkli RTAFB as a unit in Linebacker 2. Flying these Aardvark missions in WOV, you really get a sense of what a powerful aircraft it was in the company of older cold-war planes. An online history of the F-111 in SEA is here. Looks like we're in for nasty weather...

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Wild Weasels – Linebacker 1


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Two of the best third party models applicable to the the WOV theatre, are ArmourDave's F-105F and F-105G. By default, WOV provides some of the F-105G 'Wild Weasel' squadrons in the Linebacker campaigns, but with the F-105D as a stand-in. With a few quick edits its possible to resolve this with the AD Thuds.

A history of the Wild Weasels can be found here.

The Wild Weasel squadrons, tasked with destroying North Vietnamese SAM sites, were first represented by F-100F, a two seat variant of the Super Sabre, before the introduction of the two seat F-105F and G in 1966 and 1967 respectively. With the Linebacker 105G campaign set up strictly with 'Iron Hand' missions, you might think the experience could become repetitive, but simultaneously seeking out and dodging SAMs made this the most difficult campaign I'd ever flown in the game.


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30 January, 2007

 

Scooter Reprise


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Earlier, I recounted a campaign I'd flown with a USMC A-4E. I went back to the Skyhawk for Linebacker 1, flying a Navy A4-F of VA-164 off the deck of the USS Hancock. Though the Scooter lacks the speed of other jets in the sim, there's something which really gives the little plane a lot of character, making it a whole lot of fun to fly. During this campaign I was directed to the most interesting target I think I've found so far in WOV – the power station at Hong Gai. As you can see in the next screenshot, I wasn't the only one sent after it!

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25 January, 2007

 

Linebacker 1 'SLUF' Campaign


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The Vought A-7 Corsair II 'SLUF' (Short Little Ugly F***ER) was conceived as a replacement for the Skyhawk, with greater range and payload. Fairly obviously Vought drew upon the design of the Crusader, in doing so expediting the development time for the aircraft. The SLUF's turbofan engines were the same as those for the F-111, minus the afterburner, giving it a rate of fuel consumption 1/6th that of the F-100 at equivalent thrust.

The A-7 entered the conflict in Vietnam in 1967. In WOV, flyable, carrier-based SLUF units (A-7A & B) are available in Linebacker 1 and 2. The feel of the aircraft in WOV, being a pretty nimble attack plane but at a disadvantage in air-to-air combat, accords with the noted observation of SLUF pilots... that the Corsair "is not very fast, but it sure is slow" .

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F-104 Starfighter Campaign


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Its been a while since I've updated the blog, but in that time I've remained flying in WOV, creating something of a backlog of campaigns and aircraft to describe. I'll try and detail those over the next few days. Firstly, I'm going to describe one last Rolling Thunder campaign before moving on to Linebacker 1 and 2.

One aircraft that was included in Thirdwire's Strike Fighters series but not included in WOV was the F-104 Starfighter. The aircraft is however available to download from Thirdwire's site and though it is intended for Strike Fighters Gold, simply placing a copy of the WOV.exe, renamed to SFG.exe, in the directory to which you unpack the download, will enable its installation in WOV. With a camo skin from Marcfighters site and a Hi-res pit from Combatace I was pretty happy having this plane in my installation. The next step was to alter my Rolling Thunder campaign to include it.

At this point I should mention that the Thirdwire model is an F-104G, while it was the F-104C which saw service in SEA. Furthermore, there is a perfectly good F-104C and improved F-104C-10 and Combatace. I stuck with the Thirdwire model despite a couple of visual inconsistencies (refuelling probe etc) albeit, renamed to F-104C.

After reading up on the history of the F-104C in Vietnam here, I modified my Rolling Thunder campaign to include F-104C's of the 476th TFS 'Blue Knights'. It proved to be quite a challenging campaign with a mixture of air-to-air and air-to-ground missions.

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10 November, 2006

 

F-8 Crusader - Last of the Gunfighters.


One of the best things about this sim is the dog fights. Duelling with a sky full of Migs while dodging a barrage of SAMS, heavy flack, and other enemy ground forces, creates a kind of immersion I've never found in any other combat sim.

Easily my favorite aircraft for dogfights is the Crusader. As the guy at the gunfighters page says, missile-only aircraft were at a disadvantage in this environment and though the F-8 was equipped with sidewinders, guns were its primary weapon; Crusader pilots had the choice.

This was my last Rolling Thunder campaign before moving on to Linebacker 1. Whilst the campaign involved VF-211 Crusaders from the deck of the older Essex class carrier, USS Hancock, there are some shots mixed in here of single missions with VF-111, from flights used to make the video above.


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New Mytai Phantom Skins.


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In the last couple of days I've had great fun flying with some new skins by Mytai and thought I'd share some shots. Mytai's skin site is sometimes inaccessible, but at the time of writing its up, so if you're a WOV user reading this, follow the link at left.

The first shot, above, depicts an F-4B in Marines training livery over the weapons range by Bunyip, which is an essential add-on terrain available at combatace.

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