War Over Vietnam Operation Arc Light

U Tapao Air Base, Thailand April 12, 1966: This scenario covers the efforts of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) to support military actions with B-52 conventional bombing missions, specifically targeting the Mu Gia Pass. This attack was the first strike against the mountain pass and was the largest bomber operation seen since World War II, containing 30 Boeing B-52D Stratofortress strategic bombers and multiple other aircraft flying in support of the mission.

Mu Gia Pass is located in the Annamite Range between northern Vietnam and Laos and is 418 meters above sea level. The pass was the primary entry point into the Ho Chi Minh Trail through Laos and was largely protected from aerial observation due to it being covered with dense tropical rain forest. Despite multiple attempts to shut down the pass by creating a landslide, the US Air Force and Navy were never able to put it out of operation any significant period of time.

There are four targets grouped close together and are a mix of buildings, a depot, a vehicle convoy and the pass itself. These are not visible at the start of the scenario and require visual acquisition for them to appear on the map as well as target status panel. There is no attack ingress or egress corridors laid out, however the scenario designer does have the strike package out of U Tapao Air Base heading towards the target area.

Primary Strike Aircraft


Boeing B-52D Stratofortress Strategic Bomber
Weapons Load out: 198 Mk-117 General Purpose Bombs


The first thing I do is peel off a F-104C air support flight of two aircraft and put them on a patrol line over where I suspect the targets are located. Once a visual identification is made, I will begin the process of assigning targets to the incoming B-52D’s and then specifying their attack egress orders to return to base.


The targets are identified and are now available in the Target Status dialogue where I can monitor the success rate of the bombing mission.


I take the lead aircraft flight, two F-104C’s that are capable of strafing runs and order them to attack the depot target.


The first four flights of B-52D’s are allocated to all four targets which swings the Victory Point meter in the favor of the Americans and a Major Victory outcome (even though the pass itself is only at 98% of starting strength).


With the scenario effectively won at this point, I order the patrolling F-104C’s to RTB to Da Nang while I wait out the mission timer.


As a final bit of housekeeping, I order a flight of RF-101C reconnaissance aircraft to perform a recon against the Mu Gia Pass target for the recon points afforded, although I do not need them at this point.

After-action Report


After a grueling two hour wait for the scenario to end, I finally get to the mission stats: an American Major Victory outcome with 3,477 total points. The scenario designer specified 1,800 as the threshold for this level, and that was easily achieved by designating multiple targets (simply having the bombers attack the pass objective only is not enough from my experience).

2 comments:

  1. Great stuff. I'm reading a fantastic book (free from Amazon as a download) called ROLLING THUNDER (Wings of War) A fascinating era in combat aviation. This looks like a good game i wasn't aware of it until i read your blog.

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  2. I like the game because it is one of the few that I have that are set in the Vietnam War. To be honest it is an average game at best and severely overpriced at $39.95. A recent patch completely overhauled the game interface but really added nothing else. Most of the scenarios are “click play and win” efforts (the scenario designer already laid out all of the flights, ingress and egress points) with very few missions requiring any real input from the player.

    The user manual is for all “Modern Air Power” games and thus contains references to airframes, platforms and weapons that are not even in WOV (for instance, the very first image in the game manual is that of a B2 stealth bomber). I hate to deride such a famous game developer as JTS; however this game is just weak.

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