The game includes a wide variety of jets and weapons which can be employed in various mission types such as MIG-CAP (MiG combat air patrol), strike, air support, Iron Hand, and reconnaissance. The game is based on the Strike Fighters: Project 1 engine and was developed by Third Wire Productions.
In 2009, a vastly enhanced and rewritten version for the Vista platform called Strike Fighters 2:Vietnam was released.
Wings Over Vietnam was released in 2004 and was the third in a series of "Lite" Flight Simulators. The term "Lite" was applied because they are designed to be relatively easy to learn and play compared to other more hardcore types of flight simulator. There is a television series of the same name.
Despite the "Lite" tag, a fair amount of realism has been built in; 60s-style bombsights are simulated rather than modern computer-aided aiming reticules. Dive bombing and level bombing techniques have to be worked out by the game player if they are to have success at completing missions.
US Air to Air missiles in the game consist of early versions of the AIM-9 Sidewinder, AIM-7 Sparrow, and AIM-4 Falcon which are simulated to be as unreliable as the real missiles were. So regardless of having a "good lock on the target" there is a good chance the missile will miss. Just like the real accounts from the war suggest most of the dogfights are close in affairs with the nimble MiGs against the heavier less nimble US Aircraft.
The map of Vietnam has been scaled down slightly so that there is less time spent flying to a target, and also because air-to-air refuelling is not included in the game.
During a mission the player will fly in a flight of aircraft in which the computer-controlled planes keep in formation as you fly to a target. This flight can be issued commands; attack other aircraft or ground targets, fly home if they are damaged, or jettison their drop tanks. As you fly many other computer-controlled aircraft will be up in the air and can be viewed as they engage in dogfights or bomb targets.
True to the Vietnam theatre the player's aircraft will be met with a high level of radar guided Surface to Air Missiles (SAMS), and a variety of lethal Anti-Aircraft Artillery (AAA). The main SAM is the soviet SA-2, of which early and later versions are included in the game increasing lethality accordingly.
The player can select a campaign from either Operation Rolling Thunder (1965 to 1968), Linebacker I (1972) or Linebacker II (1972) which are similar in name and aircraft involved to the actual campaigns from the conflict.
Single Missions are also available, which can be customised to allow the player to practice with specific aircraft and weapons.
The game has been designed so that it can be changed by anyone with a passion to do so. This has spawned a large online community who not only play the game but go out of their way to improve the game as much as they can. Most modders works can be downloaded and used for free by any game player.
Mods include new vehicle models, flight physics and AI behaviour, campaigns, missions, sound and graphics media.
The standard game comes with the following flyable US aircraft:
- F-100 Super Sabre - The F-100D version is included for the Air Force.
- F-105 Thunderchief - The F-105D version is included for the Air Force.
- A-4 Skyhawk - The A-4B, A-4C, A-4E and A-4F versions are included for the Navy/Marines.
- A-6 Intruder - The A-6A version is included for the Navy/Marines.
- A-7 Corsair II - The A-7A and A-7B versions are included for the Navy/Marines.
- F-4 Phantom II - The F-4B and F-4J versions are included for the Navy/Marines and the F-4C, F-4D and F-4E versions are included for the Air Force.
- F-8 Crusader- The F-8E version is included for the Navy/Marines.
The following non-flyable aircraft:
The computer-controlled North Vietnamese aircraft:
- MiG-17 Fresco - MiG-17F version.
- MiG-19 Farmer - MiG-19S version.
- MiG-21 Fishbed - MiG-21F, PFM, MF and PFV versions.
Yankee Air Pirate and Yankee Air Pirate 2
In 2005 a team of modders (led by ex F-4 pilot and Vietnam veteran John Shelton ) decided to take the potential of the game engine even further by aiming to produce a set of 100 missions for Wings Over Vietnam based on actual missions from the conflict. This team now updates and sells these missions under the name Yankee Air Pirate. The historical accuracy of these missions and the extra objects has attracted favourable reviews.
2009 has seen the launch of a much enhanced version called Yankee Air Pirate 2 featuring an interactive website and enhanced graphical features.
Extra aircraft with Yankee Air Pirate include:
- A-1 Skyraider - A-1H version.
- A-3 Skywarrior - KA-3B tanker version.
- A-26 Invader - B-26K version.
- AC-47 Spooky - Gunship version of the C-47.
- AC-130 Spectre - AC-130E Gunship version.
- An-2 Colt
- Boeing 707
- C-47 Skytrain
- C-130 Hercules - C-130E and HC-130P versions.
- CH-53 Sea Stallion - CH-53D version.
- F-100 Super Sabre - F-100F version.
- F-105 Thunderchief - F-105F version.
- F-4 Phantom II - RF-4B and RF-4C versions.
- F-8 Crusader - RF-8G version.
- HH-53 Super Jolly Green Giant - HH-53C version.
- KC-135 Stratotanker
- UH-1 Huey - UH-1B, UH-1C and UH-1E versions.
The developer of the series
This series of games is designed by Tsuyoshi Kawahito (known as 'TK'), who was also involved in some of the 1990s best selling PC flight simulators, including European Air War (1998) by MicroProse and Longbow 2 (1997) by Jane's Combat Simulations.
Related games based on the Strike Fighters game engine
- Strike Fighters: Project 1 (2002): The initial release centers on a fictional Middle Eastern scenario.
- Strike Fighters: Gold (2004): An updated version of Project 1 released to the European market.
- Wings Over Vietnam (2004): Set during the Vietnam war.
- Wings Over Europe (2006): Set in a possible Cold War conflict.
- First Eagles: The Great War 1918 (2006): Set in the World War I era.
- First Eagles: Expansion Pack 1 (2007): Expansion pack for the First Eagles with new planes and campaigns.
- Wings Over Israel (2008): (Also released as Combat Over Israel) Covers the three historical Israel versus Arab conflicts 1967, 1973, and 1982.
- First Eagles: Gold (2008): Includes the Original 'First Eagles' and Expansion Pack together.
- Strike Fighters 2 (2008): A standalone update based on the original Strike Fighters: Project 1 to run on Windows Vista.
- Strike Fighters 2:Vietnam (2009): A standalone update based on the original Wings Over Vietnam to run on Windows Vista.
- Strike Fighters 2:Europe (2009): A standalone update based on the original Wings Over Europe to run on Windows Vista.
- Developers site
- Online Community and download site
- Online Community and resource site
- Yankee Air Pirate - Site