November 6, 2006
Yankee Air Pirate
by Guest Writer Jim "Woxof" Hart
As a flight sim fan and military aviation buff I was intrigued when I heard Tsuyoshi Kawahito’s Third Wire group would be doing a Vietnam sim as their follow-on to SFP1. Much as I enjoyed the flying in SFP1, it didn’t “go” anywhere, except to a fictional campaign. That’s fine for some folks, I guess, but I was looking for history, not fiction. Wings Over Vietnam sounded like it would be just what I wanted. At last a chance to take a Thud “downtown” against the world’s most heavily defended targets, or to scramble as a Marine for a do-or-die CAS strike just beyond the airfield fence, or to go patrolling The Trail at night. Imagine my disappointment when I began flying the game and discovered that in a war all about putting steel on target, there were no ground units. Crud.
I couldn’t blame TK, though. He was producing a flight sim, after all, not trying to recreate the whole of the war in SE Asia, and he had limited time and resources to work with. Yet I couldn’t help wondering, “What if….?”
The answer to “What if….?” is Yankee Air Pirate.
What It’s Not
Yankee Air Pirate is not a “fix” or a “patch” for WOV. It does nothing to repair or improve any real or imagined fault in WOV. If you’re thinking of buying it because you think that’s what you’re getting, you will be disappointed.
What It Is
Yankee Air Pirate is the missing piece of WOV. It is an add-on in the truest sense of the word. It “adds-on” tons of stuff: troops, trucks, guns, boats, tanks, bridges, buildings, towns, textures, aircraft and missions. I could spend the rest of this page and most of the next three just listing and introducing the dozens of each of those types of objects and other game components included in YAP. To say that this changes the texture of the game understates it. Regarding textures, in fact, there’s a whole new set of ground textures that includes jungles, rice paddies and wood-and-stone villages. When you look outside the canopy now, Vietnam looks like Vietnam.
And while that’s a lot, that’s not the half of it. The heart of YAP, the best part, are the missions. Every one of them actually happened. Some of them are famous. Most you’ve never heard of. Each is a slice of time, a window into those “minutes of terror” that are totally beyond the experience of most mortals, but are the universal currency of combat pilots the world over. Think of a mission as a chapter in a book. Each chapter tells a unique part of the overarching story. The folks who created YAP are telling the true story of the air war in Vietnam, one mission at a time.
Post-strike. Note the missing flaps, speed brakes and the whole left side horizontal stab/elevator. Instead of trying to bring it aboard the boat in that condition, I elected to do a shoreside divert into Hue and managed to get the airplane on the ground, although I ran off the end of the runway and started a very impressive fire.
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