Medal Magnet: LHX Attack Chopper

The writer of this Open October submission could well be THC’s most decorated reader. Cosstarica got hooked on sims and computer wargames in the Nineties after encountering Panzer General at an IT club. Since then he has not only played an impressive range of digital militaria he has diligently recorded his medal hauls in every title he has spent time with.

The medal page screenshots are aide-mémoires rather than ego boosters – “As per my motivation, I am not particularly drawn to obtaining every available award that, but more in exploring and learning the history behind events and people that actually lived in those times. I keep the achievement pages just to remember the game, and how I personally performed. When I replay a game, usually years after my first run, I try to improve, learn new mechanics, and get medals I’ve previously missed.”

In this piece, Cosstarica explains how gongs are gained in LHX Attack Chopper, an affable 1990 whirlybird game with a spiritual sequel on the way.

Lets start with an airforce title first. The first one that comes to mind is LHX Attack Chopper (manual link), a combat helicopter simulator game where you can fly AH-64A Apaches, Ospreys, and UH-60 Blackhawks. The game was released in 1990 for MS-DOS. It is abandonware and is compatible with DOSBox.

As a pilot you have the option to choose a campaign and freely jump between Libya, Vietnam and Central Europe doing missions like escort, intercept, strike, medevac, POW rescue, and supply run at five different difficulty levels.

And since this is not a classical game review lets focus on the mechanics of promotions and medals. From the manual: “When you land at your destination point the mission ends and you are returned to the ready room for your debriefing. Even if you cannot make it back to your destination airport, try for any allied airfield , or land on the ground in friendly territory at the very least. If you are lucky enough to be rescued, you are brought immediately to your debriefing where you are handed your Mission Outcome Report. If you aren’t rescued, you become MIA and a debriefing is the least of your worries.”

If you die you lose all your progress and you will have to start from scratch. If alive “you are given your score for the mission, and your total score for that pilot to date. You receive points for succeeding in your mission and for destroying enemy targets. You lose points for accidentally destroying allied forces and for not going to your assigned destination. The harder the mission, the more points it’s worth, and using the Apache gives you more points than the LHX for the same mission performance. With enough points, you gain promotions”.

The score for a mission seems to be reduced by 50% if the player quits a mission over enemy territory or returns home after becoming a PoW then escaping.

The cumulative points needed for a promotion, up to the maximum rank of Colonel are:

0 Second Lieutenant
2000 First Lieutenant
6000 Captain
10000 Major
16000 Lieutenant Colonel
25000 Colonel

If you perform “above and beyond the call of duty” and are playing at a sufficiently high difficulty level (Minimum difficulty levels are shown below) various gongs can be won.

Purple Heart – for sustaining an injury in combat. Very Easy.
Silver Star – for successfully completing a moderately difficult mission and performing above and beyond the mission goals (2000 points) Medium.
Distinguished Flying Cross – for successfully completing a moderately difficult mission and for downing at least six fixed-wing aircraft. Medium.
Air Medal – for successfully completing a mission and for downing at least six planes or helicopters. Easy
Good Conduct- for successfully completing four missions in a row (without restoring your status with a password). Very Easy.
Arms Forces Expeditionary Medal – for successfully completing in all three theaters (without restoring your status with a password): Libya, Southeast Asia and Central Europe. Very Easy.

I was able to obtain one medal not mentioned in the manual, the Distinguished Service Cross (maybe it was added in a later version, I don’t know). And looking at the pilot medal box it appears there is room for at least one more undisclosed decoration. Rumour has it the space is for a large Congressional Medal of Honor.

A challenge for THC readers if they are tempted enough to give this highly playable oldie a try – please post your highest scores. I would love to see what you get and, finally, see that mysterious spot filled.”


  1. Great read, I love these kinds of decorations or rewards in games. On a sort of similar note, does anyone remember the throne room from Civ 2? You could choose freely which parts you wanted to upgrade when you reached (I think) score thresholds. The choice allowed you to for instance combo a fancy throne with bare cave walls 😀
    As far as I know it had no impact on gameplay, and was just a fun little extra.

  2. I seem to remember that Gunship had this as well – an early form of game achievements when you’d collect all the ribbons and medals from the missions. And yes, the Purple Heart was always pretty easy to get once you’d caught the attention of a ZSU-23-4.

  3. I remember after one mission in F-19 that went all kinds of sideways I was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. I left the award screen up for hours and asked my mother to take a picture of the screen. I might still have the picture in a dusty box somewhere.

  4. I have to credit LHX on the Sega Genesis for starting my love of sims; Gunship for PS1 was also a reasonably good attempt at a similar type of simulation.

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