Air combat manoeuvring
1 Historical overview 2 Tactics 3 Example manoeuvring 4 See also 5 Further reading 6 References 7 External links
Military aviation appeared in
World War I
A flight envelope diagram showing VS (Stall speed at 1G), VC (Corner speed) and VD (Dive speed)
There are five main things a pilot must remain aware of when contemplating aerial engagement, of which, getting sight of your opponent and keeping sight of them are the most important. In Southeast Asia, over 85% of all kills are attributed to the attacker spotting and shooting the defender without ever being seen. Structural limitations of both the attacking and defending fighters must be taken into account, such as thrust-to-weight ratio, wing loading, and the "corner speed" (the maximum/minimum speed at which the aircraft can attain the best turning performance). Variable limitations must also be considered, such as turn radius, turn rate, and the specific energy of the aircraft. Position of aircraft must quickly be assessed, including direction, angle off tail (the angle between flight paths), and closing speed. Also, the pilot must be aware of his wingman’s position, and maintain good communication. A pilot in combat attempts to conserve his aircraft’s energy through carefully timed and executed manoeuvres. By using such manoeuvres, a pilot will often make trade offs between the fighter’s potential energy (altitude), and kinetic energy (airspeed), to maintain the energy-to-weight ratio of the aircraft, or the "specific energy". A manoeuvre such as the "low yo-yo" trades altitude for airspeed to gain closure on an enemy, and to decrease turn radius. The opposite manoeuvre, a "high yo-yo", trades speed for height, literally storing energy in "the altitude bank", which allows a fast moving attacker to slow his closing speed. An attacker is confronted with three possible ways to pursue an enemy, all of which are vital during chase. "Lag pursuit" happens in a turn when the nose of the attacker’s aircraft points behind an enemy’s tail. Lag pursuit allows an attacker to increase or maintain range without overshooting. "Lead pursuit" in a turn occurs when the nose of the attacking aircraft points ahead of the enemy. Lead pursuit is used to decrease the distance between aircraft, and during gun attacks where the cannons must be aimed, not at where the defender is, but where he will be when the bullets get there. "Pure pursuit" happens when the nose of the attacker points directly at the defender. Pure pursuit is when most missiles will be fired, and is the hardest position to maintain. These are known as pursuit curves.
The tactical egg shows the effects of gravity on manoeuvring
The turning battle of a dogfight can be executed in an infinite number of geometric planes. Pilots are encouraged to keep their manoeuvres out of the strictly vertical and horizontal planes, but to instead use the limitless number of oblique planes, which is much harder for an adversary to track. This infinite number of planes around a fixed point about which the aircraft turns is termed the "post and bubble". A fighter that can maintain position between an aircraft and its imaginary post cannot be attacked by that aircraft. The imaginary bubble, however, is misshapen by gravity, causing turns to be much tighter and slower at the top, and wider and faster at the bottom, and is sometimes referred to as a "tactical egg". The manoeuvres employed by the attacker can also be used by the defender to evade, or gain a tactical advantage over his opponent. Other components may also be employed to manoeuvre the aircraft, such as yaw, drag, lift, and thrust vectors. A key factor in all battles is that of "nose-tail separation". While getting close enough to fire a weapon, an attacker must keep his aircraft's nose far enough away from the tail of the defender to be able to get a good aim, and to prevent an overshoot. The defender, likewise, will use every manoeuvre available to encourage an overshoot, trying to change his own role to that of attacker. Example manoeuvring See also: Basic fighter maneuvers
Combat spread Pitchback Bell Tailslide Split S Immelmann turn Thach Weave Scissors Chandelle
High Yo-Yo Low Yo-Yo Lag Displacement Roll (High-G Barrel Roll) Pugachev's Cobra Cobra Turn Kulbit Herbst manoeuvre
Basic fighter maneuvers
Robert Stengel: Flight Dynamics. Princeton University Press, 2004, ISBN 0-691-11407-2.
^ a b c Who Killed the Red Baron? October 7, 2003. PBS.
^ a b "Early Air-to-Air Combat". BBC.
^ The Red Fighter Pilot. Richthofen.com. Retrieved on 2010-11-16.
Dicta Boelcke - Organization of Jagdstaffeln and the demise of
Boelcke". Archived from the original on 2009-10-25.
^  Archived March 4, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
^ a b c d e f g h i j "Basic Principles of BFM Archived 2011-08-05 at
the Wayback Machine.".
^ Air Force Glossary. Gruntsmilitary.com. Retrieved on 2010-11-16.
^ Sick's ACM School: Maneuvers Explained Archived 2009-08-31 at the
Wayback Machine.. 352ndfightergroup.com. Retrieved on 2010-11-16.
^ Advanced Combat Manoeuvres - Battleground
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Air combat manoeuvring.
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Chandelle Cobra Turn Pylon turn Finger-four Herbst maneuver Immelmann turn Kulbit Pugachev's Cobra Scissors Split S Tailslide Thach Weave
Aerial warfare Dogfight Fighter pilot Post stall Superman