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Rules of Air Fighting

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World War I was a time where air combat was transitioning from one on one duels between aces to aerial wars. The tactics learned from that era most definitely apply to the second World War (and onwards). One thing that should be noted however is that the nature of dogfighting changed since the second World War, as planes were beginning to be built for speed and climbing ability rather than turning. Some of the rules mentioned in here are therefore outdated

Dicta BoelckeEdit

Written by the German WW1 ace, Oswald Boelcke, the Dicta Boelcke consists of 8 rules:

  1. Try to secure the upper hand before attacking. If possible, keep the sun behind you
  2. Always continue with an attack you have begun
  3. Open fire only at close range, and then only when the opponent is squarely in your sights
  4. You should always try to keep your eye on your opponent, and never let yourself be deceived by ruses
  5. In any type of attack, it is essential to assail your opponent from behind
  6. If your opponent dives on you, do not try to get around his attack, but fly to meet it
  7. When over the enemy's lines, always remember your own line of retreat
  8. Tip for Squadrons: In principle, it is better to attack in groups of four or six. Avoid two aircraft attacking the same opponent

Mannock's rulesEdit

Written by Mick Mannock, a British WW1 ace, his rules consisted of 15 rules:

  1. Pilots must dive to attack with zest, and must hold their fire until they get within one hundred yards of their target.
  2. Achieve surprise by approaching from the East. (From the German side of the front.)
  3. Utilize the sun's glare and clouds to achieve surprise.
  4. Pilots must keep physically fit by exercise and the moderate use of stimulants.
  5. Pilots must sight their guns and practice as much as possible as targets are normally fleeting.
  6. Pilots must practice spotting machines in the air and recognizing them at long range, and every airplane is to be treated as an enemy until it is certain it is not.
  7. Pilots must learn where the enemy's blind spots are.
  8. Scouts must be attacked from above and two-seaters from beneath their tails.
  9. Pilots must practice quick turns, as this maneuver is more used than any other in a fight.
  10. Pilots must practice judging distances in the air as these are very deceptive.
  11. Decoys must be guarded against — a single enemy is often a decoy — therefore the air above should be searched before attacking.
  12. If the day is sunny, machines should be turned with as little bank as possible, otherwise the sun glistening on the wings will give away their presence at a long range.
  13. Pilots must keep turning in a dog fight and never fly straight except when firing.
  14. Pilots must never, under any circumstances, dive away from an enemy, as he gives his opponent a non-deflection shot — bullets are faster than airplanes.
  15. Pilots must keep their eye on their watches during patrols, and on the direction and strength of the wind.

SummaryEdit

The most important points that both aces agree on and are most relevant to new players playing War Thunder are that:

  1. It's best to attack when you have an advantage over your enemy. Attack in groups or from advantageous positions.
  2. Maintain the element of surprise by using environmental factors such as the sun and clouds, and by only firing when you know you'll hit.
  3. To avoid giving your position away or being taken by surprise, maintain situational awareness.
  4. Multiple fighters engaging the same target should take turns firing to avoid getting in each other's way.
  5. Diving away from an opponent is rarely a good idea.
  6. Know the strenghts of your plane and especially the enemys plane weaknesses.

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