Air combat maneuvering (also known as ACM or dogfighting) is the tactical art of moving, turning and/or situating one's fighter aircraft in order to attain a position from which an attack can be made on another aircraft. Air combat manoeuvres rely on offensive and defensive basic fighter manoeuvring (BFM) to gain an advantage over an aerial opponent.
Military aviation appeared in World War I when aircraft were initially used to spot enemy troop concentrations, field gun positions and movements. Early aerial combat consisted of aviators shooting at one another with hand held weapons.The first recorded aircraft to be shot down by another aircraft, which occurred on October 5, 1914, was a German Aviatik. The pilot, Feldwebel Wilhelm Schlichting, was shot with a carbine wielded by observer Louis Quenault, who was riding in a Voisin Type 3 piloted by French Sergeant Joseph Frantz. The need to stop reconnaissance that was being conducted by enemy aircraft rapidly led to the development of fighter planes, a class of aircraft designed specifically to destroy other aircraft.
Fixed, forward-firing guns were found to be the most effective armament for a majority of World War I era fighter planes, but it was nearly impossible to fire them through the spinning propeller of one's own aircraft without destroying one's own plane. Roland Garros, working with Morane Saulnier Aéroplanes, was the first to solve this problem by attaching steel deflector wedges to the propeller. He achieved three kills but was shot down by ground fire and landed behind German lines. Anthony Fokker inspected the plane's wreckage and learned to improved the design by connecting the firing mechanism of the gun to the timing of the engine, thus allowing the gun to fire through the propeller without making contact with the propeller.As technology rapidly advanced, new and young aviators began defining the realm of air-to-air combat, such as Max Immelmann, Oswald Boelcke, and Lanoe Hawker. One of the greatest of these "ace pilots" of World War I, Manfred von Richthofen (the Red Baron), wrote in his book The Red Fighter Pilot, "The great thing in air fighting is that the decisive factor does not lie in trick flying but solely in the personal ability and energy of the aviator. A flying man may be able to loop and do all the stunts imaginable and yet he may not succeed in shooting down a single enemy."
Pilots soon learned to achieve a firing position (while avoiding the threat of enemy guns) by manoeuvring themselves behind an enemy aircraft; this is known as getting onto an aircraft's "six o'clock" or onto their "tail", plus a wide variety of other terms, usually coined by air crew. This type of combat became known as dogfighting. Oswald Boelcke, a German fighter ace during World War I, was the first to publish the basic rules for aerial combat manoeuvring in 1916, known as the Dicta Boelcke .He advised pilots to attack from the direction of the sun (toward which the defending pilot could not see), or to fly at a higher altitude than the opponent. Most of these rules are still as valuable today as they were a century ago.
Today's air combat is much more complicated than that of older times, as air-to-air missiles, radar, and automatic cannons capable of high rates of fire are used on virtually all modern fighter aircraft. [ citation needed ] The master rule is still the same: do not let your opponent get onto your six, while attempting to get on his.New, and additional types of manoeuvres have emerged, intending to break radar lock by minimizing the Doppler signature of one's own aircraft ("keeping the enemy at 3 or 9 o'clock"), or to exhaust the kinetic energy of an incoming missile (by changing the aircraft's course from side to side, the missile, not flying directly at target but trying to forestall it, will make sharper turns and will eventually have to fly a longer path). However, close range fighting with infrared guided missiles and aircraft cannons still obeys the same general rules laid down in the skies over Europe in the early 20th century.
Close-range combat tactics vary considerably according to the type of aircraft being used and the number of aircraft involved.
There are five things a pilot must remain aware of when contemplating aerial engagement; of these, seeing and keeping sight of one's opponent are the most important. In Southeast Asia, over 85 percent of all kills are attributed to the attacker spotting and shooting the defender without ever being seen.Structural limitations of the attacking and defending fighters must be taken into account, such as thrust-to-weight ratio, wing loading, and the "corner speed" (the maximum or 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 close 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 when 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 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.
A fighter aircraft, often referred to simply as a fighter, is a military fixed-wing aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat against other aircraft. The key performance features of a fighter include not only its firepower but also its high speed and maneuverability relative to the target aircraft.
Oswald Boelcke was a German flying ace of the First World War credited with 40 victories; he was one of the most influential patrol leaders and tacticians of the early years of air combat. Boelcke is honored as the father of the German fighter air force, as well as considered the "Father of Air Fighting Tactics".
Max ImmelmannPLM was the first German World War I flying ace. He was a pioneer in fighter aviation and is often mistakenly credited with the first aerial victory using a synchronized gun, which was actually performed on 15 July 1915 by German ace Kurt Wintgens. He was the first aviator to win the Pour le Mérite, and was awarded it at the same time as Oswald Boelcke. His name has become attached to a common flying tactic, the Immelmann turn, and remains a byword in aviation. He is credited with 15 aerial victories.
The Thach Weave is an aerial combat tactic developed by naval aviator John S. Thach and named by James H. Flatley of the United States Navy soon after the United States' entry into World War II.
Aerial warfare is the battlespace use of military aircraft and other flying machines in warfare. Aerial warfare includes bombers attacking enemy installations or a concentration of enemy troops or strategic targets; fighter aircraft battling for control of airspace; attack aircraft engaging in close air support against ground targets; naval aviation flying against sea and nearby land targets; gliders, helicopters and other aircraft to carry airborne forces such as paratroopers; aerial refueling tankers to extend operation time or range; and military transport aircraft to move cargo and personnel. Historically, military aircraft have included lighter-than-air balloons carrying artillery observers; lighter-than-air airships for bombing cities; various sorts of reconnaissance, surveillance and early warning aircraft carrying observers, cameras and radar equipment; torpedo bombers to attack enemy shipping; and military air-sea rescue aircraft for saving downed airmen. Modern aerial warfare includes missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles. Surface forces are likely to respond to enemy air activity with anti-aircraft warfare.
A dogfight, or dog fight, is an aerial battle between fighter aircraft conducted at close range. Dogfighting first occurred in Mexico in 1913, shortly after the invention of the airplane. Until at least 1992, it was a component in every major war, despite beliefs after World War II that increasingly greater speeds and longer-range weapons would make dogfighting obsolete.
The Dicta Boelcke is a list of fundamental aerial maneuvers of aerial combat formulated by First World War German flying ace, Oswald Boelcke. Equipped with one of the first fighter aircraft, Boelcke became Germany's foremost flying ace during 1915 and 1916. Because of his success in aerial combat and analytic mind, he was tasked by Colonel Hermann von der Lieth-Thomsen with writing a pamphlet on aerial tactics. Completed in June 1916, it was distributed throughout the German Air Service some two years before the French and British militaries followed suit with their own tactical guides. Air combat tactical manuals based on the Dicta Boelcke have become more elaborate over time, and have become a mainstay for NATO's air combat training of American, German, Dutch, Norwegian, Turkish, Italian, and Greek fighter pilots.
World War I was the first major conflict involving the large-scale use of aircraft. Tethered observation balloons had already been employed in several wars, and would be used extensively for artillery spotting. Germany employed Zeppelins for reconnaissance over the North Sea and Baltic and also for strategic bombing raids over Britain and the Eastern Front
In aerobatics, the Cobra maneuver, also known as just the Cobra, is a dramatic and demanding maneuver in which an airplane flying at a moderate speed suddenly raises the nose momentarily to the vertical position and slightly beyond, momentarily stalling the plane and making it a full-body air brake, before dropping it back to normal, during which the aircraft does not change effective altitude.
Basic fighter maneuvers (BFM) are tactical movements performed by fighter aircraft during air combat maneuvering, to gain a positional advantage over the opponent. BFM combines the fundamentals of aerodynamic flight and the geometry of pursuit, with the physics of managing the aircraft's energy-to-weight ratio, called its specific energy.
A barrel roll is an aerial maneuver in which an airplane makes a complete rotation on both its longitudinal and lateral axes, causing it to follow a helical path, approximately maintaining its original direction. It is sometimes described as a "combination of a loop and a roll." The g-force is kept positive on the object throughout the maneuver, commonly between 2–3 g, and no less than 0.5 g. The barrel roll is commonly confused with an aileron roll.
The Lufbery Circle, or Lufbery Wheel, also spelled "Lufberry" or "Luffberry", is a defensive air combat tactic first used during World War I.
A fighter pilot is a military aviator trained to engage in air-to-air combat, air-to-ground combat and sometimes electronic warfare while in the cockpit of a fighter aircraft. Fighter pilots undergo specialized training in aerial warfare and dogfighting. A fighter pilot with at least five air-to-air kills becomes known as an ace.
The Scissors is an aerial dog fighting maneuver commonly used by military fighter pilots. It is primarily a defensive maneuver, used by an aircraft that is under attack. It consists of a series of short turns towards the attacking aircraft, slowing with each turn, in the hopes of forcing the attacker to overshoot. Performed properly, it can cause the attacking aircraft to move far enough in front to allow the defender to turn the tables and attack.
Dogfights is a military aviation themed TV series depicting historical re-enactments of air-to-air combat that took place in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, as well as smaller conflicts such as the Gulf War and the Six-Day War. The program consists of former fighter pilots sharing their stories of actual dogfights in which they took part, combined with computer-generated imagery (CGI) to give the viewer a better perspective of what it is like to engage in aerial combat. Dogfights originally aired on the History Channel from November 2006 to May 2008. Repeats of the series are currently airing on the digital broadcast network Quest.
The Thanh Hóa Bridge, spanning the Song Ma river, is situated 3 miles (4.8 km) northeast of Thanh Hóa, the capital of Thanh Hóa Province in Vietnam. The Vietnamese gave it the nickname Hàm Rồng. In 1965 during the Vietnam War, it was the objective of many attacks by US Air Force and US Navy aircraft which would fail to destroy the bridge until 1972, even after hundreds of attacks.
The Halberstadt D.II was a biplane fighter aircraft developed and manufactured by German aircraft company Halberstädter Flugzeugwerke.
The sun position in aerial combat is the pilot's ability to position the aircraft relative to the sun in relationship to the position of the enemy aircraft.
Aerial ramming or air ramming is the ramming of one aircraft with another. It is a last-ditch tactic in air combat, sometimes used when all else has failed. Long before the invention of aircraft, ramming tactics in naval warfare and ground warfare were common. The first aerial ramming was performed by Pyotr Nesterov in 1914 during the First World War. In the early stages of World War II the tactic was employed by Soviet pilots, who called it taran, the Russian word for "battering ram".
Attacks on parachutists, as defined by the law of war, is when pilots, aircrews, and passengers are attacked while descending by parachute from disabled aircraft during wartime. This practice is considered by most militaries around the world to be inhumane, as the attacked personnel would eventually become POWs if parachuted over enemy territory. Attacking parachutists from aircraft in distress is a war crime under the Protocol I addition to the 1949 Geneva Conventions. Firing on airborne forces who are descending by parachute is not prohibited.
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