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Air Combat Tactics
William Brambleberry loved learning all he could about Spitfires. He especially loved hearing about the near misses, close escapes and dogfights against the German fighters from his 453 Squadron pilot friends. Every time William heard the pilots’ stories it made him more determined to be the best, most adventurous aviator mouse in all the world and he studied everything he could about flying. He learned about Spitfires, how they were built, how to fly them and about the air combat tactics they used for dogfighting.
SQN 453 in Formation
One of the first things he learnt was Malan’s Rules of Air Fighting. A.G. ‘Sailor’ Malan was a fighter ace and one of the greatest fighter pilots of WWII. He learnt air combat tactics with 74 Squadron and developed his ‘Ten Rules of Air Fighting,’ which were circulated as a guide to fighter pilots. Malan’s 10 Rules were:
Wait until you see the whites of his (the enemy pilot’s) eyes. Fire short bursts of one or two seconds, and only when your sights are definitely ‘ON’
Whilst shooting, think of nothing else, brace the whole of your body, have both hands on the stick, concentrate on your ring sight
Always keep a sharp lookout, ‘Keep your finger out!’
Height gives you the initiative
Always turn and face attack
Make your decisions promptly. It is better to act quickly even though your tactics are not the best
Never fly straight-and-level for more than 30 seconds in the combat area
When diving to attack, always leave a proportion of your formation above to act as top guard
INITIATIVE, AGGRESSION, AIR DISCIPLINE, and TEAMWORK are the words that MEAN something in air fighting
Go in quickly – punch hard – get out!
Air Combat Formations
Air combat tactics were first developed during WWI and these same tactics were used at the start of WWII. Fighter Command prescribed six basic attack formations including Two-Ship, Vic, Fluid Six, Finger Four, Four-Ship Wall and Echelon. These formations were designed for attacking slow and poorly armed bombers but were redundant by the end of the war with advances in aviation technology.
These days, modern fighter jets generally use Two-Ship and Four-Ship Wall formations, spread much further apart, even out of visual range due to advances in digital technology. Close formations are generally reserved for aerial acrobatic shows or to deceive enemy radar.
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