View Full Version : Combat Tactics. How the aces flew.

10-04-2007, 11:23 AM
I thought it might be a nice idea to start a thread of combat fighter tactics. Books on the subject can be hard to find, and some of the most important tactics and manouvres can be easily missed.
Feel free to add or discuss tactics.

I'll start of with a description of the technique known as the 'Thach weave':

<span class="ev_code_YELLOW">'Named after John S. Thach and also known as the Beam Defense Manouvre a division of 4 aircraft flew in two pairs abreast, spaced at about 900-1200ft. Each pair covered the tails of the other looking inwards. The first pair to see an attck coming did not wait t o transmit a radio call, but broke inwards. On seeing this the second pair broke towards them, the attcked pair going high, the defending pair beneath them. Zeros that tried to follow one pair round were thus faced with a head-on pass from slightly below the other pair. In a head-on pass the greater survivabilitey and armourment of the American fighter gave it an advantage' </span>From <span class="ev_code_PINK">'Allied Fighter Aces: The Air Combat Tactics and Techniques of World War II'</span> by Mike Spick (A dissapointing book that doesn't live up to it's title, but which has some interesting parts).

There is a diagram of the manouvre in the book. It shows the pair at 300-400 YARDS apart, swinging toward each other on being attacked, then doing a sucession of wide scissors with each other allowing for head on passes over each other.

The manouvre was first put to the test in the Battle of Midway in June 1942.

Wikipedia on the Thach weave (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thach_Weave)


10-04-2007, 12:09 PM
I love reading about fighter tactics. The only problem is it's hard for me to convert words into a 3-dimensional representation of the manuevers... http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/53.gif Usually I have an object nearby to move around to get a picture of what to do...

10-04-2007, 12:41 PM
"The effectiveness of this fluid four doctrine is probably best demonstrated by a four-plane division of U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat fighters led by Lt. Eugene Valencia (23 victories) during WW2. His division, nicknamed "Valencia's Mowing Machine," (http://homepage.eircom.net/%7Efrontacs/WBStored/ThachWeave.html) accounted for the destruction of fifty Japanese aircraft without a loss (or even a hit). This team developed fluid four tactics, which were by no means universally accepted by the Navy at that time, to a fine art. The name "Mowing Machine" was derived from the alternating attacks by the two elements of the division, which traded roles as engaged element and free element (top cover), producing action resembling that of the blades of a lawn mower."

As early as 1935, they had adopted the flight of four fighters, operated in two pairs. This is essentially the Fighting Wing, Finger-Four (http://www.sci.fi/%7Efta/winter-w.htm) fighter doctrine, the development of which is normally credited to Moelders and the German Condor Legion in Spain several years later, as discussed in a previous chapter. FAF doctrine was quite advanced, and included a "first see, first shoot" policy, by which a wingman was authorized to attack an enemy before his leader if he was in the best position to do so. The Finns were also quite aggressive, with an "attack regardless of numbers" policy, which normally provided them with the initiative in air combat.

10-04-2007, 12:52 PM
Pre-war USN fighter pilots were also extensively trained in high deflection shooting.

10-05-2007, 08:28 AM
More tactics and manouvres at Airwarfare:

TgD Thunderbolt56
10-05-2007, 08:46 AM
I'm a fan of the <span class="ev_code_YELLOW">scissor</span>, both vertical and horizontal.

I'll look for a simple explanation (emphasis on simple as some people find it necessary to become way too wordy on such things).

10-05-2007, 09:00 AM
Usually I have an object nearby to move around to get a picture of what to do...

But that's what they did / do IRL too isn't it?

10-05-2007, 10:01 AM
I'll look for a simple explanation (emphasis on simple as some people find it necessary to become way too wordy (http://www.d-n-i.net/boyd/pdf/boydaerialattack.pdf) on such things).

Quality not quantity.


10-05-2007, 10:16 AM
Russian fighter tactics:


10-05-2007, 10:29 AM
The trouble with set piece fight tactics is......
It rely's on the enemy doing 'his side of the bargin' !!