View Full Version : Energy Fighting - Specific Advice Requested

12-06-2004, 04:46 PM
I just recently got back into the IL-2 series and now have the merged install of PF. I have the original IL-2 and played that a decent amount, as well as a ton of hours on other flight sims as some of you know from my rants in other threads. I was always partial to the B&Z fighters. I need specific advice on my tactical approach. I've searched the forums and the general web for help, however most advice I get is very general. The average level of expertise seems to be high enough where explanation of individual tactics are not needed.
I know the principles of energy fighting. Beyond that, I'm a decent stall fighter meaning flying 101 lessons are not what I need. The problem is that I wind up consitently getting involved in a series of head on passes. Since my gunnery is not up to par yet these are terribly dangerous, especially against opponents with cannons. Basically I'll dive on my opponent from a decent to significant altitude advantage. Unless we're in a no-icon server (which I am liking more and more), that means the enemy almost always turns to face me. Hence a head on pass. Afterwards I extend to about 1.5 to 2.0 distance according to the icon (embarassingly I'm not sure what units/scale this refers to...I would assume 100-200 meters?). Depending on my altitude situation in reference to the enemy I pull a split-s or a half loop in order to turn around. By this time the enemy has turned around to face me. Hence another head on pass. This process repeats itself over and over until one of us shoots the other critcally and then the dogfight is over one way or the other.

Is this what the world of B&Z comes down to? Or are there techniques I'm missing that would allow me to get a more favorable angle of attack on the enemy aircraft. Some turning or positioning that allows me to get behind him, or at least a deflection shot. The same thing happens when I face an Ace AI Zeke. For the purpose of discussion say I'm always facing a A6M5 in a F4U-1D with 50% gas. Thanks for any help you can provide.


12-06-2004, 04:59 PM
Yes, please respond to this, I'm bumping this back to the top of the list because I'm in desperate need of this kind of help. Gunnery should come with time, but if I try and turn with a zero in a lightning, no matter how long I practice at it, I won't get any better... catch my drift.

Thanks all!

12-06-2004, 04:59 PM
Head-on passes tend to be extremely dangerous, as even novice flyers can often shoot well enough to hit the relatively stable target. There is also a high danger of collision!

Obviously, if the enemy is aware of your approach, he's going to turn into you; you need to plan your attacks more, perhaps. Using the sun, waiting for the enemy to be involved with another aircraft, that sort of thing.
Way back when, flying CFS1, I learned to avoid head-ons by waiting till the opponent was just about to come into gun range, then doing a wide barrel roll which would put me above him, and inverted. This would merge into a split-ess sort of manuever, which if timed right would drop you onto your opponent's six.
(too soon, of course, and he'd be on yours!)

Another dodge is to dive a bit as the enemy closes. Chances are, he'll follow you, trying to stay "lined up", which allows you to quickly pull up a bit on the stick, taking a relatively safe raking shot as he goes under you.

Quick Missions are great for experimenting.

12-06-2004, 06:42 PM
There are some good tutorials and some vid clips on energy fighting and I find it a little hard to describe.

First and foremost, to do it, you need to have or to gain an energy advantage. Aircraft with traveling at the same speed but with different climb rates will favor the aircraft with the better climb rate...if you are in the other aircraft, or at an energy disadvantage you need to fight downwards or better yet disengage. If you have speed or altitude, you have an energy advantage at the moment...climb helps you sustain or grow that advantage.

I find aircraft like 109's, Spits and Ki's to be superb energy fighters...other aircraft can do it to, but the superior climb rates allows me to enter an engagement with less of an energy advantage than say a Fw or Mustang. If I'm in a plane that doesn't climb so well I get more into a B&Z regime which isn't true energy fighting in my book.

The trick is to turn tail to tail as opposed to head on...if you turn head on, the favor goes to the aircraft with the tightest turn. If you go tail to tail in an upward direction slowly so as not to bleed energy and your opponent reefs on the stick trying to turn quick, he will bleed much more speed and energy. Then, before he gets into gun range you zoom climb and attempt to get him to follow. The idea is to get him to stall out with or before you so your altitude advantage puts you on his six as your plane swaps ends....right where you want him. The upward part of the circle is to enhance your climb and energy advantage further. If you don't have a climb advantage you can reverse that and go downwards, but due to the dive modelling of the sim, I am not usually successful with this method, although I can sometime prolong the fight or even out the energy differential more so as to disengage. When you zoom climb, good climbing aircraft have a tendency to gain on you and catch you.

If you are dealing with a significantly slower aircraft but with a tighter turning radius, you can go into a sustained high speed turn. It takes patience, practice and trial and error but the enemy, since he is slower, will turn inside you trying to gain angles. You will need to complete a couple of circles usually, but then zoom climb and repeat above. I screw up sometimes, because some aircraft are really good at slow speed climb and they can hang there. I've used this with good success in a Bf109E against a Hurricane for example.

There are planes that I avoid this with...La's at low altitude, and 109K's at about any altitude. Some American planes like the Mustang and P-47 stink at this until you get them above 7000 meters and all the sudden those 109's can't climb well anymore. The Ki used to be a monster at high altitude, but I don't know anymore cause I haven't tested it. These tactics should work real well for an A6M5 Zero too since it can dive decent and has a good slow speed climb.

After working with these tactics and having both success and failure, I have become an energy fighter almost exclusively. I have found that given relative equal in skill and aircraft, the outcome of a battle will be dictated nearly always by the energy state of the aircraft as they enter their first head on pass. When I get shot down, it is usually because I have either misjudged the energy state of my enemy or I am unable to disengage with the enemy or I am outclassed in terms of climb rates...those La's and 109K's are really tough to do anything with other than B&Z cause they just hang there better and longer than anything else, so I tend to avoid servers with an abundance of those planes in them.

An interesting match is a Fw190A-5 vs a P-38J, but not too many people favor 1943 servers unfortunately. Now there is energy fighting at its best.

12-06-2004, 06:51 PM
Bull dog, where are those turoials. If a picture is worth a thousand words, than moving pictures are worth millions of pictures!


12-06-2004, 07:14 PM
Good question! (rubs hands together).

OK, if you're doing B&Z passes, and the enemy is turning into you, for one, you gotta work on your stealth. I can see a guy turning tightly to avoid your gunpass, and you zooming up and away, and not [stupidly] trying to match his turn...

but if they're getting around to HO aspect by the time you're in gun range, you're diving in WAY too early.

Be more patient. Wait until perhaps the target tries to turn about, while you stay high, fly over top of him, negating all that turning, and THEN dive in on him.

Or try feint attacks. Dive in fairly steeply, and as soon as he begins to break, pull up, roll over inverted to keep him in view, and roll in on his new heading. You can do this because while he's burning E in a turn, all you need to do is ROLL (a non-E-burning maneuver) to change direction. He'll now be slower, closer to stall speed and have less options. Now dive in for a REAL gun pass.

Oh, and keep avoiding the HOs. It's a smart thing to do in most cases. I always say, wait til you get behind the enemy's wingline before you start hosing away.

Of course, against flammable Zeros, HOs were kind of effective, if done outside their cannons' effective range. But still, not conducive to long life. Too risky.

12-06-2004, 07:20 PM
There was a fellow JG14Josf or something like that who turned me onto the concept. It is detailed in Robert Shaw's book...combat fighter pilot or something like that. A book worth getting and reading if you like to learn about the science of dogfighting.

Try here: http://www.airwarfare.com/

There are some tutorials and I believe the video called "energy game" is in there. You'll see a 109 putting it to a P-51.

If worse comes to worse, PM me and we can meet somewhere online. I don't proclaim to be an expert but I or someone else can show a few things to you. I'm sure many squads would also be more than happy to share these things if you were so inclined to join one.

12-06-2004, 09:50 PM
Air Combat: Tactics and Maneuvering

Excellent book! I picked up mine from www.flightsimcentral.com (http://www.flightsimcentral.com)

12-06-2004, 11:39 PM
Actually, all air fighting is energy fighting; even T&B, although that style doesn't maximize the concept, it comes into play all the same.

It's a hard concept to grasp and put into play, but, when paired with overall situational awareness skills, it will really move you to the next level.

12-07-2004, 02:09 AM
wat the hells all this B&Z and T&B stuff?!
one tactic would be, in the case of you people manouvering before a head-on, in WW1 the idea was NEVER to turn from a head on collision, both to show them whos boss, and also to keep their heads down. its what i always do, and will do online with you blokes! lol

12-07-2004, 03:05 AM
HotelBushranger, they are generic terms vaguely describing aspects of aerial combat, taken as gospel, and frequently missapplied.

Boom and Zoom
Turn and Burn

PS. Listen to what Stiglr is saying, it works.

12-07-2004, 03:18 AM
TnB = Turn and Burn - Comes down to which plane is the most manouverable and generally is a low or medium altitude thing and mostly pre WW2 and early war fighting.

Planes suited to it: Yaks, Spits, Hurricanes, I16's, BF109E's, Laggs, Zero's, Ki43's etc

BnZ = Boom and Zoom - Boom = you spot your target, watch there actions, pounce on them at high speed and fire and then zoom = using your retained energy from the dive to regain altitude and relative safety.

Planes suited to it: P47's & FW190's are the ultimate in BnZ (till we get a Tempesthttp://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif ), BF109's, P51's (be gentle in the recovery!), Spits, F4U's etc.

12-07-2004, 05:00 AM
This is why 'speed is life' was so true in the non-missile age and still is in close air to air combat. As I'm sure you know, a turning dogfight is an energy and airspeed bleeder, so as others and you have said, b&z tactics keep up your energy and speed which allows you to avoid turning fights and to separate and reposition for your next pass or slashing attack. As has been said before, there are many great resources on this, too many to mention, so a little searching should yield much information for you.

12-07-2004, 11:25 AM
Shaw's "Fighter Combat", much more than you ever wanted to know on the subject.....

12-07-2004, 11:34 AM
No one answered the scale question. If you are seeing 1.5 and 2 that is not 150-200 meters. It's 1500-2000 meters. Part of the problem is that you may be separating in the horizontal too far and allowing the enemy too much time to turn around and force the head-on.

Forcing a head-on when in a negative merge situation is a valid tactic...

12-07-2004, 11:44 AM
It may be "valid", but it's usually STUPID.

In a one-on-one, you just do NOT give up a shot to get a shot. If you're damaged or badly outnumbered, and that's the only shot you're ever likely to get, that's different. But when you have tactical options left, you just don't take the HO. Do the work to get behind the enemy, THEN hose away.

That being said, your goal might be to create a "close to HO" pass, where there is some horizontal separation, then, after that merge, you can do something else to gain angles for the next merge. But even that is risky if you can't be sure the enemy can't get guns on you.

Now, it is a fairly good axium that you always turn INTO an enemy, but even if a HO aspect is hard to avoid, you ought to be planning to jink out of phase with him, get under his nose (which doesn't work if your server allows WonderWoman view), or barrel roll, or something. Anything but fly right into a facefull of hot lead.

If your idea of a gunpass is some half-arsed game of chicken, your tactics STINK.

What if the other guy has more/better guns than you? What if he's a better shot than you? What if he's just luckier than you? All things you likely can't control. It's as bad a gamble as "planning" to go into Vegas and walk out a million bucks richer. You just don't press HOs, it's just not worth it in the long run.

This article on defensive flying touches on some of these concepts. (http://www.naysayers.com/9jg52/defensive.htm) The tracks don't work, though, because they were recorded in IL-2 1.2, way back when.

Caveat: keep in mind, I'm talking fighter vs. fighter here. When attacking bombers, or planes with rear/flex guns, where even a "good" angle might be facing a gun, different rules may apply. For example, against a box of B-17s, a HO might be just what the doctor ordered.

12-07-2004, 12:31 PM
Sounds like your initial approach is sound. May I suggest you carefully watch what your opponent does as you extend away. Depending on that, I think you should improve your ability to regain his six o'clock.

Depending on the situation, a high vertical climb then another bounce could be effect - just depends on what's going on around you. More patience in tracking and not allowing yourself to lose your initial advantage.

Did anyone answer your question about 1.5 or 2.0? Those are in kilometres not metres.


12-07-2004, 05:11 PM
Thanks to all of you for the instruction and advice. I'm glad there has been enough interest and prompt response on this subject. The links and references to texts are especially helpful. Now that I've go some more facts strait I've got a further question. In your personal experiences when doing a pure boom and zoom tactical approach, how much extension do you achieve before making the next pass? I know situations are very subjective and therefore the distance will vary but I'm guessing you all have a niche where you let the distance go to before flipping around. If I can gain some sort of reference it would probably be the last step in solving my problems. Thanks again though!

12-07-2004, 05:23 PM
in a head-on situation aim to start firing at an altitude slight lower than your enemy...
1) you can always see him
2) he cant see you (cockpit bulkhead in the way)
3) as he passes over you, you get a shot at his weak underbelly
4)you have the advantage of gaining speed on your oponent

also, when attacking head on, shift your rudder to one side. this makes your flight path not straight thus makes it harder for your opponent to hit you while maintaining your aim.!

if in a weaker/less armoured aircraft (like a zero) make as if to go into a headon but still dive underneath your enemy but evade fire+dont shoot at him yet. climb while underneath him in your blind spot (but not too sharply so as to lose energy) and then eventually you'll get him!

Most pilots are too impetuous and those flying US planes will try and TnB you if you frustrate them enough...just wind them up and shoot em down! they never learn!

also...in an easy (6 o clock shot) never shoot unless you think you will hit.... in a diffucult situation..take every opportunity but if you msis with first few...try again.

hope this helps...though all the advice in the world other people gives me rarely works..im still a naff fighter pilot!

12-07-2004, 05:25 PM
This is TOTALLY situation dependent. It depends on you and your force size, the enemy's size, the planes involved, too.

Ex 1.: You are in a FW190 and spot 3 Yaks below you about 5km away. They don't see you. You dive in, but just before guns range, they scatter in all directions. You pull up, and take a squirt at one, and hit him just a little.

Now, you've got 3 Yaks alerted to your presence. They all turn better than you, and there's three of 'em. You extend up and away as far as you can get, and only attack again if one is stupid enough to try and come for you alone, without his wingmen. Otherwise, you curse your bad luck at being seen and find a better target.

Ex 2. You're in a 109 and spot a lone Yak a few kms below and off to the side. He doesn't see you. You dive in, and just before guns range he spots you and breaks. Your elevator is locking a bit, and you know you can't match his turn. But you also know that you and he are pretty much alone in the sky (you should have been constantly looking around for others while making your initial decision to dive in on this guy). Seeing as it's you and him, he's unlikely to get help, and you have no other planes to keep track of, you can use your energy advantage much more aggressively. Pull up as hard and straight as you can, get as much alt back as possible, watching the turning Yak as best you can, and dive back in as soon as you can. B&Z him till he dies, or until you make a mistake and get co-E or dive below him. If that happens, get out or change your tactic to extend out and get alt back.

Ex 3. Same as #2, but you're in a Focke Wulf, which turns worse than a 109. After the initial failed attack, I'd extend shallowly out for about 2km, making sure the enemy isn't gaining on you, then doing a rudder-assisted sliceback to dive back in on the bogie. In a FW190, with all those 20mms, you only need a split second hit to cripple the little Yak. But never turn with it. Use the FW190s ability to change direction in the vertical to make your heading changes.

Ex 4: You and three wingmen happen on 2 Yaks, and you're flying 109s. You dive in and the Yaks break. Here you can be pretty aggressive, outnumbering the Yaks 2:1. If you can communicate with your wingmen well, you can emply drag 'n bag techniques, or you could leave two guys upstairs, while two dive in, then "tag-team" the enemy pair. The pair up top provides help for anybody in trouble, and also to look for any new incoming planes.

Y'see? It depends on a number of factors, and it's different each time.

12-07-2004, 06:54 PM
The use of energy 'tactics' can be subtile; Say you are locked in a angles battle, one you will eventually loose, but you plane has better energy gaining capability, as the other guy goes for more angles to try for the shot, you can subtily gain an energy advanage, at the scarifice of some angular advantage, then use a verticle plane manuver for which he has not the energy to respond.

Other good tactics include the barrel roll attack where you can make the corner over and to the outside to his six but keep speed.

Being able to outclimb or extend away at speed are always valuable escape manuvers, allowing one to perhaps gain a snapshot by a temporary energy expenditure.

The energy fighter can control when and where the engagement takes place unless surprised or trapped in a relative energy deficit (low and slow) without an exit.

Having a lot of energy and being able to go 'verticle' can do wonders with any pesky angles fighter circling below.

12-08-2004, 02:12 AM
Nice talk gents ..

I only highlight some less discussed issues.

Energy fighting isn't always b'n'z .. sometimes you can even turn .. but only for a short while and with proper speed. Lots of lighter planes have problems turning in higher speeds. At some speed 190 can turn with spitfire for a moment (no much time needed with 4x20mm).

There is also fine defensive trick for most heavier planes - descending turn - make break turn with crosshair about 10 degrees below horizont - you will not loose speed so much, sometimes you even gain some - but lighter planes will loose speed much more.

I usualy end up with hammerhead after entering fire-pass with energy advantage - especially those AI pilots ALWAYS are after me. we both reach stall about a same time, but I am 1000m higher. And my controled hammerhead tooks about 2 seconds, while their (AI) not-so-controlled stall takes about 5 seconds .. they are still 'standing in the air' while i'm pumping lead into the cocpit. Well controled hammerhead is very important - especially in these (too often to see in pacific) 1xF6F against 10xZero.

There is yet one trick, for those who can't do hammerhead well - or don't have analog ruder control (pure guys). Turn your plane not over wing as in hammerhead but over the roof. It's hard since wings stalls (not so in hammerhead) and you can enter spin. The trick is to idle throttle ! Engine torque causes much of the trouble. Without engine you can ususaly 'pull' from stright ascent over the roof in 100kmh quite safely.
If you can do hammerhead properly, no need for this anyway.

Yet one thing - hamerhead is quite risky, if you misjudge the energy advantage (or if there is some other enemy plane). There is nothing easier that shooting plane standing verticaly in the air ahead of you.

12-08-2004, 11:46 AM
The last line revelas the 'proiblem' with energy tactics, judging your enerrgy, and his! Indeed, energy tactics are more than Dive and Zoom climb.

Pilots were not given formal air combat manuver training during this era, gunnery practice, yes. For the neophyte, keeping it simple was more likely to keep them alive.

Sucessful tactics during WWII usually revolved around teamwork and obtaining a positional advantage and surprise. The smart guys stayed out of the furballs if they could.

12-09-2004, 09:59 AM
After putting all of your advice together I managed to finally start consitently winning the battle against the AI Zeke. Keep in mind we were starting from a nuetral situation, so the first pass was always going to be head on unless I tried to climb away. I wound up going into a shallow dive and moving from left to right across his firing plane in order to deny him an accurate shot. Then I would immediatly go into a slow half loop or hi yo-yo. I tried real hard to keep an eye on him and I realized that before I was giving him too much spacing to recover energy and equalize the fight. Now I saw as he floundered about after trying to get onto my tail on the first pass. This was the key, he was low on E and I had the entire fight at my control. It sure as hell took me long enough to get to this stage! I dove on him from above repeatedly with enough angle that he was unable to point his guns at me. It felt like I had solved a puzzle. Now I'm going to try to ramp up to three our four enemy Ace Zekes. Also, I found that while online the situation was actually a little more favorable and my old tactics from Air Warrior and other sims as far as target recognition and sorting through a furball were critical in helping me organize my strategy. I'm grateful to all of you who are interested enough in the development of the new fliers and some old and very rusty veterans like me.

12-09-2004, 11:50 AM
As you go across his flight path, you expose yourself to a snapshot, use of a guns defense manuver, which is an out of (his manuver) plane move to spoil the brief shot he may have had.

Note that against an angles fighter, it is better to pass close as you give him less of an angular advantage if he starts a lead turn. Gives you a lot more room to extend and build energy!