The five stages of aerial combat
Find the enemy before he finds you, so that you have the advantage of surprise. Most pilots
who are shot down never see their attacker.
Once you have detected the enemy, move into a position close enough to shoot him down; without being discovered.
When you are close enough to shoot the enemy, commence the attack. If you fire too soon you will waste ammunition,
and he might see you coming. Remember: your weapons don't move. To aim, you must move your entire ship and use a "deflection" angle.
Maneuvring happens in these ways: when neither side gains an advantage during detection, when the enemy sees you during your closing, or when your attack
fails to down the enemy ship. It is a test of skill in which each opponent tries to get into a position to fire.
Disengaging means putting space between you and the enemy so you are out of the fight. You can disengage on purpose, or by accident.
Be careful though: just because you want to leave doesn't mean the fight will end.
Know you airplane
Every aircraft has strengths and weaknesses. Make sure you know yours, and those of the enemy aircraft you are most likely
to encounter. If you can out-climb, out-accelerate, out-turn, or out-gun your foe it will change the way you fly. So will knowing your
own ship's vulnerabilities.
Keep your head on a swivel
Visualizing the positions and movements of fast-moving objects in a three-dimensional space is difficult.
But it is what separates fighter pilots from fighter aces. Being a good shot is a useless skill if you can't keep track of the enemy.
Use the element of surprise
When you come in from behind or below the enemy he can not see you. But dropping in from above gives you the potential for greater speed. While you are closing in, use the enemy's blind spots to your advantage. Come out of the sun or the clouds with your guns blazing so you can shoot him down before he even knows you are there.
Stay one move ahead of the enemy
A good fighter pilot's actions in the present are dictated by his prediction of the future. If you merely react to your opponent's actions you will be shot down. If you anticipate his actions and respond intuitively without hesitation, you will emerge the victor.
Trade altitude and airspeed
If you are flying too fast; pull back on the stick and you will slow down as you climb. Be careful though, pulling up to shake the enemy off your tail is a dangerous move! You airspeed will drop quickly, and you will soon be a sitting duck.
If you are flying too slow; nose your plane over into a dive to gain some airspeed. Trading altitude and airspeed is an essential part of all aerial combat maneuvers.
Fly slower to turn faster
At fast speeds, centrifugal force causes the plane's turn radius to increase, and its turn rate to decrease. Every ship has a speed at which maximum-performance turns are possible.
In general though, a slower flying aircraft will out-turn a faster flying one.
Turn into your opponent
Turning into the enemy's direction of movement increases the angle between your movement and his guns, making you harder to hit. Turning away decreases the angle, making you an easier target; and making it much easier for the enemy to get on your tail.
Use deflection shooting
Attacking an enemy aircraft from in front or behind is easy. Just aim and shoot when you are close enough to hit the target. Attacking from other angles is more complicated. You must coordinate your shooting with your speed and fire ahead of the target so that he runs into your bullets. This difficult skill is called deflection shooting and is the mark of a good combat pilot.
Learning it is essential to your success.
Don't shoot until he fills your windscreen
Wait until you are se close that you are sure you will hit him; you'll save ammunition. This strategy takes less concentration than deflection shooting, but it isn't always practical, especially if you are meeting head on!
Never stop an attack once you have initiated it
If you run away when you are within range of the enemy, it will be easier for him to get a shot at you. Courage is not the absence of fear, it's action in the face of fear. If you have decided to attack, be courageous and follow trough. Cowardice at close rane will get you killed.