Sometimes things happen in the game almost precisely as described in books. This time it happened to myself and my wingman, almost exactly as pictured in a recent excerpt from my book“Wingman – the virtual pilot’s companion to team combat”. The book offers a bit of historical background, hard-won insights and graphic examples of how loners, gaggles and consummate team-players do combat in the online skies. If you are into online air combat, or know someone who is, this book is for you. Anyway, here’s what happened a couple of days ago:

T/O Maubeuge-Elesmes in H81’s [P40-B], climbout 090 on continuous revs and max boost, in combat spread. Shortly east of Merbes, Robino spotted a high contact at 12 o’clock moving west – a FW-190. We made a cross turn and set after him just in case. He vanished in the haze to west seemingly without having spotted us. We cross-turned again and resumed our eastward march.

A few yellow squares [E/A reports] appeared round Ciney and Verviers well to the east, we kept on trucking and levelled off at 4500m. Squares disappeared and we turned N for Waremme which had a solid yellow due to ground battle in progress. Battle plan: sweep Waremme high, turn for Verviers and then let down vicinity Liege heading to Waremme on a fast and low sweep with Robino hanging back a few seconds to take advantage of whatever I missed or spotted off my track. There was nothing high at Waremme, so we stuck to the plan.

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Swinging round at Liège just outside flak range, I cut back on throttle and started the run. I clocked 600 km/h initially while letting down to 1500m – nothing to be seen on approach to town. On arrival, two cons low to left and several more to front. I kept going. High con over town, approx 2500-3000m, turned out to be a 109 coming down. I opened the throttle then, having completely forgot to watch my airspeed! Rob was on my long six without a shot on either of the spotted EA. I zoomed close past the now diving 109 and exited the area to northwest. We were pretty low and slow then, in a multi-bogey situation!

On exiting it became apparent that Rob had a FW on his six and closing, with several more EA straining to catch up. I swept around and dinged the FW somewhat, scaring him off Rob, and called exit north! That single turn-around was enough to attract attention and we had soon created a small conga line: bmbm/109/Rob/109/109. Neither was in shot range however and closure was small so we kept on going for a while to clear the general area, converting to westerly as we went on.

Then ensued a very brisk fight, 2 vs 4, on the deck: I did a high oblique reversal on my 109, Rob dinged him, and I then concentrated on the two coming in hot on Rob. We had good separation and managed to clear each other visually and with fire in succession. Rob scotched one 109, I dinged one other and then there was just the one, still following Rob around. Despite atrocious gunnery on my part I finally got him with a no-bullshit shot to the canopy. We made clear, cut back on revs and headed westwards low to land at Brussels-Evère.

Here follows an excerpt from my recently published book, “Wingman – the virtual pilot’s companion to team combat”. The book offers a bit of historical background, hard-won insights and graphic examples of how loners, gaggles and consummate team-players do combat in the online skies. If you are into online air combat, or know someone who is, this book is for you. Or him. Or her. 

Thundering across the front you spot several bogeys low and afar making abrupt turns away to avoid getting caught by your dragnet: you disregard them and press on. Presently you arrive at one of the hot spots, a town under heavy attack by enemy forces. A fair clump of bogeys is seen milling about, strafing, bombing and generally cavorting for position. You decide quickly: “Blue and Black, loiter to north and east, Red flight cover White, White, follow me. One pass.” Acknowledgements stream in from your flight leaders as you let down and wing into an attack run that takes you straight through the mêlée, your flight coming down with you in easy trail. Selecting a target at the apex of his zoom you stitch him well and exit while calling out: “White, off west, Red, come on down.” You look back and see White flight exiting the cloud of enemy with a few bandits in vain tow. You advise them to keep going and convert to a gentle chandelle, allowing the now committing Red flight easy shots against the hapless pursuers. That is four less bandits in just one pass, and the mêlée now appears to thin out considerably. You orbit around to regain SA, collecting your flock meanwhile. That was almost too easy. You decide to share the experience: “Red flight you are next, White covering.”

While this is going on Blue and Black report in that they are engaging a couple of lone bogeys several kilometres to the east – good, you have time enough for one more pass before you will have to disengage the lot. Red flight goes in again on another fishing expedition, White flight coming down hard on their heels and finishing whatever they missed, and then you call the disengagement: “All flights, disengage west, rally Dogtown at three km.” You break off, both flights intact, and head west, cutting down on revs to ease formatting. While you circle Dogtown, Blue and Black flights report in again, acknowledging the disengagement and advising you that they are being pursued by three bandits. You tell them to press on and wheel around to east, preparing the welcoming committee. The three stooges following Blue and Black flights are comfortably and overwhelmingly dispatched and then you are free to get the show on the road again. So far you have notched up ten-plus kills for no losses, and you have oodles of ammunition still to spend.

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Here follows an excerpt from my recently published book, “Wingman – the virtual pilot’s companion to team combat”. The book offers a bit of historical background, hard-won insights and graphic examples of how loners, gaggles and consummate team-players do combat in the online skies. If you are into online air combat, or know someone who is, this book is for you. Or him. Or her. 

What separates the ace team from the humdrum? As we have seen, fighting as a team is not exactly rocket science, to the contrary, it is hardly more than a case of being aware and of doing things appropriately and according to common sense. Yet the overwhelming majority of pilots fail to hook up in teams and most of those who do invariably break up at the first whiff of trouble. It seems incongruous that pilots can even fail to make a level turn or fail to meet an apparent and immediately mortal threat with an adequate response, yet this is precisely what happens every time in just about every mission. Perhaps wingmanship is a dark art after all.

You and your wingman Joe have risen a cut above the rest. You have learned to master your rides, you have learned to trust each other, and you have found and practiced the templates of procedure and manoeuvre that provides security and opportunity in any given situation. You have acquired a heightened sense of awareness to the minute differences of position and energies and vectors that spells advantage or disadvantage. Together you have explored the many various alternatives to handling a specific challenge and have amassed a joint experience that by itself yields an almost automatic advantage in almost any encounter with the enemy. In short, you have learned control: of greed, of reflexive behaviour, of instinct and of your lesser selves. Gone is the fear of supposedly superior opponents, gone is the uncertainty and the apprehension that plagued you in the beginning, gone is the hamfistedness and the timidity. You are truly dancing and life is good. Yet, there is plenty to learn still.

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Here follows an excerpt from my recently published book, “Wingman – the virtual pilot’s companion to team combat”. The book offers a bit of historical background, hard-won insights and graphic examples of how loners, gaggles and consummate team-players do combat in the online skies. If you are into online air combat, or know someone who is, this book is for you. Or him. Or her. 

The urge to continue a fight, to seek a decisive outcome through engaged manoeuvring despite every evidence of the fight going out of your control, is immensely strong. There will be times when you wade into a bunch of scattered bandits and perhaps clear out a few but remain locked in a fight with the remainder, unable to force a swift decision on account of your depreciated situational awareness and due to massive loss of energy. You will no doubt have found yourself sliding into a position of absolute disadvantage, wanting to break off the fight but finding it incredibly hard to do so without immediately being forced into heavy defensive manoeuvring. If you find yourself in this kind of situation more often than you would like or care to admit, it is highly probable that you need to take a long hard look at your decision making process. In actual fact, you will have to realise that you must decide on how to exit even before you join combat: attempting to fight without a clear idea of how to conduct the battle is the first step on the slippery slope to piecemeal destruction.

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Here follows an excerpt from my recently published book, “Wingman – the virtual pilot’s companion to team combat”. The book offers a bit of historical background, hard-won insights and graphic examples of how loners, gaggles and consummate team-players do combat in the online skies. If you are into online air combat, or know someone who is, this book is for you. Or him. Or her. 

Lo and behold, a single bogey in your low 10 o’clock, heading in the opposite direction at about 10,000 ft. By the looks of his airspeed he is still climbing, or cruising very slowly. Has to be a bomber. Joe, being closer to the bogey, has not spotted him yet, probably because the con is hidden by his engine. You call the con and manoeuvre to position yourself for the attack, cutting behind Joe as the bogey passes by his low 9 o’clock. Joe tips his wing, spots the con, and falls into a wide echelon on your right. You are now the leader and while you concentrate on the bandit, Joe keeps up wide area SA, staying well behind and well to the side but ready to add his guns if need be. It is an easy matter for you to convert to a nice high-sides attack, coming in at the bandit’s high 8 o’clock. Oh it is a nice fat bomber all right. He takes no evasive action, does not appear to have seen you at all. He just sits there, tooling along. You manage a quick scan around as you streak down, then return to the gunsight, give him a two-second squirt, and watch the bandit blossom a bright red spout of flame. He tumbles down trailing fat black smoke while you curve up to right and reform on Joe. Man, that was almost too easy!

In the example above, there are benefits of proper tactics galore. Your formation ensured full coverage of the sky, allowing you to spot what Joe did not; you executed a nice high-sides attack using all the benefits of altitude and surprise; Joe kept your six clear by keeping up SA while you concentrated on knocking down the bandit; and you prosecuted the attack with minimum delay, allowing the patrol to continue with nary an interruption. It is easy enough to consider the opposites at work: you were alone; you failed to spot the con; if you spotted him you were below and would have to contend with a lengthy tail chase before drawing into guns range from the most inauspicious quarter, at the same time making you vulnerable to every bandit in the world; you might not have caught him before bombs-away or he went into his dive-bombing routine, bringing you down to the hornet’s nest of dogfighting and otherwise aggressive enemy where you would last all of thirty seconds. Your failure would cause the next patrol to be delayed by some 20 minutes or more during which while the enemy could rampage freely. In contrast to this frequent and most sad state of affairs, you suffered all of 30 seconds delay, prosecuted air superiority yet further, saved the friendly infantry a ton of TNT in the face and dealt the enemy a consequent loss of time, matériel and morale.

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Here follows an excerpt from my recently published book, “Wingman – the virtual pilot’s companion to team combat”. The book offers a bit of historical background, hard-won insights and graphic examples of how loners, gaggles and consummate team-players do combat in the online skies. If you are into online air combat, or know someone who is, this book is for you. Or him. Or her. 

If you have ever felt your pulse beat audibly and your armpits start to flow uncontrollably upon gaining visual contact with a group of bogeys, then you will recognise that composite feeling of joy, anticipation and dread that fills the fighter pilot when he closes with the enemy. Now, after seemingly endless practice and experience gathering, you are about to go into combat with your formation. Fortified by good comms, proper procedure and a faultless formation you swing into the attack – and realise that there is more to fighting than mixing it up.

You will experience, as have every commander and wingman since those fateful days back in 1915, that combat is chaotic and taxing in the extreme. It will break your formation and force you on the defensive, heart in mouth, before you have time to say “Horrido!”. It will shatter your situational awareness and render the best-laid plans a shambles. You will find that fighting with the formation requires the utmost discipline, swift reaction and immaculate execution.

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Here follows an excerpt from my recently published book, “Wingman – the virtual pilot’s companion to team combat”. The book offers a bit of historical background, hard-won insights and graphic examples of how loners, gaggles and consummate team-players do combat in the online skies. If you are into online air combat, or know someone who is, this book is for you. Or him. Or her. 

There is little in the online world to promote group tactics because the very reason why real pilots team up is missing from the virtual battle: fear of death. In the online war, no one really fears death, and consequently does not fly as if life mattered. A new plane, a new life, is to be had at the touch of a button when the current expires. Thus, to create the underpinnings of team combat, the pilot must inspire himself with a certain amount of fear – not of death but of failure. Death in the online game is a failure: you failed to keep up a constant observation; you failed to react; your action was too benign; you overstayed your welcome; you blew your energy; you became greedy or suffered target fixation; you lost your leader; you pulled too heavily on the stick; you underestimated the opponent, or you made any of the thousand other possible errors of judgement or execution that a pilot can make. End result – death. Death in the online game however is a learning opportunity, not, as in real life, a terminal state that disallows further learning. Therefore the pilot who wishes to transcend from the sordid depths of a mindless stick-jerking furball mentality must imbue himself with a certain amount of fear of death, and seek to impose a modicum of discipline on himself that helps him avoid the most glaring mistakes of air combat. So, ask yourself, are you ready to become good? Are you ready to discipline yourself? Are you ready to take the necessary steps to ensure a healthy online life? Give me a Roger on that, and read on, grasshopper!

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After six years on the backburner, WINGMAN – the virtual pilot’s guide to team combat is now taxiing out on the tarmac ready for take-off. WINGMAN is the answer to the oft-repeated online curse: how the [beep] can I fight against people who are better than I am at this air combat racket? 

The answer is – TEAM UP! For, if you fly on your own you will die on your own because you had no one to watch your six; no one to warn you of wildcard bogeys; no one to bail you out of desperate straits; no one to help you dispatch a stricken enemy when your own guns are dry; no one to share your great moments with; no one to help you clean out a tasty group of bombers; no one to feel close to; no one to laugh and chat with. Alone, you will always be at a disadvantage whenever you encounter more than you can handle, and you will curse again and again and finally throw the monitor out the window because you suck, alone. Never fly alone!

Put yourself (and your friend!) on the fast track to air superiority – order your copy today!

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I just had the brightest of ideas, and it seems no one have thought of it previously, or considered it in actual practice. I love it when that happens. I’ll give it some further thought, and develop the idea to something more concrete, and eventually let you know if it is as bright as I think it is.

A few keywords: formation practice squadron wingman IRL discipline equipment-indifferent

Haha!

Very moving stuff. An 83 year old American Spitfire pilot sees his crash landing for the first time in this documentary posted to LiveLeak: http://po.st/TgZajR 

The short is jam-packed with nuggets of heroism, delivered dead-pan by a member of “the greatest generation”. A must-see.

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