Boom and Zoom Tactics, Part Two
Be sure to read all of the parts
of this series
[ Boom and Zoom,
Part One ][ Part
Two ][ Part Three ][ Part Four ]
In Part Two, we will take a closer
look at the HnR attack from initiation to the re-attack (the
HnC attack will be discussed in Part Three.). Ill use
screenshots to give you an idea what the attack looks like
using the snap, padlock, and external views.
Just so we keep ourselves focused
on what exactly we are talking about with regard to these
lets keep in mind that the HnR and
the HnC are reposition maneuvers for the purpose of re-attacking
the bandit. In upcoming discussions of both maneuvers, your
goal is to get enough distance between yourself and the bandit
to be able to turn around, get your energy back, and attack
from a position of advantage.
The HnR Attack
We begin by reminding everyone that
this maneuver is one in which you gain turning room by extending
below the plane of turn of the bandit. You are gaining lateral
separation, not vertical
even though your extension may
take you below the bandits altitude.
When Should I Use It?
Use the HnR attack when you have
a significant top speed advantage over your opponent (+100mph
for WW2 aircraft, +200 KIAS for modern fighters). In particular,
you are concerned with maximum indicated speed, i.e., the
top speed that you can get in a dive
be careful of speed
values given in sim manuals. Often, these speeds are true
airspeed values that pertain to max speed in level flight
for a given altitude. While this is a good indicator of relative
performance, you are much more interested in getting your
aircraft to go as fast as it can.
Why is this important? Because the
two can be dramatically different. For example, the P-40 could
dive at a much higher speed than its listed 345 mph. This
value is True Airspeed, not the Indicated Airspeed that you
would see on the cockpit airspeed indicator.
What is the significance of this?
For the AVG P-40 pilot, quite a bit. The fixed gear Ki-27
was not going to match the P-40 in a dive. But the difference
does not end here. Other factors are also major considerations.
Two merit mentioning for our sim flying. One is airframe structural
strength, and the other is control effectiveness.
Some sims model aircraft structural
strength very well
you may well be able to reach an airspeed
that causes damage to your plane. If your opponent has a lower
limitation, you can take advantage of it by diving away from
him. Control effectiveness is another feature that can give
you an advantage. Some sims model this factor very well
you increase speed, the controls stiffen. Eventually, in some
aircraft, they may well be useless and the aircraft will be
uncontrollable until you slow down (or hit the ground as is
often the case!!). In some WW2 aircraft, the ailerons were
the first to lose their effectiveness. When this happened,
the pilot could no longer roll with the same speed as he was
this was an advantage to the F4F Wildcat pilot
who knew that the Zero chasing him would have its ailerons
stiffen up to the point that the Zero pilot could not follow
the Wildcat pilot in a turn at high speed.
Summing it up, this airspeed advantage
will allow you to extend far enough to be able to turn back
around to engage without allowing the opponent to catch up
to you. You should also use the HnR when you plan a "one
pass, haul ass" attack!
How Is the HnR Maneuver Flown?
We begin with the attack entry.
Since our objective is to extend for lateral separation,
we are better served if our attack is initiated from above
the opponent. If we attack from below him, then we waste energy
in our reversal from nose high in the attack to nose low in
Our extension objective plays a critical
role in our attack. Why? Because, when we extend away from
the bandit, we want to do it behind his wingline (3/9
line). If we attempt to extend in front of his wingline, then
we risk getting shot on the way out!
This desire to extend behind the bandits
wingline has direct effect on our gun attack. We all know
gun attacks come in two forms
tracking and snap shots.
Lets stop for a moment and clarify something about gun
A tracking shot does not always require
a low angle off, low aspect approach. It is entirely possible
to track a target at any angle off and aspect. Tracking with
approximately 90 degrees angle off is commonly referred to
as "tracking on the beam". As long as you as the
shooter have the turn rate available to keep your nose in
lead pursuit, you can track at any angle. By keeping your
nose in lead, you are matching the targets turn rate.
Incidentally, another term
and one used in WW2
the phrase "deflection shooting". Many aces such
as Hans Marseilles were well known for their deadly ability
in deflection shooting. Deflection shooting is another
way to describe a high angle off tracking shot.
A snap shot, however, is one in which
the shooter does not try to match the targets
turn rate. Instead, the shooter estimates the needed lead
angle, and then aims his aircraft in the plane of motion of
the target. Often, the shooter is at or near one G when attempting
this attack. When the target nears the lead point, the shooter
fires with the expectation that the target will fly through
the bullet stream. In this type of gun attack, the shooter
accepts a lower probability of kill (Pk) but, in doing so,
preserves his angle off/aspect angle.
Not so with the tracking shot. As
the shooter adjusts his aim to track the target, he is at
the same time reducing his angle off/aspect angle. The longer
he tracks the target, the less the angular difference between
himself and the target becomes.
Do you see where I am going with this?!!
Good!! You are right
trying to track the target reduces
your angle off/aspect angle. This makes it harder to extend
away behind the targets wingline because your tracking
has aligned your nose with the targets.
The point in all of this is to always
be aware of the end game results of your attack profile. If
it puts you at a disadvantage, then you may want to choose
a different plan. When your game plan is to HnR, be careful
not to spend excessive time trying to track the target
take your snap shot and get out of Dodge!!
OK!! Enough of the "H" part
of the HnR
lets move on to the meat of the matter,
the "R" part!
The significance of the HnR lies in
what we do when we break off the attack. You have two objectives.
First, you want to separate as rapidly as possible, and second,
you want to retain your tally on your opponent.
Separation is a function of two things
and angles. Use all the power you have
WW2 guys, use
WEP (War Emergency Power); jet jocks, use full burner when
available. You are not looking to get Corner Velocity
want max speed and you want it as fast as possible. Step one
is to jam the throttle full forward. Step two is to plan your
extension flight path wisely. This is where the angles part
comes in. Your separation angle has two parts
to the opponent, and one relative to the ground.
lets take the angle relative to your opponent. This also has two parts. To begin with, you have the angle
that exists when you cease fire. Ideally, you want this angle
to be as large as possible to maximize your ability to extend
well behind the bandits wingline. The second angle Im
talking about is the angle between your extension flight
path and the position of the bandit. As a technique, I propose
that you extend with the bandit at your 5 or 7 oclock,
in other words about 30 degrees off your tail.
Why have the bandit here and not at
your dead six? Visibility! If you are using a snap view to
keep the bandit in sight, your headrest may block your ability
to see your six. The 30 degree angle lets you see the bandit
and still maximize your extension.
Lets start with our position
at the open fire point. Since your attack can come from any
direction, Ill generalize again and say that your attack
path can be from the front of the bandits 3/9 line
behind it. Lets take the
frontal situation first.
Look at the targets projected
flight path. Now estimate a spot about 30 degrees off his
tail. That is your extension direction. If you are within
45 degrees of the bandits nose, make a quick turn to
your extension heading. If you are in the 45 to 90 degree
arc of his nose, then a harder and larger turn will be necessary.
In both cases, you can use your attack heading to help you
estimate your extension heading.
If the bandit is turning, extend to
the side opposite his turn direction. This gives the bandit
the maximum number of degrees to turn in order to point at
you in your extension. This takes time...time that you can
use to get extra separation. It also forces the bandit to
bleed more airspeed in the turn
another advantage to
Make these turns hard (5-7 G) to minimize
the time spent in the turn
with your nose low attitude,
this will not cost you any energy. As always, roll quickly
to your desired bank attitude (lift vector aimed at your extension
point). Next, pull your nose to that point. Then unload (relax
back pressure to about one G), and roll back to a wings level
attitude. Roll, pull, unload, roll. Try not to roll and pull
at the same time
your fastest rate of roll is when you
are unloaded. Now, check your rear view.
Is the bandit where you want him
30 degrees max off your tail? If he drifts into your six oclock
blind spot, then turn slightly to move him back out to where
you can see him again. Use a quick, hard turn
a "check" or "kick" turn
to put him
where you want him. Moving the bandit with reference to your
tail is also called "kicking the bandit out" (although
the term "kick" has nothing to do with rudder
just a slang term for a quick, hard turn of short duration).
Perform the check or kick turn by rolling unloaded into a
bank angle that is 90 degrees opposite the opponents
attitude. Then, make a short and hard pull to move the nose
about 30-45 degrees
this should take 2-3 seconds or so.
Then unload, roll back to wings level, and continue your extension.
Remember the roll/pull/roll technique!
As an alternative, you could use rudder
to yaw your aircraft to see the opponent, but do not fly with
the rudder in this position. This would cause unnecessary
drag, make your aircraft hard to control, and bleed energy.
Instead, use the rudder to take peeks at the opponent.
consider the rear aspect attack. If you are attacking
from behind the bandits wingline, then your HnR extension
flight path will require you to turn as much as 150 degrees
to reach your extension heading.
Because of the magnitude of the turn
needed to put you on your extension heading, you may want
to make this a slicing turn, i.e. one in which you turn while
descending. Such a turn will help you retain you energy and
uses gravity to reduce your turn radius and increase your
turn rate at the same time. If you are approaching for the
bandits six, you do have another option if you have
instead of turning, roll inverted
and split S away.
As before, use the bandits projected
flight path to estimate your turn. Once you have rolled out
on your extension heading, then begin your extension. Kick
the bandit out as necessary to keep him in sight.
Now, lets talk about your
extension angle relative to the ground. The main issue
here is gravity
how it helps you accelerate. You want
to unload to get less than one G...if available, use your
cockpit G meter to hold about +.5 G. Do not overdo the unload
much negative G and you may "red" out! This may
not require a steep descent angle. Do not automatically shove
the stick forward and put yourself in a steep dive. You want
to deny your opponent any chance to arc you
in this case,
in the vertical. The next figure shows this situation.
Your objective is maximum airspeed
with minimum altitude loss. Remember, potential energy
and kinetic energy are interrelated. What you gain in your
descent, you will lose as you climb back up. This is particularly
true of the difference between your altitude and the bandits
when you decide to turn around. Assuming that you want to
re-attack from at least level with the bandit, every foot
of altitude that you must regain is lost energy
energy is lost airspeed, lost maneuvering potential, lost
advantage. Think of your starting altitude as money in the
bank. If you have to spend it, spend it wisely and get your
moneys worth. Consider your opponents ability
to accelerate. If he is thrust limited compared to you, then
keep your nose close to the horizon as you extend to minimize
your altitude loss. This may result in slightly longer extensions
in terms of distance from the fight and time, but will pay
off at the end in reduced energy bleed in the turn back.
The next question to be answered in
the HnR is "How far do I extend before I can turn back?"
There is no "one size fits all" answer to this question.
The required separation depends on the relative performances
of you and your opponent. You must have an idea of the minimum
distance between you and the pursuing bandit before you attempt
a turn back. This distance will depend on two things
how well your aircraft can effectively reverse its
heading and, (2) the bandits airspeed when you begin
the turn back.
First, lets consider our own
performance. In the previous sentence, I used the words "effectively
reverse" for a reason. The turn back is more than just
a turn of 180 degrees. Your energy level at the finish of
the turn is an important consideration. Remember, you are
not on the way home
you are returning to combat
very quickly at that. An "effective reversal" is
one that allows you to turn the required number of degrees
at the least expenditure of energy. BFM is always a balance
of kinetic energy (airspeed) and potential energy (altitude).
How well your aircraft maintains its energy in a turn (level,
climbing, or descending) will determine your turn around strategy.
How do you find this info? Trial
and error. Take your aircraft out and fly it. As for your
performance, you would like to turn around as quick as possible
with minimum airspeed loss. The quickest way to turn is to
perform a 135 degree inverted slice
but this puts
you further below the bandit when you roll out
this reason may not be your best choice. Your other options
are to turn level, pitchback (an inclined climbing
turn the opposite of a slice), or pull up into an Immelmann-type
The pitchback and Immelmann offer
the advantage of increased altitude at your roll out, but
also result in slower roll out speeds. As a matter of technique,
I prefer these to a level turn on the assumption that I will
be able to get my speed back in the re-attack. Remember to
consider the use of flaps to help you turn
just be sure
to raise them after you have completed the turn.
Compare turnaround times and airspeed
losses. Vary your altitudes. Find the most effective turn
(min time, max airspeed at roll out), and then practice that
maneuver until you can do it in your sleep. In a fight, you
do not want to put all of your attention on maintaining basic
in the turn back, you will be watching
the bandit as well as your own position
guess which one
is most important?!!
As a rule, the fighters in modern
jet sims are much better in vertical maneuvers than prop fighters
in WW2 sims. A typical jet has a much higher thrust to weight
ratio than a prop fighter and, as a result is better at retaining
energy in vertical maneuvers
and this is a blanket statement
made without regard to any particular sims flight model.
Some WW2 sim aircraft seem to have a difficult time "getting
over the top"
Aces High comes to mind here. So,
as with all BFM, never forget that all maneuvering is relative
this case, relative to your particular aircrafts capabilities.
Do not pick a turn around technique just because "you
like to do it that way"! If your aircraft turns into
a wallowing pig at the top of an Immelmann, then this may
not be the best maneuver to pick!!
OK! So much for the discussion of
the effect of our performance on the turn back. The second
part of that issue is the bandits performance.
What aspect of his performance is significant to how and when
we begin our turn back? The answer is his airspeed
are going to focus on how fast he is going as he attempts
to follow us in our extension.
Heres the situation. In our
extension, we have been accelerating away from the bandit.
But, once we begin our turn back, our opening speed begins
to slow and quickly stops as we turn 90 degrees to the bandit.
Meanwhile, the bandit is closing on us.
Lets jump ahead to when we roll
out of our turn, regardless of what type of turn that was.
We end up basically nose on to the bandit. Now, well
freeze the two aircraft and examine the distance between them.
The question you want the answer to is what should that distance
be as a minimum. Just for example, lets say that we
would like 6000 feet (one nm) for WW2 aircraft and 12,000
feet (2 NM) for modern jets. These are just examples
may find that more or less will work for you. No matter. Once
we have determined the desired minimum distance at roll out,
we can then work the problem backwards to find out the range
that we should begin the turn back at. Here's how we do that.
Lets visualize an extension
with the bandit attempting to catch us. Ive made some
rough rules of thumb for you to consider based on turning
performance. Ill assume that we can complete the 180
degree turn around in 10-15 seconds. During that time, the
bandit will be closing on us. This figure shows the situation:
Next, Ill choose two types of
a WW2 type at 300mph and a modern jet at 600KIAS.
These speeds allow me to compute how far the bandits travel
in the time that it takes us to turn around (Ill average
the distance for the 10-15 second period). By rounding the
numbers off, I come up with a distance of 1nm (6000)
for the WW2 fighter and about 2nm (12000) for the jet
fighter. I then add my desired distance at roll out and end
up with approximate values of 2nm for a WW2 situation and 4nm for a jet situation. These are just rough values,
but they do give you a feel for the time/distance relationship
of the turn back maneuver.
How do you know when you are at these
ranges? Many sims offer target labels that gives you bandit
range. I do not look upon these as a cheat since the depth
perception and ability to depict fine graphical detail is
lacking in our sims. If the video picture allowed us to recognize
and measure range as easily as can be done in real life, then
I would not favor labels
but that is not the case.
The reason why I went through this
math drill was to show you that the distances are not as close
as some might imagine. In order to effectively return to the
fight, you must get substantial separation prior to initiating
the turn back. One cautionary note these are real world
approximates. They are based on specific turn rates. Your
sim flight model may or may not use real world turn rates
have all seen bandits do some amazing turns and reversals
in our sims. In those cases where a sims flight model
is suspect, only trial and error will produce an answer to
the question of "how far is far enough".
One last caution. If you are going
to err in this estimation of when to turn back, err on the
conservative side. Extending too far is much better than not
far enough. What may happen if you do not go out far enough?
Quite simply, the bandit has the opportunity to rejoin on
you in your turn.
Views of a HnR Attack
Lets finish off this discussion
by looking at screenshots of two HnR attacks
a WW2 situation
where a Fw-190 is dueling with a Hurricane, and a Vietnam
scenario where an F-4E is wrapped up with a MiG-19.
These screenshots were taken using
MS Combat Flight Simulator. I chose this sim simply because
it has an extremely user-friendly editing system that allows
me to position the aircraft to get their relative positions
just the way I want them for instructional purposes. The views
may not look exactly like they do in your sim, but they should
be good enough to allow you to understand the points being
made. Then its up to you to go kill the bandit!
The main things to look for are shooter
and target fuselage alignment references, nose positions relative
to the horizon and flight path corrections made to keep the
Here we go
first the WW2 HnR
We begin with the Fw-190 pilot in
a nose low attitude as he attempts a high angle deflection
shot. The Hurricanes high turn rate has forced the shooters
nose into lag. At this point, the Fw-190 pilot must decide
what his next move will be. He decides that he has some good
smash (high airspeed) and that he can extend away nose low
to get some separation. The question becomes one of which
direction does he go in this extension. He uses the fuselage
axis and wingline of the Hurricane to approximate a direction
to turn to.
The shooter rolls rapidly to his right
to place his lift vector in the direction noted. He then pulls
his nose hard to that heading. This is done using the forward
view. The short duration of the hard turn allows the shooter
to keep the bandits position in mind even though he
momentarily loses a tally. Reaching his desired heading, the
shooter looks left using a snap view to see the bandits
The bandit is still in his left turn.
The shooter then selects forward view, unloads, and rolls
wings level. As he rolls wings level, the shooter positions
his nose slightly below the horizon to maximize his acceleration.
With his nose now in the right attitude
for his extension, the shooter checks his throttle at full
power, adds some nose down trim for the airspeed increase,
and then selects a snap view to monitor the bandit. The bandit
was turning left and was initially slightly offset to the
shooters seven oclock. Because of this, he selects
his "back left" view.
Much to his alarm, the bandit is not
in this view! Not to worry. He remembers the geometry of the
set up. The Hurricane was turning hard left
shooters extended six. Thats where he probably
is now. Here are two views of this situation.
So the shooter selects
his "rear" view and this is what he sees.
"Yep", the shooter thinks
like I thought." The shooter does some quick geometry
in his head
"the bandit is turning left
to kick him out so I can watch him
if I kick him out
on the right side, Ill be turning into him
so Ill kick him out on the left side".
With that thought, the shooter returns
to his forward view, rolls quickly into a left bank and pulls
hard for a second or two. He keeps his nose slightly below
Then he quickly unloads, rolls wings
level again, and checks his nose position relative to the
horizon. He is going to switch back to a rear view, and he
does not want to do this with his nose out of position
high and he loses energy
too low and he may hit the ground.
Then he selects his rear view...and
"Good," he thinks. The shooter
also has a readout of bandit range
a feature available
in many sims. At about 1300 feet range, the shooter is relatively
safe. The Hurricane had to expend a lot of energy in order
to get his nose around to the shooters position. The
bandit may be nose on to the shooter, but their relative airspeeds
are very different. The bandits speed is probably no
more than 200mph
possibly less due to his hard turn.
Now check the shooters airspeed in Figure 27
equates to more than 300mph. The shooter has his desired extension
airspeed difference (+100 mph) and will be slowly adding to
that figure as he continues to accelerate. He can now concentrate
on extending as he switches back and forth between his rear
and forward views.
All that is left for the shooter is
to monitor bandit range until the turn back point is reached.
Now, lets look at the F-4E Vs
MiG-19 situation. The set up is somewhat similar with the
exception that the F-4E is meeting the MiG in more of a head
on position. As the F-4 pilot merges with the MiG, he notes
that he can pretty much extend straight through. He is in
a left bank, and the MiG is also. The F-4E pilot looks to
the MiGs five oclock for his extension heading.
He wants to extend to the MiGs right side to increase
the number of degrees the MiG has to turn to follow the F-4E.
As the two aircraft merge, the F-4E
pilot maintains his left bank, selects his left snap view,
and pauses to watch the MiG. Whats he going to do? The
F-4E pilots extension plan is going to depend on the
MiGs follow-on move.
Another option for the F-4E pilot
is to use a padlock view to observe the bandit at the merge.
When he selects padlock, he sees this picture. He uses the
horizontal and vertical stabilizers to orient himself to the
bandit and the horizon. He uses the vertical stabilizer as
his lift vector. He sees that a roll to the right will bring
him wings level with the bandit still to his left rear. But
the bandit is in a left turn that will take him to the F-4Es
six oclock. To ensure that the MiG remains on his left
side, the F-4E pilot rolls to the left slightly to orient
the lift vector just below the horizon and then makes a hard,
check turn into the bandits six. This kicks the MiG
further out to the F-4Es seven oclock.
OK! Regardless of whether the F-4E
pilot is using a snap view or padlock to watch the bandit,
he maintains his tally and analyzes the MiGs intentions.
He sees that the MiG is staying to play and, by continuing
its hard left turn, is intent on flying a two-dimensional
level turning fight
a plan that will cost the MiG pilot
time and knots, as the F-4E pilot knows. The F-4E pilot selects
forward view, rolls right to a wings level and slightly nose
low attitude, unloads and rams his throttles into full AB.
The F-4E leaps forward, gaining over 50 knots almost instantaneously.
The F-4E extends away from the MiG
in a nose low attitude. With the MiG not yet nose on, the
F-4E pilot has gained an excellent extension on the MiG. Now,
as with the previous WW2 example, its a race for the
roses! The F-4E pilot uses his rear view to monitor MiG range
and aspect. He will check turn as need to keep the MiG out
of his dead six until he gets the needed separation for the
turn back. In any case, he is out of both cannon and Atoll
range. The call is now his
he can choose to engage or
proper use of fuselage alignment, nose position relative
to the horizon, and his available sim views have given him
the room to make that decision on his terms, not the MiGs.
that pretty much
wraps up our discussion of the HnR attack. In the last part
of this series, Ill discuss the HnC attack and throw
in some tips on how to fly the HnC in a 2v1 situation that
you can practice using your favorite sim and comm programs
such as Roger Wilco.
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