1. Select a rank high enough that you will at least be the flight leader.... the AI will often lead you to your doom if they lead. Then, as flight leader, apply the good "Rules" already listed in this thread.
2. "Turn to Kill, not to Engage"... I think this is a "Jet Age" quote, but it does often apply here, especially with multiple bandits. Basically, unless I know there is no chance of being "bounced" by an enemy wingman, I'm careful not to turn hard to engage a bandit; I try to keep my speed up.
3. "Know when it is time to go home".... I usually enable Instant Success in my campaigns so that, like in real life, you can abort a mission that is getting way too "hot", run for home, and cut your losses.
XO VMF-132 Shadow Demons
Specs: CPU: Intel i5 760 MEM: 8Gb, Video: AMD HD 6850, OS: Win 7 64 bit