OK, I give up!

I'm practicing to join this DiD Campaign and I'm getting my behind kicked! ...I've been trying for a week now on A settings (which aren't bad) to get past 3 missions (~3.5 hours) in either a BE2 or FE2b career without getting shot down... I've figured that I can't run away at the sight of an EIII (which I can spot at about 1km) before finishing a mission, because I'm assuming that would get me a courtmarshel if it was in RL. My gunner is uselss and I can't take gunner seat and fly at the same time, so I need to use autopilot (which seems to be cheating to me) but still have a hard time shooting at the EA.

I've tried to stay high above my flight, but eventually they get me and shoot me down. I'm trying to rack my fried brains on what I need to do to stay alive in either of those machines. Otherwise, I'll just stick to the strutter as those are waaaay easier to survive...

any tips ANYONE??