More Rules of Air Combat

I’m not sure of the original source for the following rules, but they were posted for a time on a bulletin board in the 43rd Tactical Fighter Squadron at Elmendorf AFB, Anchorage, Alaska, around 1980.


Some Rules of Air Fighting

Have a pretty good fighter. Put weapons on it that work. Have enough fuel to fight.

Know your enemy…his aircraft, his tactics and capabilities!

See him first! Cheat! Use surprise! Attack out of the sun! Sneak up on him!

Use superior numbers with mutually supporting tactics!

Fight your fight, not his.

Be a better fighter pilot than he is!


T-33 flying on wing of F-4 over Alaska, 1981.

Copyright ©1981 Walter P. Shiel. All Rights Reserved.

Discussion of the “rule” about using superior numbers inevitably led to the quality vs. quantity debate–was it preferable to fight flying the best damn fighter or a good fighter attacking in larger numbers? This usually led to somebody observing that quantity has its own quality, meaning a flight of excellent fighters can be overwhelmed by, and lose to, a much larger contingent of less capable fighters using well-thought-out tactics, particularly if the pilots on both sides possess comparable skills.

Which naturally leads into that last item on the list : Be a better fighter pilot than he is!

While I was flying T-33s in the Alaskan Air Command (1979-82), several of us “Lockheed Racer” pilots were qualified to conduct Dissimilar Air Combat Tactics training as aggressors against the command’s F-4E Phantoms. But that’s a story for another blog post…

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