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How to train fighterpilots

Event ID: 533

16 February 1917

50.367639, 3.03435
Near Douai
La Brayelle

Source ID: 43

The Red Knight of Germany, the story of Baron von Richthofen, Floyd Gibbons, 1927, 1959 Bantam Books

To the Commander of the Sixth Army air forces:

The adversary often slips downward over one wing or lets himself fall like a dead leaf in order to shake off an attack. In order to stick to one adversary, one must on no account follow his tactics, as one has no control over the machine when falling like a dead leaf.

Should the adversary, however, attempt to evade attack by such tricks, one must dash down (sturzflug) without losing sight of the enemy plane.

When falling like a dead leaf, or intentionally falling wing over wing, the best pilot loses control of his machine for a second or two, therefore, it is a manoeuvre to be avoided.

Looping the loop is worse than worthless in air fighting. Each loop is a great mistake. If one has approached an adversary too close, a loop only offers a big advantage to the adversary. Change of speed should be relied on to maintain the position desired, and this is best effected by giving more or less gas.

The best method of flying against the enemy is as follows: The officer commanding the group, no matter how large, should fly lowest, and should keep all machines under observation by turning and curving.

No machine should be allowed either to advance or to keep back. More or less, the whole squadron should advance curving. Flying straight on above the front is dangerous, as even machines of the same type of plane develop different speeds. Surprises can be avoided only when flying in close order. The commanding officer is responsible that neither he nor any of his pilots are surprised by the enemy. If he cannot see to that, he is no good as a leader.

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