October 22, 2001

Discussion Of Boom And Zoom Tactics

by Andy Bush

Lesson One (October 22/01):  Defending Against The Boom and Zoom

You are presented with the following situation:  a typical "angles" fighter, such as a Spitfire, is bounced by a typical "energy" fighter, such as the P-38.  The attacker has the altitude advantage and is using a boom and zoom attack on you.  What should you do?

Response by Bernie 'Worr' Worral, representing Warbirds:

This is a serious situation. You are most certainly the defender in this set up, and you should accept this right away. The worst thing you could do is to climb to your attacker and let him catch you slow and nose high in such an attack. The best route is to accept your role as the defender and let him assume his own as the attacker. In otherwords, be patient.

Put these three on your knee board: 1) Don't get slow; 2) Don't climb; 3) Be patient.

All defensive encounters are about opening up your opponent to mistakes and then cashing in on those same mistakes. So this takes time to set up. It would be good, however, if you first guarantee that you don't make your own mistakes. So the above list will serve you well. By staying fast and level you are storing up some energy for your counter move to be executed when the time is ripe and not before. Otherwise you are like a trap with no spring!

When your attacker does assume his role as the aggressor then some interesting things will happen to the dynamics of this fight. First, as he
dives to you he will pick up speed. Then as he picks up speed his turning radius will grow huge. Where I can turn on a dime, he'll have to settle for a half dollar. Then, as his turning ability goes down his ability to react to your counter is also diminished. In that instant you can reverse the engagement and put your guns on his six.

Of course, the trick will be not die on his first pass. This will require a good sense of timing and a good measure of gunnery range. In Warbirds, and really most on line flight sim, it is important to remember that "objects in your mirror are closer than they appear!" Because of internet lag and latency he may be a good 300 yards closer than you realize. 

I like to let them get inside 1200 yards. Then I'll do a hard break turn making sure my nose is either level or with some rudder descending into the turn. Mathematically it is impossible for your attacker to even touch you whenever you do this right. Sometimes I'll only pull just hard enough to defeat his guns and not more. I do this both to conserve my own energy and also to keep him in the saddle just as long as possible before I kick him off my back. If I execute my defense too early and too well he may pull up and regroup for his next attack and we are back at square one. I'd rather sucker him down and in.

Remember, we are trying to get him to make his own mistakes so we can then shake free of this set up. The first mistake he can make is to overstay a gun solution that is fast deteriorating. Then he will find himself too low and so fast he can't pull up or counter anything we might do to him in terms of a reversal.

How do I know when this guy has made his mistake? I look for one of two things. 1) He dives below me; 2) He keeps firing tracers even after he has dropped out of my turn radius.

If he dives below me its over. I know I can out turn him 2 to 1 because of his fantastic speed. I will then reverse with a rolling scissors pulling up and back into my attacker. After your pull up don't dive down on him...rather let him pull up to you. He will do this either to recover from his bounce, or because he panics when you reverse him. If it goes well you can pop him right then and there. 

Of course, not all bad guys play according to Hoyle. Nevertheless, you can also try to get him on the blow by while he is still in range. Hopefully he'll panic when I send some gun fire up his tail feathers. If he goes defensive then we are in good shape! Because as soon as he goes defensive he begins eating up that precious energy that he should be using to his own advantage. A cool clam will accept a couple gun flashes over the shoulder, however, and nurse his aircraft back to the starry hosts for another pass. 

Now, if he keeps firing tracers at me even after he has dropped out of my turn radius I also have good reason to be confident. 

For a point of comparison my turn radius will be more like a dime and his like a quarter. For a short period of time he can drop in on my dime and squirt off some gun fire into my break turn. But if I keep turning my radius tight his greater speed will put him on a quarter and thus outside my circle of flight. 

You can visibly see this in your six view...say you are in a break right turn you will actually see him first inside your 5 O clock position and then drift out to your 7 O' clock. When that happens pull up and back into your opponent and let him, once again, pull back up to your target piper.

Nothing more frustrating than for a guy to dive in with all the cards in his favor and then find he has been reversed and shot down. That is a great humiliation!

Worr, out

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