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So You Want to be a Spitfire Pilot?

A spitfire pilot is best known for performing tactical movements during air combat maneuvering, also known as dogfighting.  Many pilots used these maneuvers to gain positional advantage over opponents, either offensively or defensively.  On occasion, the maneuvers are neutral, where both opponents work toward an offensive position, or may help facilitate escape, known as disengagement.

Spitfire-800x198Although a Spitfire is a common type of plane used in dogfights, many refer to all who engaged in such maneuvers as spitfire pilots.  The basic fighter maneuvers began during World War I and, due to the lower power of the aircraft, the most common type of engagement was the Lufbery, which involved two fighters chasing each other in a circle.

Basic Maneuvers

The basic maneuvers used by a spitfire pilot include tactical turns, rolls and other actions designed to get above or behind the enemy fighter.  Pilots are trained using the same type of aircraft, and during the training, pit their skills against each other.  During combat, the maneuvers are adjusted based on the type and number of aircraft involved and weapons systems.

Basic Maneuver Principles 

There are several principles involved in basic maneuvers.  These include:

  • Energy Management – Pilots are faced with many limiting factors. Some are constant, such as gravity and drag, and some vary, such as turn radius and turn rate.  A spitfire pilot learns to manage the energy of the aircraft to minimize these limiting factors and gain the advantage over the enemy.
  • Turn Performance – Pilots must turn the aircraft at its best sustained turn rate in order to maintain adequate energy, but in combat situations may need to make unusual adjustments.
  • Lead, Pure and Lag Pursuit – Lead pursuit by a spitfire pilot is designed to provide closure even if the opponent they are chasing is faster.  Pure pursuit also provides closure, but not as quickly, while lag pursuit stops or reduces closure.
  • Out-of-Plane Maneuver – Spitfire pilots use turns to make the aircraft harder to track, and an out-of-plane maneuver enhances the effect, diverting the fighter into a new plane of travel.

These are just a few of the maneuvers a spitfire pilot uses during dogfights during combat.  Visit us at www.covingtonaircraft.com for more information about radial and turbine engine overhauls, maintenance, and repair.  You can also find us on Facebook and Linkedin.