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Hornet Dogfight Tactics


LtMacGowan
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This might sound silly but there isn't much info on how to properly engage different fighters at close range say within 5 miles. I was doing the DACT MiG 21 vs F/A-18 1 on 1 and I was getting beat in a turning fight by a MiG-21 it was embarassing

 

What are the best altitudes to engage at, and how should I engage? Turn and burn? or Climb and dive?

 

I was trying to turn into the MiG to get on his six and He'd stay inside the turn until I was nearing stall speed.

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One of the best videos out there. It's not tailored specifically to the Hornet, but it's more about the fundamentals than anything.

(Also keep in mind that the AI cheat with their flight model and basically operate as UFOs).

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Not Hornet specific, but one of the best sources out there: Fighter Combat by Robert L. Shaw. Not the cheapest book on Amazon (i think ~50$), but worth every cent.

 

 

One of the best videos out there. It's not tailored specifically to the Hornet, but it's more about the fundamentals than anything.

(Also keep in mind that the AI cheat with their flight model and basically operate as UFOs).

 

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Not Hornet specific, but one of the best sources out there: Fighter Combat by Robert L. Shaw. Not the cheapest book on Amazon (i think ~50$), but worth every cent.

 

 

 

 

Spectrum Holobyte... Those were the days!

 

I think “Fighter Combat” is free as a PDF. I know for sure “In Pursuit” is. Both good reads.

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The 21 has a lower power to weight and worse high AoA control.

 

Single-circle flow - which you can force - without too much speed is your goal. Arriving at the merge in max AB at 500 knots means you're onto a loser.

 

Force the single circle flow by offsetting prior the merge and turning back into your opponent. As you turn into each other the fight would naturally assume two circle - so reverse as he commits.


Edited by alexscott292
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This set of videos is one of the best explanations of dogfighting tactics and techniques I've seen yet: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCERjcJzbzHmoBVPJpqn9RjQ

 

The AI MiG-21 is also prone to behaving in ways that defy physics, especially at the higher skill levels.

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Fighting against AI and fighting against a human pilot is a different thing. Anyways, against AI you should ALWAYS keep your energy up, and go for turn fight, either horizontal or vertical. In horizontal fight, keep your speed at 350-355kts and you'll be good. Just be patient and you will slowly get on his six. Never go for snapshots. I mean you can try, if you are sure that the opponent won't be able to make you regret that decision aka shoot you down ;).

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Yup !

Growling Sidewinder has help me alot ! but it took me a many, many times to beat that mig21. Its on random and sometimes its hard to beat it. I'm new but I have found that extending the air brakes at certain times to help you turn sharper then retract with full throttle/after burners help me alittle. But then again I hope thats not a bad habit I'm getting into. I also discovered the Steering Disengage (Paddle) " S " key from a redkite video that makes you turn sharper but could mess up the flight System Controls and you black out alot longer and have to throttle down alot. But that also may be a bad habit too.

 

Practice , practice , practice !!! is the best thing for me.

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Yup !

Growling Sidewinder has help me alot ! but it took me a many, many times to beat that mig21. Its on random and sometimes its hard to beat it. I'm new but I have found that extending the air brakes at certain times to help you turn sharper then retract with full throttle/after burners help me alittle. But then again I hope thats not a bad habit I'm getting into. I also discovered the Steering Disengage (Paddle) " S " key from a redkite video that makes you turn sharper but could mess up the flight System Controls and you black out alot longer and have to throttle down alot. But that also may be a bad habit too.

 

Practice , practice , practice !!! is the best thing for me.

Both of these are bad habits. If you need to use the airbrake, it means that you oversped. If you want to bleed speed, turn it into altitude; that way, you won't waste your kinetic energy for nothing and instead you'll convert it to potential energy. If I stay at max power, I adjust by pointing the nose a little above or below the horizon, depending on what I want to achieve.

 

Same goes for the paddle switch. If you need to use it, you're probably overspeeding. You should be able to dogfight without needing to use it, as real pilots never use on it for BFM/ACM. It's there in case you need to pull up urgently. Otherwise you overstress the airframe for no reason. The handling characteristics of the Hornet and the type of dogfighting it favors should allow you to fully utilize its capabilities without pulling on the stick.

 

Please don't think I'm trying to lecture you, I'm just sharing what I know. It's better that you don't develop and get used to bad habits when you're learning.

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Your not Harker and thanks for explaining this to me. I see and understand what your telling me and I’ll take this as a lesson which I need.... thank you !

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Kept getting shot down by the random skill Mig-21, until I watched the video in the second post. So helpful. I'm able to get on the AI's six or outmaneuver it after a bit. Hardest plane to shoot down for some reason. Even the Su-30 is no match for it.

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In a 2 circle fight in the F-18C you want to maintain about 350 knots in a rate fight. If you are stalling then you are not maintaining energy and that is why he is catching you.

 

I find for most modern jets the AI Mig-29 is hard to beat in a rate fight but all the other Russian jets are pretty easy.

 

And just to add more videos that might help:

 

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There's an old fighter pilot saying-"Don't fight the way your enemy wants you to fight"

So, if the enemy plane has got better dogfighting manoevrability than yours, DON'T get into a tight-turning fight with him.

With modern missiles there's no need to dogfight him anyway, just clobber him with AA missiles at arms length.

 

As regards WW2, if his plane dogfights better than yours, the same applies, don't try to dogfight him but dive on him at high speed and hose him down with MGs and cannon before he can react, I think it was called a "slashing attack".

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Please do not get into get into the habit of using the paddle switch. No real F/A-18 pilot ever used it unless they were desperately trying to avoid becoming one with planet Earth. Like mentioned above, if you overgee your acft best case scenario your jet is down for a couple of weeks while they try to figure out if anything is broken. Worst case somehing comes loose right after your maneuver and you're a sitting duck for your opponent.

 

Otherwise congrats on beating the Fishbed. Took me a long time and lots of effort.

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Fighting against AI and fighting against a human pilot is a different thing. Anyways, against AI you should ALWAYS keep your energy up, and go for turn fight, either horizontal or vertical. In horizontal fight, keep your speed at 350-355kts and you'll be good. Just be patient and you will slowly get on his six. Never go for snapshots. I mean you can try, if you are sure that the opponent won't be able to make you regret that decision aka shoot you down ;).

 

Snapshots are how I usually beat the Fulcrum. You have to learn how lead and predict your opponents flight path. Risky ? Maybe. Don't miss.

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A little bit of knowledge goes a long way here.

 

The Hornet is a beast at slow speed, small radius, high alpha turns, there really isn't much out there that can even compete with it in that arena, it's not just good at it, it outclasses just about anything at it.

 

The Hornet is however not especially good at high G-force and or high speeds, 7.5G limit is outclassed by many aircraft in DCS and the Hornet has quite a draggy airframe and is reasonably slow against most of the fighters it will go up against.

Add to that it's power to weight ratio, if heavily loaded, can be quite poor too and you'll find it difficult to outrun or out accelerate many other fighters too.

 

That starts to inform your tactics.

 

If you merge with another fighter, you'll likely want to do it at a relatively slow speed, 400kts or thereabouts, and try to turn as tight a circle as you can without bleeding the hard to get back energy. Your goal is to turn in a tighter circle then the other guy, then you can start to gain angles, and only pull lead when your ready to shoot.

 

You'll be balancing off turning tighter against bleeding energy, you'll want to force a one circle fight, you'll want to retain your energy as best you can until the "moment" that you are in position to fire, then you cash that energy in and take advantage of the care free handling, stall resistance and incredible alpha and pull lead for the shot.

Just be careful, if you pull lead and trade your energy away at the wrong time, you might leave yourself with few options to continue the fight.

 

If you have AIM-9X's the Hornet can just about shoot down someone who is directly behind them if you can pull the nose around enough fast enough.


Edited by launchedsquid
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@Odey I didn't say to not go for snapshots at all, but to make the decision accordingly to the situation. I go for snapshots myself, but only when I'm sure it won't backfire at me, and I'll have the time to recover and get into neutral position.

 

Just to clarify, I fly the Viper, not the Hornet (transitioned from it with the release of the Viper). I know that I can't really utilize the full potential of my plane because of how the G-loc works in DCS, but it also has it's bright side. It forces me (and others) to develop new tactics to fight against different planes. And the harder the opponent, the better for me to learn and try to win a fight.

 

P. S. Call me a masochist :P, but I don't use 9Xs. It makes the fights more intense therefore more enjoyable, no matter if I win or lose :).


Edited by =OPS=Slider1709
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@Odey I didn't say to not go for snapshots at all, but to make the decision accordingly to the situation. I go for snapshots myself, but only when I'm sure it won't backfire at me, and I'll have the time to recover and get into neutral position.

 

Just to clarify, I fly the Viper, not the Hornet (transitioned from it with the release of the Viper). I know that I can't really utilize the full potential of my plane because of how the G-loc works in DCS, but it also has it's bright side. It forces me (and others) to develop new tactics to fight against different planes. And the harder the opponent, the better for me to learn and try to win a fight.

 

P. S. Call me a masochist :P, but I don't use 9Xs. It makes the fights more intense therefore more enjoyable, no matter if I win or lose :).

 

Agreed. The 20mm is more "sporting". It's dang near impossible for me to get a "good" shot at the Fulcrum. I always put a couple rounds on it with a snap shot to slow it down a little. The way it turns into you it never gives any time before it goes by. You're right though, if you pull for a snap and loose your energy on the deck or what ever and can't get energy back, trouble.

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