Basics of Energy Fighting

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Work in Progress.

Original here: https://forum.warthunder.com/index.php?/topic/376001-energy-fighting-explained-feedback-review-welcomed/

Disclaimer:

- A few concepts and equations have been simplified, to make them understandable to neophytes.

- This page, while fairly exhaustive, does not to provide a complete guide about the subject. Reading this will not allow you to be #1 in the next Top Gun promotion.

Context:

When energy fighting is discussed, it very often turns down to categories. it is convenient to put things in boxes. It makes everything more simple. “This goes to A, this goes to B” etc. Unfortunately, flying is not simple, and the world is not made of black and white. To fully understand how to push your plane to its limit, it is important to see that energy fighting is not 2 opposed concepts, as Yin and Yang, but a continuous grey scale from black to white. Let's not bound yourself to "diving attack" and "turning fights".

You will often read: “we have BnZ planes and Turn fight planes”. Some say “we have energy fighters and turn fighters

The former implies that a turn fight plane cannot BnZ, or a BnZ plane cannot turn fight; back to our comfortable boxes, it is so nice (and wrong) to see the world in black and white.

The latter is basically someone trying not understanding the concept of ACM. Flying is energy fighting. So unless turn fighting is not flying and turning, you cannot explain how it is not energy fighting as well. 

This wiki page aims to explain what is energy fighting, what it means and how you can use it.

Flying is energy fighting and this page explains (partially) what to do with your energy. It provides a solid basis to help you understand how can you fly to get out of trouble, or even better, how to get your guns on the target.

Pre-work: E-M diagram and excess energy graph

Energy-maneuverability theory is a model of aircraft performance. It was developed by Col. John Boyd, a fighter pilot, and Thomas P. Christie a mathematician working with the Air Force. It is useful in describing an aircraft's performance as the total of kinetic and potential energies (or aircraft specific energy) in relation to its flight envelope.

It allows you to understand where and how you can beat a plane in a sustained fight. The information you can draw from this require a little bit of understanding beyond this guide, but one step at a time.

At this point, it is not important to understand fully these graphs. I will simply often refer to them, so I put them here as reference.

On the picture below, I attached some explanations about how to understand this diagram. I won’t provide a procedure to create one in this thread (or ever). If you do not know how to create one, giving you a ready to be used one will not do any good. The values used below are made up.

Energy-maneuverabillity

What is energy and energy fighting

Energy is a word used to describe your amount of speed, Energy Fighting is when you use your energy advantage against slower planes or less energy-retaining planes to win a fight, Energy fighting works well against Boom N Zoomers (if they don't dive) but is a bit tricky to use against turnfighters since they can cut into your trajectory with their supperior turn rate.

Here are the criterias for a plane to be considered as an Energy Fighter:

- It has to have a good acceleration

- It must be light

- It must have an average (or a bit higher than average) turn rate

Excess energy and energy generation

How does this relate to the 2 basic fighting styles

Turn fighting

Boom and Zoom

Both together

How does this relate to aerial combat manouvers (ACM)?

Chandelle

THE energy fighting maneuvre by default, it consists to climb and turn at the same time, an enemy will most likely think that you'll lose your speed and become a sitting duck (which is mostly true) so most of the time, they'll follow you and THEY will be the sitting duck but if they don't follow you, you'll still have an altitude advantage that will make your engagements easier

1 special thing to remember: PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR SURROUNDINGS WHEN PERFORMING A CHANDELLE. As mentionned earlier, you're putting yourself in a temporary disadvantage when "Chandelling" so if an enemy is higher or at the same altitude as you, they'll take the advantage on you and you'll most likely die

Energy bleeding / Defensive dive

Split S

Scissors

Basic mistakes explained

- Chandelling when an enemy is higher than you, as explained, the Chandelle puts you in a temporary energy (and thus, maneuvrability) disadvantage, which means that you're a very easy target