Boom and Zoom
Boom and Zoom (also known as BnZ) is the name of a play style that aims to take advantage of a high energy state to bounce the enemy, avoiding any prolonged fighting in order to conserve speed and/or altitude.
To Boom and Zoom, the first thing you should do is climb high. It is best not to climb directly into the battle, since BnZ-planes are usually not good climbers due to the weight that gives them good sustained speed against air drag and good retention of inertia in a Zoom Climb. A common mistake is to assume that heavier planes dive faster, but one can disprove this by examining the equation of velocity v dependent on time t
- v(t) = ∫a dt = (F/m - g + k(v)) ∫dt
which holds at a constant engine thrust F compared to the mass of the airplane m with resulting uplift k(v) (including air drag). This proves that the velocity is inversely proportional to the mass (lighter planes accelerate faster, even in a dive). Additionally the gravity constant gaccelerates the plane towards ground independently of its mass.
Once the pilot reaches a significantly higher altitude than the opponent, the pilot should dive to transform the potential energy into speed. Usually the plane is now close to its maximum speed, but will retain its velocity for a long time. To maintain energy, only conduct gentle curves and rolling maneuvers in this state. Thus, an outstanding agility and roll rate at high speeds is required of the plane, such as the characteristics of the Focke-Wulf series.
The attack itself can occur while diving or zooming and also usually more than one target can be attacked, because turning targets are difficult to hit and therefore the success rate is low. A good fire power is a help.Failed BnZ attack due corkscrew. Source: gfycat.com
Relation to other styles
BnZ is a form of Energy fighting. While this can be said of any aerial combat, it does show in a visible manner what energy means for duels. In relation to "true" energy fighters like the Bf 109G-2, Lavochkin series, or the F8F Bearcat, the Boom and Zoomer must rely on energy gained before combat, which makes this style very dependent on the pilot's situational awareness. Compared to energy fighting, the BnZ attack is safer as one can be shot only during a very short period immediately after the attack. Ideally, the BnZ'ing attacker is out of fire range within a second. This being said, one recognizes that the attacker will also have a very short time to shoot, but as the pilot holds the initiative, their chances to hit the enemy are much higher than the reverse.
Boom and zoom differs from Boom and Run in that the attacking fighter does not necessarily need a high level top speed.
For example, the Ki-61 series has a modest top speed which may not allow it to chase faster planes, but it has exceptional energy retention and decent maneuverability, which matters most. Good energy retention in the vertical and good control at high speed matter for BnZ.
For this very reason the F7F does not suit BnZ style as it locks up too fast in a dive. Boom and Run tactics however are an excellent choice.
Compared to Turn and Burn with its high and low yoyos, we can see "classical" dogfight elements in BnZ, too. Vertical reverses in the form of the Immelmann (half loop) and normal loops. These maneuvers however benefit from a good power to weight ratio, like Bf 109s, and thus should be favoured by energy fighters.
Planes that benefit the most from a strict BnZ philosophy
- Fw 190 Series;
- Most American fighers, such as the P-51's, P-47's, P-38's, Hellcats and Corsairs, the main exceptions being the F8F Bearcat and the F7F Tigercat;
- Tempest Mk.V and Tempest Mk.II (note these also excel in Boom and Run);
- J7W1 Shinden;
- Most jet aircraft, although those work in a different way, and particularly because, to many, speed is much more important than altitude.