Tailslide's Article - P51 Strategies
P51 Strategies Part 1 - Turn Fighting (don't do it)
Look carefully at the P51 numbers in my Turn Rates
article. Even if the turn rate is the same or a bit better in the 51 than the Spit,
this does not mean it turns tighter. The P51 is turning faster but also travelling
faster. This means it has a larger turning radius. This is very bad in a head on
turning fight, since your opponent will always be turning inside of you. Dropping
flaps tightens your turning circle.
Figure 1: Two Planes With Equal Turning Rates
but different speeds
The smart thing to do against a Spit 14 is not get in a head-on
turning fight but extend and get altitude, then drop straight down on your opponent from
above. The important thing is not to climb steeply when extending away or
your opponent will close the gap. I like to spiral around the opponent when I come
down so they use up all their speed trying to draw a bead on me for the head on. If
you keep your spiral the right size, they will not be able to keep up. After they
are slow and vertical and you avoid the head-on, get on their six. If no one else if
approaching, reduce throttle, extend flaps and the rest is easy. While I was
collecting stats on the P51 I was attacked by a Spit and put this to the test except for
the spiral part. If you have Fighter Ace, CLICK HERE TO
GET THE FILM (you will have to fast forward through a few minutes of me flying in
Can a P51 out turn a Spit if you lower throttle ? Nope, _57_Rebel helped
me test this out (in arcade mode Fighter Ace) and the P51 turn rate goes to hell when you
chop throttle. However, in other flight sims and in Fighter Ace realistic mode,
chopping throttle can help if you do it right. It allows you to avoid compression in
a Split-S (where you can't pull out of dives). It also allows you to slow down
to the point where you can drop your flaps and tighten your turn circle.
When you are overtaking a bogey and give him a good blast, do not slow down and
get on his six. This leaves you very vulnerable and is guaranteed death if his
friends are around. Instead, keep it full throttle and head for any incoming bogies,
or do a vertical loop and come around for another pass. One of your team mates may
"steal your kill" but this is simply how you have to fly the 51. If you
stay fast when others are slow you will have your hands busy shooting them off everyone's
P51 Strategies: Part 2 - The Head-On
You have screwed up. The enemy is dropping down on you above and
there is no way you can extend your butt outta this one. What do you do?
Take them head on. Important things to remember:
Don't pull up to face the enemy until the last minute. You are going to
need every knot of speed to pull out of your vertical climb so make them come to you.
Also, the range of the P51's machine guns are no match for other plane's cannons.
Try to time your pull-up so you are just coming into gun range (1500 or so).
P51 guns are very deadly if you are a good aim and hit with all 6 guns at close range.
Do _not_ try to run away after the first pass. You will be too
slow. Instead, lure the enemy to loop up towards you in a head-on.
After they pass, put the pedal to the metal and extend.
P51 Strategies: Part 3 - E Fighting (Energy Fighting)
Energy fighting is done when you are trying to drain energy (speed / altitude)
from your opponent while keeping yours. Here is a couple tips to follow
- No sharp turns. If the enemy is not lined up when you get there,
pull up into an immelman and then drop down for another pass.
- Keep aware of other planes. No immelmans if someone else is above. Extend
away, get some altitude and come back.
- When turning, keep your wings level with the horizon, pull up
vertically, _then_ turn your plane while you are vertical. This saves lots of energy.
- Always think of where the other plane is and where it is pointing. If you have lots of
speed make use of high yo-yos or even immelmans if you
are going really fast.
- The closer your plane is to the opponent when you pass head-on, the sharper your
opponent will try to turn to get on your tail. Make lots of swooping passes to get him low
and slow before attacking.
Check out the P51 Energy Fight Film in the Films Section
for an excellent example of energy fighting
P51 Strategies: Part 4 - Teamwork
The P51 is not my favourite plane in a one on one. The best way to win is to boom
and zoom (extend away, get altitude, zoom down and repeat). This is a very boring
way to dogfight in a one on one. Where the American planes really shine is with a
wingman. The speed of the P51 is great for luring the enemy away from base.
Weave back and forth so they think they are going to catch up to you. By the time
they realise you are zooming away, your wingman is dropping from above in a P38, with guns
cutting them to pieces. When they turn to fight him, double back and clear your
wingman's six. I have had a lot of success with this method.
Another great tactic with the P51 and a wingman is loose deuce engagements which I will
cover in a future article...
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