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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.


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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 circles)


  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 tail.


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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  1. 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.
  2. Keep aware of other planes.  No immelmans if someone else is above. Extend away, get some altitude and come back.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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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