Turn Concepts

Regardless of fighting style, you need to know something about turning. Turning gets you into position to take your shot, and there are different styles of turning that can be used and transitioned between, when you are making your attacks.

There are all kinds of turns in AH so the topic is pretty broad, but the first point I think important is that of pursuit style turns (i.e., you are trying to follow someone). When you are chasing someone and they start to turn, the natural reaction is to turn the same direction and follow them. This is a pretty easy thing to envision and absolutely necessary at times. When you chase them though there are a few types of turns you can make:

Lead Pursuit (Pull-Lead)

The classic, where you try and turn sharper than the opponent so you can get your guns out in front of him in order to shoot. Basically you are cutting the corner by turning harder but it has a number of other results as well. The Lead turn forces you to turn more sharply, thus maneuvering more aggressively and pulling more G’s. It bleeds energy quickly, far beyond what your engine can replace if you are forced to pull more than about 2-3G’s. It also has the effect of closing the distance between you and your target since the path you have flown is shorter and inside the path taken by the enemy. If you already had more speed than the enemy, then the closure rate is likely to be even higher than if you had simply been chasing him on his tail.

If I continued this course, I would eventually have the enemy aircraft arrive at a position where I can take a shot. This is the natural tendency of pilots though, to always pull lead.

Pure Pursuit

Following a path directly towards your enemy, neither leading him, nor falling behind. Eventually, you will end up following the same path that the enemy has traveled. You will typically only pull as many G’s as the enemy since you are basically tracking him the whole time, though you will not be in position to take a shot since your rounds would always fall behind the enemy. To take a shot, you would need to pull some lead so that your bullets arrive at the place he is going to be at. The speed difference between your aircraft will determine the closure rate and you should not follow as short a path as in a lead turn, thus better controlling your speed of closure.

Lag Pursuit

A little appreciated and under-used tactic, I don’t think most people understand how useful it can be. The Lag pursuit has you follow outside the path taken by the enemy plane. You will have to create a faster turn-rate and a higher speed in order to stay in position since the enemy is taking a smaller radius turn with a shorter path. The beauty of the lag pursuit though is it tends to allow you to build energy since your turn radius is larger with a longer path, making it unnecessary to sustain as tight a corner and thus pull fewer G’s. Lag pursuit also slows the closure rate on the target since you fly a longer path. Another asset of the lag pursuit is it tends to put you in the low – 6 position where the enemy has a tough time seeing you (because his rear fuselage blocks his view) so doesn’t know when you are setting up to take an attack.