Two vs One
Offensive and defensive manouvres of a two-ship flight against a single bandit. These can be adapted to larger flights, for example, by treating a four-ship flight as two, two-ship elements.
The Bracket/Pincer attack
In the bracket, the attackers, in line abeam combat spread fly head on to a bandit. The bandit is forced to choose one attacker. The chosen attacker turns back in towards the bandit, behind their tail forcing the bandit to make a hard turn in order to attempt a gun solution. This solution will often be impossible to achieve, while the bandit bleeds a lot of energy trying to do so. The free attacker also turns back in towards the bandit, who has now presented their six to the free attacker.
Two defenders with a bandit on their six attempt to sandwich the attacking bandit by performing a half split. One of the defenders breaks to their side, performing a near-90 degree turn while the other breaks in the same direction, by a smaller amount. The attacker must choose between the defenders. If they choose the breaking defender, the free defender can also break right onto the six of the attacker, essentially performing a sandwich manoeuvre. If the attacker chooses the other defender, the free defender can reverse their turn back towards the attacker. The split has increased the separation between the defenders, allowing the free defender to turn onto the attacker's six.
The aim of the loose deuce is to wear down the energy of a single bandit by each of the two attackers alternating between active and passive roles. Loose deuce is only effective if at least one of the attackers is at a higher energy state than the bandit. (And if the other attacker is not, they must focus on regaining energy during the passive phase.)
The active attacker dives on the bandit, forcing them to bleed energy by defending. The attacker must prioritise energy conservation over gun solution, as the aim is to bleed away the bandit's energy until they are slow and predictable.
Once the active attacker has performed an attack, they will switch to the passive role, climbing away, regaining energy, watching out for incoming bandits, and positioning themselves to be able to quickly retake the active role. Meanwhile, their wingman becomes the active attacker and performs an attack in the same manner.
This alternates until the bandit is killed during one of the initial attacks, or has become slow and predictable enough after several attacks to ensure a kill for the attackers.
Diagram/gif coming soon
Many vs One and Many vs Many
Most of these tactics are very adaptable to different bandit and/or friendly numbers
The fluid four is a division tactic in which a four-ship splits into two independent, yet mutually supporting elements. This is often done so that one element can perform an attack while the other provides high cover. It is effective for both ground attacking and attacking lower energy air targets.
For example, one element can orbit high above the second element, providing cover and surveilance while the other element performs a loose deuce attack on a bandit, or a line attack on an armoured column.
It also allows the attacking element to put themselves in a more vunerable position than they would otherwise - e.g expending a lot of energy in order to kill a target quickly, before reinforcements arrive. Normally this would be risky, but in this case they are covered by the second element until that energy can be regained.
Diagram/gif coming soon
The line attack can is effective against large, slow and heavily defended targets such as bombers, and also against ground units.
The attackers fly perpendicular to the chosen attack course of the enemy, before overbanking 90 degrees and into a dive onto the attack course, in a line astern formation with combat spread.
The attack course should be chosen to minimise time within the effective envelope of the enemy defenses, and to attack where the defenses are weakest. This is often around the forward quadrant for bombers, as the combined closing speed makes tracking the attackers more difficult. However, it is situation and aircraft dependent.
The attack overwhelms the defenses of the enemy as the attacks come fast and sequentially.
After the attack, lead pulls up and to the side, regaining altitude and flying out of the enemy's defenses. Each attacker follows sequentially, and the attack can be performed again.
The line attack can be performed directly from many other combat formations, such as line abeam and finger four, as it is easy to fall into line astern formation during the 90 degree turn onto the target.
The turn on target is performed to make the attack less predictable and because it grants greater situational awareness before the attack.
Diagram/gif coming soon