Wings of Honor
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Red Baron II/3D - Tutorials

This series by WW_Sensei does an excellent job of discussing wingman tactics in combat. The series consists of 5 articles, and we highly recommend you read them all!

"The Wingman Series" - Part I "The Primary"

By Mike "Sensei" Couvillion

This is the first of a five part series concerning a topic many people have asked about--Wingman Tactics. This isn't meant to be the be-all and end-all on the subject, but simply some basic concepts of a typical 2 ship scenario. Much of this is based on general knowledge, resources around the web (primarily Warbirds and Air Warrior), and my own experience. For the record that is USAF 1988-1995, 1 year T-37 Instructor, F-16 training, 3 years flying as an air defense interceptor (48th FIS Langley AFB) , 3 years flying in Europe in Operation Southern Watch (86th TFW) among other exercises and operations. I have logged over 500 hours of combat flying time and well over 3000 hours in various aircraft working on tactics. In both of my active squadrons I served as the unofficial Training Officer for new pilots coming in. Even at UPT I was known to "coach" the other students to help them out. That, combined with my study of martial arts is how I earned the callsign "Sensei". I am saying this not to brag (ok, maybe a little :-) ) but to show that this series is not just me blowing smoke up your 6 …

OK, the scenario. You and your Flight Lead have been chosen to do an offensive sweep over the front. You are taking the number two slot and following along hoping you don't screw up and get killed. You and the Flight Leader stumble across an idiot flying Lone Wolf and decide to attack. Your Flight Leader has indicated he will engage the enemy and he wants you to watch his 6. Now, the magical question…What the hell does he really want AND need me to do?

In a scenario like this there are two roles. The first is the scout that will engage first sometimes known as the "Primary" or "Engaged Fighter (EF)". The other role is the "Secondary" or "Supporting Fighter(SF)". I have seen in Red Baron terms "Lead" and "Wing" being used in the same context. The actual term doesn't matter so long the two of you agree on what they are! :-) I will use the terms "Primary" and "Secondary" throughout the rest of this series. I use these terms because often "Lead" and "Wing" are associated with rank or position.

When fighting, rank and position have no place in the air. You are either the pilot doing the shooting or the pilot doing the supporting. It is VERY possible and VERY likely the roles will reverse during a fight. For that reason I am going to outline both areas of responsibility. When and how to switch these roles will be covered later. This first article will outline the role of the "Primary" (otherwise known as the guy doing the shooting). The Primary's job is as follows: --Kill the enemy as quickly as possible using his skill, aircraft, and bullets --Get out of the way and let the Secondary make the kill if Primary has screwed up --Let the Secondary know what his intentions and status are. If you are shot up and are going to RTB (return to base) it's nice to let your wing know. :-)

First and formost the Primary's job is to kill the enemy fighter or at the very least deny the free use of the airspace to the enemy. This means putting bullets into them. If the Primary is not in a good solution envelope then he/she must keep the target on the defensive. If the Primary allows a reversal and is suddenly on the defensive he MUST call in the Secondary to engage and PREPARE to escape the firing solution of his enemy. In many cases he will then move into the Secondary support role. At all times the Primary and Secondary must communicate. Be it RW, BC, chat, flare signals…whatever…communication is key. Codes are a big help here especially with chat. Another huge help is getting to know your wingman and their habits. That can only be accomplished by getting some air time under your butt and flying with them.

Part II will cover the Secondary role.

WWSensei (Ret)

Wing Walkers Tactical Fighter Wing