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Fighter Combat: Tactics and Maneuvering Hardcover – November 14, 1985

4.8 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 1 - 1 year
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press; New edition edition (November 14, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0870210599
  • ISBN-13: 978-0870210594
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 7.5 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,184 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I work in the aviation industry, and have a very large aviation-related book collection, including a complete set of Janes, but this is without any doubt the book that I cherish the most and find the most useful. Robert Shaw wrote this book because at the time, there was no definitive work available to train real pilots on real tactics and maneuvers used in life-or-death combat struggles. He went to great lengths to research his subject matter and present his material in a usable fashion because his friends' lives were at stake.
It covers a wide range of material including basic flight maneuvers, dogfighting maneuvers, weapons theory, and tactics for small engagements. There are not a lot of flashy pictures, and the reading can be a little bit tedious at times. Although this book was written by a pilot for pilots and is thus not a graduate-level physics textbook, a little bit of background in theory of flight, math, and physics is helpful (but not necessary).
I have met quite a few military aviators, and they all have a deep respect for both Shaw and his book. If you want to be a combat pilot, this is the one book you absolutely have to have. If you just want to pick up some gaming tips on how to outfly the enemy, you will find this book very helpful for that, also. It also has many, many quotes from real pilots which are related directly to the subject matter (for example, teaching the appllication of a high yo-yo combat maneuver and then a quote from a WWII P-47 pilot who used it to out-turn and shoot down a very surprised FW-190 pilot!). The author really does an excellent job of presenting the subject matter.
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Format: Hardcover
This is almost certainly the most authoritative text on the market. I can think of no other book on the subject which goes into the depth that this one does. That said, it is certainly not the sort of volume one can sit down with in front of a fire on a rainy Saturday night for a bit of relaxing reading. This book requires a lot of concentration and determination to both understand and complete. In fact it took me some months to read it and I was left with at least as many questions at the end as I had at the beginning.
The problem seems to stem from the fact that it is, first and foremost, a text book. As such, it requires a rather different approach. It was obviously intended to be used in a classroom environment where one is totally focussed on the matter and can readilly ask questions. It also requires the reader to be familiar with the many other components which make up modern air combat. A flight simmer can simply go and fly a mission to prove or disprove his or her understanding of the topic but for the average reader some of the detail is baffling.
If you are into flight sims, this book will not turn you into an instant ace but it may help your understanding of the concepts. It would be unfair of me to give it a low grade based on my experience of the book because it is clearly meant to be a text book for fighter pilots, a niche it fills very well, I'm sure. I, for one, would have appreciated more diagrams and found myself constantly cross-referencing with other books on the subject, such as "Jane's Fighter Combat in the Jet Age". It really is more of a course of study than anything else.
I do not want to appear to be bashing it and all in all, I would recommend it but it is not for everybody and anybody reading it will have to set aside no small amount of time to get through it. That is why I did not give it the five stars it probably merits.
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Format: Hardcover
As someone with some experience in the real world of fighter aviation (316 combat missions, F4 Phantom II RIO), Shaw's book is one of the best single-source volumes on the complexity of modern aircraft combat maneuvering. It is not light reading, but fighter aviation is deadly serious - high speed, three dimensional chess where the loss of the game is a very ugly death.
His approach is to begin with the basics (flight sim players might find it useful to consider his chapters "lesson plans" for practicing) and gradually take the reader into greater depth. Readers may find it useful to re-read some chapters - the text is fairly tight and there is much of value in here that might get overlooked.
While individual aircraft systems and weapons vary, the basic principles of aerial killing have not changed since WWI: see before being seen, kill before the enemy realizes he is dead, protect your wingman, and come home alive. Shaw shows you how it is done.
I recommend this book to current fighter aircrew - it is a great supplement to fighter weapons training manuals and courses that sometimes emphasize particular aircraft capabilities while being a bit light on fundamentals.
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By A Customer on July 16, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I cannot comment on this book as a real tool, however for "serious" combat flight sim pilots it is a must. It contains highly technical information on flying ACM (technical as in have to think about, not as in mathematical). Its diagrams are excellent helping the reader to picture the maneuvers in 3 dimensional space. The book contains information from the different air-to-air weapons and their strengths and weaknesses, through to the basic building blocks of ACM (the three different forms of pursuit curve), to the ever more complex maneuvers (such as the Yo - Yo), and finally covering large scale operations like point defense. What makes the book of particular interest is the wealth of quotes from fighter pilots who have real experience. Shaw mostly talks about the pro's and con's of a specific maneuver, and then backs up this discussion with an anecdote from a pilot that describes a maneuver used in a real combat situation (from WW1 onwards) that when you an! ! alyse what the pilot did, it is the maneuver under discussion (whether the pilot realised it or not!)
As a criticism I would have preferred a slightly more detailed look at the mechanics of flight behind the ACM, but that could be because of my technical background, however apart from that I cannot praise this book enough. On the back of the cover, it has pilots also raving about the book (such as the like of Randy Cunningham), and if that doesn't sell it to you nothing will.
The book will require you to think, it is like any text book, and you can't go skipping paragraphs. However saying that, doesn't mean to say that it is not highly enjoyable, again the quotes (and the odd subtle joke) help to lighten it up if you are locked into a heavy reading session. For me personally, it should stand next to the books on tactics such as The Art of War, A Book of Five Rings, and The Military Maxims of Napoleon.
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