FAQ: Section Tactics


In this section, we'll discuss section tactics. But first.. What's a section? A 'Section' is a pair of aircraft. Two. A Section Leader and a Wingman. That's it. It is just the pair of you dealing with your own bandit(s). As in the article on Basic ACM, most of this is taken from the Air Combat Bible (linked from the ACM Basics page). In this book, its divided into two chapters, but I'll combine them here for the ease of reference. Nobody wants to have to dig, right?

But into more detail, there are a few things that need to be assumed the reader understands: The first is that while yes, fighter pilots are territorial like cats (they even mark their territory!), they always fight in groups. A fighter pilot should only be on their own if they have lost their wingman to enemy action and cannot disengage - and even then you have already failed in combat for you have lost your wingman. Sections fight, learn, piss, and drink together. Your wingman will cover and support the Section Leader even when things are at their worst which means that being a Section Leader is a responsibility. While in BSG, its less important for things like this to happen, its up to the CAG how much of this will actually be enforced.

"Never break your formation into less than two-ship elements. Stay in pairs. A man by himself is a liability, a two-ship team is an asset. If you are separated, join up immediately with other friendly airplanes."
-Major Thomas McGuire, USAAF

The second assumption is that the reader understands why fighting in pairs is important. Well if you don't understand that a two-versus-one concept means someone is outnumbered, you have bigger problems and I can't help you. But Sections NEVER break off. Ever. You support your wingman and vice versa. Your wingman engages your bandit with you. And what happens if someone engages you in the meantime? Your wingman takes on the aggressor and you support your wingman in the new venture. If someone goes after your wingman, you break off your current engagement and go after your wingman's attacker. Always. ALWAYS. This trust must exist. Without it, the whole concept is bunk. Its not about who gets credit for the kills. Its about winning the engagement. Think you're too good for a wingman? Don't expect the help when you need it. A Section Leader will get to your aggressor when they have the time.

"It was my view that no kill was worth the life of a wingman… Pilots in my unit who lost wingmen on this basis were prohibited from leading a [section]. They were made to fly as wingmen instead."
-Col. Erich "Bubi" Hartmann, GAF
World's All-Time Leading Ace (352 Kills)

"Mainly its my wingman's eye that I want. One man cannot see enough. When attacked, I want first for him to warn me, then for him to think. Every situation is different and the wingman must have the initiative and ability to size up the situation properly and act accordingly. There is no 'rule of thumb' for a wingman… The wingman's primary duty is protection of his element leader. It takes the leader's entire attention to destroy an enemy aicraft… Good wingmen, smart wingmen, are the answer to a leader's prayers."
-Lt. Col. John Meyer, USAAF

Notes: There is a tactical doctrine called the "Fighting Wing" which is covered extensively in the book but due to the nature of the +combat system used in this MUSH, it is essentially worthless to explain. The principals behind it talk about how the wingmen work together with the section leaders but for our purposes, a section engaging one Raider at a time is good enough - as long as players understand this concept. Where it is referenced in the following tactical maneuvers, I will substitute it. As well, it will be assumed that 'you' are the Section Leader.

Tactics: Two Versus One (2v1)

If you are engaged 2v1, and the single intends to engage, then the single must concentrate on one of your Section. They can't effectively engage both without missiles or a wingman. That is the beauty of these maneuvers. They are incredibly simple and very deadly. They are also decently easy to counter, however we'll leave that out for the time being as the counters mainly focus on how to conduct single combat against superior numbers.

The Bracket

This tactic works very well and execution is very straightforward. At a head-on pass, the Section leader 'drags' the solo bandit away from their wingman to create lateral spacing. At the same time, the wingman breaks away from the direction of the Section Leader. When the merge is about to occur, the wingman reverses the turn back towards the Section Leader so that the wingman is in place to engage the bandit just after the merge.


In this engagement, the Section Leader gives the pursuit to the wingman. As soon as the merge is made, the wingman takes the lead on the pursuit and the Section Leader supports them. Why? Because the wingman has the best overall tactical view after the merge. Ever heard the saying 'Lose sight, lose the fight'? This is where it comes from. The two, working as a team, have never lost sight of the bandit and the bandit is in a lot of trouble.

The Sandwich

The diagram below shows the bandit engaging the wingman in their classic position. The reality is that this can work both ways. The only difference is that when the bandit engages the section leader, the whole diagram is flipped vertically. But at the outset for our sake of argument, a Bandit has slid in behind the wingman. What follows is very simple: Both the aircraft execute a moderate turn to the right in order to drag out the bandit in front of the Section Leader.


When this happens, the Section Leader will be presented with a high-deflection shot at the belly of the bandit. However, as the turn lengthens, the engagement distances close towards zero and deflection reduces quite a bit. The turn by both friendly fighters can be reversed at a certain point to help quicken this, but to considerable danger to the wingman. Its also worth noting that quick action by the Section Leader must be executed and that placing suppressive fire on the bandit is of paramount importance or the bandit will engage the wingman very quickly.

The Half-Split

This is a variation on The Sandwich set-up. The diagram shows in great detail exactly what happens. At point 1, the bandit is spotted. The Section Leader (or wingman) makes a hard turn away from the engagement while the other member of the section adds on power. This 'lures-in' the bandit because he believes he has one disengaging fighter and another just flat-out running. What actually happens is that the fighter that turned away (the Section Leader, here) reverses his turn and comes back onto the bandit's six o'clock as the wingman slowly banks in.


The actual firing is very aggressive and begins with a Lead Pursuit by the Section Leader, but it can be done any way you like. Similar to The Sandwich, this tactic requires the Section Leader to act fast and put rounds onto the target.

Loose Deuce

"Why let rank lead, when ability can do it better?"
-Comm. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, USN

While this isn't a directed 'tactic' to be employed, its a modification of US fighter doctrine. It says that a section, regardless of rank, chooses a Pursuit Leader. It spreads out with enough distance to allow for maneuvering room and then goes from there. It is what's known more commonly as 'Free-Fighter' where as the defending friendly fighter drags the attacking bandit all over the sky while the 'wingman' engages the bandit. Yes, the Pursuit Leader is the one who voluntarily puts himself out front. Dangerous as hell but if the Pursuit Lead pilot has the skills, this doctrine is absolutely lethal when the section works very well together. Is this applicable considering the +combat system used? Maybe. Its VERY useful if you're willing to complicate the system a bit more.

Tactics: Two Versus Two (2v2)

The advantage of mutual support (Section Tactics) isn't lost on anyone who operates fighters. Assume that means your friendly neighborhood Cylons, as well. Thus, it is necessary to discuss an environment where 2v2 engagements take place and what a Section Leader (that means you, honkie!) does about such a thing. However there is one important thing to remember.. the overload can kill quickly. The wingman (or supporting fighter) has to keep track of three aircraft.. not to mention fly their own. And still pretend like they can keep an eye out for incoming and fresh bandits. This can result in serious overload very quickly - thus it is important to knock down the odds as fast as possible. Remember: A fighter pilot is nothing, if not aggressive.

Sorry folks. No diagrams for these. Which is a shame.. But there are too many variables to effectively document what will happen in a 2v2 environment. I've seen them end at the merge and I've seen them last for quite a few minutes.

Section Bracketing

The concept is pretty straightforward - just like the first Bracket type from 2v1. In the set-up for this, a pair of your fighters are approaching a pair of bandits on the same plane of attack. On the approach, both aircraft split from your Section and bracket (Ha! What're the odds?!) the approaching pair of bandits. If both turn against a single then the un-engaged friendly fighter has a beautiful set-up for a shot against one of the bandits. Or both. If the bandits don't even turn, then this sets up the friendly section for a very nice rear-hemisphere shot against the bandits. However, the problem still exists if your enemy fights in sections like you do. Best thing to do? Re-establish the engagement on your own terms. Do NOT expect to take your wingman's (or Section Leader's) two pursuers before they get him. In the real world, there are tactics to defeat this mess. In a game with dice? Forget it.

Loose Deuce

This tactical doctrine is still applicable in a 2v2 environment. However the trick is to get the second bandit separated from his wingman. Its do-able. Even in the +combat system we use. The best way to do it would be to give him something to chase or distract him with.. like another section of friendly fighters. But really, its dependent (mostly) on the willingness of one of the bandits to disengage from his wingman. However - even if he won't - the Pursuit Leader is still the one at the head of the snake. If he is good enough, he can aid in the killing of the 'Deuced' bandit and then fall naturally into the slot to help the engagement with bandit #2.


These tactics will show you how to engage as a Section. Remember, always fight as part of a Section or something larger (Division - 4 Fighters, Squadron - 12-24 Fighters). Otherwise you are a liability. There are fun and exciting ways to actively engage bandits if you are solo, but if you want to discover how, you'll have to find out someplace else. Attacking in singles in a dice game is suicide - especially when fighting in pairs more than doubles your odds of success. Sure you can win, but don't expect to live long if that is your modus operandi.

Are these tactics and doctrines more relevant than some of the basic fighter maneuvers? Personally I believe they are. Ultimately, though, its up to staff on what they want to matter. Also keep in mind that this doesn't cover massive engagements. Many-Versus-Many environments and Unlimited Combat Tactics are incredibly different as a Section can easily get separated. However, for the sake of our game, Section Tactics are the most important tactical lesson behind knowing your mission tasking.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License