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Old School Dogfighting is a type of close-combat between fighter craft where each attempts to maneuver behind the other in order to shoot them down. In essence, it's a three dimensional version of Chasing Your Tail, where both parties are armed with a Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon, making it necessary to be behind their target in order to attack. In Real Life, this form of combat is limited to fighter planes, but fiction is less restricted -- it can show up not only with Cool Planes, but Space Fighters, submarines, and even tunneling vehicles like Drill Tanks. Any time a 3-D environment is combined with Fixed Forward Facing Weapons, you can expect to run into old school dogfighting.

The reason it's called "old school" dogfighting is because it doesn't actually happen very often in Real Life anymore. While it was the standard form of air-to-air combat for decades, the introduction of reliable, long range guided missiles means that most modern air combat is now fought well beyond visual range. Old school dogfighting can still involve the use of missiles, though -- they'll just be much shorter ranged than their Real Life equivalent, and have to be fired from behind in order to have a chance of hitting.[1]

The characters involved in Old School Dogfighting will frequently be Ace Pilots with Improbable Piloting Skills, often have a Wing Man and/or a Guy in Back, and will probably cover each other's six at some point. Old school dogfighting during an Airstrike Impossible is not out of the question. For Old School Dogfighting Recycled in Space, see Space Dogfight.


  1. This was Truth in Television for certain types of missiles, but isn't anymore.
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