Whether it was World War I or World War II, every flyer knew what a dogfight was. Dogfights were the undisputed, most intense type of aerial combat there was. Basically it was an intense game of chicken…one that no one really wanted to play. The fight for supremacy in the skies over Europe was vital to the war effort. The Axis of Evil nations had to be stopped, and the air war was going to be the way to win the war.
After watching some of the cockpit footage of the dogfights, I don’t know how those pilots did it. In the non-war world, two planes going head to head is not an ideal situation, but that was what the fighter planes of war have to do. As one plane starts to gain dominance over another, the plane being chased often goes into a steep climb, followed by the pursuing plane. The first plane to stall is going to end up being chased, because as he loses power, he drops and then must run first to gain power and then to get away from his attacker. If you thought going head to head with another plane was scary, imagine a deliberate stall…for supremacy!! That just seems insane to me, but that is the nature of the dogfight. These pilots had to be very brave. There is no way to fly like that, or especially fight like that unless you area very brave pilot…not to mention a skilled pilot. Without that skill, the pilots would not survive long enough to even become an ace.
For a fighter pilot to become an ace, he had to shoot down five enemy planes. A gunner could become an ace too, but the majority of aces are fighter pilots. The key to becoming an ace, besides shooting down the enemy, is obviously to stay alive long enough to become an ace. In these dogfights, that was difficult for sure.