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the main type of combat action of fighter aviation with the aim of destroying enemy planes and pilotless offensive means in the air. Air-combat was born during World War I (1914-18). Among the founders of the theory and practice of air combat were the Russian pilots P. N. Nesterov, E. N. Kruten’, and K. K. Artseulov, who performed complex acrobatic flight maneuvers (the so-called Nesterov’s loop, horizontal turn, half roll, and corkscrew). Air combat may be offensive or defensive and individual or group. The crews of fighters and to some extent of fighter-bombers wage offensive air combat. Offensive combat is preceded by the search for an aerial target, which is accomplished with the aid of electronic equipment on the ground and on the aircraft. Air combat in which fighters are involved includes the movement to contact the aerial target, one or several attacks, and the maneuvering between attacks. The attack is the decisive phase of air combat; it includes the maneuvering of the fighter toward the target, aiming, and the launching of rockets or firing of cannon. The crews of bomber, reconnaissance, military transport, and auxiliary aircraft engage in emergency defensive air combat with enemy fighters for the purpose of self-defense. The well-trained crews of multiplace combat airplanes can not only successfully repulse attacks by enemy fighters, but they can also shoot them down.
During the Great Patriotic War (1941-45), Soviet pilots displayed a high degree of skill and extraordinary heroism, including self-sacrifice (for example, N. F. Gastello, who directed his damaged airplane at an enemy column; and P. S. Riabtsev, S. I. Zdorovtsev, V. V. Talalikhin, A. N. Katrich, and others, who used the aircraft as a battering ram after they had exhausted their ammunition).
A. N. RIAZANOV