War Thunder Air Combat Tactics

While War Thunder does feature ground-based combat matches, typically in the form of tank-versus-tank combat, most of your playtime will focus on air combat.

It’s the ultimate way to play the game but also the most challenging.

As it turns out, flying a WW2-era fighter plane isn’t as simple as in the movies.

Throughout this page, we will take a closer look at the War Thunder air combat tactics that will help you land hits and survive encounters!

What is air combat in War Thunder?

Air combat is not just a feature but the heart and soul of War Thunder.

While the game does offer ground-based combat, the thrill and challenge lie in the skies.

Therefore, it’s crucial to delve into air combat’s mechanics and strategies to master the game.

It’s important to understand that many adversaries you’ll encounter are seasoned players who have honed their skills over the years.

They possess a deep understanding of aircraft functionality and maneuvering, making them formidable battlefield opponents.

Secondly, there are numerous rules of air fighting.

These stem from real-life pilots who mostly flew during World War 2.

Air combat rules

There are countless rules that you’ll want to explore more in your free time. The most important to keep in mind are the following;

  • Secure the upper hand before attacking. Whenever possible, keep the sun behind you.
  • Continue an attack that you’ve begun – do not bail and chase a second target.
  • If an opponent dives to attack you, turn to face them. Do not attempt to flee or outmaneuver their assault.
  • Do not engage until you’re within 100 yards of your target.
  • When working in a group, take turns attacking a target to avoid getting in each other’s line of sight and fire.

Boom and Zoom Tactics

One of the primary War Thunder air combat tactics is “boom and zoom.”

The goal is to retain an advantage over your opponent, limiting the energy they have to utilize against you.

The most common method to achieve this goal is diving, otherwise known as booming, climbing away, or zooming, before returning for a second strike.

Here’s the thing, though.

You don’t want to dive unless you know you have the advantage.

If done improperly, a dive can leave you open to attack on the flanks or the rear by one of the opponent’s teammates.

To summarize boom and zoom techniques in War Thunder, you want to achieve a reasonable climb rate to gain altitude over your opponent, maintain firepower to inflict damage, utilize a high-mass airplane, and learn how to handle your speed in formation.

It’s mostly trial and error!

Energy Fighting

When playing War Thunder, you’ll hear countless players discuss energy fighting.

Considering we’re flying airplanes here, using “energy” in combat seems mysterious in a way.

It’s not, though.

Energy fighting is when you maintain or gain energy and then expel said energy to overcome your opponent.

You will gain energy by climbing or zooming away from an opponent upwards following an attack.

Alternatively, use hit-and-run tactics and air maneuvering to force your opponent to expel their energy while you save up yours.

Learning the intricacies of energy fighting primarily stems from playing the game. The more matches you participate in, the more it becomes apparent how the push and pull of energy works in War Thunder.

In the meantime, there are additional tactics to implement under the umbrella of “energy fighting,” such as stall fighting, cobra tactics, and ROKD.

Stall Fighting

You’ll learn its limitations as you feel more comfortable flying your airplane.

You’ll also start to understand the limitations of your opponent’s airplane.

This is a vital part of stall fighting, in which you will force your foe to stall their plane while pursuing you.

Once they stall, then you’ll have an opening to attack.

The best way to stall an opponent’s airplane is by achieving a low climb rate, forcing them to follow you into a zoom climb.

You want them to run out of energy first; then you make your move.


The Cobra technique is another stall fighting War Thunder air combat tactic designed to help you lose pursuing enemies.

To successfully utilize Cobra, you need to lose your energy.

You can climb, reduce the throttle, release the gear, flaps, and brakes, or shut off your engine entirely.

Once your enemy zooms past you, kickstart your airplane and rejoin the fight. It’s precarious, though.


ROKD involves tricking your opponent into stalling their airplane altogether.

You want your opponent to think you’re weak, an easy target, before pulling a switch on them and going on the offensive.

To pull off the ROKD, start to climb and hide your energy.

To do so, climb steadily but slowly. You want your opponent to chase you down, zooming into a climb and wasting their energy.

Then, once they expel their power to catch up, turn and hit them hard and fast!

Air Ramming

Air ramming is one of the riskier War Thunder air combat tactics. If done improperly, this can lead to the destruction of your airplane.

This action is precisely what it sounds like.

You’ll gain speed and energy, close the distance between you and your foe, and then ram them head-on with your plane.

You’ll disable their energy or outright destroy their vehicle when done correctly.

The goal is to hit them in a manner that reduces damage to your plane while maximizing damage to theirs.

You’ll spend most of your time in the War Thunder game flying an airplane, so it makes sense to focus on learning key combat tactics and mechanics relating to air combat.

A big part of learning this game, which can sometimes feel overwhelming, stems from practice.

Take it at your own pace!

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