In early dogfights, rope was a potential weapon

Pilots employed all kinds of tactics to bring down enemy planes – especially in the first months of the war


During the very early dogfights, they threw bricks and grenades at each other – some even hurled rope at their adversary’s plane, hoping it would get entangled in the propeller.


It wasn’t long before pilots were firing hand guns at each other in mid-air. Meanwhile, Russian flier Pyotr Nesterov’s tactic of ramming his opponents succeeded in bringing down an enemy spotter plane in August 1914.

Everything changed in 1915, when both sides acquired the technical expertise to fit forward-facing machine guns to their aircraft. Planes were now true weapons of war and, as a result, airmen started fine-tuning their tactics for airborne combat.


The German Oswald Boelcke developed a set of rules called the ‘Dicta Boelcke’ which, among other things, advocated attacking from above, out of the sun and always turning to meet an attack. These tactics must have worked because some of them are still used today.