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Interceptor Maneuvers 101

How to be the Top Gun of Space

Undoubtedly the most popular and one of the most easily trained Tech 2 ship classes around are the fast and versatile interceptor frigates. These speedy little ships have been reviewed previously for their merits and flaws, and are a staple of any combat force. Their roles as tacklers, scouts and skirmishers are invaluable, but they can do more than merely orbit a target while laying a warp disruptor upon them.

For many, interceptor-on-interceptor dogfighting is a wondrously enjoyable art. For these battles, skilled pilots make extensive use of manual controls to adjust their ships positions, speeds and vectors to attain the most favorable positions. Activating one’s weapons and merely hitting ‘Approach’ or ‘Orbit’ is a sure-fire way to die against anyone with a shred of experience. And so, Eve Tribune presents Interceptor Maneuvers 101, the four most basic manual flight maneuvers a pilot has to master to be a truly competent pilot of one of these nimble ships.

In the following scenarios, the exact ship in question is largely a moot point. They are general maneuvers that vary from case to case. In these particular versions however, the red Crusader represents a turret equipped interceptor, and the blue Crow represents a missile equipped interceptor. In some cases, their roles can be exchanged. It is also important to remember the capabilities of each class of interceptor.

Maneuver 1: The Flyby Strafe



In this scenario, the attacker ship (Crusader above) must engage an enemy interceptor on a high-speed approach. If he allows the defender ship (Crow) to gain an orbit around him, his tracking will be impaired and he will not be able to lay on accurate shots. The counter for such is the Flyby Strafe, where the turret-armed pilot will attempt to engage the target with as direct a path as possible, to minimized relative traversal.
  1. – Both Interceptors approach each other. The Crusader engages Microwarp Drive and burns head-on towards his target. He uses manual control to select a target point beyond the Crow, instead of the approach button.
  2. – As the two ships close in, the Crusader opens fire as they approach range. He simultaneously hits ‘approach’ right as they pass each other. If possible, he places a web on the target as soon as the Crow enters the 10km Range Envelope.
  3. – The Crusader continues to pursue the Crow as the crow attempts to gain distance from an orbit. The previous automatic approach creates a tail-chase scenario, where the Crusader has minimum traversal problems and will score good hits on his target.
Maneuver 2: The Orbit Break



In this Scenario, the defender ship (Crusader) has failed to initiate a successful Flyby Strafe, and the attacker ship (Crow) has a stable orbit around him. Because of the high orbital speed, traversal is too high to allow his guns to hit, and the Crow is staying beyond web range. The Crusader may be slower, and has only a few seconds to act before he is destroyed. The counter to this scenario is the Orbit Break, where the Crusader makes a hard turn in the opposite direction of where he is going right as the Crow is coming back around for its orbit. This creates a tail-chase scenario where the Crow is flying straight at him with no traversal and an easy shot or chance at webbing.
  1. – The Crow engages a stable 12km+ orbit around the Crusader. The Crusader cannot get a good hit on the target and is taking damage.
  2. – The Crusader has broken away with a sudden manual course change, increase in speed or hard turn right as the Crow is pulling away on its orbit. It increases distance and begins to open fire as traversal drops in a tail-chase scenario.
  3. – The Crusader performs a hard turn manual towards the Crow, engaging it’s webbifier and locking the Crow down with zero traversal and zero chance of escaping destruction. The Crusader attempts to turn back on the Crow’s tail, to ensure it stays in web range.
Maneuver 3: The Pursuit Reversal



In this Scenario, the attacker ship (Crusader) is in a tail-pursuit with the defender ship (Crow), perhaps as the consequence of a Flyby Strafe or Orbit Break maneuver. Neither ship is webbed, and the Crow wishes to disengage the combat. The way to disengage is the Pursuit Reversal, a maneuver designed to minimize exposure to enemy low-traversal fire, time in a possible webbing envelope as well as breaking out of the enemy’s warp disruption range long enough to engage warp.
  1. – The Crow is being pursued and hammered hard by the Crusader. Because it is a tail chase, turrets are hitting with high accuracy shots. Neither ship is significantly faster than the other.
  2. – The Crow initiates a manual 180 degree turn, pulling directly at the Crusader with full speed. It sustains another second of exposure to fire, and possibly webbing. The momentum is enough to pull out of web range due to surprise. It is likely that the Crusader will not be able to react fast enough to prevent the Crow from escaping range.
  3. – The Crow has enough time to gain 30km away from the Crusader before he can turn. He engages warp and withdraws from combat before Red Crusader can pull back and reactivate any warp disruptor, webbifier or weapons.
Maneuver 4: The Zig-Zag Approach



Although not specifically a dogfight maneuver, the Zig-Zag Approach is the basic method by which an interceptor closes range on a much larger ship equipped with high-powered, long range weapons. A battleship often has the capability to destroy an interceptor in a single volley, so making sure one does not get hit is incredibly important. By manually zig-zagging left and right with 40 degree course corrections off from a straight line, the traversal generated will limit the efficacy of enemy fire. Against a heavier ship armed with missiles, a straight-line approach at speeds above 5000m/s is the preferred method instead of the Zig-Zag.
  1. Crow engages Microwarp Drive before the enemy can lock, builds up speed tangent to the course to the target ship to gain Traversal.
  2. – On approach, the Crow takes a zig-zag pattern of brief, 30-40 degree deviations from the direct approach towards the target, making sure it spends as little time actually turning as possible. These course adjustments must be manually performed and sharp to limit the window of vulnerability
  3. Crow arrives in combat range, orbiting the target outside of web range (13km nowadays). It activates warp disruption and weapons to lock down the target.
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All told and done, interceptors are a joy to fly and involve a great many subtle tactics that give experience and personal skill great importance in determining the victor of an encounter. By mastering the basic maneuvers and thinking fast to take action, one will be sure to come out on top in most of their engagements against less sophisticated enemies.

But remember above all, the Interceptor Pilot’s motto: speed is Life and getting webbed is Death.

-Aries Acheron



Comments

Savlin
23 Nov 2009, 00:55
Crusader with webby?
bornaa
21 Jan 2010, 11:46
if you web with a crusader you eather dont have a point or a mwd = epix failz lolzor. especially for a "top gun" like you :/
Bornaa is an idiot
03 Nov 2010, 14:18
To the two morons above:

"the red Crusader represents a turret equipped interceptor"
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