'Sailor' Malan’s 10 Rules of Air Fighting

'Sailor' Malan’s 10 Rules of Air Fighting

Adolph G. Malan 24 March 1910 – 17 September 1963

The Battle of Britain fighter ace ‘Sailor’ Malan developed a set of simple rules for fighter pilots, honed during the Battle, which he then had distributed throughout RAF Fighter Command.


1. Wait until you see the whites of his eyes. Fire short bursts of one to two seconds only when your sights are definitely “ON”.

2. Whilst shooting think of nothing else, brace the whole of your body: have both hands on the stick: concentrate on your ring sight.

3. Always keep a sharp lookout. “Keep your finger out”.

4. Height gives you the initiative.

5. Always turn and face the attack.

6. Make your decisions promptly. It is better to act quickly even though your tactics are not the best.

7. Never fly straight and level for more than 30 seconds in the combat area.

8. When diving to attack always leave a proportion of your formation above to act as a top guard.

9. INITIATIVE, AGGRESSION, AIR DISCIPLINE, and TEAMWORK are words that MEAN something in Air Fighting.

10. Go in quickly – Punch hard – Get out!
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