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Communications in Combat
Marine Fighting Squadron 251

Equally vital to clear and concise communications in flight, is good communications in combat. Keeping transmissions short and to the point frees the channel for important information to be relayed between the pilots, which can make the difference between evading a bounce and losing a pilot because the channel is not clear for a warning.

Contact Reporting

The first stage of communications in combat is actually spotting and identifying the bandit. As with any other radio message, contact reports should be kept brief, to the point, and relaying as much information as specifically as possibly.

Pilots should avoid reports such as: "Hey, I see four bogies high to the right. I don't have icon." or "Pony diving in! Watch it!" The first example does provide sufficient information but is unnecessarily verbose, while in the second it's unclear who the bandit is diving on, or its rough position.

The pilot who makes visual of another aircraft is to broadcast whether it is identified (tally/con/etc. followed by type) or not, (bogey/dot/etc.) the rough direction, the clock position, and whether high, low, or level:

"Red Three, bogey right 3 level."
"White Two, tally Zeke left 7 high."
"Blue One, tally Spit right 1 low, two bogies left 11 high."
"Red One, Two, 190 your right 5 low!"

Additional information, such as range and whether the contact is opening or closing can also be given:

"Red Two, tally Ki-84 left 7 low, range 2.5 opening."
"Blue Four, visual friendly right 2 high, range 6k."
"White Two, One, La-7 your right 3, range 800 closing."

Engaging and Breaking Off

Once a pilot commits to an attack, he should notify his wingman to advise him of his intent to engage. The attacking plane should communicate as follows:

[Pilot] on [target]


"Red One, on Zero

The wingman would then acknowledge with standard call and response procedures. If the attacking plane must disengage, he will advise his wingman that he is ending his attack with

[Pilot] off.


"Red Two, off."

No further information is necessary at this point. The pilots may then continue trading attacks on the target, calling "On" and "Off" as needed. Once the target is destroyed, the pilot who made the kill should advise his wingman:

"Red One, splash Zeke."
"White Four, Splash Ki-84."

This alerts the wingman that the target has been destroyed. The On, Off and Splash calls are appropriate for most attack transmissions, including in the Double Attack and Rolling Defense. These brevity codes allow each member of the section to determine who is currently engaged with the target and whether or not the engaged fighter has a shot. When the engaged fighter calls "off," the free fighter immediately knows his wingman was unable to finish the target and he needs to take over the attack.

Withdrawing from Combat

Brevity codes should also be used when disengaging from a fight:

"Red One out, Bingo."
"White Three out, damage."
"Blue Two out, Winchester."

Each of the following codes clearly states the pilot is withdrawing, and why. Wingmen should remain together at all times, so if one pilot must disengage his wingman should accompany him. Once the decision to disengage is made the group can then determine their course using standard navigation procedures or if necessary make an emergency fighting retreat. The section should use whatever means is necessary to cover their withdraw, including the Rolling Defense.