Created By: spacemarine50February 10, 2013 Last Edited By: spacemarine50September 2, 2013

Sky Consuming Dogfight

A number of planes fight in a small area

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Note: The previous YKTTW got launched early, but it was a mess and I started a thread in special efforts about that. Decided to start a new one under a new name, but copied the old one here.

Everyone knows about dog fighting, two fighters desperately trying to bring the other down and fly home in victory. This isn't about that, this about where dozens to hundreds of fighters mix it up in an epic battle, filling the skies with planes in a furball. Occasionally pops up in other mediums besides air such as under water or in space!

In real life, these started in World War I, where a lot of planes fought each other for the first time. World War II had more of this, but became less common since then with the lack of big wars, sides farther apart in forces and smaller numbers of planes involved.

See also Old School Dogfight and Standard Starship Scuffle which generally involve these, Space Fighter which does it, The Battlestar which starts and fights in these, Airborne Aircraft Carrier which deploys these and Flight Simulator for the game genre.

Examples

Anime and Manga

Film
  • Independence Day: There were two dogfighting scenes -- the first where the alien ships were invulnerable due to their shields, and the second at the end where they weren't.
  • Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. The final battle between the Rebel fighters and Imperial TIE fighters over the Death Star was one of the contributing factors to the film's success.
  • GI Joe The Rise Of Cobra. There's a scene where a bunch of submarine fighters get into a fur ball, but under water!
  • Top Gun. One of the major draws of the movie, the other being Ho Yay.
  • Battle Of Britain. The 1969 film contains a number of dogfights, including a climatic one near the end.
  • Red Tails. The film features a lot of WW 2 era dogfighting as George Lucas happens to love such things.
  • Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow. Multiple furballs, including air and submarine battles.
  • Serenity. Near the end of the movie all of the Alliance ships in the quadrant are called in by the Operative and end up in a huge fight with the Reavers.
  • Occurs in the World War II reenactment film Tora Tora Tora, where ace pilots Kenneth Taylor and George Welch launched from Haleiwa Airfield to engage one Japanese attack squadron. Though they were outnumbered, the freshly fueled and nimble Curtiss Tomahawk fighters scored multiple kills on the low-on-fuel and slower torpedo bombers.
  • The movie Flyboys is set in WWI and features plenty aerial scuffles. With Rule Of Cool prevailing much more than historical accuracy, in fact. For example, by having all the German fighters being triplanes (which were rare in reality) painted red (while only the Red Baron's was) for easy identification by the viewers during the dogfights.

Literature
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe. Anytime fighters show up, furballs ensue. The X Wing Series is a frequent example, as a series of novels focusing around the piloting and espionage exploits of Rogue Squadron who are usually outnumbered by their opposite numbers.
  • In the Biggles series, especially those set in the First World War, this trope happens a lot. This mimicked real life: the small, limited-range, biplane and triplane fighters would go up in squadron strength or larger, and this could bring together no less than about twenty planes in a relatively small part of the sky. W.E. Johns fictionalises an incident where there were over a hundred fighters mixing it over France sometime in Summer 1918.
  • Johns also uses this trope in Biggles stories set in WW 2: Biggles Flies East culminates in a decisive scene where a formation of over a hundred unescorted Japanese bombers heading for India are jumped by thirty or forty R.A.F. planes.
  • Another author using this trope is Derek Robinson. In his Battle of Britain novel A Piece of Cake, he ends the novel on a cliffhanger where Squadron Leader Barton's handful of Hurricane fighters are sent into a sky-filling formation of several hundred German bombers and escorting fighters. The book ends with the British pilots resigning themselves to taking a few Jerries with them when they die...

Live Action Television
  • Battlestar Galactica Reimagined. The reimagining changed a great deal from the original, adding massive numbers of fighters duking it out around the titular battlestar.
  • Babylon Five. Happens fairly frequently, with actual Newtonian physics no less! Though the heavier ships often steal the show.
  • Stargate SG 1 had one of these occur over Antarctica, oddly enough.
  • Piece Of Cake, a 1988 mini-series about a squadron of RAF Spitfire pilots in the early years of WWII.

Tabletop Games
  • Star Fleet Battles supplement Captain's Module J: Fighters! had incredibly complex rules for dogfighting (what did you expect, it's Star Fleet Battles <grin>). Fighters could use drones (missiles) against each other, including special "dogfight drones".
  • GURPS Lensman had rules for fighter combat. A sidebar titled "The Furball" had special rules for groups of fighters in close combat.

Video Games
  • Ace Combat. Several missions in the franchise involve large-scale air battles, but the following three are the most outstanding examples so far in the series.
    • Ace Combat Zero The Belkan War gives us Operation Battle-Axe, which involves you saving the hides of the beleaguered Allied Forces air units that were losing a major battle to control the heavily-contested Area B 7 R (AKA "The Round Table"), and you spend most of the mission hectically alternating between hunting down enemies and shaking others off your own back.
    • The level "Shattered Skies" from Ace Combat 04 Shattered Skies is similar in setup, with the difference being that you are trying to fight off attacking Eursean fighters and bombers as a recon satellite is being prepped for launch. Bonus Points for one of the friendly NPC pilots using the word "furball" to describe the situation ("We can't confirm kills in this furball.").
    • Topping both examples, however, is Ace Combat 6 Fires Of Liberation's "Weapons of Mass Destruction", where the last part of the mission, following the successful destruction of an enemy convoy carrying chemical WMD catalysts, has you being cut off from your escape route by a grand total of 50 enemy fighters in front and behind you, and you have to survive several minutes of non-stop evasion and close-calls (with little to no chance of meaningfully firing back) before The Cavalry finally arrives, whereupon the battle becomes what has been described as the biggest, most intense furball since the Shattered Skies mission.... with probably twice as much enemies and you are being supported by very competent allies (your wingman describes them as "an all-star cast").
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe games built around this:
  • Air Force Delta games have these, including some that occur In SPACE.
  • Advance Wars: Dual Strike has some battles that take place entirely in the sky, fighter planes being the main form of offense.
  • Elite. In all three games of the series you are a pilot of a small starship. All combat in Elite 1 and most combat in Elite 2: Frontier and Elite 3: Frontier First Encounters is either a dogfight (if you are attacked by a single enemy ship) or a furball (if there are several attackers). The game's title is a rank you achieve if you win a certain number of dogfights and furballs.
  • Combat in the X-Universe series revolves around this trope. A character in the later parts of the game who flies into a Xenon sector to duke it out can bring in a few battleships and carriers, as well as combat drones, resulting in hundreds of ships battling, and dozens of dogfights going on at once. (This is partly because the AI is pretty dumb: the closest thing it has to actual tactics is charging straight at the enemy guns blazing, then turning away to avoid a collision and repeating.)
  • Janes Advanced Strike Fighters has this on quite a few missions. The Very Definitely Final Dungeon is a particular example, with you and a half-dozen or so wingmen versus lots and lots of Respawning Enemies.
  • Star Wars The Old Republic: A constant massive dogfight in progress can be viewed on the planet Balmorra, above the big battlefield outside the Balmorran Arms factory. At any given moment there's at least 2-3 pairs of imperial and republican fighters going at it, with AA guns from the ground joining in the fun.
  • Secret Weapons Of The Luftwaffe. Missions involving a large number of Allied and German fighters will normally turn into one of these.


Community Feedback Replies: 37
  • February 10, 2013
    AgProv
    Literature:
    • In the Biggles series, especially those set in the First World War, this trope happens a lot. This mimicked real life: the small, limited-range, biplane and triplane fighters would go up in squadron strength or larger, and this could bring together no less than about twenty planes in a relatively small part of the sky. W.E. Johns fictionalises an incident where there were over a hundred fighters mixing it over France sometime in Summer 1918.

    • Johns also uses this trope in Biggles stories set in WW 2: Biggles Flies East culminates in a decisive scene where a formation of over a hundred unescorted Japanese bombers heading for India are jumped by thirty or forty R.A.F. planes.

    • Another author using this trope is Derek Robinson. In his Battle of Britain novel A Piece of Cake, he ends the novel on a cliffhanger where Squadron Leader Barton's handful of Hurricane fighters are sent into a sky-filling formation of several hundred German bombers and escorting fighters. The book ends with the British pilots resigning themselves to taking a few Jerries with them when they die...
  • February 11, 2013
    Arivne
    The OP example section was a complete mess, so I did my best to Namespace, italicize and otherwise clean it up.

    In the future, when you copy over something like this, please lick on the edit button and copy the entire text (including the formatting markup) instead of just copying and pasting the visible text.
  • February 24, 2013
    spacemarine50
  • February 24, 2013
    Specialist290
    The Elite and X examples should go on Old School Dogfighting, since those games take place in space.

    Also, there should probably be a note somewhere in the description about World War One, which was the Trope Codifier for both real-world aerial tactics and fictional depictions of air battles.

    Also, a few for the list:

    Film
    • Wings, being about a pair of American aviators during World War One, features a couple, filmed using a large airfleet of actual airplanes.
    • Hell's Angels was filmed during the same period as Wings and shares the same setting. It has a massive dogfight close to the climax, as a British fighter escort has to defend a bombing raid against attacks by the Germans. There's also an earlier scene featuring a hunt for a zeppelin.

    Video Games
  • February 24, 2013
    StarSword
    ^Agreed, and frankly I wouldn't consider X to really revolve around this anyway. The series is about equal parts economics management sim and space combat sim.
  • February 24, 2013
    spacemarine50
  • February 25, 2013
    Specialist290
    ^ Yes, and this YKTTW was created as a result of it.
  • February 26, 2013
    TheHandle
    Roald Dahl mentions quite a few of these in this fiction, especially a pretty epic climactic one that took place in Greece. The last traditional dogfight, according to him.
  • February 26, 2013
    DRCEQ
    I edited the main article to expand upon the Ace Combat example. The series isn't almost entirely built around this trope, as it was put (that description is pretty much a Zero Context Example btw). There's quite a lot of air-to-ground missions in all of the games. Some games actually have more A-2-G missions than A-2-A.
  • March 13, 2013
    spacemarine50
  • March 20, 2013
    Arivne
    Film
    • Serenity. Near the end of the movie all of the Alliance ships in the quadrant are called in by the Operative and end up in a huge fight with the Reavers.
  • April 8, 2013
    spacemarine50
  • April 10, 2013
    StarSword
    Old School Dogfighting is being redefined in the TRS as "three-dimensional battles involving Chasing Your Tail where the participants have Fixed Forward Facing Weapons". You'll need to adjust the description of Sky Consuming Dogfight accordingly.

    And a minor correction to the X example: it's just the combat portion of the game that revolves around it (the "Trade," "Build," and "Think" portions are a lot bigger).

    Also, possible page quote:
    "We were in the worst dogfight I'd ever dreamed of. There were bogies like fireflies all over the sky."
    -- Commander Mike "Viper" Metcalf, Top Gun

    Video Games:
  • April 23, 2013
    MarqFJA
    I would like to note that the original trope article was named Dogfighting Furballs with Massive Dogfight and Large Scale Dogfight as redirects, so it would be prudent to redirect those to this (assuming that we don't adopt one of those names instead). It would also be preferable if the description mentions the existing military terminology for this phenomenon, "furball".

    Also, old YKTTW link here. And from it, my Ace Combat example (in better format):

    • Ace Combat: Several missions in the franchise involve large-scale air battles, but the following three are the most outstanding examples so far in the series.
      • Ace Combat Zero The Belkan War gives us Operation Battle-Axe, which involves you saving the hides of the beleaguered Allied Forces air units that were losing a major battle to control the heavily-contested Area B 7 R (AKA "The Round Table"), and you spend most of the mission hectically alternating between hunting down enemies and shaking others off your own back.
      • The level "Shattered Skies" from Ace Combat 04 Shattered Skies is similar in setup, with the difference being that you are trying to fight off attacking Eursean fighters and bombers as a recon satellite is being prepped for launch. Bonus points for one of the friendly NPC pilots using the word "furball" to describe the situation ("We can't confirm kills in this furball.").
      • Topping both examples, however, is Ace Combat 6 Fires Of Liberation's "Weapons of Mass Destruction", where the last part of the mission, following the successful destruction of an enemy convoy carrying chemical WMD catalysts, has you being cut off from your escape route by a grand total of 50 enemy fighters in front and behind you, and you have to survive several minutes of non-stop evasion and close-calls (with little to no chance of meaningfully firing back) before The Cavalry finally arrives, whereupon the battle becomes what has been described as the biggest, most intense furball since the Shattered Skies mission.... with probably twice as much enemies and you are being supported by very competent allies (your wingman describes them as "an all-star cast").
  • April 23, 2013
    StarSword
    Old School Dogfight (note lack of "-ing") is now out of TRS with the definition I posted two comments up. You want to get this working, spacemarine?
  • April 23, 2013
    KZN02
  • May 11, 2013
    spacemarine50
  • May 11, 2013
    StarSword
    ^Hey, you're the sponsor. Near as I can tell the description needs a rewrite to take the new definition of Old School Dogfight into account.

    EDIT: Strike that; it seems you already did.
  • May 24, 2013
    spacemarine50
  • May 25, 2013
    StarSword
    Posted a possible page quote earlier.
  • May 25, 2013
    MarqFJA
    Spelling correction: The second sub-entry of the Ace Combat example mispells "Erusean" as "Eursean".
  • May 26, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Film
    • Occurs in the World War II reenactment film Tora Tora Tora, where ace pilots Kenneth Taylor and George Welch launched from Haleiwa Airfield to engage one Japanese attack squadron. Though they were outnumbered, the freshly fueled and nimble Curtiss Tomahawk fighters scored multiple kills on the low-on-fuel and slower torpedo bombers.
  • May 27, 2013
    MattStriker
    Another Video Game example:

    • Star Wars The Old Republic: A constant massive dogfight in progress can be viewed on the planet Balmorra, above the big battlefield outside the Balmorran Arms factory. At any given moment there's at least 2-3 pairs of imperial and republican fighters going at it, with AA guns from the ground joining in the fun.
  • May 27, 2013
    StFan
    • The movie Flyboys is set in WWI and features plenty aerial scuffles. With Rule Of Cool prevailing much more than historical accuracy, in fact. For example, by having all the German fighters being triplanes (which were rare in reality) painted red (while only the Red Baron's was) for easy identification by the viewers during the dogfights.
  • July 10, 2013
    spacemarine50
    Ready to launch? Also need to come up with some indexes.
  • August 21, 2013
    spacemarine50
    Still need help on indexes. Or make one up. Also, Tie Fighter example is zero-context. Rogue Squadron is a little better.
  • August 21, 2013
    DAN004
    "Sky-consuming"? *scratches head*
  • August 21, 2013
    spacemarine50
    Maybe sky-filling, sky-darkening. Something to show that a lot of planes are involved.
  • August 21, 2013
    DAN004
    "Sky-filling" sounds okay to me at least.
  • August 21, 2013
    DragonQuestZ
    A New Hope wasn't really "sky consuming", as there wasn't the means to show such a fight. It was mostly editing to make it seem that way.

    Return Of The Jedi certainly is an example.
  • August 22, 2013
    spacemarine50
    ^Just not sure how many TI Es were launches vs the about 2 dozen rebel ships. And even then they're are usually way larger ships involved.
  • August 22, 2013
    Buraindo
    ^ Would the start of Episode II Attack of The Clones not be a better example? I would also suggest this as a page image.
  • August 23, 2013
    spacemarine50
    ^ I think it's not an example of this. And Episode 3 runs into the Space Battle grey area (combination of fighters and frigate ships fighting each other. Includes Battlestars).

  • August 30, 2013
    spacemarine50
    ^Might do no Space Battle here, since that gets into a big grey area and they involve fighters and big ships at the same time. (See the start of Revenge Of The Sith) for an example of this. Another one is in WW 2, US/RAF bombers and their fighter escorts vs German fighters.

  • August 31, 2013
    Arivne
    Video Games
  • September 1, 2013
    AgProv
    Film:
    • In The Blue Max, this happens to Bruno Stachel and the other pilots of the Richtofen Wing.
  • September 1, 2013
    jayoungr
    Would be nice to have an explanation of what "furball" means in this context. This happened to be the first page I read on the trope, and I was confused by the term.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable