Strafing is the act of attacking surface targets from the air with something other than [[WeaponOfMassDestruction bombs]], [[MisguidedMissile guided missiles]] or a [[WaveMotionGun long, continuous energy blast]]. One might think that a bullet fired from an aircraft at a target on the ground, if it misses (which would likely be the case, unless the pilot was a good shot, the target was rather large, etc.), would likely strike the ground well beyond the target.

In RealLife, it's not so simple, as the type of target, the aircraft type, the pilot's experience, and [[AntiAir nearby defenses]] or other targets (such as civilians) in the area, can all come into play. And if the aircraft is fast enough you won't even realize it's attacking until it's done and gone.

In Hollywood, it does not work that way. The RuleOfCool and the RuleOfDrama dictate a more theatrical methodology:

* The aircraft turns until it is lined up with the road, beach, dock, etc.
* The aircraft descends slowly and menacingly while its engine gets very loud and high in pitch, [[StukaScream resembling a Stuka dive bomber]], giving its victims plenty of time to [[OhCrap realize]] ''THEY'' are the target.
* You may see muzzle flashes and hear machine gun noises.
* A pattern of bullets hits the ground between the target and the strafing aircraft and moves toward the target.
** If the aircraft has dual machine guns, the bullet pattern will be two parallel lines, usually wide enough to be on each side of a road.
** If the aircraft does NOT have dual machine guns, the bullet pattern may STILL be two parallel lines, usually wide enough to be on each side of a road, just to give the good guys a sporting chance.
** The bullet impact will either cause puffs of dirt to erupt from the ground or cause ricochets off solid objects.
* In a war drama, lighthearted action movie, etc:
** More intelligent characters abandon vehicles and throw themselves in a ditch or into foliage alongside the road.
** Less intelligent vehicle drivers try to dodge the bullets.
** Easily replacable {{RedShirt}}s and {{Mooks}} [[DeerInTheHeadlights freeze in horror]] or run about randomly and are cut down.
* In a comedy, Genre Savvy characters try to outrun the bullets or dodge them by [[BulletDancing dancing]].

Historically movies portrayed strafing unrealistically because it was safe and easy. Set off a couple of lines of small charges in the sand running toward the target, far enough apart to not endanger the stunt crew, and the audience cannot fail to get the point. It's simple, cheap, straightforward, and the inexorably approaching danger significantly raises the dramatic tension. Also, some of this is TruthInTelevision, as 'walking' shots up to the target helps to ensure you actually get a hit, though in reality (as seen in the RealLife Examples below) the strike pattern is usually less a steady progression than a cloud of "shorts" and "overs"--firing from an inherently unstable platform means aircraft guns aren't particularly steady or accurate.

Showing the path of devastation wrought by the likes of the P47-D's [[MoreDakka eight .50 cal machine guns]] would be much more difficult, expensive, dangerous and confusing, and the likely results [[LudicrousGibs would not be suitable for most audiences]]. The guns were individually aimed at a single point of intersection a certain distance in front of the plane. They were also far too powerful to waste on a single individual. These planes were said to be capable of sawing fully grown trees in half on a strafing run. Not that a pilot would be likely to see a single person on the ground in any case. Without spotters on the ground in radio contact pilots would strafe vehicles, roads, trains, or large obvious targets.

One last thing: if the strafers are [[CardCarryingVillain Eeeeeevil]], the probability of one of the strafees being [[EmpathyDollShot an adorable little tyke who drops a teddy bear]] approaches 100%.

Subtrope of NearMisses, SisterTrope to HollywoodTactics. Compare BuzzingTheDeck.


[[folder: Anime & Manga ]]

* In ''Anime/SoundOfTheSky'', [[spoiler: Filicia]] is targeted by a tank's secondary gunner; the shots describe the standard 'bullet line' toward her.
* ''Anime/MagicalShoppingArcadeAbenobashi'' uses this trope straight for purposes of parody. Sashi ends up getting strafed by a bi-plane in an episode where he's trapped in a world filled with nothing but Hollywood movie references and cliches.
* In ''Manga/{{Zipang}}'', a traitorous Manchukuo Imperial Air Force pilot performs a strafing run during a parade in an attempt to assassinate the Manchukuo Emperor [[HistoricalDomainCharacter Pu Yi]].


[[folder: Film ]]

* The UrExample is probably found in the 1942 Hollywood propaganda film ''Air Force'', complete with the "two lines of bullet strikes" cliche, when a Japanese Zero strafes the protagonist's B-17 bomber crew in the Philippines. This scene probably inspired most subsequent examples and is somewhat defensible as most early war Japanese fighters actually did carry two cowl-mounted machine guns (in the Zero's case, two cowl and two wing guns) and the Zero's cowl and wing guns had wildly divergent ballistics and consequently required different aiming points so they frequently weren't fired at the same time.
* Two Luftwaffe fighters strafe the beaches of Normandy in ''Film/TheLongestDay''. Like most scenes in the movie, this was something that actually happened, when ''both'' planes the Germans were able to scramble against the invasion flew the entire length of Omaha Beach and emptied their magazines in one long trigger-pull before [[ScrewThisImOutOfHere quickly escaping before they could be shot down by the considerable number of Allied aircraft and warships in the area]].
* ''Creator/NorthByNorthwest'', though it's not an attack plane but a regular plane with a passenger wielding a gun.
* In ''Film/TheGunsOfNavarone'', a Stuka dive bomber tries to strafe the fleeing {{Heroes}}. On [=YouTube=] [[ starting at 0:35]].
* Film/JamesBond
** In ''Film/TheSpyWhoLovedMe'', Bond is strafed by a pursuing helicopter while driving his Lotus Esprit. On [=YouTube=] [[ at 1:25]].
** In ''Film/LiveAndLetDie'' he's strafed by a helicopter while hiding in the poppy fields under the net.
** In ''Film/YouOnlyLiveTwice'' the female Japanese Secret Service agent Kissy Suzuki is strafed by a SPECTRE helicopter while she's swimming back to the village to notify Tiger Tanaka about the SPECTRE base in the volcano.
* In the 1989 film of ''{{Film/Batman}}'', the Joker stands still and lets the Batplane take a long strafing run at him, but not one bullet touches him. They all go to both sides of him instead.
* In ''Film/TheAvengers1998'', the flying insect robots sent by Sir August strafe Steed and Mrs. Peel as they're driving in a car.
* In ''Film/StarTrekInsurrection'' the Son'a do a number on the peaceful Ba'ku village using this trope in combination with teleporting drones. All that's missing is a [[EmpathyDollShot dropped teddy bear]].
* In John Carpenter's ''Film/TheThing1982'', for some unknown reason the rifle armed Norwegians use their helicopter to do strafing runs on the Thing!dog, instead of just hovering in the air and sniping at it (which would have made for more accurate shooting). Of course, the real reason they did so was for [[RuleOfDrama dramatic purposes]].
* For ''{{Film/Transformers}}'', Michael Bay, famous for his love of U.S. military hardware and blowin' stuff up, strangely chose the less-awesome Hollywood version of an A-10 strafing run, with their Avenger guns making the "lines of little thwippy poofs" effect and sounding like machine guns. Compare the link under "Real Life," where an Avenger burst makes it look like you and everything within a few dozen yards got blasted by God's shotgun, [[RealityIsUnrealistic followed by the sound of Him farting in your general direction.]][[note]] The Avenger's 30mm rounds travel faster than the speed of sound. Combine this with the plane being some distance from the observer and/or target when he fires, and it takes a few seconds for the sound of the gun to catch up with the projectiles.[[/note]]
* Twice in ''Film/RedTails'': Towards the beginning of the film, a quartet of P-40 Warhawks spots a German train, and dive in to strafe it. One of the pilots actually protests that they should attack the train from head-on instead, to give the [[AntiAir defensive gunners]] on the train [[ShownTheirWork less of a chance to shoot them back]]. After three of the planes strafe the train in classic Hollywood fashion to little productive effect, the fourth pilot comes at the train low and head-on, focusing all of his fire into the locomotive, trashing the train.
** Later on, the same four pilots strafe a German airfield. While they use Hollywood strafing tactics, it seems to work because there is just ''a lot'' of things on the airfield to shoot at and blow up.
* ''Film/IndianaJonesAndTheLastCrusade''. A Nazi fighter plane does this to Indy and his father as they're escaping by car.
* In ''Film/{{Sheena}}'', the soldiers' helicopter repeatedly tries to strafe a grazing herd of antelope, but apparently fails to hit anything.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheAdventuresOfTintin'': Occurs as a plane from the BigBad's ship finds Tintin and Captain Haddock adrift at sea in a lifeboat.
* ''Film/WeWereSoldiers'': American A-1 "Sandy" attack planes and UH-1 Huey helicopters are both shown attacking North Vietnamese forces in this manner (in addition to laying in devastating heavy rocket and bomb attacks). Contrast with the book where Hal Moore described the Sandies as concentrating their cannon fire to chew up the terrain in a swath of destruction, and the Hueys' tendency to buzz around like bees, using the helicopters' hovering abilities to keep the door gunners oriented on their targets while moving about to prevent the enemy from taking cover behind anything.
* In the ActionPrologue of ''Film/ResidentEvilRetribution'', our heroine hits an Umbrella tilt-rotor gunship with GunsAkimbo SawnOffShotgun pistols, while the twin bullet streams from the gunship [[ImperialStormtrooperMarksmanshipAcademy spark off the deck on either side of her]].
* ''Film/RobotJox'' does the parallel lines version with giant robots [[]].
* ''Film/LionsForLambs'' deserves a mention as an aversion. The battle scenes feature some strafing runs by A-10s, but instead of neat ordered lines of puffs, the result, from the point of view of those on the ground, is of several large grouped explosions, approximating very well the power of a 30mm shell and the disordered pattern in which the shells hit the ground in reality.
* In ''Franchise/StarWars'' ''Film/TheForceAwakens'' the Resistance make strafing runs against the First Order's ground forces attacking Maz's castle. Poe Dameron is skilled enough to take out individual Stormtroopers with pinpoint accuracy, and leaving the good guys unscathed.
* ''Film/{{Patton}}''
** During the attack on Patton's headquarters by the Nazi bombers, the machine gunners in the planes' nose turrets strafe the ground, sending the American forces into confusion.
** During the ambush of Rommel's attacking force, another pair of bombers strafes the location of General Bradley's command post.
* in ''Film/TheFinalCountdown'', Japanese Zeros make repeated strafing runs against a civilian boat. After destroying it, they turn and strafe the survivors in the water, the bullets again making parallel impacts in the water. And one of the civilians.


[[folder: Literature ]]

* In Creator/DerekRobinson's [=WW2=] black comedy, ''A Piece of Cake'', an RAF pilot spots a German aircraft methodically strafing a road choked with French refugees. The effects of the [=Me110=]'s cannon shells are graphically described. The RAF plane descends to ground level and tries to shoot down the German. it doesn't help that the British pilot is in an unfamiliar American plane, and he discovers he has to angle his guns downwards so as to hit the German. As the German plane is right above a road choked with people, the British pilot's over-shooting adds to the civilian casualties... the unlucky French are being strafed by two aircraft simultaneously.


[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* ''Series/{{Airwolf}}'' uses this trope, occasionally in bizarre situations such as when the eponymous helicopter is actually sitting on the ground. Apparently they still have to start out with a dramatic grass trimming and waste of ammunition before proceeding to pulverize their target.
* The ''Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries'' episode "Shore Leave". While on a planet where anything you think of becomes real, a crewman thinks about a fighter plane on a strafing run, and one appears.
* Happens with ornithopters in intro to ''[[ Chidren Of Dune]]''.
* ''Series/MacGyver'', in a sequence from the episode "The Golden Triangle" that also appeared in the title sequence.
* In the premiere of ''Series/{{UFO}}'', the motor convoy carrying General Henderson and Commander Straker is attacked by a FlyingSaucer which stafes the nature strips on either side of the road; somehow this crashes their car. The saucer's distinctive high-pitched whine substitutes for the Stuka dive-bombing sound.
* Happens frequently in ''Series/StargateSG1'', often as the team race for the gate pursued by Death Gliders. Laying down fire ''ahead'' of the fleeing team would seem more sensible. Occasionally the Gliders manage to hit someone unimportant (as in "Summit"). The Gliders don't appear to have any targeting systems, so all shots are eyeballed.


[[folder: Tabletop Games ]]

* Played with in ''Battletech'', where a strafing run has the capacity to damage ''everything'', foe '''and''' friend, that's in the path of a strafing run. Coupled with a fairly high to-hit modifier, it may well be that nothing or everything gets tagged.


[[folder: Theme Parks ]]

* Two instances at Disney's Hollywood Studios:
** During the ''Franchise/IndianaJones'' stunt show's recreation of the Cairo marketplace fight and truck destruction of ''Film/RaidersOfTheLostArk'', Indy shoots a thug on a rooftop, allowing him to [[RailingKill fall from his perch]], and takes his MP-40 to blow up the oncoming truck. As the trope suggests, the bullet hits travel up the ground toward the truck, suggesting that Indy started his gunfire [[FridgeLogic at the ground a few feet in front of him]].
** The "Harbor Attack" sequence that begins the Backlot Tour features a trio of guests chosen to stand on a mockup of a PT boat and look terrified (often failing miserably) as a series of Japanese dive bombers bomb and strafe them, the bullet hits represented by air cannons in the water and bombs and torpedoes from large water cannons. The two machine gun sequences are represented by two rows of air cannons indicating bullets hitting in parallel lines from one end of the boat to the other, doing little more than getting the extras slightly damp.


[[folder: Video Games ]]

* Soviet Yak fighters in ''VideoGame/CommandAndConquerRedAlert'' attacked like this. Players eventually learned to just target a spot right ''behind'' the target, so the Yak did more damage while "walking" its shots at it. Against massed infantry, though, the nickname "[[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast Infantry Eraser]]" is well earned, and it also chews up buildings and light vehicles with ease.
** The EmpathyDollShot happens in first Soviet mission victory cinematic.
* ''VideoGame/CommandAndConquerGenerals'' gives the USA general to call in an A-10 Thunderbolt strike. The plane (or planes, as higher ranks mean more Thunderbolts) saturate the target area with their Avengers and fire a missile barrage once they're close enough. A wing of three is enough to [[ScissorsCutsRock cut down any lone air defense installation]].


[[folder: Web Original ]]

* ''WebVideo/TheHire: Ticker'', opens with the Driver and his passenger in a BMW roadster being persued by a helicopter, complete with obligatory strings of bullet shots striking the road on either side of the car (in some mild defense [[ATeamFiring of the gunner's marksmanship]], the Driver was [[DrivesLikeCrazy dodging wildly back and forth to avoid getting shot.]])


[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* The ''WesternAnimation/JonnyQuest'' TOS episode, "Calcutta Adventure". An enemy {{Mook}} makes multiple strafing runs against the Quests, who are riding in a vehicle at the time.
* Spoofed in ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' episode "Fear of Flying", where Marge remembers all the incidents that made her hate flying; one memory consists of her mother showing her a cornfield, followed by them getting strafed by a random airplane a'la ''Film/NorthByNorthwest''.


[[folder: Real Life ]]

* Actual footage of WWII strafing attacks:
** [[ strafing a tank]]
** [[ strafing a ship]]
** [[ strafing ships and railroad transport]]
** [[ ships again]]
** [[ P38 Lightning strafing runs]]