The perilous role of air-to-air ramming aircraft

Deliberately flying into an enemy aircraft might seem like desperation, but the tactic dates back to the earliest days of military aviation. Malcolm V Lowe examines this aspect of air combat

Aerial ramming, the act of destroying an opponent’s aircraft with one’s own while aiming to survive the action, is completely separate from the concept of suicide attacks. It involved improvised use of conventional combat aircraft, although a number of attempts were made by manufacturers to create a purpose-designed ramming aircraft, none of which actually saw frontline service. The tactics were first used in action during World War One. On September 8, 1914, Imperial Russian Air Service pilot Pyotr Nesterov rammed an Austro-Hungarian (KuK Luftfahrtruppen) Albatros, bringing it down. However, Nesterov was killed in the action.

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