History of Dogfights

Dogfights is a TV series that portrays re-enactments of direct aerial combat between fighter airplanes. The show, which first aired on November 3, 2006, includes both computer-generated imagery (CGI) and stories from actual former fighter pilots who were involved in dogfights during past wars. Such features, along with effects like a shaky camera when there is an explosion or a plane quickly brushes past, make the fights come alive to the viewer, allowing them to feel like they are taking part in exciting historical events.

The program was developed after a television special called Dogfights: The Greatest Air Battles aired in September 2005. Audiences enjoyed the CGI airplane combat, informative interviews, and voice-over narration so much that the History Channel suggested the development of a series devoted to the subject, and Dogfights was born.

Each episode features a real dogfight from a past war, recreating the fight using both CGI effects and real facts to tell a story. Pilots who fought in the battle help narrate the show with their unique details that only a combat survivor could know. The show’s narrator describes each plane’s abilities and drawbacks, along with the stunts performed by the pilots.

Such combat actually occurred during many wars. In fact, dogfights became viewed as a necessity as early as World War I due to the need to stop enemy airplanes from achieving their goals of destruction. Dogfights became popular in wars ranging from the Gulf War, the Six-Day War and the Falklands War to World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

The term dogfight came about in World War I, most likely stemming from the popular fighter strategy of maneuvering one’s plane behind the enemy’s airplane. Such a tactic allowed the pilot to fire his guns without fear of the enemy being able to fire back easily. Apparently two airplanes fighting to get into this position looks like two dogs chasing one another’s tails, coining the word dogfight.

Once dogfights gained popularity, it became clear that a special class of aircraft just for such fights was necessary. The fighter aircraft was then introduced, created solely to destroy enemy planes. The addition of forward-firing guns affixed to them came shortly afterwards, making it easy for the pilot to simply point his airplane towards enemy aircraft and fire away.

Modern air combat has changed somewhat with the development of newer strategies such as RADAR and air-to-air missiles, but close range fighting still follows the same general rules as those created during World War I. Dogfights chronicles combat from the earlier years as well as those from more recent times, all of which have both entertainment and educational value.