I'm messing with a fictional scenario I created, "What do I do to my ww1-ww2 aircraft to use them to defend against a drone fleet?

The "drones" for convenience, think MQ 1 Predator.

The aircraft to modify are (any) fighter plane(s) of the ww1 - ww2 era. While it has to be based off of those planes, you have full access to any modern modification you need, just remember that the decision was made to cut costs, as upgrading the existing fleet was easier and cheaper than ordering another.

Because reasons, the engines of the aircraft are electric, delivering the same power, and all. The battery weight and all related inconveniences here, are simply a suggestion. No need to worry about that.

Things like "jamming equipment" (yeah yeah, unspecifics, my bad) are already installed,

I just need a way for these aircraft to get close enoeugh to said enemy drone to use its MGs to destroy it (personally, I'd prefer for MGs and against alternatives, like missles, but if needed, I'll use it)

With all that, what do you do to these aircraft to allow them to get close enough *without getting shot down by the enemy missle(s), so that their MGs get a chance?

  • $\begingroup$ The MQ-1 Predator is a reconnaissance platform. At best, it may carry air-to-surface missiles. It flies much slower than any WW2 fighter aircraft (even some WW1-era aircraft were considerably faster); it cannot defend itself; its maneuverability capabilities are nothing to write home about. The only difficulty for a WW2-era fighter plane will be finding the things; and for that you need radar. (Any kind of modern-ish radar; the MQ1 Predators are in no way stealthy.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Nov 19, 2021 at 0:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Wikipedia lists some techniques used to intercept V1 flying bombs. One technique involved tipping the V1 with the wingtip of a Spitfire so it crashes early. $\endgroup$
    – Abigail
    Commented Nov 19, 2021 at 0:27
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You do realize modern modifications to airplanes, results in stealth bombers, and supersonic, supermaneuverable fighters. There are other low cost methods of dealing with drones besides airplanes. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Nov 19, 2021 at 0:38
  • $\begingroup$ Paragraph 6: Acoustical detection $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Commented Nov 19, 2021 at 2:07

2 Answers 2


Tweak the engines a bit and shoot them down.

Predator drones aren't that fast. Their max speed is 135 mph. WW1 planes could fly at 150 mph by war's end. Predator drones only carry two missiles.

So, just fly them up and shoot them down. You might lose two planes per drone, but predator drones really were not meant for dog fighting. Just bail out when the drone comes in, and let the plane tank it.

If you want to limit losses, have them fire Stinger missiles.

This is a handheld air to air weapon that the pilots can fire from their planes. You could probably strap a few to the wings. They could shoot down missiles, if not especially well, and might hit some predator drones. For the sake of a dramatic fight, you could have them shoot down enough of the missiles to lessen their losses but not take down the drones, and machine gun fire the drones down.

Stingers could ignite the WW1 era biplanes, so stick some fire resistant paint on the biplane. It won't stop all fires, but hopefully it should slow them down long enough for you to bail or escape if you get too many hits.

  • $\begingroup$ There is an air-to-air variant of the Stinger named, unsurprisingly, the "Air-To-Air Stinger" or ATAS, but unfortunately the MQ-1 is designed to carry and use them too. The querent needs the much heavier Sidewinder or an equivalent at least to outrange the ATAS on the MQ-1. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 19, 2021 at 1:22
  • $\begingroup$ Also, this was pointed out by others but WWI-era biplanes were fabric covered; the backblast of a missile risks igniting the fabric. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 19, 2021 at 1:33
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Out ranging the enemy isn't necessary. This is a very rushed, ad hoc mission slapped together with duct tape and gum. So long as a biplane has a chance of knocking out a missile before it hits, the stinger was valuable. $\endgroup$
    – Nepene Nep
    Commented Nov 19, 2021 at 9:57
  • $\begingroup$ The question asked not how to kill the enemy, but how to not get killed. If the enemy missle is a sword, I ask for a shield, not a spear. These planes can't exactly dodge the manuverable missle, now can it? I ask how does the plane avoid dying by the missle, not how it distributes the same $\endgroup$
    – KombatAce
    Commented Nov 20, 2021 at 12:32
  • $\begingroup$ And I gave you an answer. Have some hand held missiles welded on and networked in to try and stop the missiles, and otherwise use numbers to push through. You do have the issue that these planes really weren't built to handle missiles. They don't have the power or the electronics. The only way they're gonna do that is by having the plane explode itself on them, or having some modern missiles to counter the modern missiles. $\endgroup$
    – Nepene Nep
    Commented Nov 21, 2021 at 0:35

Fighting them is easy.

The fighters are already well suited to this -- MQ1s and for that matter most modern drones are designed for fuel efficiency and linger time, not speed or maneuverability. They would be no threat to something like a P-51 or a Spitfire.

Finding them is not.

You can't just drop a modern air search radar into a plane like the P51. It's electrical system wouldn't even be able to power one up and there's no digital systems in the cockpit it could even integrate with. OK, maybe if it has enough power to drive an electric propeller it could power up one of those radars, but the issue is supplying regulated, steady voltage and powering the engine -at the same time. I think it would be far simpler to build 1 new plane than to upgrade the whole fleet: Something like the E2-D Hawkeye that can use its huge radar to see the whole area. It could then direct a battle group of un-networked legacy fighters -- if only with voice communications -- to intercept specific targets. You wouldn't need a lot of them -- 1 squadron of 3-4 of these in a wing of 6-7 fighter squadrons.
enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Alright them, fair. The fleet can now see the enemy, but how about avoiding the enemy missles? $\endgroup$
    – KombatAce
    Commented Nov 23, 2021 at 20:00
  • $\begingroup$ Without knowing more about the drones they're facing I can't answer that. If we're talking about today's drones, as far as I know none of them sport air to air weapons. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 27, 2021 at 10:02

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .