Some worlds have mid-air battles involving jet packs (Attack on Titan). Others might have people fighting on a flying car or magical pony. If I want a world where mid-air fighting is prolific, what are some ways people could ostensibly fight in mid-air?

This can include futuristic vehicles, special equipment, etc.

Edit: More information on my world was requested. I'm actually trying to write a futuristic spy story where there's a special weapon that makes contact with surfaces extremely dangerous. Basically I hope to get some person-to-person battle equipment and uses of technology to make full use of mid-air combat. But any ideas in general are good too, because I feel like it's a very undeveloped type of battle/warfare.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome on worldbuilding! This is a very interesting and very broad question! Could you give us some more information on your world? $\endgroup$ – PatJ Jul 12 '16 at 19:34
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    $\begingroup$ Well, one way we know works well is fighter aircraft, from 1914 onwards. But that probably isn't the kind of answer you wanted. You need to describe your world a bit, so that people can tell what's possible and what makes sense (not always the same thing) for the setting. $\endgroup$ – John Dallman Jul 12 '16 at 19:42
  • $\begingroup$ Hello and welcome to WB SE. Unfortunately your question is out of scope due to being entirely opinion based (some might also argue it's very broad). Had you invented some technology or another and asked us about its viability that would be one thing. But asking us to completely invent the setting for you is out of scope. For more information read up on Risk Factors $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Jul 12 '16 at 20:20
  • $\begingroup$ Generally speaking, you want to have at least an idea of what you want to do, and then ask questions to flesh it out. Not even knowing what setting you want is asking the community for a lot. If you want writing prompts check out a writing prompts sub. $\endgroup$ – AndyD273 Jul 12 '16 at 20:41

In the real world, the current preferred method for of mid-air fighting relies on Aircraft, and is almost exclusively limited to members of militarizes worldwide. While there are many private citizens and corporations, very few outside of drug cartels and other criminal groups would even consider using a helicopter to attack their enemies. Moreover, most military conflicts occur on Terra-Firma, with very few individuals piloting these vehicles.

If I had to chose a system that would be the nearest future, most realistic, I would select the psuedo-jetpack/wingsuit option. We already have very early, very basic jet suit-skeleton thingies to allow for human flight with minimal vehicle surroundings. I could picture a near future with far more sophisticated energy-storage solutions having a suit halfway between the aforementioned jet suit and iron man. Once you have established the existence of this technology, you can decide who gets it. Is it very new, experimental equipment, with squads elite soldiers and spies flying around the globe fighting each other in semi-secrecy? Is it available to more people, with militaries and police organizations patrolling the world in flight suits? Or is it a more mature technology, creating a Jetson-esque society with towering skyscrapers and a sky full of commuters and regular people on the way to get groceries? I personally prefer the first and last options in terms of scope from a story standpoint, allowing for conflict on a manageable scale.

  • $\begingroup$ Please don't answer questions where your answer includes phrases such as "It all depends on your personal preference." These are inherently flawed and inappropriate for the site as is. Instead, vote to close or flag the question to bring it to the attention of people who can take appropriate action. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jul 12 '16 at 20:32
  • $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre Sorry man, won't do it again. $\endgroup$ – Dent7777 Jul 12 '16 at 20:45

The best way to construct mid-air battles?

Assuming you're following the basic pattern of:

  • One or more entities are engaged in mid-air combat
  • Each entity has a mechanism to disable or destroy the other entity

All participants would aim for the following goals with their equipment/vehicles/tactics:

  • Move quickly; to transition between position and position in the battlefield--or battlesky--as quickly as possible
  • Be agile; to allow for maneuvers to avoid attacks
  • Have attack mechanisms that provide accurate and precise, on-demand means of downing the enemy as quickly as possible (they need to overcome the enemy's speed and agility, and be as devastating as possible
  • Have mechanisms to counter or negate oncoming attacks that cannot be avoided
  • Have mechanisms that allow the participant and as much as their equipment to survive, or chance of surviving an attack (such as an ejection seat in an aircraft)
  • Have a profile that minimizes target size (the need for this can be miminalized by previous points)
  • Accomplish all of the above in as efficient and reliable of a means as possible

Based on the technology of, nature of, and resources of your setting the end results can very, but it should be everyone's goals to accomplish the previous points as much as they're able.

Naturally, for a more stylistic setting, you can back off the focus of these points.


Fighting mid air battles is defined by the technology you are using. Air combat between Zeppelins is going to be far different than air combat using modern jet fighters.

For large and slow moving vehicles, air combat will resemble naval combat. The vehicles will be relatively immobile and combat will be joined by using cannons, rockets, missiles or whatever other sort of weapon system is employed in the scenario. The ships will essentially be large firing platforms. Many steampunk scenarios (and illustrations of hypothetical air vessels before powered flight was common) followed this trope. While helicopters have not been involved in dogfights, it is probable that helicopter air combat will also follow this format.

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World War one fighter planes were defined by their relatively low power to weight ratio and slow speeds. This limited their weapons to rifle calibre machine guns and allowed for fairly tight aerobatic manoeuvres.

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By WWII, aircraft were much faster and more powerful, and capable of carrying much heavier armament, including .50 cal HMG's and 20mm cannon. While still capable of doing the manoeuvres of their WWI ancestors, the increased speed meant that a much greater amount of airspace is needed to do the same thing.

Jet aircraft generally no longer fly and fight using the same sorts of manoeuvres as their propellor powered ancestors, and indeed, now that missiles can manoeuvre with far more G force than any human pilot can hope to survive, air combat is more a contest between computers, electronic countermeasures and other technology. There may be some circumstances where jets are in visual range and could dogfight so many modern jets use thrust vectoring or canard airfoils to provide an edge if and when they get into that situation. The Russian Sukhoi Su-35 epitomizes this sort of thinking, while the American 5th generation fighters are optimized for using sensors and electronic warfare to fight without getting too close to the enemy.

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So define what sort of setting you will have, and the technology that is being used, then the answer to your question will become clear.


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