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(14,408 posts)
Tue Jun 25, 2024, 02:42 PM Jun 25

World War I Tactics Make A Comeback As A Ukrainian Gunner In The Back Of A Propeller Plane Shoots Down A Russian Drone [View all]


The first aerial dogfights during World War I were slow, almost comical affairs. In the early years of the war, propeller-driven observation planes lacked forward-firing machine guns. So the pilots—or, more often, the observers in the second seats—aimed their pistols or rifles at enemy planes.

More than a century later, aerial observers are still firing small arms from the back seats of propeller-driven planes. Last week, a gunner in a 1970s-vintage Yakovlev Yak-52 training plane belonging to a Ukrainian volunteer flying club engaged a Russian Orlan drone over southern Ukraine, reportedly shooting down the $100,000 drone.

It’s not the first time the combatants in Russia’s wider war on Ukraine have revived tactics and technology from World War I. Trench warfare is back. So are “turtle tanks” and Maxim machine guns. But the aerial gunner-versus-drone dogfight might be the most dramatic example of modern warfare devolving in the brutal conditions of the Ukraine conflict.

The apparent drone shoot-down was captured in videos shot from the ground as well as inside the two-seat Yak-52. In the videos, the 1.5-ton trainer—which cruises a little faster than 100 miles per hour—circles around the 33-pound Orlan. Gunfire can be heard. The seemingly damaged drone descends under its automatically-deployed parachute.


This makes me smile.
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