SAF - Salvation Air Force

Tactics and Ettiquette

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Strategies and tactics of flying, aerial combat, plane design, battle aids and other points to assist in the art of Air Privateering.

Guide to dueling in Crimson Skies, ver 1.1

"A true ace is not a player winning 90% of his games - it's one of those, who master their maneuvers and tactics and teach others how to use them" –

THC_Stargate Made by - feel free to mail me any comments, hints, rants, raves, flames and questions. You can also get a GERMAN version of this guide at

1. About/Disclaimer

2. Version History

3. Planes

3.1 Plane Setup

3.1.1 Armor

3.1.2 Guns

3.1.3 Engine

3.1.4 Hardpoints

3.2 Ammo

3.3 Rockets

4. Basic Flying Hints

4.1 Aiming

4.2 Rudder

4.3 Throttle

4.4 Practice!

5. Advanced maneuvers

5.1 Stall Turn

5.2 M/Snake-Turn

5.3 Rearm-Trap!

5.4 Battering Ram

6. Tactics

6.1 Full Offense

6.2 Defensive

6.3 Hit and Run

7. Counter Moves

7.1 Counter stalls after you respawn

7.2 Counter Bloodhawk-Hangar lurkers

8. Credits/Greetings etc

1. About Well, why am I writing a FAQ for a game which is already 2 years old? First of all - there is no such FAQ, yet and there should be one. There are still lots of newbies around and I think it would be fair to share all my knowledge and experience with them to keep the competition alive. Besides, CS still has a pretty active community, leagues, tourneys and events going on so I'm sure some people will find this useful. I have written down these things plenty of times now and trained many newbies into aces (hello Werefrog =) ). Feel free to give this guide to your family and friends - just don't forget to tell them who made it. Why a dueling Faq? There are people who like 1vs1 combat in Crimson Skies better than big FFA or team games. While even inexperienced pilots can score lots of points with just enough hardpoints and flaks, you will need to know lots of tricks and maneuvers to beat someone 1 on 1. This guide is supposed to help you find the right tactics, moves and plane setup for duels - you will just find stuff in here I personally know and consider useful, so you might want to experiment and find your own style instead of just doing what I suggest :) About me: I started playing Crimson Skies a few weeks after it was released. You can find me at MSN Gaming Zone as cl_Werewolf and as [HELP]FurryAngel at Gamespy Arcade. I've been with many squads already (hi BA, BSS, FSD :) ) and I'm an experienced duelist, but you will find a few players who are even better than me if you look for them in the big and sucessful squads and the leagues.

2. Version history June, 11th: Version 1.1 - added "counter moves" June, 10th: Version 1.0 of this guide. Done this at the office when I had nothing to do and couldn't stop thinking about this great game ;)

3. Planes Most people disallow hoplites and turrets so you should try not to build a hoplite and in case you are going to use a turreted plane, make sure you put no ammo into your turret or you might get booted. Personally, I don't mind anyone using turrets or hops since they were included in the game and a real ace should be able to beat ANYONE, but nobody asked me =P The most common planes in 1vs1 are Devastator, Fury, Bloodhawk and Firebrand. Planes you should not even try are Hoplite, Balmoral, Warhawk and Peacemaker. A Warhawk flies like a cow and is totally useless in duels and peacemakers might be agile, but not fast enough and drop from the skies like rocks when you stall them. The best all-around plane is probably the devastator. Most duelists use a Devastator, because it has no turrets, loads tons of stuff and is extremely easy to handle and still agile enough to beat any other plane with it. The only disadvantage is the lack of speed compared to the Fury or Bloodhawk, but the extra fire power is well worth it. Bloodhawks are probably the coolest planes to look at. A hawk is the fastest plane in the game and if you use a big engine you can outmaneuver opponents better than with any other plane. On the other hand, the bloodhawk has a very limited weight capacity and you'll end up with either bad engines, small guns or little to no hard points at all. Bloodhawks are extremely useful for hit-and-run tactics, but try to keep those head-ons short with them unless you're really good at aiming and have enough rockets and a big gun! A Compromise between the speed and agility of a Bloodhawk and the sheer firepower of the Devastator is the Fury. It's a great all-around plane used by many good pilots for both hit-and-run and kamikaze-style attacks. You won't be able to race as fast as a bloodhawk or get as many hard points as a Devastator, but the Fury is a great mix between these two. A real flying fortress is the Firebrand. Despite its low agility rating the Firebrand does some extremely sharp turns and you should be able to out-turn anyone with this plane if you do it right. This baby carries all the guns, rockets and armor you need - just remember to leave your turret without ammo unless you want to risk getting booted from most duels. You can just destroy other planes by ramming them and you won't take more than a scratch, but beware of fast hitters and runners, since the Firebrand is extremely slow. Another very good plane is the Hellhound (you needn't use that turret after all). It is faster and more agile as a devastator and can almost carry as much stuff! The big disadvantage about it is its size - big plane=big target!

3.1.1 Setup Armor Whatever plane you use - always make sure you have full armor! Your plane will have to go through lots of head ons and if you lack armor, you might get shot down within a single pass - a real ace can even down you with 2-3 good rocket hits if your plane has maximum armor, so you can imagine how useless low-armor planes are.


3.1.2 Guns First of all - never use more than one twin gun - these are the ones with a (2) before them and you can shoot two bullets at once with them while "normal" guns only have half the firepower. You can never shoot more than one twin gun at the same time, so any additional gun is a waste of space. Mixing ammo is no useful strategy either (unless you manage to get 2 cal 70 twins onto your plane). Single guns are actually used by no one and you shouldn't put them in a dueling plane. The bigger the caliber you use, the less ammo you get and the more weight capacity will be needed. So if you want to use a big caliber, make sure you have enough room - and you won't be able to waste all your ammo in a duel without getting shot down, so don't worry about it. Also, the bigger the caliber, the more damage you do and the less accurate you are. Cal 30 ammo does very light damage and has great range and accuracy, while cal 70 ammo rips a plane apart with just a few hits, but it's hard to hit a barn with them, even if you are inside. Since the most common strategy in duels is using as many head-ons as possible I suggest you get a cal70 and learn how to aim with it. If you and your opponent have equal aim in a headon, you can only win if you have the bigger caliber and do more damage. Makes sense, no? ;) You might also want to try smaller calibers, but I really don't suggest that and you should avoid head-ons at any cost then.

3.1.3 Engine There are three kinds of engines - small, medium and big ones (let's ignore the nitro for now, we will come to that, later). A small engine is, of course, the slowest one and is also highly unstable. You should avoid small engines, because you'll be having a hard time only trying to fly through the rearming base without hitting the ground. Also, small engines stall a LOT faster than big ones, but you will fall quickly and you are more likely to crash. Just don't use them unless you are able to handle them and don't rely on speed, but a very quick stall-turn instead. Big engines are the most powerful ones and need longer to stall, but they're also extremely stable. Using a big engine makes your plane easy to handle and the additional speed might come in handy. Besides, if you fly with low throttle, a big engine will still allow you to aim, while smaller ones make your plane shake like mad. Now that you know about big and small engines, what medium engines are, is pretty obvious - not quite as strong and stable as big ones, but better than small ones. Now about nitro: The small, medium and big engine with and without nitro are exactly the same - the ONLY difference is a short nitro burst (and the weight of course). You should try an engine without nitro and save the additional space for a big gun or an extra hard point, unless you depend on speed and hit and run often. Also, nitro is useful if you need to keep head ons short because you lack firepower. If you don't need to run away or don't want to rely on a well-timed nitro boost to chase someone, just forget nitro, since it's not more than a waste of space, then. Besides, a nitro boost cannot be stopped and if your opponent is smart enough he or she will just cut throttle and wait till you pass and shoot you down.

3.1.4 Hard points I wouldn't go into a duel without at least 2 hard points - any additional ones would be even better. There are some weird people using no hard points at all, but the biggest guns and engines in a bloodhawk, but you need to aim and fly like the devil if you want to succeed that way. If you use less than 2 hard points you'll be forced to rearm a lot, unless you can shoot someone down with just 3 HE rockets.

3.2 Ammo Believe it or not, the best ammo is dumdum. No other type of ammo destroys planes with damaged armor faster than dumdum. Some may say that explosive ammo might be more useful since it damages both armor and unarmored parts, but we've shot down fully armored planes with all kinds of ammo and looked at the time - dumdum was faster than anything else. As mentioned above, mixing ammo doesn't really help since you would need two twin guns and lots of space. You would either have to use a lower caliber or less hard points, so just one caliber 70 with dumdum should still be stronger.

3.3 Rockets The most useful rockets for duels are High Explosive (HE) and Flak. You should try to use HE, since they do a LOT of damage. You need some pretty good aiming to hit with HE rockets, so if you just can't seem to hit with them, try Flak. Flaks explode in a cloud of shrapnel, ripping apart the armor of anything that flies through. And because they leave damaging "clouds" you don't really have to aim at all. Then again, Flaks are weaker than HE rockets and you are likely to lose your plane in a head-on if your opponent uses HE.

4 Basic flying hints

4.1 Aiming Learn how to aim - try some "guns only" battles with friends to get used to guns and to learn how to hit with them. Small calibers almost hit by themselves while you need to know where your opponent will go and aim a bit ahead of him with bigger guns. Aiming with HE rockets is pretty difficult if you are used to flaks and I got veeery frustrated until I finally learned how to use them. Some say it is easier to hit with them if your game difficulty is set to "normal" instead of "hard", but I think it's only a rumor. If you want to hit someone with HE, look where he or she is going. If the enemy plane is flying to the left, aim for the left edge of the red box that appears around it. Same thing with the right edge and planes flying right of course (and the same with up and down, I needn't repeat that now, do I?) :) If your opponents goes too fast, you'll need to aim a little ahead of him. All in all, it needs lots of practice to hit with these rockets and there is no formula or anything that can help you with it, so better keep training... Also, try to spread your damage and damage all components of the enemy plane - as long as one of his or her parts remains undamaged, the plain won't go down!

4.2 Use the rudder, Luke! Whenever you start circling, use your rudder, to dramatically increase turning speed. Also, some folks like to use inverted rudders, while others say this is utter bulls.... try and find out what you like best

4.3 Throttle and turns The less throttle you use, the more slowly you will turn. Then again, your turn will also be a lot sharper. Try to out-turn your opponents by changing your speed when the time is right.

4.4 Practice a lot A good plane doesn't make a good pilot - you shouldn't try to get a better plane if you get waxed but also think about your strategy and aiming. Maybe you could still improve.

5. Advanced Maneuvers

5.1 Stall turn Invented by:? - In my first FAQ I stated that the creator of this move is HKenshin, wo mastered it and brought it to the community - here's a little correction about this, sent in by the master himself: "Thanks for giving me credit for the stall turn. But I really can't take credit for being the inventor of the stall move. I'll give ya abit of history here. .. It was October and I fought this one pilot who was stalling his plane and coming around on me quicker than normal. Well.. I learned this move quite quickly during the match and came close to defeating him. The pilot only stuck around for about another week and left to play another game. So i was the only one who was using this move at the time. Which is why alot of people credit me with this move... I took the move and perfected it and started using it in my matches. I had no idea how devastating this move became. I was kewl about it too.. whenever someone asked how to do it.. I told them. But now everybody uses it.. hehe.. what did i start? There.. abit of history behind the stall move." This move was made famous back in the old days by one of the greatest pilots the community had ever seen! The stall turn is the most important move and you'll need some time to master it. To do a stall turn, steer up until you face towards the sky. Now cut your throttle, use NO THROTTLE AT ALL! Wait until you start falling and turn around into the direction of your opponent by either pushing your stick in the upper left or right corner or by doing a 180 roll and pulling your stick back. (There are a few other ways to turn around, so you should practice the stall in an empty game with no one around until you find the way you like it best). While falling you will be able to rapidly change your direction. Speed up as soon as you face your opponent again. Use this move after head-ons or after you cross the path of the enemy. NEVER use it with someone up your six or you'll become a sitting duck!

5.2 M- or Snake-Turn Invented by: Me (well, this move was probably discovered by a few other pilots, but I found it out myself eons ago and named it the M-turn because of the way you fly when doing this). While circling at full speed try steering a little up and down. Going up will make your turn a tad slower, but as soon as you go down again, you will start turning at insane speed! If you do it right, it will look like /\/\ or ~~~ (hence the names for this turn...)



5.3 Rearm-Trap! Invented by: HDIOGO Try to race for the rearming base and cut your throttle a few moments before you reach it. If you're lucky, your opponent will use nitro to catch up with you and can not stop so he will pass you while you rearm and you can shoot him from behind.

5.4 Battering Ram Instead of shooting someone down in a head-on use full throttle and RAM him! This works well in a racing Bloodhawk and should get you some nice kills!

6. Dueling Tactics

6.1 Full offense Use the biggest gun you can get, dumdum as ammo, HE as rockets. Try to use little to no throttle in head-ons so you have enough time to shoot at the enemy. Also, try to fly close to the ground so you have to steer up in head-ons - this will allow you to do a stall turn as soon as you pass your opponent because you already face upwards, while your opponents is still looking at the ground, which makes it harder for him to stall. Only try to rearm when you think you can shake your opponent, because using full offense will force you to use slower planes and probably no nitro.

6.2 Defensive If you use a faster plane such as a nitro-Fury or a bloodhawk you will probably lack some firepower. If so, try to avoid head-ons or at least keep them as short as possible by using full throttle and nitro. Use your extra speed to rearm a lot and take a few flaks with you to quickly hit your opponent without having to aim.

6.3 Hit and Run If you want to be successful with this tactic, you have to fly like the devil, but it does work indeed. Thanks to HDIOGO for this one :) If you are one of these freaks using a racing bloodhawk with no rockets, try to completely avoid head-ons at any cost! This shouldn't be much of a problem since you will be faster than your opponent in a hawk. Rearm all the way to keep the hangar doors closed. Try M/Snake-Turns against your opponent and use your great speed to outmaneuver him. If you fight a firebrand or devastator you are probably screwed as soon as your enemy gets up to your six. Since the standard map for duels is "Boeing Field" try to reach the bloodhawk hangar and do a few stall turns in there to confuse your enemy so he or she doesn't know which way you will leave the hangar. As soon as the opponent enters the hangar as well you should pass him in a headon, hit him with your guns and try to get to his six while he or she is still leaving the hangar! Also, try to fool the enemy using "rearm-trap"

7. "Counter-Moves"

7.1 Counter stalls after you respawn You'll often get into this situation when playing aces - you get shot down and when you respawn you have to attack from the skies while your opponent is on the ground. If both of you survive the head-on, your opponent will most likely do a stall turn and shoot you down, because you cannot stall quickly enough or get him by circling. So instead of circling or stalling yourself after the head-on try to LOOP! There is only about 50% chance you will shake your opponent that way, but it's a lot safer than anything else. Here's also a little not from IBA_TayWolf55: "When respawning, point your nose to the ground for 5 seconds, eliminating your enemy's chance to stall." Thanks for pointing this out, mate :)

7.2 Counter Bloodhawk-Hangar lurkers Real flying aces know how to stall-turn in the bloodhawk hangar on Boeing Field and try to lure you there and shoot you down, which is very likely to happen. If you see the enemy running for the hangar, ignore him and rearm instead. Do that a couple of times and your opponent will probably stop hiding in the hangar, because he would always give you a chance to rearm.

8. Credits/Greetings etc Okay, first of all I'd like to thank the whole Bloodangel Squad, especiall HKenshin, as well as Werefrog, Amenutep, IronHorse, HDIOGO, Rabid66, Anaxagoras and all the other aces for their time and their many training hours. You taught me how to fly :) Also, I'd like to say hi to the FSD, crAzy, SD and the BSS squad (or the members that are still left of these old squads). Thanks for a real cool time and the lots of fun we've had! And of course I'd like to thank the foundation members of the BSS for the coolest time I've had with this game! I miss you guys! Even more greetings go to DustyMoment and the ex Hot Thong Oilers and the Ducksquad for being the coolest people around =) Wuv joo all Additional greetings go to crAzy_Raccoon and the whole crimsonlies team for having simply the best community site around! And of course for publishing these hints! Nice and warm greetings to IBA_TayWolf55 and Stargate for sharing their knowledge :)

Crimson Skies, Salvation Air Force, Combat zone