Immelmann Turn

The Immelmann Turn refers to two quite different aircraft maneuvers. The maneuver nowadays usually called an "Immelmann" has in fact no connection with the World War I German flying ace Max Immelmann.

Historical combat maneuver

The World War I "Immelmann turn" was a far less polished maneuver than the aerobatic maneuver now called the Immelmann Turn. This attacking maneuver was used frequently by Max Immelmann and later by other World War I fighter pilots. After making a high speed diving attack on an enemy, Immelmann would then zoom climb back up past the enemy aircraft, and before stalling used full rudder to yaw (maneuver around the aircraft's "normal axis") his aircraft around. This put his aircraft facing down at the enemy aircraft, making another high speed diving pass possible. This is a difficult maneuver to perform properly, as it involves precise control of the aircraft at low speed. With practice and proper use of all of the fighters controls, the maneuver could be used to re-position the attacking aircraft to dive back down in any direction desired. This form of "Immelmann turn" was called Renversement by French pilots. The modern aerobatic maneuvers that most resemble the WWI Immelmann are the "wingover", and the "hammer-head turn".

The WWI Immelmann tactic fell into disfavour between the World Wars, as combat aircraft engines grew increasingly powerful, and the zooming aircraft could be followed by his adversary, and presented an easy target as it hung nearly motionless at the top of the maneuver. The Immelmann could still be used in World War II by fighters attacking unescorted bombers that could not follow the fighter up into the climb, as long as the zoom climb took the fighter beyond the range of the bomber's defensive guns.

See also


This article has been simplified for civilian reference.

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