Edward ‘Mick’ Mannock was a highly successful fighter pilot in World War One. By the time of his death in July 1918, he was credited with over 70 ‘kills’ and in recognition of his exploits Mannock was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross. In June 1917, Mannock became a flight commander and he issued his ’15 Rules’ to the pilots under his command. Such was their importance, that they were still used in World War Two despite the huge changes in aeroplane design etc.
- Pilots must dive to attack with zest, and must hold their fire until they get within one hundred yards of their target.
- Achieve surprise by approaching from the East. (From the German side of the front.)
- Utilise the sun’s glare and clouds to achieve surprise.
- Pilots must keep physically fit by exercise and the moderate use of stimulants.
- Pilots must sight their guns and practise as much as possible as targets are normally fleeting.
- Pilots must practise spotting machines in the air and recognising them at long range, and every aeroplane is to be treated as an enemy until it is certain it is not.
- Pilots must learn where the enemy’s blind spots are.
- Scouts must be attacked from above and two-seaters from beneath their tails.
- Pilots must practise quick turns, as this manoeuvre is more used than any other in a fight.
- Pilot must practise judging distances in the air as these are very deceptive.
- Decoys must be guarded against — a single enemy is often a decoy — therefore the air above should be searched before attacking.
- If the day is sunny, machines should be turned with as little bank as possible, otherwise the sun glistening on the wings will give away their presence at a long range.
- Pilots must keep turning in a dog fight and never fly straight except when firing.
- Pilots must never, under any circumstances, dive away from an enemy, as he gives his opponent a non-deflection shot — bullets are faster than aeroplanes.
- Pilots must keep their eye on their watches during patrols, and on the direction and strength of the wind.
Mannock was killed in combat on July 26th 1918.