The Skybrary

A Dauntless beats the snot out of an overconfident Avenger and his buddies.

Combat in Skyrates is done in a top-down view with a few simple controls. Planes have gun arcs which are displayed as colored translucent triangles. The player's gun arcs are green. Enemy gun arcs are red. Planes have armor, which works like health points, represented by blue shield icons (in the picture, this player is at full armor). The object is to try and shoot down enemy planes, before they shoot you down. Failing that, you can always try to flee, or bribe them. If you manage to shoot some of them dowm but are forced to flee, you get a base bounty payment. If you shoot down all but one of a ten plane swarm and lose to the last one, you don't get any bounty for the planes you did shoot down, so be careful!

See the Combat Levels and Bounty page to find out how combat difficulty and cash payouts are determined.


Facings are the five possible starting configurations of an encounter with pirates (or Combat).


The pirates are in a circle around you. Generally the easiest way to get the advantage is to use Afterburner and get out of the circle as quickly as possible, then turn and engage each of the enemies one by one.


The pirates begin facing away from the player plane, with the player plane directly on the pirates' six o'clocks. Many pilots feel this is an optimal starting position as it requires no maneuvering on the part of the pilot to begin their hunt safely.


The pirates are directly behind you. Usually one or more of the enemy planes will use Afterburner to get close, so the best way to get the advantage is to use Wingover if available or brake and turn to get out of the line of fire and put the enemies in front of you.


The pirates and the player plane start out pointing towards each other. Oftentimes this will entail rushing right into the firing arcs of a half dozen planes or more. It is recommended that the player do a Wingover to get into a superior fighting position (note that in many planes a Wingover will be too slow to completely avoid pirate arcs), or Barrel Roll through with guns blazing and hope for the best.

Legendary/Unique Combats[]

Unique combats were disabled at the end of SR 2.3. They returned to Skyrates 2.5 on December 6 , 2009. Currently, all Legendary Combats listed are the ones encountered in SR 2.5, though Wagner's Fleet is currently inactive.

Legendary combats seem to use the standard facing types, but there is no indication of which will be used until the combat has started.



If you win the combat you will receive a amount of money, a number of Combat Points (aka CP) which are tied to the difficulty rating of the combat and possibly a Gunsmithing component.


Currently after losing a combat you do not lose any cargo, though the after-battle report says you do. Crew is hurt, which reduces their Morale. Certain Missions may have their payouts reduced or outright fail after a loss; these missions' descriptions typically mention combat loss in the game and are noted as losable in their respective articles.

After a loss, you will still fight your next combat starting at full armor and ammo.


If you feel that you have entered a combat you cannot win, you can Flee by flying far enough away from the enemy that the highest-level enemy plane leaves your radar (there will still be an arrow at the edge). The Flee button will appear in the top right corner while this is true. It can disappear again, so press it while you can. If you flee a combat before downing any planes, the combat ends with no reward. Your only penalty will be any shields you lost during the combat. If you do manage to kill at least one enemy, you will receive partial money and possibly Combat Points (depending on the difficulty rating of the planes you did shoot down). Fleeing is easier in a faster plane or when using the Afterburner skill.


At the combat "ready" screen you have the choice to bribe the pirates to leave you alone. The amount of bribery money is based off the planes you are facing - just as each plane has a bounty value, each plane has a bribe value, and these bribe values are added up to determine the total amount of money required to buy your way out of a fight. Once combat starts the bribe option remains open, but the cost will increase continually, often rapidly if there are many planes present. Each kill reduces the remaining bribe amount and the rate at which the bribe cost increases. Bribing the enemy is a good idea if you can't flee and don't wish to deal with the negative effects of being shot down. Bribing costs can be reduced with the Negotiation skill or with Diplomat crew members.


W - Speed Up (The Up-Arrow can also be used)
S - Slow Down (The Down-Arrow can also be used)
A - Turn Clockwise (The Left-Arrow can also be used)
D - Turn Counterclockwise (The Right-Arrow can also be used)
Space - Fire Guns
R - Reload guns
Control - Held down to increase turn rate, acceleration and braking, by spending Gumption
Shift - Held down to enter maneuvers
P - Pause. While paused, you can review a list of maneuvers.

Stats in Combat[]


Currently, the damage done by each shot is determined by the type of gun, its mount size, your skill points in Precision Fire, and any gunmods you may have.


Without ammo, your guns can't fire. Thankfully, in 2.5, we're no longer restricted by a finite amount of ammunition per flight. After emptying your magazines of ammunition, it takes a couple of seconds to reload. Managing your fire and your ammo are key, though - you don't want to get caught with your pants down. Thankfully, mods exist to increase your maximum ammo supply.


Armor effects how much armor your plane has and works much like health points in other games. No matter how much damage you've taken, all of your shields regenerate at the end of combat. Only 11 shields are shown. If you have more, a plus sign will be shown.

Each "shield" of armor is worth 100 points of damage.

Armor Class[]

Main article: Armor Class

Previously known as Damage Reduction, Armor Class functions similar to defense in other games - each point of AC your plane has reduces all incoming damage by that amount. Most planes do not have a base AC (barring trade planes and blimps) but a few very size effective (if rather costly to your wallet and plane range) modifications can grant any plane a useful amount of AC.


Maneuver effects how sharply your plane turns. It is affected by the Maneuver stat of your plane and the Aerobatics skill, as well as any Maneuver-enhancing modifications or upgrades you might have installed, like Improved Wings.

Max speed[]

Max Speed is the high end of your speed in combat. It can help you keep up with (or away from) faster planes or flee the combat. It can be temporarily surpassed by the use of Afterburner.

Corner speed (hidden)[]

Corner Speed is the speed at which your plane turns fastest. When you are near the corner speed, the entire speedometer turns bright red, and the redder it is, the closer you are to your cornering speed. It is marked by a thin line on the speedometer.

For most planes, the best corner speed is at approximately 60% of maximum speed. For blimps, (Barracuda, Leviathan and Bismarck) their best corner speed is at their stall speed (meaning they turn faster "on a dime" than at speed, and are the only types of ships that maintain max maneuverability after using Airbrake).

Stall speed[]

The Stall Speed is how slow your plane can move in combat. It can help keep you from speeding past slower planes. You can temporarily drop below stall speed by using Airbrake.


Acceleration effects how fast you can change your speed. It is very useful in reacting quickly to changes in enemy speed. However, the use of Airbrake and Afterburner are recommended in changing speed rapidly. Performance planes tend to have the best acceleration, while trade planes have the worst. Having a high acceleration in a small band of speed can be bad though; if you change speed too quickly, it can be troublesome to get the exact speed you want.


Accuracy increases your chance to hit enemy aircraft. It is affected by the Eagle Eye Skill, the base accuracy stat for your gun, and any gunmods you may have.

Other Combat Factors[]

Gun arcs[]

The number, size, and placement of guns on a plane has a great deal to do with how well a plane will perform in combat. Big forward guns are good in most situations. Big back arcs will let you easily damage ships with smaller or nonexistent front guns. Side guns can be useful in some situations where it is difficult to position your craft to use front arcs.


The lower your plane's silhouette, the harder you are to hit in combat. Also, of course, it is much easier to avoid enemy gun arcs in small planes than it is in large ones.

Combat Difficulty[]

Not all encounters are created equal. The number and type of enemy planes define the combat level of the encounter. Combat difficulty is based on the danger level of the area you are flying, any missions you are carrying, and your ranks in Combat Infamy.

Visual effects[]

Gun Arcs[]

Gun arcs will light up when there is a valid target.

Black clouds[]

If a black cloud appears and fades away, then you have scored a hit on an enemy, or vice versa. The size of the cloud corresponds to how much damage was done; clouds spawned by machinegun hits are fairly small, but clouds from a large howitzer can be bigger than many aircraft!

Orange clouds[]

If you see an orange cloud that quickly fades to black, you have scored a critical hit on an enemy, or an enemy has scored a critical hit on you. Critical "hits" are a bit of a misnomer: the shot is tagged as a critical before it hits, and a critical shot always hits, does extra damage to your target, and, last but very far from least, completely ignores the target's Armor Class.

Smoke trails[]

As a plane - yours or the enemy's - takes damage, it generates a smoke trail. The more smoke the plane is producing, the worse off it is, and with only one or two health points (not shields) left, a plane will generate an almost constant, uninterrupted stream of smoke even at high speeds. Look for heavily damaged planes and prioritize them where you can, but don't get so caught up trying to chase them that you end up trailing smoke of your own!


If you see shots bouncing off the enemy plane, they are not getting through it's AC (Armor Class, previously known as Damage Reduction). Critical hits will still do damage, however damage upgrades such as Armor Piercing Rounds and Precision Fire have little effect, due to the numbers involved; bullets that bounce before such damage increases will almost certainly still ricochet after boosts are applied. Note that AP rounds actually lower your critical chance, so equipping them will effectively reduce the damage you do to a plane your shots ricochet from.

Large grey clouds[]

Every time you shoot down an enemy, it will leave a medium-sized grey cloud, which will persist until the combat is over.

Combat Maneuvers[]

All the right moves.

For more info on each one, see Category:Combat Maneuvers.

Combat maneuvers are skills that allow you to perform special moves in combat. Most of them are learned using Combat Points, but the Airbrake, Afterburner, and Sideslip are all learned using Flight Points. All maneuvers except Afterburner and Airbrake will help you evade fire to a varying degree.

Each maneuver also has a corresponding hotkey:

Advanced combat techniques[]

There are some techniques you can use in combat to ensure victory.

The Inside Turn[]

Probably the simplest of combat techniques, the inside turn relies on having better maneuverability and a lower stall speed than your opponent. In it you slow down just enough and try and keep inside your opponents turn with your gun focused on this side or back.

The Inside Turn and Thrust[]

This is used when your opponent is far faster and probably has better maneuver than you. In it you wait for your enemy to start making wide circles around you. Turn slowly and use the red arrow to determine your opponents position. You have to gauge how far ahead in the turn you need to be to reach your opponents. When you you think you are at the right position, accelerate to full and hopefully your opponent will pass through your gun arcs. You might want to press spacebar (to begin firing) before you connect with them as they likely won't be in your arcs long.

Use of Gumption for Turning, Acceleration and Deceleration[]

Most experienced pilots will know that you can hold the Control or G keys whilst turning, accelerating or decelerating to increase the rate of whatever you're doing, at the cost of using up some of your Gumption. Whilst this is generally inefficient for acceleration (Afterburner is far superior for acceleration, unless you don't want to hit full speed and have very poor Acceleration Speed) or sudden deceleration (if you want to stop in a hurry, you'll use Airbrake) it can be a lifesaver when you need to turn just a tiny bit faster.

It is also worth noting that such turning whilst using Airbrake is quite rapid, though perhaps not as efficient as using a proper maneuver like Wingover orSplit S and Immelman for turning 90 or 180 degrees respectively.

The Tail Rake[]

The tail rake is used with the combat maneuver airbrake to rake enemy planes with tail guns. It can be done in one of two ways. In one of the first methods you get your opponent behind you, get enough of a lead to make a sharp turn to the side just out of their arcs and then hit airbrake. The other method is to come at them more or less head on but slightly of to the side and then hit airbrake when you are just past them. After hitting airbrake you turn so your tail guns are over them and try continue turning to keep them over the enemy as long as possible.

Lining Them Up[]

Some of the performance planes like to make high speed pass straight towards you. While this can be a disadvantage, you can use it to your advantage. If you line up your plane so the enemy craft will travel through your gun arcs as long as possible on its pass by you, you can hopefully damage them more than they damage you. This can be done with any of your gun arcs. You can try and turn as they pass to correct your path or to keep them in your arcs. If you are going to be using your front arc it might be best to let them come from behind. If your stall speed is low enough they will pass you quickly and once they've just passed you, you can speed up to keep them in your front arc longer. One thing to remember is you should also try and keep them from hitting you as much as possible, for instance the Lancaster has large side arcs but also has long wings so lining up to take them on from the side would probably be a bad idea in it.

Offensive Combat Maneuvering[]

The Immelman, Split S and Barrel Roll are all powerful offensive maneuvers (the third is also a great defensive maneuver). To use an Immelman or a Split S, line up with the enemy plane that is chasing you. When you pull the maneuver, you will quickly fly through him, hopefully scoring some free hits. Keep in mind that Split S starts very slowly. To use an offensive Barrel Roll, fly parallel to the enemy plane and roll into him. An alternate strategy is to line up a pursuer, rapidly turn sideways and roll so that the enemy flies through your arcs while you roll. Because offensive combat maneuvering puts you in the enemy's arcs, the higher your Maneuver stat the more devastating these will be.

Defensive Combat Maneuvering[]

Part of successful combat is knowing when to get out of dodge. Wingover, Barrel Roll and Sideslip are good ways to get yourself out of a jam. In a linear high-speed chase, the near-right angle turn of a wingover can be extremely useful. If the chase is low speed and involves a large amount of turning, a barrel roll or sideslip may afford you the brief moment you need to Afterburn or wingover your way out. Note that Wingover requires a near-full stop, so using it against a fast plane will likely result in you getting grazed by their arcs before you can escape.

Sample Combats[]