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Information about F2D Combat

The Basics

F2D is the event designation given to the officially sanctioned form of control line combat by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI). The FAI is the same international body that governs the flight of full-size aircraft, and aerosports of all kinds large and small. The category "F2" stands for control line aeromodelling, while the "D" designates the specific event -- combat. The other official control line events are F2A - speed, F2B - aerobatics, and F2C - team race.

Aside from being the internationally recognized form of control line combat, F2D has several key features that distinguish it from other events commonly flown in the U.S. A link to the official FAI Sporting Code with the complete F2D rules is available in the Resources section of this website. In this section, I will focus on a few of the major qualitative differences between F2D and other forms of combat. However, my first few monthly columns were devoted to this topic so I will be brief here and invite you to read those articles for more background.

Although the most obvious differences between F2D and other combat events may be the types and sizes of engines/models used in each event, in my opinion the two most important differences between F2D and other events are the scoring method and the use of two models per pilot per match. In terms of scoring, the key point is that while the objective of Fast combat and some other events it to score a "kill," i.e. to cut off the entire streamer and thereby score an "instant-win," no such rule exists in F2D. Rather, pilots must exercise restraint and finesse while trying to score as many small cuts of the streamer as possible. Because there is no "instant-win" possibility in F2D, it is much more difficult to win an F2D match by a single lucky maneuver. Additionally, scoring by cuts rather than kills tends to increase the amount of actual combat flying in a typical match. Whereas a typical Fast combat style match may end in a kill within the first 30 seconds to one minute of the match, a typical F2D match probably averages somewhere closer to two and half to three minutes of combat.

Another way that the amount of flying time is increased in F2D is that each pilot is allowed two complete models per match. If a pilot hits the ground, or if there is a midair collision, it is the job of the mechanic(s) to start the spare model(s) and get the pilot(s) back in the air as quickly as possible to continue the match. In a one airplane per pilot event, an unlucky turn or gust of wind could cause an early collision and bring the match to an end with very little combat being flown. In the two airplane per pilot format of F2D, the match always goes on and as a result you will on average get to spend more time flying combat per match than in other events -- and afterall, flying combat is the reason why we all show up to a competition in the first place.


F2D models have gone through a process of significant convergent evolution over the past twenty years. In the early days there was a lot of variation between models and engines -- glow engines versus diesel engines, balsa wood models versus foam models. Today, virtually all competitive engines are glow engines, with only slight variations between them. Furthermore, nearly all models use the originally eastern-European construction technique consisting of a very tough bat-like leading edge, with balsa ribs and a tough mylar covering.

That having been said, there are many engine options available, and many sources for models and other supplies. As far as engines are concerned, five of the top eight pilots at the 2004 World Championships used AKM engines while the remaining three (Mark Rudner, Mike Willcox, and Mervyn Jones) used Zorro engines. While the AKM engine has always performed very strongly, they have proved difficult to obtain and maintain. Zorro engines are available from Jari Valo in Finland. Another competitive engine is the Fora engine produced in Ukraine, and available through GRS models in Louisiana or direct from Ukraine. On the more economical side is the Cyclon PC6 produced in Novosibirsk, Russia. These engines are consistent and well behaved, and are a great choice for someone who is trying to make his or her way into this sport. A list of links and contact information for suppliers of F2D equipment is compiled in the Resources section of this website.

Women in F2D

This may seem like a strange section to have on this website, but I wanted to take this space to dispel any myths that combat is a guys-only sport and to encourage women of any age who are interested in combat to give it a try. It is true that the vast majority of combat pilots are male, but there is no reason, physical or otherwise, why women cannot participate in and be successful at this sport. Although a woman is yet to claim the title of World Champion, Monique Wakkermann of the Netherlands has won the World Cup two times and remains one of the world's top combat pilots. Laura Leino of Finland has also competed in the last several World Championships and performed well there.

It is an encouraging sign that the number of women participating in the World Championships appears to be (slowly) increasing. Getting youths of any gender interested in flying models is a problem common to all areas of aeromodeling these days. In the 2002 World Championships in Sebnitz, Germany, two of the Junior pilots in F2D were women -- Anja Mobius of Germany and Olga Soshnina of Ukraine. In 2004, Olga Soshnina was again the junior representative for Ukraine, but the German team did not attend the World Championships so Anja was not in attendance. Natasha Dementieva, daughter of Igor Dementiev from Moldova, did not compete in the World Championships, but did compete in the F2D with Fast Combat rules event held at the beginning of the U.S. Nats. She has only been flying for less than a year, but is already becoming a force to be reckoned with. I think everyone who saw her fly was very impressed, and I hope she, Olga, and Anja will all be an inspiration for any other young women who are interested in flying combat.

If you have any questions or comments, please email Mark at his last name "at" mit "dot" edu