I'm wondering where fighter jets mostly get shot. I'm trying to design a plane that might help this issue if most planes get shot in the wings. If they get shot elsewhere I guess I'm going to have to come up with new ideas.

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    $\begingroup$ Most airplanes don't get "shot" anymore. They get destroyed by missiles. And most missiles don't even touch the plane, they proximity explode. If they do get shot, they get shot wherever the bullets happen to hit, as a fighter pilot you aim for the airplane, not specific parts of it (unless its very large, like old B-17's often got shot in the engines). $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Nov 24, 2016 at 17:51
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    $\begingroup$ If you design a plane with bullet proof wings, people are just going to aim elsewhere $\endgroup$ Nov 24, 2016 at 17:58
  • $\begingroup$ The experience of Abraham Wald seems relevant...en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Wald $\endgroup$
    – DJohnM
    Nov 24, 2016 at 19:37
  • $\begingroup$ @DJohnM: Thanks for pointing out this case, but this Wikipedia article seems to limit Wald's action in the area to (quite rightly) criticize the statistical methodology used by the Navy. The Navy's study itself is not exposed, nor its outcomes. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Nov 25, 2016 at 6:44
  • $\begingroup$ Potential relevant. $\endgroup$
    – Notts90
    Feb 24, 2017 at 8:54

1 Answer 1


It all depends on the types of weapons employed, the aspect of the attacking and defending aircraft and the off-boresight angle between the aircraft in question.

Air to air and surface to air missiles employ proximity fused HE Blast / rod or pellet fragmentation warheads in them. They are guided to close proximity with the target aircraft and explode like hand grenades, spraying the targets with shrapnel, damaging structure, engines, fuel and hydraulic lines, even the pilot. Sites of damage depend on the angle of missile impact as well as the proximity of the target within the lethal blast radius of the warhead and thus how concentrated the spread of the shrapnel pattern is.

Air to air gunnery is much more akin to bird hunting with a shotgun and less like modern guided weapons. The most effective air to air gun systems against fighters tend to be smaller caliber weapons with high rates of fire and high muzzle velocities resulting in flat ballistic trajectories with good range. The ideal gun kill is maneuvering up on the target's six o'clock and pumping rounds into the aft fuselage and engines. High angle off kills can also be accomplished by leading on your target, then firing a burst which the target then flies through and gets peppered with rounds, again similar to hunting flying water fowl. In an off angle shot the burst will be widespread over the dorsal surfaces of the fuselage and wings.

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    $\begingroup$ The shotgun analogy also applies to the missiles. With their high forward velocity, the fragmentation warhead generates an expanding cone pattern. That's why the warhead actually detonates some distance before it gets to the target. $\endgroup$
    – Gerry
    Feb 24, 2017 at 12:58

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