Top 10 Aerial Dogfights in Movie History

Aerial combat is a special category of battle and when ace pilots face off on film the effect can be full-throttle pulse-pounding. As long as there have been planes in war, there have been directors trying to capture that feeling. Here’s our Top 10 Aerial Dogfights of All Time!


#10: Top Gun (1986)

Director: Tony Scott

We know it’s unorthodox to up this quintessential battle at the lowest slot on the list, but trust us, it’ll whet your appetite for what’s to come.

#9: Wings (1927)

Director: William A Weldon

Wings pretty much invented the filming techniques that have stayed with aerial dogfight filmmaking for the next nine decades. Except that stuff with green screens.

#8: The Red Baron (2008)

Director: Nikolai Müllerschön

We love this film featuring one of the most iconic airmen of all time for taking the artistic license to shoot a number of its battles at night. Not strictly accurate, but with beautiful results.

#7: Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)

Directors: Richard Fleischer, Kinji Fukasaku, Toshio Masuda

A remarkably accurate and two-sided look at the Japanese attack on Pearl harbor, culminating in one of the most authentic dogfights ever put to film.

#6: Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)

Director: George Lucas

Yeah, it’s a space battle. But tell us the run on the Death Star didn’t keep you on the edge of your seat or inspire some fist-pumping, then you should get your pulse checked.

#5: The Eternal Zero (2013)

Director: Takashi Yamazaki

A tale from the opposite perspective than the one American audiences usually experience, this solemn look at a Kamikaze pilot’s last day is beautiful and well worth watching.

#4: Memphis Belle (1990)

Director: Michael Canton-Jones

Rather than the midair gymnastics of fights featuring one- or two-man fighter planes, as in the rest of the list, the Memphis Belle is a large fortress bomber, and we love the up-close look at the teamwork between the crew.

#3: The Great Waldo Pepper (1975)

Director: George Roy Hill

The combat in this movie is all for show, on a movie set, but that doesn’t diminish the stakes for the pilot who had something to prove after missing out on The Great War.

#2: Sky Crawlers

Director: Mamoru Oshii

The 2D and 3D action makes this animated film our favorite among many contenders in the animated dogfight category.

#1: Les Chevaliers Du Ciel (2005)

Director: Gérart Pirès

In a movie full of great aerial combat, the first dogfight from this movie (titled “Sky Fighters” in Engllsh) is our very favorite.

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