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Ground Or Air?[edit]

This page needs serious work. Deflectors on the propellor and the synchronized maching gun were designed to allow a plane to fire a machine gun, but at that point I'm pretty sure the goal was to shoot at other airplanes. Isomorphic 01:12, 2 Apr 2005 (UTC)

  • Nope, not unless the other airplanes are on the ground. Perhaps you could use "strafing" to refer to planes shooting at balloons, as well as objects on the ground, but between planes in the air, it's a dogfight. Doovinator 02:55, 4 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Seems you've missed the point. Garrros' deflectors were an air-air innovation.
With that in mind, I deleted this:
"It first became possible in the first World War, when a French pilot, Roland Garros, set small armor plates on the blades of his propeller in such a way that he could shoot a machine gun straight through it, aiming directly at objects rather than shooting from over the top or off the sides of the plane. The Germans captured this plane and Anthony Fokker, using it as a guide, devised a cam system which shot the bullets through the open spaces in the propeller, rather than the propeller deflecting the bullets which hit it; see interrupter gear.
Strafing didn't require interrupter gears, & MG mounted on top wings or cheek positions could be used quite nicely, & were, before interrupter appeared. (I'd also add "through the open spaces in the propeller" is a bit ludicrous; fire went between the blades, or in the periods when the blades weren't in front of the guns.) Trekphiler 20:02, 10 October 2006 (UTC)
I believe the definition of strafing at this point is incomplete at best. I.E a damaged bomber limping home is repeatedly "strafed by pursuit aircraft" until destroyed. This is air to air combat but not dogfighting, nor is it a stationary air object. Also any ground target either mobile or static can be strafed. Furtermore I believe the definition of strafing should include the phrase (targets of opportunity), whether fixed or mobile, land air or sea.JWBIRD 22:50, 14 March 2007 (UTC) —The preceding unsigned comment was added by JWBIRD (talkcontribs) 22:38, 14 March 2007 (UTC).


It says in the article that the word is derived from German "strafen" = "to punish", and the Merriam-Webster cites the propaganda phrase "Gott strafe England" = "May god punish England". However I don't really see the connection here: was the word cynically adopted by the British, or is it supposed to have originated on the German side? Could someone please point me in the right direction? Thanks, Maikel 14:49, 29 December 2005 (UTC)

Hi, Maikel, 'to strafe' is a pseudo-Germanism, in that it would never be used in that new meaning by Germans themselves. Like many words borrowed from another language, words tend also to take on a shift in meaning. However, it is very rare that premeditation is involved in this shift, although in wartime malice aforethought does have a role to play. Very often if a word sounds right in its new meaning, it is right. Take "Blitz" for example, although the Germans invented the word "Blitzkrieg", meaning the overrunning of often defenceless or weaker countries quickly "like lightning", "Blitz" was never used by them in its 'aerial war' connotation as it was in English.
"Strafen" indeed means 'to punish' in German, but 'to strafe' has taken on an intensifier aspect in English in that relatively immobile columns of troups (or civilians) are seen as being defenceless in the face of sudden attackers machine-gunning them from the air, and a notion of being "punished" however unjustifiedly so, thus does come to mind and feels right, especially by the poor devils who are being subjected to it. (However, it is being employed by all sides in wartime). Hope this answers your question to a certain extent. Dieter Simon 00:48, 30 December 2005 (UTC)
Thanks, Dieter, and I particularly enjoyed your introduction of the term "Pseudo-Germanism" and your correlation between "to strafe" and "the Blitz". --Maikel 15:12, 30 December 2005 (UTC)


This etymology seems exceptionally unlikely for a gaming term. How many gamers know enough Greek to base a term on it, especially when the alternative is a modification of a military term. Any evidence? DJ Clayworth (talk) 16:03, 25 April 2008 (UTC)

American football videogames[edit]

What does it mean strafing in american football? I read it in videogames options menus, has it got something to do with the defensive line?

I added[edit]

I added on strafing of civilians by Luftwaffe in 1939. --Molobo (talk) 17:34, 12 July 2008 (UTC)

Hi, Molobo, would there be an English version of this source: "55 dni Wehrmachtu w Polsce" Szymon Datner, page 96 Warsaw 1967" anywhere? Don't forget most readers will be English. Many thanks. Dieter Simon (talk) 23:14, 13 July 2008 (UTC)
I removed this because it's not significant that the civilians were attacked by strafing. If they had been attacked with bombs it would have made no difference. There are articles that talk about attacks on civilians (which were certainly not uncommon) but having it here does not add anything to the reader's knowledge of strafing. DJ Clayworth (talk) 13:30, 14 July 2008 (UTC)

Article Split[edit]

  • Support - Gaming 'strafing' and warfare 'strafing' are completely different. See no reason not to split. --mcpusc (talk) 08:02, 12 January 2010 (UTC)

Include helicopters?[edit]

This article on the ABC refers to strafing from helicopters, as in "Helicopters strafed rebel positions in Al-Heffa". I had always thought of strafing as being from an airplane, involving not just the shooting but the linear motion of the fall of the bullets, something that a helicopter wouldn't necessarily do (although it could also be done in that manner from a moving vehicle). So, should helicopters be included in the context? (talk) 23:32, 11 June 2012 (UTC)

Needs to be Updated to include Video Game use[edit]

The article definitions do not correspond at all to video game use, where strafing is more akin to "moving while shooting". That's a meaning that many millions will come here looking for. (talk) 05:46, 2 November 2013 (UTC)