Making the devastator speed 3 and G's 4 (while adding 40LB of armor to the wings) in my opinion made it more realistic. A bi-plane's main points were agility, the Italians Bi-planes in WW2 were remarkably agile but couldn't match modern aircraft in speed.
I will admit....I haven't played much...because I'm the only opponent around
I have played myself a bit, then some PBEM, then just some observations on what I have seen:
A good all-around pirate dogfighter is average and has wing armor of 40 or better. 30 armor or less and your wingspars and internals get shot up fast. I think pirates would have tht consideration as well (if they could afford it).
Alot of people rag about the slow acceleration, my mediocre piloting skills I have actually found the M210 Raven to be "ok". a little light on armor for it's size, but pretty good.
The Fury, Devastator, Bandit are good choices. Stuff like the Warhawk, Kestral,etc. big numbers, average armor, slow,etc. are not so much. Likewise you have to be a GOOD pilot to take advantage of BTN8 fighters with 4 speed and 4G's. (which I am not. I prefer modified heavies with more armor