This stunning combat art reveals what aerial warfare was like during World War II

Thanks to the digital camera, battlefield artists are quickly fading in relevance.

But hand-crafted battlefield art often best evokes the realities of past armed conflict. Art from the skies of World War II is an entire fascinating genre unto itself.

Check out this blast-from-the-past aerial combat art, a portal into the way aerial warfare used to be waged.

This post is originally by Geoffrey Ingersoll and Robert Johnson

Until the arrival of dedicated units like the US Army Air Corps 'Burma Bridge Busters,' low-level attacks on Japanese supply lines were carried out by Royal Air Force Hurricane fighter-bombers like the ones shown taking out a bridge here.

Outraged when his guns jammed and determined to take down his foe, Parker Dupouy slammed his fighter into a Japanese plane to take it down.

Way less precise, way more aggressive.

In 1940, while the US still enjoyed relative peace, the Brits battled for the skies over England.

The US was caught so off-guard by the attack on Pearl Harbour that few pilots made it into the air that day. Lt. Joe Moore was one of them.

The German Ju-88 was built by the Junkers aircraft factory, named for its founder, Hugo Junkers, an opponent of the Nazis' militaristic policies who died under regime house arrest in 1935.

Oil was the friend and enemy of every side during the World War II and cutting off supplies was a major strategic goal.

The P47 Thunderbolt was one of the most popular birds of the war, filling out orders with the US, France, Britain, Soviet Union and Mexico.

During the war, Britain was the target of a severe bombing campaign, turning air patrols into a common sight.

The legendary Tuskegee Airmen flew a variety of aircraft, but it wasn't until they got P51 Mustangs that they became known as the 'Red Tails.'

The German ME-163 'Komet' was one of the fastest planes in the sky ... but it didn't do so well in a fight.

The British Avro Lancaster carried a 12,000 pound bomb -- also called a 'Blockbuster.'

The UK's Fairey Swordfish biplane featured folding wings and a torpedo payload. It's even said that some of the plane's missions inspired Japan's planning for Pearl Harbour.

The Italian Machi Veltro was the best of Italy's fleet. It topped off at about 400 mph, and was equipped with both a 20 mm canon and twin 12.7 mm machine guns.

Engineers equipped the Ju-87 'Stuka' dive bomber with a 'Jericho-trumpet' -- a siren that blared a high-pitched wail during dives, unnerving the enemy.

The P51 Mustang, paired with pilot Major Don S. Gentile, downed 26 enemy aircraft, leading many, including General Dwight D. Eisenhower, to refer to him as a 'one-man Air Force.'

Armorers often improvised when it came to testing the accuracy of weapons sights.

One of Germany's most effective pilots, Hauptman Marseille, was victorious in 158 missions against the Brits -- and died bailing out of his fighter when it suffered engine problems.

Pinups were sometimes painted on the exterior of the aircraft.

Marine Corps Capt. John D. Shaw and his fighter at Guadalcanal would pave the way for future Marine Corps close-air support doctrine.

The P40 fighter was adorned with a ferocious set of teeth, a practice which lives on today in the Air Force's A-10 Warthogs.

The Battle of Midway was one of the most decisive of the war. The Japanese outnumbered Americans 4-to-1, but the US still trounced the Imperial Navy.

They called this American dive bomber the 'Dauntless' -- it scored the fatal blows against Japanese carriers in Midway. Pilots dove straight at their targets, which were unable to pull away until the last second.

There will never again be aerial combat like the clashes between US gunners on the B-17 flying fortress and enemy German fighters.

The allies used their air power in an attempt neutralise German U-Boats. The subs were the scourge of the Atlantic, and some analysts thought they would win the war for the Axis.

The Allies' best answer to the German U-Boat scourge were planes outfitted to carry depth charges.

The famous 'Zodiac' bombers of Britain all carried images of astrological signs.

The Nazi air force kept up a stalwart defence right until the end, knocking down 9 fortresses in one fight over the city of Weisbaden.

The British Hawker Typhoon had a rough start in development, but eventually sealed its role as a low-flying, long-range interceptor.

German flight crews painted the bottoms of low-flying aircraft red in order to distinguish them from enemy aircraft for anti-aircraft guns on the ground.

US intelligence located Admiral Yamamoto, engineer of the Pearl Harbour attack, on a bomber flight. In this image, Allied fighters close in on the Japanese officer.

Erich Hartman, the deadliest pilot of the war with 325 kills, is depicted still fighting for the Nazis on the last day of the conflict.

The US B-25 Bomber was the first medium-sized bomber to successfully take off from a carrier, effectively sealing the fate of Imperial Japan.

'Can't talk now, gotta shoot' is the famous radio response of Capt. Bud Anderson as he stumbled upon a group of German fighters.

This is what a German 'reconnaissance' or spy plane looked like during WWII. It's a far cry from modern stealth aircraft.

The Japanese 'Zero' and American star are some of the most recognisable Air Force symbols of WWII.

Tactics of the day would be considered almost brutish in our own time. Here we see Allied forces bombing a dam to flood out downstream targets, something that a conventional western military probably wouldn't consider doing today.

Dubbed 'The World's Deadliest Aircraft,' the P47 Thunderbolt was the heaviest, most well-equipped, and priciest fighter in the American fleet.

A Spitfire tips one of Germany's feared V-1 Bombs. The V-1 would pave the way for modern bomb and ballistic missile design.

The German ME-262 was the first operational jet-powered fighter of the war. Fortnately for the Allies, it arrived late in the game.

Pilots sometimes had to ditch aircraft in the water, as a result of low fuel, damage, or an inability to find a carrier. But having to survive at sea can be as scary as fighting in the sky.

Though American bomber crews each had individual parachutes, sometimes the g-forces in falling planes would pin them inside, unable to ditch.

The African campaign was crucial to the war's outcome. Here's a P-40 strafing Rommel's Tunisia Tank Corps.

The Luftwaffe, though technologically advanced, couldn't keep up with the sheer number of Allied planes.

Germany's Walther Dahl once rammed a B-17 with his fighter.

Germany's 'Operation Bodenplatte' late in the war was a desperate attempt to hamstring allied air power.

Hawker Typhoons were so deadly at low altitudes that they made perfect anti-tank aircraft and could destroy as many as 175 enemy vehicles in a single engagement.

The paratroopers of 'Easy' Company are possibly the most famous of WWII, forged in training and on the battlefield and immortalised by HBO's 'Band Of Brothers.'

You've checked out World War II aviation art ...

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