Stunning Combat Artwork Reveals WWII Fighting That Will Never Be Seen Again

Battlefield artists were once the only way to capture what really happened in war.

The practice of illustrating combat for people at home began during the Civil War, when special artists, or “specials” embedded with troops on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line.

Even in World War II, more than 100 artists were sent to thirteen theatres of war. The following paintings are specific to combat dogfighting and offer a glimpse into a way of warfare the world may never see again.

World War II dogfighting occurred over nearly every theatre, such as Burma in the South Pacific. Here, the U.S. Army Air Corps' 'Burma Bridge Busters,' provide low level attacks on Japanese supply lines.

Outraged when his guns jammed, Parker Dupouy slammed his fighter into his Japanese opponent in a determined effort to take it down.

Way less precise, way more aggressive.

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

The U.S. was caught so off-guard by the attack on Pearl Harbor that few pilots made it into the air: Lt. Joe Moore was one of them.

The German Ju-88 was built by the Junkers aircraft factory, named for its founder, Hugo Junkers. Due to his opposition to the war, Junkers died under Nazi house arrest.

Oil was the friend and enemy of everyone during the World War II. Controlling access to this key resource was a major strategic goal.

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

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

The German ME-163 'Komet' was one of the fastest planes in the sky... But it didn't prove to be much of a fighter.

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

The U.K.'s Fairey Swordfish biplane featured folding wings and a torpedo payload. It's even said that some of her missions inspired Japan's planning for Pearl Harbor

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.

Still not an exact science, armorers often improvised when it came to testing the accuracy of weapons sights.

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

Although American bomber crews each had individual parachutes, sometimes the g-forces in falling planes would pin them inside, rendering them incapable of bailing out.

Capt. John D. Shaw, USMC, and his fighter at Guadalcanal paved the way for future close cooperation between the Marine Corps and air support.

The P40 fighter was adorned with a ferocious set of teeth, starting a tradition which continues with the Air Force's A-10 Warthogs.

The Battle of Midway was one of the most decisive of the war. Despite the the Japanese having outnumbered the Americans 4:1, the U.S. trounced the Imperial Navy.

The success at Midway was due in large part to American dive bombers. These bombers would earn the name 'Dauntless,' since pilots dove straight at their targets without being able to pull away until the last second.

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

German U-Boats were the scourge of the Atlantic, leading some analysts to believe that they would win the war for Germany.

In response to the U-Boat scourge, the Allies' planes were outfitted to carry depth charges.

More often than not, WWII bomber art prominently featured the female form.

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

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

The Germans presented a stalwart defence right until the end, shooting down 9 flying fortresses in one fight over the city of Weisbaden.

Development of the British Hawker Typhoon had a rough start, but it eventually sealed its role as a low-flying, long range interceptor.

These two pilots, once bitter enemies, became friends after the war.

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

The severity of the German bombing campaign prompted increased air patrols, causing them to become a common sight.

The Battle Of Britain demonstrated the ultimate resilience of the RAF against the German Air Force.

A failed air attack on a German destroyer in the final stages of the war was labelled as 'Black Friday' by surviving pilots after having suffered heavy casualties.

German flight crews painted the bottoms of low-flying aircraft red in order to make them distinct for friendly anti-aircraft guns.

U.S. fighters secured revenge against a bomber carrying Admiral Yamamoto, the engineer of Pearl Harbor, after U.S. Intelligence learned of his location.

Major Don S. Gentile, piloting a P51 Mustang, downed 26 enemy aircraft. His amazing success lead many, including Eisenhower, to refer to him as a 'one man Air Force.'

Erich Hartman, the deadliest pilot of the war with 325 kills, fought until the bitter end. Here he is depicted still flying for Germany on the last day of the war.

The U.S. B-25 Bomber was the first medium sized bomber to successfully take off from a carrier, allowing the U.S. to carry out bombing runs on mainland Japan.

'Can't talk now, gotta shoot' -- was Capt. Bud Anderson's famous radio response after stumbling upon a group of German fighters.

This is what a German 'reconnaissance' or spy planes looked like during WWII; it is a far cry from modern stealth aircraft.

Today, the tactics of WWII would be considered barbaric; here, Allied forces are depicted bombing a dam to flood out downstream targets.

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 design.

The German ME-262 was the first operational jet-powered fighter of the war... Fortunately, it arrived too late in the game to do much damage.

Pilots sometimes had to ditch aircraft in the water, as a result of low fuel, damage, or an inability to find a carrier. Being stranded at sea was often just as terrifying as taking part in battles in the air.

People often forget the extreme importance of the Africa Campaign -- here's a P-40 strafing Rommel's Tunisia Tank Corps.

The German Luftwaffe, though technologically advanced, were vastly outnumbered by the sheer quantity of Allied planes.

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

Germany's 'Operation Bodenplatte' late in the war was a desperate attempt to hamstring allied air power. Although scoring some success, the operation was ultimately the death knell for the German Air Force.

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

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

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