A tendril of black smoke belching from the bullet-riddled hide of my Hawker Hurricane, I swoop dangerously close to terra firma before jerking my iPod clockwise just before I hit the dirt. Soaring back upwards through the sky, I eviscerate a Jerry bomber with a hail of machine gun fire… Hell yeah! Bitmen Studio’s Air Force vs Luftwaffe truly is exhilarating, edge-of-your-seat stuff!

A visceral 2D dogfighting/flight sim set in the skies of World War II, Air Force vs Luftwaffe – as the name implies – focuses on the battle between Allied and Axis forces, and sees you strapping yourself into a range of customizable fighter planes (16 in total) to trade bullets and bombs with the enemy as you embark on a series of death-defying missions.

The lightening fast aeriel action on offer here is easy to dive straight into thanks to a well executed combination of über-responsive tilt controls used to maneuver your plane about the screen and virtual action buttons for triggering weapons, performing teeth-rattling evasive maneuvers and the like.

Cunning enemy AI ensures terse dogfights are always exciting and challenging, while a convincing physics system, buttery smooth animation and damn near photo-realistic backgrounds mean the game most definitely isn’t a slouch in the eye-candy department either.

Air Force vs Luftwaffe straddles the fine balance between feeling authentically realistic and being a heck of a lot of fun to play. Despite sinking a fair few hours into a couple of different beta builds of the game, I get the distinct impression I’ve only really scratched the surface of what this title has to offer in terms of gripping content. Bitmen Studios promise a lengthy campaign, which includes the ability to play as either British Royal/US Air Force or German Luftwaffe/Italian Regia Aeronautica across a diverse array of missions, an endless mode, lashings of Openfeint achievements and a Leaderboard to scale.

Air Force vs Luftwaffe HD is out now for iPad priced at $2.99, and you’d do well to keep an eye out for this one when it swoops onto iPhone and iPod Touch soon. Check out the game’s official site for more info.