GRAY EAGLES by Duane Unkefer


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Exciting but somewhat strained adventure novel about the last Luftwaffe air attack against America--in Texas, in 1976! In April 1944, Major Theo Heinrich and Hauptmann Rudi Felbeck have their Messerschmitt 109s forced out of the German air by American Mustangs led by fighter ace Colonel Roger Lowen, who then shoots up the landed planes on their runways but is himself shot down. Thirty-two years later, in 1976, Theo is a wealthy German businessman and for four years has been shipping junk 109s to Rudi in Arizona to be rebuilt. Now, in a secret, camouflaged hangar and airfield in the desert, Rudt has rebuilt eight mangificent 109s to better than their original condition (with newly designed parts), and there they sit in battle colors and tail swastikas awaiting Theo's next move. The next move is a staff of ex-Luftwaffe pilots to man the 109s, and Rudi rounds them up and has tailored uniforms and boots cut for them by a Hollywood railer used to outfitting ersatz Nazis for war movies. When Theo arrives, he jumps into his new uniform, drives out to the sweltering hangar and is overwhelmed by the planes. The staff for the last Luftwaffe squadron ever to be is a gathering of gray eagles and Rudi explains their battle mission: they are going to attack the Confederate Air Force during its air show in Texas. The CAF is a group of Mustangs led by none other than retired Colonel Roger Lowen, who is bitter about the US's loss of conviction in Vietnam and has only his sweet Mustang and the CAF to keep him going. Then out of a blue sky the Lowen Mustangs are attacked by eight 109s. forced to land at the airfield and shot up on the runway--all but Lowen's Mustang. By novel's end, of course, a new squadron of Mustangs (with one Spitfire) and the Messerschmitts lock ailerons over the desert in a final shootout. As Theo explains to Rudi: ""Of course it is a mad undertaking. . .It is brilliant, so brilliant that it seems mad!"" If you can go with that reasoning, you may enjoy this colorfully well-written but unlikely tale.

Pub Date: Jan. 15th, 1985
Publisher: Beech Tree/Morrow