Silver Wings, Iron Cross

Mysterious Book Report No. 409

by John Dwaine McKenna

Whether you’re a fan of history, action-adventure stories or hair-raising thrillers—maybe even all three, as I am—an exciting reading treat is in store for all those who get their hands on a copy of a new WWII thriller entitled, Silver Wings, Iron Cross, (Kensington Publishing, $27.00, 376 pages, ISBN 978-1-4967-3040-5) by Tom Young, whose work is drawing rave reviews from all quarters.

Silver Wings, Iron Cross begins in the late fall of 1944, D-Day has been successfully pulled off in June, and the Allied Armies are fighting their way across Europe.  Large parts of France as well as Belgium and the Low Countries have been liberated.  From England, the U.S. Eighth Air Force is bombing the industrial heart of Germany during daylight hours, while the British Royal Air Force bombs most every night in a relentless attack aimed at breaking Hitler’s ability and will to continue the fight.

Southern England is where US Army Air Force 1st Lieutenant Karl Hagen and his crew are about to take off on their 35th, and final run in a B-17 bomber nicknamed Hellstorm.  After the mission is done they’ll become members of an exclusive club and be assigned stateside duties back home.  Trouble is, the pilot, Karl Hagen, is a second generation German-American . . . and although he hasn’t told anyone . . . he has relatives living in Bremen, which is their target for this final mission.

Meanwhile, at sea, Oberleutnant Wilhelm Albrecht, the XO, or executive Officer and second in command of German attack submarine U-351, is doing his best to honor his nation and Kriegsmarine oath by sinking as much Allied Shipping as possible.  But, like Karl  Hagen, Wilhelm Albrecht is also conflicted.  Poorly supplied and badly equipped, the U-boats are being chased down and sunk by Allied sub hunters in the air and on the sea using new technologies that weren’t available earlier in the war, when U-boats, hunting in wolf packs were the terror of all Merchant Mariners.

Now, after a long, exhausting sea patrol and with heavy battle damage, U-351 is trying to limp home to the submarine base at Bremen.  There, it’ll be patched back together as best they can with makeshift repairs, rearmed and sent back on patrol . . . where they’re ordered to Sink as many enemy ships as possible, followed by what amounts to a suicide command.  The order causes the submarine warrior to desert, as he tries to save his crew from going back out to sea and certain death.

In the skies over the burning city of Bremen, relentless fighter plane and artillery attacks are decimating the air armada.  One of the causalities is the Hellstorm, and Karl Hagen is the last man to bailout of the doomed B-17.

Both men are now alone, on the run and hunted by the authorities.  They meet in a chance encounter when both of them take refuge in the same burned out building.  Running for their lives, the two young officers are at first hostile and suspicious enemies.  Later, they become reluctant allies as life on the run forces them to help each other avoid capture and stay alive.  In the end, they forge a deep bond of friendship when an act of courage by one of them saves many lives in the face of certain death in this complex, action-filled and well-written WWII drama that will turn every reader into a fan.

Tom Young has crafted a twisty, kinetic and battle-laden war story that, at the same time, lays open the hearts and minds of the courageous and incredibly young persons who went to war as kids and emerged as the men and women we honor today as The Greatest Generation.

Read Silver Wings, Iron Cross for yourself and see why it’s destined to become a classic!

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