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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

“Last Talons of the Eagle: Secret Nazi Technology Which Could Have Changed the Course of World War II”, by Gary Hyland and Anton Gill

373 pages, Headline, ISBN-13: 978-0747259640

If it’s true that “[t]he Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing-fields of Eton” (probably apocryphal), then the Second World War was won in the laboratories of the Allies…and if said battle was “the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life”, then so was the race to create and perfect the latest technology to win the war – and make no mistake, it really was a near-run thing, as the level of technology being developed by Nazi Germany during the closing years of World War II was quite amazing (and not a little frightening). The depth and breadth of the research is astounding, from helicopters to jet aircraft to ballistic missiles. We must be thankful that political interference prevented these developments from having a larger impact on the outcome of the war.

There were designs for a hypersonic space plane-a manned V1 flying bomb from which the hapless pilot would eject moments after aiming his craft at an Allied target-and plans for aircraft that consisted only of wings, along with dozens of other prototypes that were technologically way ahead of their time against which the Allies would have been helpless. And it is here where Last Talons of the Eagle is so valuable, for whereas much has been written about the doodlebugs, V2 rockets, and other advanced technologies that the Nazis used to terrorize Europe during World War II, the less well-known story of German scientists secretly devising plans for an incredible battery of weapons that had the potential to drastically affect the outcome of the war, all while under the constant barrage of Allied bombing, is brought fully to light. Exhaustively researched and grippingly written, Last Talons of the Eagle shows how history might well have been very different had these craft ever flown.

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