Urban “Ben” Drew was a P-51 Mustang pilot in the 375th Fighter Squadron of the Eighth Air Force’s 361st Fighter Group. He was the first Allied pilot to shoot down two of the Luftwaffe's “jet wonder weapon,” the Messerschmitt Me 262, and he finished the war as a six-plane ace. His tales of air combat over Europe are exciting reading.
This book is far more than a biography of Ben Drew. Powell has worked in details, anecdotes, and the stories of people around Drew in order to help readers feel that they were there. Colonel Thomas J.J. Christian, Bob McCandliss, Martin Johnson, and the other “Katzenjammer Kid,” Bill Kemp, all flew with Drew and shared in the dangers of aerial combat. Their stories are all part of this book.
Georg-Peter Eder flew the Me 262 and was one of the Luftwaffe’s top aces. He specialized in attacking American heavy bombers, and he shot down more of them than anyone else. The coincidences that brought two enemies together after Drew was given a medal forty years late are intriguing and lead to a last chapter that is as surprising as it is moving.
R.R. “Boom” Powell was a career U.S. Navy officer who flew from carrier decks for sixteen years before starting to write about aviation. His thirty-four years as a pilot and especially his combat experience give this biography of a fighter ace an immediacy and familiarity not found in ordinary histories. Powell has also written a novel, Operation Magpie, with much the same setting as the Drew saga. Powell flies Boeing 747s for an international airline when he is not writing.