The spectacle of watching vintage World War II era aircraft perform aerial maneuvers in writer & director Michael B. Chait’s “Wolf Hound” (*** OUT OF ****) should make aviation enthusiasts slaver with anticipation. Basically, this entertaining but far-fetched World War II epic concerns an actual, undercover German Luftwaffe operation designated KG 200.

The Third Reich recycled captured Allied aircraft for use as Trojan horses. Incidentally, Geoffrey J. Thomas chronicled the history of this outfit in his book: “Luftwaffe KG 200: The German Air Force’s Most Secret Unit of World War II” (2015). Hitler’s henchmen have dreamed up a scheme which might win them the war.

Although the young, unknown cast is not without charisma, the genuine stars of this violent, R-rated, 130-minute foray are the aircraft. Strictly on the basis of credibility alone, “Wolf Hound” commands attention for its authentic aircraft. Of course, nothing compares with either “The Battle of Britain” (1969) or “Catch 22” (1970).

The Spanish Air Force loaned “The Battle of Britain” 32 Heinkels and two Junkers 52 with crews, while the film bought 50 Messerschmitt 109 fighters and restored 17 to flying status. “Catch 22” (1970) boasted an aerial armada of 18 B-25 Mitchell bombers for its cinematic adaptation of Joseph Heller’s World War II bestseller.

Happily, the fireworks neither damaged nor destroyed “Wolf Hound’s” air fleet. A gifted special effects crew has forged realistic enough looking models and obliterated them for real to simulate the aerial infernos you’d swear were the real planes!

Set in 1944, “Wolf Hound” takes place in Nazi-occupied France. The crew of a B-17 Flying Fortress christened ‘The Yankee Lady’ has been dispatched to destroy a hidden Luftwaffe air base. U.S. Army Air Force Captain Jack Reynolds (John Wells of “The Whittler”) and Captain David Holden (James Maslow of “Bachelor Lions”) escort the ‘Lady’ through enemy airspace in two long-range, P-51 Mustangs.

Suddenly, out of the blue, Holden spots two unidentified aircraft closing rapidly on the Fortress. Initially, Reynolds and Holden breathe a sigh of relief when they recognize the friendly Allied fighters. They spotted the unique Royal Air Force (RAF) rondels on the fuselage of the planes.

Indeed, a Hawker Hurricane, a single-seat British fighter and a single-seat British Submarine Spitfire fly past them. Imagine the shock and surprise of those in the ‘Lady’ and the P-51s when they realize they’ve been duped!

The two cunning Luftwaffe pilots masquerading as the RAF rake the bomber with barrages of bullets and force it to make an emergency landing at the same airfield it has been tasked to destroy.

Luftwaffe pilots Major Erich Roth (Trevor Donovan of “Surrogates”) and his arrogant younger brother Captain Heinrich Roth (Ronald Woodhead of “Test Pattern”) catch our heroes off guard. Bullets chew up half of the B-17 crew, and the Mustangs enter the fray. Worse, Heinrich’s bullets turn Reynolds’ Mustang into a bonfire, while Holden stitches Heinrich with a burst from his .50 caliber Browning machine guns.

Reynolds bails out moments before his Mustang disintegrates in a fireball explosion. The villainous Major Roth sends bullets whistling through Reynold’s parachute, and the American plunges tragically to his death. Now, Erich and Holden attack each other.

Jousting like aerial knights, they exchange sizzling streams of lead, until each must bail out. Later, they stalk each other on the ground in a tense game of cat & mouse. Worse, Holden finds himself dodging more German soldiers with orders to kill him.

Eventually, Holden discovers the hidden German base when he sees a B-25 Mitchell bomber nick-named ‘Wild Cargo,’ which the KG 200 outfit has converted, touch down on the tarmac. Meantime, the Germans repair ‘The Yankee Lady’ and chart a return flight to London with a  surprise package for the British. Holden links up with the prisoners, and they foment an uprising.

Once it shifts from aerial to ground combat, “Wolf Hound” unfurls as a formulaic, flag-waving fracas between the Allies and the Nazis like something out of a 1940’s Hollywood propaganda thriller.

Now, Holden must steal ‘Wild Cargo’ and pursue the ‘Lady’ as it embarks on its doomsday flight. No sooner has Holden taken off than the dastardly Major Roth comes roaring out of nowhere in a Messerschmitt Me 109 fighter for their inevitable showdown! You don’t have to be psychic to know what happens.

Unquestionably, the authentic World War II era aircraft bolsters this melodramatic low-budget WW II epic several notches above average and grants “Wolf Hound” with an aura of realism that CGI could never duplicate.

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