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Fatal Terrain is a 1997 novel written by Dale Brown. Patrick McLanahan, the airforce ace returns after his secret bombing missions over Iran in Shadows of Steel.

Plot Edit

The People's Republic of China has planned a massive invasion of the Taiwanese islands and the Formosa Strait, as the Taiwanese have claimed their country to be independent. The People's Liberation Army plans a full scale attack to retake the islands which it sees as rightfully the property of mainland China.

The American government, which has recognised Taiwan's independence is willing to back them up in case of an impeding attack. Kevin Martindale, the President of the United States, sends the top secret EB-52 Megafortress with the crew—Patrick McLanahan, Bradley Elliott and Nancy Cheshire—to monitor the situation over the international waters around the Taiwanese islands.

Meanwhile, the Chinese have sent their aircraft carrier "Mao Zedong" (formerly the Soviet aircraft carrier Varyag) along with their strongest destroyers to attack and regain the islands. Admiral Sun Ji Gouming, the ferocious young admiral of the People's Liberation Army Navy plans to use nuclear weapons to force Taiwan to surrender.

The Chinese play a blame game and rouse the Taiwanese forces into attacking first. By this the world opinion turns against the Taiwan and America. In retaliation, they mount a massive nuclear strike on Taiwan decimating most of their defence.

Elliot and his crew evade their grounding orders and set off on a renegade mission to destroy the Chinese nuclear silos. During the raid, the Megafortress comes under heavy attack. Elliott forces Patrick, his wife Wendy and Nancy to eject and flies the damaged bomber into the last silo, blowing it up.

Finally, the Chinese accept a ceasefire after Admiral Sun Ji Gouming voluntarily surrenders to the Americans at Kadena Air Base in Japan, following his deal with the Chinese president not to reveal the Chinese plans of attack in exchange for a ceasefire.

The Megafortress crew makes it back to the United States. The President announces that he has decided to reopen the HAWC as Elliott Air Force Base. He also appoints General Samson as its Chief Commander and requests McLanahan to act as the Director of Operations. McLanahan, reluctant on the offer looks ahead to his future life with Wendy becoming a father to their son Bradley McLanahan—named in honour of their beloved friend Bradley Elliott.

Main characters Edit

Ret. Gen. Bradley Elliott - Killed in action by flying his plane into a nuclear missile silo

Maj. Patrick Mclanahan - Bombadier onboard the EB-52

Wendy Tork Mclanahan - Systems officer onboard the EB-52 and wife of Patrick Mclanahan

Nancy Cheshire - Co-pilot and navigator onboard the EB-52

Gen. Terill Samson - Chief of Megafortress operations during the war and later chief of HAWC

Adm. George Balboa - Commander of the Navy and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff


Reviewer Jeff Popple of the Canberra Times (Australia) called it an "enjoyable techno-thriller, full of state-of -the-art military hardware and simplistic right-wing politics." He said the details about technology were convincing, but said "the dialogue and characterizations are less convincing." He recommended it for fans of the genre.[1] Publishers Weekly complained of "tinny dialogue and leaden prose" but praised the authors knowledge of military technology.[2] The hard cover edition, by Putnam, reached number 14 on the New York Times best seller list in August 1997.[3] The paperback edition, by Berkley, reached number 6 on the New York Times best seller list in April, 1998.[4]


  1. Popple, Jeff "Heroic individuals who battle great odds," Canberra Times (Australia), August 24, 1997, Sunday edition, part A, page 22. LexisNexis Library Express (subscription). Retrieved August 31, 2011
  2. [1]Publishers Weekly, June 2, 1997. Retrieved August 31, 2011
  3. [2]Best sellers" August 10, 1997. The New York Times, August 10, 1997. Retrieved August 30, 2011
  4. [3]Books: Fiction paperback. The New York Times, April 12, 1998. Retrieved August 30, 2011
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