remember reading this book on the return flight after my first solo overseas adventure to England in the early eighties. And I distinctly remember thinking (as I closed the cover while we descended into ORL) two words: African Queen.
So in this book, set in the same time and place (1914, Africa) as Queen, three English soldiers, the survivors of an attack on a German base with now-discovered radio capacity to direct ships all about the Southern Atlantic, attempt an escape. And it’s running and horses and a stick-up-his-ass German commander with a Quasimodo sergeant sidekick in hot pursuit. And recapture would have been certain when they find a German secret airfield with its own Taube (Dove), which was a German unarmed two-seater monoplane. Radios, airplanes; what have the British been doing while the Germans seed Africa with superweapons? Just like Queen and the Louisa.
After that, it’s the long chase with everything Africa can throw at the heroes (the Dove now in their number): elephants, crocodiles, pythons, angry natives, rapids, endless reeds, and, of course, leeches. And through it all, the Dove continues to carry the protagonists, first in the air, then along the rails, and eventually as a crude raft. And just like in Queen, the Dove eventually rises vengefully from dark waters to claim the German warship.
So, in a nutshell – liked the setting and the class-conscious characters (one of them rubbed the wrong way but he took a bullet early enough and that was that). Points made for having the expected romance go unexpectedly a different way. But yes, it drew too much on Queen for me to really forget that and remain in its own story.
Good luck finding this one, copyright 1980 or so. Yeah, I was a young world-travelling snarker back then.