First edition cover
|Publisher||Michael Joseph (UK)
& Holt, Rinehart and Winston (USA)
|Publication date||8 August 1977|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Pages||288 pp (first edition, hardback)|
|ISBN||ISBN 0-03-020791-6 (first edition, hardback)
& ISBN 0-7181-1570-8 (UK hardback edition)
|LC Classification||PZ4.T4543 Fi3 PR6070.H56|
|Preceded by||Rat Trap|
Firefox is a thriller novel written by Craig Thomas and published in 1977. The Cold War plot involves an attempt by the CIA and MI6 to steal a highly advanced experimental Soviet fighter aircraft. The chief protagonist is fighter pilot turned spy Mitchell Gant. The book was subject to a 1982 film adaptation produced and directed by Clint Eastwood who also played the role of Gant in the film.
The book focuses on a fictional MiG-31 aircraft developed by the USSR during the Cold War. The highly advanced fighter aircraft (given the NATO code name "Firefox") includes a form of stealth technology that makes it completely undetectable to radar and is capable of attaining speeds of Mach 5 or more with a range in excess of 3,000 miles. Its weapons are controlled by the thought impulses of the pilot, allowing them to be very rapidly aimed and fired.
Faced with an aircraft which will give the Soviet Union the ability to completely dominate the skies, the CIA and MI6 launch a mission to steal one of the two Firefox prototype aircraft. The first section of the book details how fighter pilot Mitchell Gant covertly travels to Russia. Gant is ideally trained to steal Firefox, having already trained to fly in captured Russian planes. But he is also scarred by his experiences in Vietnam, including his capture by Viet Cong after being shot down, an ordeal exacerbated when the enemy guerrillas are wiped out almost immediately by napalm from an American air strike.
With the help of a network of dissidents and sympathizers, he makes his way to the Bilyarsk air base on which the two prototype aircraft are being developed. With the assistance of some of the scientists working on the project, he is able to penetrate the base and successfully steal a MiG-31.
The second section of the book deals with Gant's flight. Here the novel focuses on military technology and tactics. First heading east towards the Ural Mountains, then north to the Barents Sea, Gant narrowly escapes a Soviet reconnaissance aircraft and cruiser. Low on kerosene, Gant makes a pre-arranged rendezvous with an American submarine to refuel, using an ice floe as an impromptu runway. Refueled and armed with captured Soviet missiles, Gant continues on his journey, only to confront the second Firefox prototype, which the Soviet dissidents failed to destroy. Nearly defeated by the second MiG, Gant accidentally destroys it when he reflexively orders his plane's thought-controlled weapon's system to launch a decoy flare. The flare is immediately ingested by the jet intake of the pursuing MiG, triggering an internal explosion that destroys the other plane. Free of pursuit, Gant continues on his journey.
- Mitchell Gant – American fighter pilot and spy, protagonist
- Kenneth Aubrey – British spy master
- Colonel Kontarsky – Soviet head of counterintelligence at the Bilyarsk air base
- Dmitri Priabin – Soviet intelligence officer serving under Colonel Kontarsky at the Bilyarsk air base.
- Peter Shelly – British agent
- Charles Buckholtz – American agent with the CIA
- General Med Vladimirov – Soviet Air Force commandant of the "Wolfpack" tasked with stopping Gant.
- Air Marshal Mihail Ilyich Kutuzov – Soviet Air Force chief
- Yuri Andropov – Head of the KGB (as he was when the novel was written in the mid-1970s)
Adaptations and sequels
Firefox was made into a movie by Warner Brothers based on the novel and released in 1982. Clint Eastwood was the director, producer, and played Mitchell Gant. The novel Firefox Down is a continuation of the story of Firefox, beginning at the moment at which the previous book had concluded.
Many of the characters of Firefox and Firefox Down return for the novel Winter Hawk (1987) and A Different War (1997).
- 1977, USA, Holt Rinehart and Winston ISBN 0-03-020791-6, Pub date 1 August 1977, hardback (First edition)
- 1977, UK, Michael Joseph ISBN 0-7181-1570-8, Pub date 8 August 1977, hardback
- 1978, UK, Sphere ISBN 0-7221-0445-6, Pub date 27 July 1978, paperback
- 1978, USA, Bantam Books ISBN 0-553-11820-X, Pub date ? ? 1978, paperback
- 1988, USA, Time Warner ISBN 0-7515-1138-2, Pub date 1 January 1988, paperback (reissue)
- 1992, USA, Chivers Audio Books ISBN 0-7451-4096-3, Pub date ? December 1992, Audio book cassette (narrated by Stephen Thorne)