Biggles' Special Case by W. E. Johns was first published in 1963 by Brockhampton. It was the 77th Biggles book to be published. There have been only three subsequent editions in the English language, with the most recent being the 1975 Knight Books paperback. The events in the book take place in the early-1960s in Turkey and Asia-Minor.
Once again, Biggles is called upon to undertake a secret mission. He must fly a passenger whose exact identity he does not know to points in Asia-Minor on a diplomatic mission the true purpose of which he knows nothing about. And as usual, he is told that if he is caught, the authorities can do nothing to help. But at least he is given a nice new aircraft to do the job with.
Note: The sections below contain spoilers. In particular, the plot subpage (click here) has an extended summary of the narrative in the book
The Special Air PoliceEdit
- Air Commodore Raymond
- Bertie Lissie
- The Sheikh of Zarat
- Colonel Osman Alfondari
- Merlin - See Swearingen Merlin II. It is a good match but there is a problem!
- Unspecific MIG fighters - the MIG-25 "Foxbat" in the cover picture of the 1975 Knight Books edition is anachronistic as the Foxbat did not come into service until 1970. Anything from a MIG-15 to a MIG-21 is plausible.
- Unspecified high wing twin prop aircraft supposedly belonging to Turkish intelligence.
- Unspecified four-engine Russian paratroop transport - probably an Antonov An-12 "Cub".
- Gatwick Airport - point of departure
- Rome - refuelling stop
- Istanbul - in transit
- Ankara - refuelling and overnight stop
- Sheikdom of Zarat
- Zarana, the capital of Zarat
- Sultanate of Rasal al Sharab
- Soviet Armenia
- Kurdistan - mentioned along with Turkey and Armenia as countries laying claim to Zarat, but there was no independent Kurdistan at the time of the book.
Other Research NotesEdit
- Chronology. After 1960 - Raymond mentions Zorlan has been to Quarda in 1960. But before 1963 - when the book was published.
- Leicester: Brockhampton Press, 1963. 170 pages, illustrations by Leslie Stead. Pale grey boards with titles in brown letters. Horse logo on spine.
- Dustjacket in full colour shows the scene in Chapter 12 where a Russian plane is about to drop paratroops. The picture shows a twin-engine aircraft although the text says it should have four engines. On the spine is a picture of an Arab woman (presumably Biggles' passenger) and the number 66. Not the most dramatic of scenes in the book, and not the most interesting aircraft either. It can be seen that the illustrator did not want to hazard a guess as to what a Merlin might look like.
- Leicester: Brockhampton Press, 1963. Laminated boards.
- Knight Books, 1975. 160 pages. Paperback. 18 cm. Cover illustration by Susan Hunter. ISBN 0340190876.
- The illustrator of the 1975 edition has decided that the Merlin is probably the Swearingen Merlin II, which is depicted quite faithfully on the cover art. But why choose a Mig-25 Foxbat? That is a high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft. He probably wanted high drama. At that time, the Foxbat was the top Russian fighter and there was a lot of mystique about it then.