Vixen 03

Vixen 03

Infobox Book |
name = Vixen 03

image_caption = 1st Edition Hardcover
author = Clive Cussler
cover_artist = Lou Feck
country = United States
language = English
series = Dirk Pitt Novels
genre = Adventure; Techno-thriller
publisher = Viking Press
release_date = June 1978 (1st edition)
media_type = Print (Hardcover)
pages = 286 pages (Hardcover edition)
isbn = ISBN 0-670-74741-6 (Hardcover edition)
preceded_by = Raise the Titanic!
followed_by = Night Probe!

"Vixen 03" is an adventure novel by Clive Cussler. This is the 4th book to feature the author’s primary protagonist Dirk Pitt.

Plot introduction

In 1954 Vixen 03, a top-secret flight bound for the military’s testing grounds in the South Pacific, crashes and is never recovered. Thirty-four years later while on vacation Dirk Pitt, Special Projects Director for the National Underwater and Marine Agency, finds the remains of Vixen 03 and her top-secret cargo. His salvage efforts turn up some anomalies, including a body that is not from the original crew, and send Pitt on a chase to stop a terrorist plot that could potentially leave millions dead.

Explanation of the novel's title

Vixen 03 is the code name for a military aircraft lost while on a top-secret mission.

Plot summary

In January 1954 a United States Air Force Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter codenamed Vixen 03 takes off from the Buckley Naval Air Station in Colorado on a late-night flight transporting a top-secret cargo from the Rocky Mountain Arsenal to testing grounds near the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. The plane never arrives in the Pacific and despite a massive four month search by the Navy and Coast Guard no trace of Vixen 03 is discovered.

The story then jumps forward thirty-four years where Dirk Pitt, Special Projects Director for the National Underwater and Marine Agency, is vacationing with Colorado Congresswoman Loren Smith at her father’s cabin in the Sawatch Mountains. Pitt discovers some aircraft parts in the cabin garage and follows this lead until he intuits that there is an aircraft crash site in the local lake, Table Lake. Calling for his friend and Assistant Special Projects Director Al Giordino to fly in specialized NUMA equipment they survey the lake and quickly find the wreck of Vixen 03.

Discovering clues found on the wreck Pitt follows the evidence to retired Admiral Walter Bass, United States Navy, who was the commander who ordered Vixen 03 on its top-secret mission. Bass first denies any knowledge of the plane but after Pitt convinces him that he really has found the wreck the Admiral reveals that the plane was carrying a cargo of 16-inch battleship shells loaded with a deadly biological doomsday organism. The organism, nicknamed QD for quick death, is a virulent bacterial weapon that causes nearly instant death. The strain is described as being so deadly that just five ounces air dropped over Manhattan Island would kill 98% of all human life and because the strain actually grows stronger over time would render the island uninhabitable for up to 300 years.

Determined that this doomsday organism that he hoped was lost forever must never fall into the hands of the government that someday may decide to use it, Admiral Bass convinces Pitt, Admiral Sandecker and the rest of the NUMA team that they must secretly raise Vixen 03 and destroy the deadly cargo. The team raises the wreck and discovers that eight of the 36 shells are missing, apparently salvaged by local divers and sold to the Phalanx Arms Company. Pitt follows the trail and is able to recover six of the eight shells but discovers that the last two were mistakenly sold as part of a large shipment to the African Army of Revolution.

The African Army of Revolution is an organization of black African militants lead by expatriate American Hiram Lusana with the stated goal of overthrowing the minority white government of the Republic of South Africa using international public opinion and force against military targets. Pieter de Vaal, Minister of the South African Defense Force, is determined to stop the AAR and develops a plan to both rid himself of the AAR and topple the existing government and put himself in power.

The plan, code-named Operation Wild Rose, is a plot to use black mercenaries in a terrorist attack on the United States to discredit the AAR and win sympathy for the white minority government in South Africa. De Vaal recruits Captain Patrick McKenzie Fawkes, late of the Royal Navy, who believes his family was slaughtered by the AAR, to lead the plan. The audacious plan calls for Fawkes to take control of the former U.S. battleship Iowa, which was sold for scrap and purchased by an AAR holding company, to undergo a major gutting, raising her draft and allowing her to ride much higher in the water. Raising the draft enables Fawkes to sail the ship up the Potomac River and proceed with the plan for a terrorist attack by shelling Washington D.C..

With the help of Dale Jarvis, Director of the National Security Agency, Pitt discovers the plot to shell Washington with 16-inch battleship shells and, unbeknownst to anyone but Pitt and a few others, unleash the deadly QD organism on the nation’s capitol by accident. While the President and the Joint Chiefs launch a plan to take the ship and capture the shells intact, Pitt hopes to keep his promise to Admiral Bass and launches a daring mission of his own to destroy the QD warheads before they can be used, by the terrorists or the government.

Characters in "Vixen 03"

*Dirk Pitt – Special Projects Director for the National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA)
*Admiral James Sandecker – Chief Director of NUMA
*Al Giordino – Assistant Special Projects Director for NUMA.
*Admiral Walter Horatio Bass – United States Navy Admiral in charge of the top-secret program that was thought destroyed when Vixen 03 disappeared.
*Captain Patrick McKenzie Fawkes – Retired Captain of the British Royal Navy who is tricked into leading the terrorist attack on the United States after the slaughter of his family, supposedly by troops of the African Army of Revolution.
*Colonel Abe Steiger – United States Air Force officer in charge of investigating downed military aircraft
*Congressman Frederick Daggat – Democratic African-American Congressman who is a supporter of the AAR and Hiram Lusana and attempts to blackmail Congresswoman Loren Smith into voting in support of granting American aid to the AAR by threatening to expose her affair with Dirk Pitt.
*Congresswoman Loren Smith – Independent Party Congresswoman from the state of Colorado and the on again - off again lover of Dirk Pitt.
*Dale Jarvis – Director of the National Security Agency
*Hiram Lusana – American born leader of the African Army of Revolution who is leading a political and military war against the white minority government of South Africa.
*Pieter De Vaal – Minister of the South African Defense Force and the man who conceives Operation Wild Rose as a means to overthrow the current leadership of South Africa and place him in power.

Allusions/references to actual history, geography and current science

A feature common to works by Clive Cussler is a prologue set in a period prior to the primary time setting. In Vixen 03 the prologue is quite short and deals mostly with the preparation leading up to the departure of the top-secret flight. During this sequence President Dwight David Eisenhower and U.S. Secretary of Defense Charles Wilson appear briefly in fictional roles.

References to the development of the Hydrogen Bomb and the military testing conducted on the Bikini Atoll appear during the story as a disguise for the testing of the QD device.

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations

No film, television or theatrical adaptations have yet been produced from this novel.

Release Details

*1978, United States, Viking Press, ISBN 0-670-74741-6, June 1978, Hardcover.
*1984, United States, Bantam (reissue edition), ISBN 0-553-27390-6, August 1, 1984, Paperback.
*2006, United States, Bantam (mass market), ISBN 0-553-58944-X, July 25, 2006, Paperback.

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