Biggles and the Gun Runners
W. E. Johns
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Biggles retires from the Air Police in the hope of being recruited elsewhere. He is hoping to infiltrate a gun running racket who are believed to be selling guns to rebels in African countries and helping to provoke civil war. After advertising, Biggles is approached by a Count Alexander Stavropulos and offered a generous wage to fly for him. Biggles is taken by plane to Noriovika, a village in northern Greece where the Count has a private airfield. Here, he is shocked to find Roderick Canson, a crooked ex-RAF pilot who Biggles has previously seen imprisoned in BIGGLES AND THE BLACK MASK. Luckily, the Count already knows that Biggles is an ex-policeman so Canson cannot expose him. Canson and a pilot called Jumbo Brady are sent on a routine delivery to Africa but a message is later received that their Constellation plane has crashed in an area known as the Sudd. Biggles is assigned as co-pilot to Sandy Grant and they are both sent out in a another Constellation aircraft to rescue Canson, Brady and their cargo. On route, Biggles and Sandy are forced to land by a military plane piloted by Lieutenant I'Nobo of the Congolese Air Force. I'Nobo searches their plane, finding nothing, but says he has been tipped off that a Constellation is smuggling guns to rebels in the Congo and he has orders to stop it. Canson, who has seen the plane come down, makes his way to them and tells Biggles that his Constellation was also forced down, but has not yet been found by the Congolese Army. Biggles, Sandy and Canson return to Canson's Constellation aircraft. Canson is adamant that his cargo is farm machinery and he is astonished to find it is actually guns when Biggles opens the crates up. The guns are hidden in the surrounding bush, as to be found with them would mean death for all of them. During the night, Canson returns to Biggles' aircraft and steals it to escape, leaving Biggles and Sandy stranded with the original Constellation which is bogged down and can't be flown. Canson gets his comeuppance when I'Nobo shoots him down in flames, an event shown on the dust cover of the book. Brady returns to join the party, having been away seeking help. He is followed by Sergeant Ducard of the Congolese Army, with whom Biggles soon falls out. Lieutenant I'Nobo arrives just in time to stop trouble. Ducard and his men leave, but then one of them, called Christmas, deserts, to escape from Ducard and join Biggles and the others. This brings Ducard back and another dangerous confrontation is only avoided by the timely arrival of Algy and Ginger. They have come out to the Congo with the Count, who is trying to sort out what is happening with his planes. He truly has no knowledge of any smuggling as he received the items for delivery ready packed and the Greek Government set a trap for the real culprits behind the smuggling operation.