The movie Firefox was released in 1982 and celebrates its 40th anniversary. Clint Eastwood produced, directed and starred in the movie based upon the 1977 novel of the same name by Craig Thomas.
Clint Eastwood stars as Major Mitchell Gant a veteran American pilot who becomes involved in a top-secret mission to steal a high-tech Russian fighter plane known as “Firefox.” Secretly entering the Soviet Union, Gant receives help from a network of Soviet dissidents within the country allowing Grant to succeed in stealing the MiG-31. Before Grant is home free, he must avoid Soviet attempts to stop him including a dogfight with the second prototype.
The Firefox from the novel was nearly identical to the MiG-25, the Firefox used in the movie was created specifically for the film and had many of its designs based off the SR-71 Blackbird. Four large-scale replicas were created, along with one full-size model that had dimensions of 66 feet long, 44 feet wide, and 20 feet high and was capable of taxiing at 30–40 mph.
John Dykstra, Special effects supervisor on the film used reverse blue-screen photography for the complex flying sequences. Dykstra coated the model with phosphorus paint and photographing it first with strong lighting against a black background and then with ultraviolet light to create the necessary mattes to separate the foreground model and the background footage. This allowed the model to be photographed flying against a clear blue sky and gleaming white snow.
The film was set in Russia, but due to the Cold War, Vienna and other locations in Austria doubled for many of the Eastern Europe locations. Other locations included Montana; California; London and Greenland’s Thule Air Force Base.