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As part of SPECTRE's scheme to hijack a British bomber and its atomic payload, Major Derval was seduced by SPECTRE assassin Fiona Volpe. As Derval said he had to leave in order to proceed to the air base, he was met at the door by Angelo Palazzi, causing Derval to react with shock at seeing his exact double. Palazzi unleashed a deadly nerve gas while Volpe shielded her respiratory system, causing Derval to die almost instantly. His doppelganger then proceeded to pose as Derval on a standard NATO training exercise. While airborne, Palazzi opened a small canister of the same nerve gas he used on Derval, causing the flight crew to be killed. Palazzi then piloted the plane with the two atomic bombs into the hands of Emilio Largo, using the an undersea lighted runway SPECTRE made in the Caribbean Sea.
His corpse was discovered later that evening by Bond, after Count Lippe brought it back to Shrublands health farm, disguised as the same bandaged patient whom Palazzi had been posing as. His dog-tags and watch were later recovered from Palazzi's corpse on-board the downed Vulcan.
In the novel, the hijacked aircraft is a Villiers Vindicator, rather than a Vulcan.
In the novel of the same name, the characters of Derval and Palazzi were one in the same individual; Giuseppe Petacchi, a NATO airman who had been bribed by SPECTRE to hijack the plane and bring it to Largo. The choice of Petacchi was largely due to his unequaled skill with aquatic landings and his weakness for women and material gain. On completion of his mission, he was murdered by Vargas.