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5 E R I E 5





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Title Page: Prior to gaining its own Comet fleet Olympic Airways hired spare capacity from BAE. Preparing to depart on
another European journey this Comet is taxiing past one of its greatest rivals the French built Caravelle. Of interest is that the
nose and flight deck design were a straight copy of the De Havilland setup. (C P Russell Smith Collection)
Front Cover: This is the second Comet to have been allocated the registration G-APDJ. It was first operated by BOAC which
later sold it to Dan Air in whose early finish it is seen here. (Huw Bowen Collection)
Back Cover (Left Top): Aircraft or speedboat, Canopus lands at rain-drenched Fairford. (BBA Collection)
Back Cover (Right Top): Gearing systems were applied to the Comet's flight control surfaces to reduce the risk ofoverstressing
the airframe in the higher speed ranges. The one shown is for the elevator. (Capt. Peter Duffey via Chris Duffey)
Back Cover (Right Lower): On today's modern jets, airliner passengers are encouraged to place their possessions
in the bins over their heads. In the Comet cabin these were parcel shelves. Of note are the cabin dividers.
(Marc Schaeffer)


. . . . . . 4 And Acknowledgments Chapter 1 Brabazon Committee 7 Planning for the Future Chapter 2 Disaster Strikes 25 The Comet Crashes Chapter 3 The Comet from 2 to 4.. . . . . . . . . . 91 Nimrod and the Development Aircraft Appendix A Comet Alphabet 101 Acronyms and Abbreviations Significant Dates 103 Key Dates in the History of the De Havilland Comet De HAVILLAND ~@li~T . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TABLE OF CONTENTS DE HAVILLAND COMET Introduction . . . . .. . 33 Testing-Rework-Relaunch Chapter 4 At Home & Abroad 47 The Comet 4 in Airline Service Color Section In Glorious Colour 65 The De Havilland Comet Chapter 5 Comets for the Military 69 From Canada to Canopus Chapter 6 The Ultimate Comet. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The only country that real- with. It was to This was eventually whittled down these tragedies that the Comet be operated by the primary airlines to just one. (C P Russell Smith Collection) 4 AIRLIlVERTECH . Howev. of Britain plus many of those that T unique airliner that has for- ever carved out a place in the annals of aviation history. As De Havilland was reaching improvements. This was to lead inevitably Representing the greater majori. This situation still prevails today although the ground transport is more modern. Thus it was possible to see working Comets appearing in many parts of statement for sure. is photographed at Heathrow being prepared for flight. It was eventually to Dan Air which consumed one way to the future a design miscalculation act as a prototype for all those air. Extensive redesign were influenced by such choices. This left only a few examples to the destruction of some of the ty of the production run. 4 in its various guises was to be the UK's aviation test organisations. although it is one and strengthening of the fuselage the world in a range of colour that its aficionados would agree coupled with the installation of with tragic loss of life. fuselage. Such was the reaction worldwide to success of the whole story. the famous XS253 Cano- Comet 4... G-APDC. sations in the UK. Eventually all good things must the safe and the innovative. The author in fact can only Rolls-Royce Avon engines finally ly avoided the Comet's influence think of one other aircraft that has put the Comet back on the right was the United States and its nearest had such an effect on civil air travel track. that kept the project alive. where the prod- and that is the Concorde. The first exponents of this neighbour. A bold It was the faith of De Havilland. and to some extent BOAC. military and the various test organi. it was born with one inherent a step closer to the mark with its Comet. before it was finally retired. Clustered around the aircraft are the vehicles required for support purposes. INTRODUCTION AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS he De Havilland Comet is a almost disappeared forever. was a blend of the old and the new. . Canada. being confined entirely to the glas ruled the roost. or another much of the Comet 4 fleet was appearing in the structure of the craft that were to follow. the Comet still flying in military marks with the early Mk. The type's last major opera- flaw that was to mar its earliest lengthened fuselage and other tor and its greatest champion was years. rework never entered civil airline ucts of Boeing and McDonnell Dou- From its inception the Comet use. The Comet 3 was come to an end and so it was for the er.

that no one else has. and encourage- ed MR. and of course words as talks between interested celed and replaced by the Boeing. Hawker Siddeley Aviation. mention must be made man the mighty grunter. the help and encouragement of facts.4 standard for con. it was thankfully can. Even Canopus This was a vain attempt to put a which stretches from the Comet 1 to had to retire. thus it was flown to quart into a pint pot that was the flight deck of the Concorde. site on the internet is a work always converted by the then primary con. Jenkins hunter. Huw Bowen whose help and encour- parties are in progress with a view built AWACS. inputs. agement pointed me in the right to flying the machine once again. Others deserving of thanks although it was kept in a taxiable tities of the defence budget had been include Ray Deacon. from New Zealand.the Nimrod.One for the De Havilland employees as John Cunningham brings G-ALVG on afly-by over Hatfield. At this time the aircraft had a nose probe fitted for testing purposes. to the new MRA. for his exploits in civilian aviation. Finally. mention must be made not quite mark the end of the Comet others has been vital to its comple. tion Peter Russell Smith for again in progress and the DH Comet e- tractor. are expended in an attempt to make the who sent me a photo all the way looking brighter as I write these thing work. UK was the abortive attempt to rehash elsewhere. Therefore I would like to men. John Nickolls condition. in-depth photography of the various hard work. colours of A&AEE. So well in fact that select. (BAE Systems) pus which soldiered on in the 11 spare airframes for the AEW role. In compiling such a work as direction in the hunt for those elusive The retirement of Canopus did this. The latter is well known April 2000 De HAVILLAND 5 C@I~1r . for another design job well done and the Comet has served the Royal Air ward include Damien Burke whose the crew at Specialty Press for their Force well. of Marc Shaeffer whose Comet web- story as two unsold airframes were tion. Bruntingthorpe for preservation doomed to failure. l'lowever." a play on ation photography for many years. After large quan. Things. of those who brought this work to the words "Nimrod the mighty for her kind and informative help. technical gaps.2s are being slowly reworked bits of Canopus filled in many of the ment. Mel group whose members' vast knowl- to act as prototypes for the new RAF James for again having those photos edge helped this book no end. made of Chris and Peter Duffey who The only danger dropped granted me access to early Comet Kev Darling throughout the Nimrod programme documentation not freely available South Wales. delving deep into his collection. MR aircraft . Also mention must be tinued service well into this century. fruition. namely Dennis R. introduction. Jennifer Gradidge. and of course Although always last in any Occasionally known as "Nor. a stalwart of avi." this last manifestation of Others who have stepped for.

(C P Russell Smith Collection) 6 . These were for cooling purposes. (C P Russell Smith Collection) An EAA Comet 4. (Capt. This underside view of G-AMXA reveals the slightly enlarged intakes required to provide the increased mass air flow for the Avon engines that were fitted as standard from the Comet 2 onward. this Comet C2 has smaller intakes around the main engine inlets. the wheel hub covers have been deleted in this marque to improve maintenance. Unlike the earlier Comet versions. After the aircraft was rejected by BOAC it was refurbished and passed to the RAF as a Comet C2.. Peter Duffey via Chris Duffey) Taxiing to its stand at Heathrow. VP-KP]. AIRLINER TECH . is shown awaiting preparation for departure from Heathrow.

it chairmanship of Lord Brabazon of Tudor (Type 5). to cross the the Bristol Type 167 Brabazon (Type market. The entry of an isolationist Unit- ed States into the global conflict after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 was to change the face of air transport and how it was catered for immeasurably. the Douglas DC-4 was ed to defeat the Axis forces. (Type 2A). respective offspring. struggling to pro- vide services with outdated biplane airliners and adapted bombers. already making its appearance as the C-54 in the service of us Army Air Forces. When the Brabazon Committee began its deliberations. a member of many civilian and worth AW55 Apollo (Type 2B). 1). Operating through the aus. De British firms were playing catch-up military aviation committees. Atlantic.32 and EC1 respectively. and tion from such aircraft as the Dou. would follow once hostilities ceased. long-range This particular aircraft was registered to British United Airways as G-AOXK. formed on 23 December to study the Miles M60 Marathon (Type 5). aircraft tasks being examined. Avro Type 688 the S. the aircraft manufacturers toward the Allies' favour that to failure due in part to its too high Short Brothers and Fairey Aviation thoughts were turning toward the operating costs. initial thoughts on its development craft of any kind to a halt as manu. tems. later to evolve into that the tide of war would change although it was eventually doomed BOAC. both mil- itary and civilian. the British Government announced sponsorship for two air- Lockheed 049 Constellation. Armstrong Whit- was obvious from the outset that the Tara. This left the remain- ing vestiges of air transport. and role were first specified in a facturers turned to producing the eventually sponsored the develop. the DH106 glas DC-3. the Boeing 247. sys. craft designs firmly targeted at the four powerful piston engines plus Included in this inventory was transatlantic passenger and airfreight the range. was Havilland DH104 Dove (Type 3). Blessed with a mas- sive industrial base the aircraft industry in the United States was soon gearing up to provide the armed forces with the aircraft need. a large behemoth far in advance pices of the UK's primary airline In 1942 such was the confidence of its time in many respects. transports began to appear in the (Jennifer M Gradidge Collection) De HAVILLAND 7 COM~T . as they were facing potential opposi. a novelty at the time. eventually. various options available. Imperial Airways. and ous manufacturers that covered long-range airliners and smaller feeder-type airliners. and their into account current and projected Comet from De Havilland (Type 4). Also included were were encouraged to enter designs for path that commercial aviation the Airspeed AS 57 Ambassador tackling this prestigious route. a committee under the count (Type 2B). The ment of passenger and transport air. This first Brabazon Committee. Vickers Type 630 Vis- Producing designs designated To that end. The Comet was referred to as The eruption of war in Europe in try with regard to structures. and powerplants. developments in the aviation indus. Type No. BRABAZON OMMITTEE PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE he De Havilland Comet story shape of the Douglas DC-4 and the ment of a range of aircraft from vari- T really begins in 1938 when . Both aircraft featured tricycle undercar- riages. More importantly. as it inevitably became known. It took the subject of this work. report submitted to the government fighters and bombers required to defend the UK.4 in the list of five primary September 1939 brought develop.

Very few firm details of performance and weights were included in this The Airspeed Ambassador was designated as the Type 2A by the committee and was initial report. These deliberations finally culminated in the last of five reports that maintained the Type 4 The turboprop Vickers Viscount. an intermediate distance airliner. (Photo Jennifer the jet engine. which was set at 400 mph. It should be noted that there was no specific mention of passen- gers at this time. was seen as a viable o a c> 0 00 8 . the only set visualised as a feeder liner. In fact. AIRLINERTECH . By this time Brabazon. albeit crude in this M Gradidge Collection) first outing. designs sanctioned by the The evolution of the Type 4 Brabazon Committee was specification had really begun to the Bristol Type 167 take shape in mid-1944. (Jennifer M parameters appeared to be those of Gradidge Collection) speed.. formed on 25 May 1943. (Jennifer M Gradidge Collection) craft. on 9 February 1943. This example is G-AMAC of BEA. Further specifications were worked out for the Type 4 and its five companions (another had been added in the intervening time) between August 1943 and Novem- ber 1945 by a second Brabazon com- mittee. Here it was described as a jet-propelled mail plane for the North Atlantic trans- port route that was capable of carry- ing at least one (UK) ton of cargo. was designated as the only turbojet powered air- as the Type 2B by the Brabazon Committee. and the method of propulsion. the others were seen as turbo- prop or piston powered from the One of the first aircraft outset. The committee included members from both the aircraft manufacturing industries and the airlines as a greater majority. vestiges of wartime thinking and priorities were to per- meate development in many fields long after the conflict had ended.

VX244 was the last of was in the 700 to 800 mile mark this order. Formed in November 1939 as a nationalised concern from Imperial Airways and British Airways. It was also at this point that De Hav- illand Aircraft of Hatfield was con. concentrating mainly upon the European and Empire network that had been firmly established before the war. becoming G-AMGW of Derby Airways instead. was also included in the final total. A small payload of 3. M Gradidge Collection) De HAVILLAND 9 ~@I~T . the Goblin. user. This version. Most of the production run ended up as Navigation Trainers with the RAF. BOAC was seen as the primary long-range carrier.powerplant whilst the first ventures into the area of swept wing technol- ogy were being explored. in N ovem- ber. A few months later. later to evolve into the more powerful Ghost. the specification had increased the projected range to 1. came into being albeit initially This is one that did not.000 lbs. Eventually three were ordered for MoS trials work. Although the perceived aircraft was intended to challenge for the North Atlantic route. the AAJC. Powerplants would be chosen from the two then available. managed to impress upon the gov- ernment that another smaller con- cern should come into existence to cover internal and European routes.000+ miles. another well-known Comet success. formed as a civilian transport organisation by the rest of Britain's smaller airlines. (Jennifer as an offspring of BOAC.000 lbs. The given range Apollo. the Handley Page Marathon was not an outstanding BEA.000 ft. However. The first aircraft specification tentatively put forward featured two or more turbojets of the centrifugal type that would be capable of carry- ing 14 passengers at 450 mph at an The other turboprop from the Brabazon proposals was the Armstrong Whitworth altitude of 30. (Jennifer M Gradidge Collection) whilst an all up weight of 30. Avro's contribution to the Brabazon line-up was the Avro Tudor. early studies were more cau- tious. namely the Whittle (later to evolve into the Derwent) and a developed version of the De Havilland engine. was specified. A further bold registered as G-AHNM. was the renamed Super Trader which was intended more for move saw BOAC ordering 25 of the freight than passengers. Thus once hostilities had ended Designed as a feeder airliner. firmed as the builder. (Jennifer M Gradidge Collection) new aircraft in order to stimulate domestic and foreign sales.

Newfoundland. maximum takeoff weight although this would have been reduced to 75. Input to the Halford H2 engines at the rear of the ended to allow all forms of develop- aircraft came from the MoA. at one A further design put forward by new state airline BOAC. In order to cross the Atlantic the passen- ger load would have been reduced to 18 with a stop for refueling at Gan- der. De Havilland involved a tailless air- interested parties including the RAE er. . emerge as the MoS. the earliest ideas that were intended cargo across the Atlantic from Lon- ification S. As the aircraft was also intended to fly The nearest similar rival to the Comet was the French-built Caravelle with whom it to both South Africa and Australia. and was pro.000 lbs. On paper the aircraft. and other time named the Vampire Mail Carri.This was one of the first designs put forward for the Type 4 The next point of evolution saw this creation with severely Brabazon proposals. tion that was released by the MoA in led to the DHI06 Comet were first opment of the Vampire twin boom late 1944. (BBA Collection) 15 and 24 hours respectively. As this was to be a unique put in place under the aegis of the fighter although this featured three aircraft the specification was left open- Brabazon Committee. Bishop. was revealed as a devel. if 24 passengers were to be carried over stage lengths set at 2. later to fuselage pod fed by a similar set of ment to take place without restriction. had a span of 80 ft. The payload and 24 passen- gers were housed in a pressurised fuselage some eight ft. of was awarded a contract under Spec.200 miles. Arizona.20 / 44 to design and bring to benefit from the inclusion of jet don to New York. This particular example is preserved at the Pima Air & total transit times would have been Space Museum near Tucson. 10 AIRLIlfERTECH . which was to cause such (BBA Collection) instability in the DH108 Swallow.. jected as being capable of carrying degrees with the four engines buried in the wingroots and fed by common intakes. the relatively intakes. shared some similarities. in diameter. (BBA Collection) In February 1945 De Havilland From these first proposals came six passengers and 2. offering by the design team led by R. into service the Brabazon Commit. wings.000 lbs. Note the lack of tailplane. The aircraft grossed in at 82. craft with the wings swept at 40 andA&AEE. The first This concept was one of those put tee Type 4 as the DHI06. The aircraft featured a canard swept back wings and engines mounted partially under the layout with the three engines clustered in the rear fuselage. engines into the design. forward to fulfill an initial specifica- The initial design concepts that E.000 lbs.

unbuilt Comet V (BBA Collection) (BAE Systems) As the Type 4 was intended as a gramme after its maiden flight on 24 killing off any thought of a tailless flagship project for the UK. TG306." ideas being put forward. and accidents during 1950 effectively weight of the projected airliner had powerplant. Intended for low-speed han- dling work. A longer and more pointed Although the test and evalua- the ideas was for a tailless / 45 for further research. theory. killer with a nasty stall.300 lbs. Unfortunately it was to kill its pilot. TG283 was the first research DH108 Swallow constructed to test the tailless aircraft speed run on 27 September. the basis of the aircraft was the remaining aircraft were to be lost in decision was reached since the gross fighters' fuselage. Both the something more conventional. "A was required to evaluate some of the nificant changes from its earlier sib. follow- ing in June. A Bedford lorry chassis never appeared on the DH106 although it was proposed for the was used as a basis with Mosquito main legs as outriggers. lin 4 rated at 3. nose cone was installed in an effort tion systems were being put into De Havilland was instructed to to improve longitudinal stability place for the tailless programme. should be dropped and replaced by fighter. TG283. an effort to reduce drag. The first DHI08 flew on 15 May 1946 with the second airframe. As one of lings. was the DH Goblin 2 rated at 3. De build a series of test vehicles to whilst a lower canopy was fitted in Havilland and BOAC had already Spec.E. One pilot even summed all decided that further backup research sion of the DHI08 showed some sig. when the air- frame disintegrated during a high. this aircraft featured anti-spin parachutes in A third airframe joined the pro.Coming close to the final this schematic reveals the In order to test the proposed nosewheel steering for the fitment of a swept tailplane to the earlier fuselage. Designated the DHI08 Swal. Serialled VW120. Intended for a far faster flight regime it was powered by a DH Goblin 3 rated at 3. three up in one short sentence. pods on the wingtips.000 lbs. airliner. Geoffrey de Havilland. the wing (with its lead- ing edge slots) never let it reach the speeds that were to kill the pilots of the other two machines.750 the MoA July 1947. this ver. which in the first air- craft. Based on the Vampire fighter. Extra thrust decided that the whole design This was based on the Vampire was courtesy of an uprated DH Gob. This low. (BAE Systems) De HAVILLAND 11 ~@MET . modified. This feature Comet this unique rig was constructed.

Further changes to the design quantified sufficiently. increases would happen as the saw the leading edge wings weep This resulted in the original tail. This resulted in BOAC which resulted in improved operat- ing economics and reduced technical risk. By this time the its inability to carry a reasonable pas. John Cunningham. set at a maximum of 1.. design developed. 12 --AIRLINER TECH. Not long after this photograph was taken the aircraft undertook its maiden flight on 27 July 1949.Hatfield 1949 and the prototype Comet is seen under construction.000 lbs. The refurbished in September 1946. (BAE Systems) become better known as the Avon. The brochure was reduced from 40 to 20 degrees to less design growing a rear fuselage used by the MoS to issue a contract which was added a tailplane of a in 1945 to which was added a swept. to De Havilland for two prototypes more conventional planform. 9 in. The engine chosen to power the prototypes and the first production aircraft was a development of the Halford H2 which had evolved into the DH Ghost. back tailplane. aircraft weight had stabilised at senger load. although further craft. with a proposed 36 pas. . dropping its order from 25 to 10 air- the technical risks could not be senger loading.000 lbs. the first Comet lifts offfrom axial design originally known as the the Hatfield runway. allowed the passenger complement to increase to 32 with an increased all up weight of 100. Later this engine would replaced by four-wheel bogies on the production aircraft. (BAE Systems) grown beyond that predicted and 93.500 miles. The reduction in wing sweep design was presented in a brochure One of the design precepts that reduced the cruising speed from 535 in May 1946 to the MoS and other had limited the original aircraft was mph to 505 mph with stage lengths interested parties. Of note in this view are the single mainwheels that were later AJ65. A refinement and extension to the length of the fuselage and an increase in its diameter to 9 ft. although the projected powerplant preferred by both BOAC and De Havilland was a Rolls-Royce Piloted by the DH Chief Test Pilot.

10FT. a Mosquito develop. a complete section was bolted Ghost engine were undertaken BOAC which was the first order in onto the front of a Horsa glider. In. the company was prepared to take a reasonable loss in the face of future orders. a small fleet of test aircraft was employed. The primary the powered flight controls a DH airframe is the Comet prototype which is being proceeded by the chase aircraft. -----i 1 . I MAX.. To test the proposed Comet how it would handle from a pilot's tion to proceed with the construc. Peter Duffey via Chris Duffey) By 21 January 1947... --. With the design of the Comet frozen. L 7". 29n . l I 3 F T . These are a DH Venom night fighter and in front a Canberra bomber.. nose for visibility and performance in point of view. A. To flight test On tow toward the Hatfield runway is this aircraft procession. and one of the DH108 Swal. ..... purposes.. A further order was forthcom- ing from BSAA for six aircraft.. . ..- lI Three-view schematic of the Comet... Although De Havilland sold the original aircraft for a fixed price contract. c..l\lN. Hornet fighter. the world for a jet transport each Even more jury-rigged was a Flight testing began on 24 July 1947 costing approximately £250. (Capt.II". beginning on 2 September 1945... although the final total for both airlines was reduced to nine when BSAA merged with BOAC.. S".. N (UGH1' LCWlONGJ 1---3IFT. by now named the Comet. SIlIN. SIN.. the MoS lows were converted for evaluation Comet's nosewheel steering and issued the company with an instruc. Gennifer M ment.... First runs of the DH tion of eight DH106 transports for rain. the construction of the proto- types could begin.... 1O".SIlIN...000 test rig designed to emulate the using a pair of converted Lancastri- each.... To clear certain systems and components for use in the new airliner. 0. Gradidge Collection) De HAVILLAND 13 ~@I~T .


heating.VIEW lOOKING UPWARDS """"="'< SHOWING MOUNT ING 'OR wingtips was used to take the engine to 50. The aircraft's design cruise height was set at 40.Comet I. is pictured here on an early pre-delivery flight. De Havil- land was eschewing publicity about the DHI06 project. although it was a great step forward technically. with a cabin pressure differential of 8.000 ft. The navigator's station on the Comet looks quite antiquated compared with the INS tems were developed. To ensure fur- ther passenger comfort. for high-altitude ~ SEXTANT ~==:~~. platforms in today's aircraft. VM703 and VM749. (BAE Systems) ans. For flight trials the original Merlin engines in the number one and four positions were replaced by Ghost centrifugal ~ jet engines. The various flight trials con- tinued until mid-1948 by which time the official name of "Comet" had been adopted for the new aircraft. It was delivered to BOAC on 6 March 1952. In line with many other projects undertaken at the time.000 ft. and ventilation sys. Later a modified Vam- pire fighter. cabin condi- tioning.~"'"""'"'-'" testing. G-ALYT. Complete with square windows and suppressed ADF aerials it was later handed over to Farnborough for structural testing after the fleet was grounded. (BAE Systems) De HAVILLAND 15 ~@M~T . TG278. with extended '~.25 psi.

a the life of the Comet and the later Nimrod was the control galley was installed at the front of the cabin. the fuel system was the inclusion of construction being based about pri. and tems in flight although its other role turnaround time. but a reduction in weight that was only revealed when a large control backup. and therefore for all primary surfaces were of the fuel consumption. The one item that remained basically unchanged throughout To provide the traveling passenger with in-flight catering. between each other with the blue attendant weight. However. These were fairly new method of construction pavement footprint. some cosmetic changes were wrought by the Schaeffer) addition of extra buttons. with the emergency was also required. integral fuel were later replaced with a bogie. To achieve this. red. . In both cases colour-coded green and blue for the was needed to retain structural the main gear was housed in a bay primaries and yellow for the flight strength. the designers lighter.. A hand pump was also built in single-point pressure refueling mary fore and aft spars which had mainly to replenish the other sys- which enabled a quicker ground cut-outs for the engines. The powered servodyne variety and were forced to find unusual ways to original main gear units were fitted were supported by two primary increase the aircraft's available fuel with single main wheels. and the aircraft's structure and a reduced nosewheels retracted aft into their green systems were switchable need for riveted construction and own bay in the nose. (BAE Systems) Due to the theorised increase in the use of shorter. which had four main wheels to an emergency system intended for This in turn meant that the use of a spread the load and reduce the undercarriage extension. but these hydraulic systems backed up by a load. This led to the "D" door swung open to allow the system being identified by the use of Redux bonding throughout gear to enter and exit. The yellow. (Marc yoke. secondary flight control system and tanks were specified for the wings. Flight controls of lowering the undercarriage. exhausts with a thickness / chord was that of the last available means The engine installation allowed ratio of 11 percent. undercarriage units. Another change to The wing was of fairly normal system remaining a separate entity. intakes. As 16 . The twin colour red.

Other systems hydraulically powered were the flaps. ble of providing sufficient airflow to disaster that would overtake the approximately two and a half times cover all services. the selected structures Theoretically. is surprising that the tests did not Even so. which were designed for craft of this kind. This had a tendency to cause the three main systems to vent over- board thus requiring topping up during the flight. In the light of subsequent events. ent points on the Ghost engines. was deemed a priority requirement. did express concern at the also applied to the aircraft's doors new flight regime for passenger air. Some skin metalworkers. (Marc Schaeffer) Cabin conditioning and wing and fuselage anti-icing were cour. those under the exhausts being of the split vari- ety whilst those outboard were of plain construction and section. the fuselage using the alloys selected tesy of tappings derived from differ. each engine was capa. (BAE Systems) De HAVILLAND 17 ~@IIET .much of the hydraulic equipment was gathered in one fuselage bay. Prominent in this view are the suppressed aerials let into the nosewheel doors and the square cabin windows that caused so much trouble. time about the problems encoun. One of the first reported indica- tions that the system reservoirs were becoming low was the failure of the hydraulically-driven windscreen wipers. it . extensive testing tered with forming the skins onto inward opening thus improving the One of the aircraft lost to crashes was Comet 1 G-ALYV which met its fate at Karachi on 2 May 1953. Comet.DTD. The accommodations for the cabin crew aboard the Comet 1 and 2 were really quite tion for landing. and hatches. primitive to modern eyes. reveal any trace of the impending were pressure-tested to 20.5 psi. working load. a problem with overheating occurred. Also mounted onto the wing were upper surface spoilers which were inte- grated with the selected flap posi.546 and 746. This stress loading was As the Comet was entering a however.

(BAE Systems) safety factor.the Under the loading applied to the tion of pairs of seats on each side of a French-built Caravelle.4FT 22. flight. This method slowed down the section with toilets and washrooms and therefore the first aircraft. a compression gator. The second prototype. it eventually failed. at already in use with BOAC. This by the experimental department. After preflight checks. test fuselage. Internal design led to the adop. built discernible cause was immediately cal layout of 36 passenger seats. installation of a galley in the forward ground tests had been completed ty.5FT 1 . undertook its chamber big enough to take the com. Passenger access was via tered G-5-1.J'-------j . a Flight Engineer. The aircraft's windows plete pressure cabin was built. The first prototype Comet. later changed to G- the failure point to be traced.0FT This floor plan is that of the BOAC configuration adopted for the first aircraft in that airline's service.0FT 33. up to a peak.25FT PITCH LOCKER WASHROOM ROW6 ROW7 ROWa ROW9 ROW10 ROW11 2a. To enable crews to convert registered G-ALZK. Passenger handling and some tentative hops allowed pressures to be built up to comfort was further extended by the down the runway.0FT CREWS 36 PAX WITH FULLY ADJUSTABLE PERSONAL a PAX WITH GENTLEMENS FIXED SEATS SEATING SET AT 3.0FT MAIN CABIN 31. layout was adopted for the Comet's vice load factor.ur. of positions for a Captain and First 27 July. A similar load of 10 times the expected in-ser. the air- placed under scrutiny was the effect Crew accommodation consisted craft undertook its maiden flight on that low temperature had on materi.000 ft. regis- disintegration process thus allowing to the rear. 37.7FT 14. By 25 July the failure levels without reducing safe. and N avi. was prepared for its first Another area of performance passenger cabin on the left-hand side.08FT 23.7FT PASSENGER LEVER ARMS i------l. -70 degrees at 70. apparent therefore another method layout allowed for eight seats in a was rolled out at Hatfield in mid- of testing was required. built als at high altitude. nearest European rival . This smoking room in the forward cabin 1949 and was subjected to ground involved using a water tank which with 28 in the main cabin. 18 AIRLINER TECH . To test the Comet Officer.2FT FORWARD CABIN 7.5FT 31. In line with modern practises the cabin could be re-Iaid to accommodate a customer's specific needs.95FT 20. or more accurately a trough. an entrance door at the rear of the ALVG. by the production department and fuselage thoroughly. easily to the new Comet. The control panel was based on the and surrounding structure were also range of temperatures experienced a Lockheed Constellation which was subjected to extreme testing.5 FT 24. No central gangway which gave a typi. the flight first flight on 27 July 1950.

Trials of flown in the down and locked posi- increased to 324 flying hours after 11 the rocket system in fact did not tion as altering the wings to suit had months. During 1952 "LVG" was used to test-fly the drooped leading edges Sprite refuel trolley that had been introduced to alleviate 1)Sprite Rocket Motor 2)Hydrogen Peroxide filling line a wing stall problem that had been 3)Air filling line 4)Catalyst filling line encountered during the takeoff acci- 5)Air storage cylinders 6)Contents gauges 7)Feed selector control dents at Rome and Khartoum. begin production of the definitive weight to increase to 105. 8}Air control valve 9)Air pressure gauge As soon as production had been 10)Rocket transport cradle 11)Air pressure gauge agreed upon for the first aircraft. (Owen Morris) This rear view ofan early Comet's jet pipes shows quite clearly the housing for the proposed Sprite booster rocket motor. First changes to Had the Sprite rocket motor been more than an optional extra.) of which 5. Upon rollout it was obvious that the aircraft per month was averaging were conducted during April and some changes had been wrought out at approximately one hour per May 1950 at Eastleigh.520 turally-enhanced fairings located the first prototype with flight testing lbs. The the aircraft was flown overseas on 25 ary 1951. This had thrust or throttle response. In order to evaluate the article.050 lbs. Due to Flight testing proceeded smooth. new installation had been tested on lbs. this trolley would have been a familiar sight on ramps throughout the world.000 lbs.808 this system were mounted to struc. day. The only major change whole ensemble was powered by October to Castel Benito. tember 1949.000 lbs. However one of the reasons that militated against its widespread adoption was the use of hydrogen peroxide as an operating fuel catalyst. Fuel for testing was the Sprite-assisted main gear in place of the single- system capacity in the prototypes takeoff system. When the existence of the Comet As no major problems had dling and performance. The rocket packs for wheel units previously fitted.940 gallons (47.) were usable. The Comet's hot and high with the first aircraft. 12)Drain cocks development of the design inevitably began.1 centrifugal One item that was not available ment of four-wheel bogies on the turbojets rated at 5. (Marc Schaeffer) De HAVILLAND 19 ~@I~T . Further trials been seen as too expensive to justify. being rolled out on 9 Janu- fuselage length was set at 93 ft. The original was finally revealed. The average flight time of begin until May 1951.976 Imperial gallons (47. Nairobi. G-ALYP. This was 5. it was not long occurred whilst the Comet had been planned wingspan was increased to before it was shown to the public at on its trials the decision was made to 115 ft. which allowed the gross the SBAC Farnborough Show in Sep.. between the engine bays and were beginning in December 1950. upon the aircraft to improve han. which later grew to 107. from the two prototypes was the fit- four DH Ghost 50 Mk. intended to overcome any lack of the different configurations of the ly with over 200 hours being flown in performance due to loss of engine two main gears the new units were the first five months.

.000 lbs. CF-CUM. 115. (BAE Systems) 20 .906 The maiden flight of the Comet be increased even more when the gallons. used to establish the type before the development of the axial jet-pow- ered versions. G-AYLT. From the outset the Comet I/lA were recognised as interim aircraft. increased to 107.000 lbs.AIRLINER TECH WI . Mk501 engines. the aircraft was also to fea- Originally CF-CUM of CPA. To allow the development of the G-ANAV The primary differences between the early Comets were that of marginal new variant to proceed quickly the increases in fuel carried and engine thrust. and the first military operator. airframe was also used to test-fly the This was extended even further to At this time the Comet appeared uprated Avon 502 ECUs. designated the 2X. the RCAP. rated at 1 CONTROL CABIN CANOPY 2 BOX-SECTION BULKHEADS 4 & 8 3 PRESSURE FLOOR OVER UNOERCARRIAGE BAY 4 ~OSE UNDERCARA. gain was an increase in the number February 1952. UNO~R CABIN flOOR The construction of the Comet was entirely conventional in many respects although its use of redux bonding.000 lbs. Air France (3)." Refurbished and upgraded it was re-registered as a Comet lA of BOAC as ft. UAT (3). RA9. of passengers to 44. this aircraft was later rejected after the crash of ture a slight fuselage extension to 96 "CUN. was undertaken on 16 upgraded Comet lA came into ser. (Jennifer M Gradidge Collection) MoS ordered a version of the Comet I. therefore orders were soon forthcoming from other airlines which included Canadian Pacific (2). to be a success.IAGE BAY 5 UNDERCARRIAGE BAY CENTRAL STIFfENER 6 CREW ENTRY DOOR RAilS 7 ANTI-ICING INSPECTION WINDOW 8 LONGITUDINAL kEEL FRAME GIRDERS 9 RE-C1RCULATING AIR DUCTS IN fORWARD CABIN BULKHEAD 10 FORWARD CABIN ESCAPE HATCH 11 AERIAL WINDOWS 12 MAIN AIR SUPPLY DUCTS IN MAIN CABIN BULKHEAD 13 CENTRE SECTION FRONT SPAR PICK·UPS 14 EXTERNAL STRAKES 15 BOXEO"N FLOOR BEANS FOR RE-CIRCUlATING AIR 16 ACCESS DOOR TO AIRCRAFT SERVICES IN EQUIPMENT BAY 17 COMPOSITION flOORING. METAL COVERED IN FORWARD lUGGAGE COMPARTMENT 18 REMOVABLE METAL flOOR PANELS 19 REINFORCING ARCH SPANNING UNDERCARRIAGE BAY 20 FRAME S REINFORCED TO CARRY NOSE UNDERCARRIAGE PICK. first pioneered by the DH104 Dove. and allowed extra fuel to wings that housed the RR Avon tions to allow the gross weight to be be carried in the wing centre section. This was to thus increasing total fuel to 6. did make it unique in its day. Projected as the Comet 2. The first flight of an export aircraft for CPA.UP FORGI NGS 21 ACCESS DOOR TO FLYING CONTROLS ETC. was made on 11 August 1952. This development vice at a gross weight of 110. Also included in the weight 2X. with modified the BOAC Comet Is were modifica.

6. tail plane. ~. UAT.----------------------. SIMILAR JOINT $J BETWEEtt FRAMES I} & [4 39 ACCESS OOOi\ TO LUGGAGE BAY 40 EXTERNAL STf\AKES 4' CENTRE SECTION REAR SPAR PICK-UPS -42 PRESSUI\E FLOOR OYU\ CEMTRE SECTION In common with most aircraft the Comet featured greater structural strength at the mounting points for the fin. ze COHPOSITION' FLOORING 29 WOODEN 8UlkHEAOS FOR WASHROOMS & TOilETS 3D REUtFQRCltiG INNER 5klH ROUND PASS'EHGERS' ENTRY DOOR 31 PRESSURE DOME 32 DORSAL rue 33 EXTENSION OF BULKHEAD 50 fORMS STUB FIN FRONT SPAR :H INSULATING 80)( }S EXTENSION OF BULkHEAO 52 FORMS STUB FIN REAR SPAR 36 TAIL PLANE FRONT SPAR PICk-UP 31 FLOOR BEAMS SUSPENOEO FROM WOODEN 9ULKHE"O~ 38 BUTT STRAP AT fRAME 35 FOR SKIN JOINT.300 lbs. It was. This rosy picture was to collapse Compared with the seats fitted in passenger aircraft today these bench seats in the completely when disaster overtook early versions of the Comet were more redolent of railway carriages than aircraft. Such was the perceived suc- cess of the Comet that De Havilland was soon in negotiation with Short Brothers and Harland in Belfast to open another production assembly line with deliveries due to com- mence in 1954. the Comet 2 was powered by improved versions designated the Avon 503/504 and rated at 7. originally intended for the production Comet 2. Orders were forthcoming quite quickly from BOAC with 11 whilst British Commonwealth Pacific Air- lines increased the total by six later in 1952. however. TWIN CHANNEL SECTION EXTRUSIONS 26 LUGGAGE BAY flOOR RE IHFeRCEO BY NARROW SECTION STI FFENERS 21 AOOIllONAl WINDOW NOT USED ON 36 lbs.. The Comet 2 also settled upon the 44-passenger layout as standard with a gross weight of 120. Air France. and Panair do Brasil extending the line. The the Comet 1. interior window trim ring has been removed and is on the floor. CPA. the fuselage skin that was to be the Achilles heel of the early variants. Eventually.. (Marc Schaeffer) Zl DOU8LE KEEL FRAt1ES 23 CHANNEl STIFFENER FOR CENTRE SECTION PICk-UP 24 MAIN CABIN ESCAPE HATCH 2S fRAME 26. and wing sections. Orders were suffi- ciently forthcoming in quantity to justify such a move with JAL (2).. however.000 lbs. (BAE Systems) De HAVILLAND 21 ~@I~r .

L RUDDER UPPER SECTION '~_-.ar9~d EXTEIlNAL RELEASE HANO-GRIP ----.4 . Possibly a carryover from wartime needs.F. Peter Duffey via Chris Duffey) 22 . .. REAR SPAR. the Comet DINGHY RELEASE M!:CHANISM featured dinghies under lightweight panels located in the I DETAIL OF HATCH POSITtoN ~ICRO SWITCH ASSEMBLY wing roots....F..H. (BAE Systems) @ ..ANCE -----------1'8 H. SS BAl... RADIO . (Capt.u .. DIELECTRIC FIN TIP HOUSING ---------I1t-o V... ERIAL UPPER FIN SECTION fORMING Jr. On production machines the mass balances for the flying surfaces were suppressed into the leading edge horns although the first prototype did evaluate external balance horns. RADIO AERI .-.. FIN NAVIGATION LAMP The rear end assemblies on the Comet were entirely conventional in nature.. @ PAWL 8OOy~HGE OPEIlATING PULLEY INfLATION CYLlNOEIl SUOPOIlT BRACKET HIGH TE~PEIlATlJIlE OISCHAIlGE SYSTEM INDICATOR Appearance of 111"0_'1 Itldicatcl inflation cylindcr /WI1 di1d...


21.. extension wing joint. Hinged door for aileron control c. D~tachable panel in wing root fillet. 24. 3. 20. 36. I I. 22. Hinged (Ioor to wing equipment hay. J9. 23. Panel for inspection of dinghy equipment.. Detachahle panel for access to d. 6. I -~ I . I. (BAE Systems) STUB WING \ \ \ COMET n MAIN PLANE . Hinged entrance (Ioor for fuselage equipment bay. Manhole cover plates.. ~ I I I . Engine access and slinging panels--detachable. . 33. Peter Duffey via Chris Duffey) 24 .. Manhole cover plates outer tank (6 oil). Although the Comet stood at a reasonable height from the ground.. J 2.EXTENSION WING . Hinged door for access to voltage regulators and engine accessories. 28. lower surface).e-icing duct. Hinged door for entrance to tail fuselage.I I I I i I I I 1 I I I I I FLAP I I CENTRE I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I Schematic of the Comet wing shows the location of the primary components.. Detachable panel in cone fairing.. 32. 31. 13. Hinged door to wing jacking point. upper surface. Hinged door for dinghy release. 4. 8.-able adjustment.. 9.. 7. Hinged panel giving access to de-icing pipe. Hinged doors for flap screw jack and control access.. Hinged panel above aileron screw jack. . J 8. 29. Hinged door for engine accessories. 21. 1+. Hinged entrance door to fuselage luggage bay. Manhole coverplate with insert hinged (loor for access hetween wheel well and inner tank. Hinged doors for aileron screw jack and chains. Detachable door for controls and equipment in fuselage nose. 11. 4 off for each bay. Plates for access to elevator tab control rods (port elevator. S..\ 1 \ I I )/ I 'L ~. Hinged door for adjustment of nap cables. . Manhole cover plate for access to inner tank forward of front spar. Hinged door in rocket motor housing.j--- -+---. 1"'" I 1------. Hinged panel for access to flap and aileron controls. Detachable panels uOIler centre-section front spar. II. Hinged door over centre tank filler cap. Hinged door for ground electrical supply and refuelling master switch. 26. 2I. (Capt.... 16. Engine bay doo. Access panel for electrical junction box. ! i I i I \ . Manhole cover plates for centre tank. 3 S. most of the servicing access panels were located on the underside of the aircraft.. starboard.. Hinged doors for access to flap controls. Detachable fairing over jet extension pipe and rocket motor outlets. Hinged door aft of pressure dome.. 31. 10. 34. 30.. Detachable panels in wing root fillets aft of rear SpilT. AIRLINER TECH . I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I . I I /O-~. 2.

Although not a total position of the control column. The sec- ond aircraft. crashed on landing at Dakar on 25 cuits which was dependent upon the ered flight. run the captain experienced a control Comets experienced on takeoff and Although these modifications shudder on rotate. A further similar accident over- took a DAT machine. it all began The modifications that were speed pitot feed. I/"'~"~S TRIKE S THE COMET CRASHES t 1512 hours on the after. not events were to mar the Comet's good write-off. the auxiliary intakes under the inboard engines. Aircraft fitted with to go wrong when Comet 1 G-ALYZ later carried out to the wing leading the replacement feel system were crashed on takeoff from Rome's edges were intended to obviate the also built with the modified wing Ciampino Airport. During the takeoff tight handling margins that the early leading edges. The decision was landing. Within days of this photo being taken the aircraft had crashed. On 3 March 1953. Of note are the nose door aerials suppressed into the skin. the aircraft was deemed as would be the case later when "Q" name. the aircraft failed to become fully air- borne on takeoff. their input externally from the air- On 26 October 1952. the subsequent crash killing all onboard. was later con- This front-on view of CF-CUN of CPA reveals that it is undergoing pre- delivery checks. craft. Although subsequent June 1953. One of the biggest prob. Empress of Hawaii. and the covers over the nosewheel hubs that were deleted from later aircraft. departed Lon- don Heathrow on the world's first registered as G-ANAV for BOAC. were scheduled for new build air- taken to abandon the attempt lems with the Comet was the ten. This Comet was intended to inaugurate a new service across the Pacific. F-BGSC. verted to Comet lA standard and dency for the wing to stall on takeoff A noon of 2 May 1952 Comet 1. (BAE Systems) De HAVILLAND 25 ~@jIffiT . G-ALYP. which if the nose was raised sharp Iy. scrapped on site. CF-CDN. CF-CDM. crashed at Karachi during a delivery flight to Sydney via Honolulu. Added to this was the basic feel sys- tem fitted into the flight control cir- revenue earning commercial jet-pow. the earlier ones were still fly- although the following crash landing damaged the aircraft beyond repair. this one event changed the beyond economic repair and feel units were installed which took world of air travel forever. one day after acceptance. luckily there were no fatalities. However. As a result of this accident CPA canceled all fur- ther orders for the Comet. another Comet was destroyed when a CPA aircraft.

tem that may have led to the pilot ed that De Havilland carry out more 26 . scrutiny during fatigue testing by had been throttled back in an lent tropical storm and the Comet De Havilland and had already been attempt to slow the falling Comet in was noted passing through 10.This unusual air-to-air view shows the two Comet prototypes and the first production machine in formation. AIRLINER TECH . eight square miles with the engines area highlighted in the report was As a result of this accident the and wings being found some four the simplicity of the control feel sys. however it was sky. lifted off rib number 7. This area of the wing's been retarded to the midpoint of the from Dum Dum Airport on its way structure had already come under quadrant indicating that the engines to Delhi. The Air Accident Investiga- via radio contact with air traffic con. modified and strengthened to allevi. A further item in the report also when Comet 1 G-ALYV. ate localised stress point loading. all wearing BOAC colours. which is sporting external balance weights on the rudder and elevators.under extreme load. crash as the failure of the port eleva. Another correct in its findings. To the rear of the formation is the second prototype. the first Comet 1. tion Board from RAE Farnborough trol..Air Registration Board recommend- miles apart. The resultant crash killed all 43 had encountered a gusting squall of not enough to determine whether persons on board. At the time there was a vio. on a flight ure of the wings due to overstress at mentioned that the throttles had from Singapore to London. Not long afterward parts of the The conclusion drawn from also managed to secure some of the aircraft were seen falling from the these inquiries was that the aircraft aircraft's wreckage. The second in the formation is the first prototype. The subsequent such strength that any airframe the Indian accident report was fully spread of wreckage covered some would have been in danger.its dive. The first The initial Indian government over compensating. (BAE Systems) ing in an as-built condition. The leading aircraft is G-ALYp. which in turn incident that produced a total loss of inquiry established the cause of the caused the elevator spar to fail life of crew and revenue-paying pas. The ADF aerials that were to cause trouble in the future are clearly visible on the cabin's upper fuselage.000 ft. sengers occurred on 2 May 1953 tor spar followed by structural fail.

"-"~i'lo'"":r Rear fuselage complete with tail unit wing panel.----. Starboard outer . (BBA Collection via A. Pearce) Centre fuselage failed along centre line in the vicinity of the ADF aerials and spread outwards to the cabin windows.-. Although items from this area were recovered the structure itself was not.. (BBA Collection via A. Localized between ribs 12 and 13.E 28 FUSELAGE SKIN PEEL FAILURE I DIRECTION OF SECONDARY STRUCTURAL FAILURE DIRECTION OF STRUCTURAL FAILURE POSSIBLE EXTENT OF PRIMARY STRUCTURAL FAILURE ~~~~~±:::::::. . Fuselage section departed in a downwards direction. I I \_----j This diagram showing the structural failure of the Comet 1 fuselage was compiled using contemporary material plus data from many sources. When the structural failures occurred in the Comet fuselages they followed a similar pattern of disintegration which this diagram attempts to show.__ .L _ STARBOARD I I FORWARD SECONDARY STRUCTURAL FAILURE I I I I PORT I I I I I FUSELAGE SKIN ------j . Separation point of centre section from outer wing panel wreckage. seperated at wing rear spar attachments and departed in a downwards direction. ~~~~=-~. Pearce) De HAVILLAND 27 ~@IIET .--. Theorized to have failed in a Front fuselage separated in the downward direction in a similar vicinity of wing front spar attachment fashion to starboard wing. Area of failure not recovered.Wing section departed in downwards direction. FRAME 13A FRAM.I PULLED OVER RIVETS ( 1 FUSELAGE SKIN BY WINDOW FRAME I I I I I PEEL FAILURE ------. Starboard wing section and centre section failure point. points. --. Wing centre section complete with engines and undercarriage...

000 upward direction. company was already undertaking first occurred on Sunday. was that the pressurised cabin had finally released stated that no fur. how- ever. severe and sudden decompression was a potential fatigue failure at the Contact with the aircraft was lost as followed by a violent collision with corner of a cabin window. sengers and six crew were killed. As the aircraft had broken up over the sea. ed with the wreckage being scat.. In response to this latest tragic hours since entering service. legally still available for flying duties as the CofA was still in force. the suppressed ADF aerial cover as seen from inside the cabin. This surprised all concerned as such extremes would not be experi. 1954. en coming from the Italian pathological After extensive testing that went route from Singapore to London team which revealed that some of the far beyond that recommended by departed from Rome at 0931 hours aircraft's passengers had died due to the ARB. 10 January Some evidence was soon forth- such tests in response to the crash. BOAC voluntarily ground- ed its Comet fleet the next day so that extensive investigations could be carried out. The of the aircraft's engines. The conclusion Autumn of 1953. BOAC aircraft. This is an overwing exit window as fitted to the early Comets. G-ALYP. (Marc Schaeffer) 28 JiIRLINERTECH . (Marc Schaeffer) accident. the RAE and the Royal Navy were having great difficulty recovering wreckage for detailed examination. The report that was ft. Soon after the aircraft disintegrat. the weakness of the fuselage structure. However. sion. Of note is the assembly method of the surrounding structure. was not addressed until much later in the aircraft's life. This is the offending article. Theories put forward originally included control flutter. The Comets already in service then resumed nor- mal flying. the airframe had only flown 3. As this was still a prestigious project for the UK the real cause of the problem. The trials it passed the island of Elba whilst it some of the aircraft's structure in an were eventually concluded in the was flying at approximately 27. The fleet was. this was a case of befall the Comet 1 fleet before it was loss of control or catastrophic failure catch up by the authorities as the finally withdrawn from service. these trials revealed there to complete its final leg for home. .681 enced in normal service. and aircraft. De Havilland and BOAC issued a joint statement which said that the loss of "YV" was only theorised in the accident report and that the basic design was sound. All 29 pas. stringent checks upon the Comet Two further accidents were to massive hydraulic malfunction. suffered a catastrophic decompres- ther action would be required as tered over a wide area. Also in response to the accident.

Although use. hope rested on the recovery of por- fleet by BOAC was voluntary. were Also in response the CAA withdrew section. 10 weeks crash of this Comet which had flown to the beginning of March. Over a them £50. craft. at which point contact was the control of the Royal Navy.000 ft. In order to recover the remains of cols) cleared the Comets to resume These continued until the Comet the Comet. the nesburg. with an RAE team. All on board were killed in the period covering the end of February On 23 March 1954. Two of the aircraft's engines recovered from the seabed. for 25 hours. ble for registering aircraft) and the departed Rome for its destination To test the BOAC donated air- ASB (responsible for safety proto. and passed relevant radio checks. The second accident occurred Comets. On landing the crew dis. tions of the Elba Comet and the use government declined to open a pub. covered that bolts retaining a panel of a BOAC aircraft for destructive lic inquiry and it was left to the on the port wing were loose and that testing. (Marc Schaeffer) De HAVILLAND 29 ~@I~T . some after the loss of G-ALYP. the remains were not enough to three days hence when Comet 1 would prove almost impossible due reveal the cause of the crash. gate and report upon the possible Both these defects were rectified FRS. On 8 April the Comet es from any recovered wreckage. However. Tvlelve days later In response BOAC immediately recovered including portions of the further major fuselage portions of grounded the remaining aircraft. The investigation was placed CAA-AIB and the MoT to investi. Recovery of the wreckage ful. a large fleet of recovery flying especially as BOAC claimed was abeam Naples at an altitude of ships was assembled off Elba under that their grounding was costing 30. a water tank was con- The primary frames shown in this view are the mounting points for the fin and tailplanes. under the control of Arnold Hall. who. on hire to SAA. front and rear spars from the centre "YP" including the flight deck. as no obvious fault although the aircraft was delayed attempt to find the cause of the crash- was forthcoming the ARB (responsi. G-ALYY. the Permit to Fly for all the extant were also recovered. would causes. a fuel gauge was malfunctioning. large sections of wreckage were flights resumed. departed to the depth of the remains.704 hours since delivery. lost.000 in losses per week. service some 2. G-ALYU. therefore As the grounding of the Comet London for Rome en route to Johan.

flights the gauges again dropped to and subjected to a series of violent tigation. A further section of the flown a total of 9.000 real and simu. the Comet was fleck traces on the port tailplane. This example. In this view the engine doors have been dropped for access. at least one crack had prop. the paint and scores from which passenger windows. To further extend the testing of carriage bays. Yet again signs of fail- sured 112 ft. 3 June. In-depth inspection by the zero. in were accumulated in the test series backward by some great and explo. F-BGN¥. Extensive fractures in the of failure occurred after 150 hours of internal fuselage pressure of the test vicinity of the rivet holes were seen simulated flight when cracks specimen suddenly dropped to zero. further disruption was the loads placed upon the wings dur.width. in length and some 3 ft.sion of the pressurised cabin. The evidence so far corners was being touted as the pri- could be studied safely. AIRLINER TECH . Fully outfitted with strain Even as the trials were proceed. but was later returned to De Havilland. Air France was also an early customer for the Comet.800 simulated test crew and scientists. by a volunteer tail section belonging to "yp" was After a total of 1. stopped. Analysis soon revealed that the paint left-hand side of the pressurised the crew using oxygen breathing trace was from the skinning on the cabin above the wing that measured apparatus. This reduce the danger. First signs when the gauges used to monitor the aerial. appeared at the aft end of the under. (BAE Systems) 30 .mary cause.The tank was drained and the subse. long by 20 ft. wide.structed at Farnborough which mea. was used as a flying test- agated to a length of eight inches. This was part of the fuselage ure were found at the corners of the Water was used to pressurise the skin.Comet lost off Elba was recovered on lated hours. bed. was accepted in July 1953. revealed extensive damage on the flown in an unpressurised condition. aircraft was flown. another aircraft. At this point the aircraft had with all trials being recorded on film sive force. The aircraft's structure was then gauges and recording equipment the ing at Farnborough a portion of the repaired and the tests were resumed. Prior to the tests being quent fuselage inspection revealed a the Comet 1 series. Although skin fuselage so that simulation of flight were soon shown to match that on failure in the region of the window cycles and the stresses involved the tailplane. To simulate pointed to the explosive decompres. Yet again the tank was drained but controlled manoeuvres. Over 100 flying hours fuselage which had been thrown 8 ft.. To RAE team eventually detected paint and the fuselage inspected. a series of hydraulic jacks Further clues to a possible failure skin above the centre section in the was placed under the wing sections occurred at the end of June 1954 region of the cut-out for the ADF that were outside the tank. as further evidence of fatigue failure.crack in the skin emanating from the G-AMAU. discovered in the upper fuselage ing flight. to high altitudes delivered at the end of May for a Canberra chase plane. corner of a passenger window.

At the end of its useful dence to suggest that failure of these flown home unpressurised at low life this Comet was flown to Cosford areas of fuselage were responsible level for eventual disposal. The aircraft was to be lost in a fatal crash off Elba on 10 January instead of the original 40 or 50 per. However. there are those. for the loss of "YP" and "YY" a the Air France Comets. This was F-BGNZ tinued for the Mk. the knowledge gained delivered to the RCAF as a Comet lA. In-depth inspection in the area of the ADF cut-out rivets revealed fine crack lines that con- firmed fatigue failure of the skin. they were als purposes. In late August 1954. In which was later converted to 1XB aircraft were heavily modified for session for five weeks the final pub. whether the cause was structural failure or a bombing The registration on this Comet reads "CF-SVR. it only produced a report was careful not to apportion poses.installing oval windows instead of the original square items. Recalculation of the fuse- lage stress loads in light of this dis- covery revealed that the loading was G-ALYF was the first production Comet 1 and was delivered to BOAC as high as 70 percent of maximum on 8 April 1952. This eventually led to the skin in the vicinity of the port cabin windows being subjected to loads beyond design limits. the purchased by the MoS for trials pur. Having discovered enough evi. (Capt. the centre sections of neither aircraft were ever recovered. blame to anyone person or compa. even today.become XM823 by which time it was All production reverted back to Hat- ny due to the pioneering nature of being operated by DH Props for tri. the relevant fuselage sections of the cabin needed to prove or disprove the developing -- . (Capt.. thus failure was assured." This airframe was originally conspiracy. 1954 after the fuselage structure failed. Following the crashes involving the type. However.theory concerning the aircraft's loss $T G·ALYP were found on the seabed and recovered.further use by the Royal Air Force.standard with a strengthened fuse. the Comet project.2 although these October 1954 to consider the facts.lished at Belfast. Significantly.n line estab- of RAE Farnborough.remaining BOAC Comets. As for the via Chris Duffey) De HAVILLAND 31 C@I~T . it from the Comet losses formed the was rebuilt to lXB standard which involved reworking the fuselage structure and basis of the structural load calcula. lished report confirmed the findings lage. The aircraft was later to few fuselages before being closed. was also The Comet production line con- court of inquiry was convened on 19 flown to the UK. However. Part of the final deduction in the report's summary revealed that the fuselage structure of the Comet 1 was in essence too weak to support the loads placed upon it.field and Chester. who maintain that explosive charges had been placed in the centre sections of both aircraft so that they would be destroyed and discredit both De Hav- illand and the UK aircraft industry. One of where it is currently preserved. Registered as G-APAS it was As for the productio. Peter Duffey via Chris Duffey) cent postulated. Peter Duffey tions that are in use today.

F-BGSC.. AIRLIJVERTECH . The third aircraft.. Comet 1 F-BGSA was one of three aircraft delivered to the French airline UAT. The first two aircraft from this batch were returned to De Havilland when the Comet was grounded. (Jennifer M Gradidge Collection) Damaged in a crash landing. (Jennifer M Gradidge Collection) When the Comets were withdrawn. (C P Russell Smith Collection) 32 . G-AYLS was delivered to RAE ~ . Such was its exposure to the elements that the layout of the external skinning can now be quite clearly seen. This was never completed as work ceased after the crashes overtook the Comet fleet. was badly damaged in a landing accident at Dakar. It was later sent in this dismantled state to Farnborough for structural testing. ~ Farnborough for systems and aerodynamic testing. With these trials complete it was left outside in all weather whilst its fate was decided. G-ALYR was returned to the UK for repair.

To enable the more powerful ECUs G-AYLT was built as the only Comet 2X. hours of rigorous tank testing. Upon rollout it was registered as G-AMXA and made its maiden flight on 29 undertook its maiden flight pow- ered by Avon Mk. the first pro. T the Comet I. it eventually became the pro- which was rebuilt as a Comet 2X allowed to appear at that year's totype for the Comet 4 series. more powerful Avon 524 series in testbed until withdrawn from use. of fuel and a fuselage tually a total of 16 aircraft were com. both Mk. THE COMET ROM 2 TO 4 TESTING-REWORK-RELAUNCH hroughout the troubles with duction Comet 2. they were not land although it lacked many of the neered using heavier gauge materi. De Havilland had continued to develop the design. features later applied to the Comet 4. These were G-AMXD and "XK.502 ECUs on 19 July 1954.2Es both were utilised as Avon trials aircraft. The whole fuselage pleted and supplied for mainly mili. the outstanding standing Comet 3 orders were can- ing. The production aircraft were to fea- were for two aircraft from BOAC gent tests ever devised for a civilian ture extra fuel tankage which in turn which eventually rose to 20. However.330 were released. flight trials were flown in an unpres- Royce Avon Mk. als and oval windows. Other modifications applied to orders for the Comet 2 were canceled celed in favour of the forthcoming the Comet 2 were the addition of an by their respective customers. Enough of the flight range aircraft intended for use by airframe number six. series 4 aircraft. Peter The 23rd airframe.502 ECUs. development aircraft by De Havil- structure was completely re-engi.000 lbs. After the results of the report ed. SBAC Show at Farnborough. G-ALYT. By this time." Designated as Mk. powerplants were changed to the G-AYLT remained in use as a De Havilland's continued refine. all were aircraft which involved countless increased the overall weight. G-ANLO was therefore used as a stretch of 3 ft. however. accident investigations were under. was built at the De when the single Comet 3. After landing on the air- field's grass strip the airframe was -- 7' handed over for instructional pur. enlarged the original centrifugal Ghost engines had been replaced by the far more efficient intakes were required to give the axial-flow RR Avon powerplants. The Further production of the Comet surised state although once the air- maiden flight from Hatfield was 2 was then halted whilst the Comet 1 craft's structural strength had been undertaken on 16 February 1952. ments to the design culminated February 1957 which could generate On 28 May 1959 it was flown to the RAF training station at Halton by the DH chief test pilot. John Cun- ningham.2s were also used in the testbed role. the middle months of 1953. Duffey via Chris Duffey) De HAVILLAND 33 ~@i~T . extra 7. The aircraft is shown on loan to BOAC during increased mass air flow. (Capt.524s rated at 10. whilst the two outer bays were home to Avon Mk. Of note are the lowered engine doors. G-ANLO. the out- passed onto BOAC for crew train. cleared for delivery until a test speci. This was basically a Comet 1 in which to function efficiently. The inner positions had Mk. Even. Constructed as a long- pany's labour was the appearance of August 1953. confirmed the system was reinstat- After initial flight testing it was way. The first fruit of the com- Havilland plant at Hatfield. Initial orders men had undergone the most strin. Initial from a Comet 1 to test the Rolls. ~6'AlYT poses.000 lbs. tary use.504 engines rated at 7. The for the 44-seat version. Two other Comets. trials had been completed for it to be BOAC.

Peter Duffey via Chris Duffey) After servicing. Once F-BGNZ of Air France. (Capt. (Capt. (C P Russell Smith Collection) 34 AIRLINER TECH . This aircraft was later reworked as a Comet 2E for continued use by the RAE which used it for blind landing experiments with the BLEU at Bedford. G-APAS now sits in retirement at Cosford Aerospace Museum. Peter Duffey via Chris Duffey) Originally built for BOAC as a Comet 2 this airframe. was later sold to the RAE via the MaS as XV144for use in blind landing trials. G-AMXK. In its active flying days it had been converted to lXB standard for further usage by the MoS. Comet 2 G-AMXD is rolled out of the hangar to await engine runs.

noise of the engines could be clearly pedestal between them. The aircraft's being replaced by the shorter span craft was flown to Hong Kong in 18 landing speed was set at 110 mph. The successful completion of maximum all up weight measured problems with the forthcoming this flight ensured that the Comet 4 out at 2. the aircraft was put through exten. a Comet 2E was fitted with RR pilots who faced panels that fea- After full civil flight trials G-ANLO Avon 524 RA29 engines with a brief tured full dual instrumentation was purchased by the MoS in June to ensure that the required MTBF of except for engine and trim controls 1961 for use by the extra 500 lbs. The range for the Comet at Woodford for further use in the reached a total of 9. set destined for the Comet 4B. a partially completed was issued a CAA Permit to Fly on speed was 260 kts. Finally. with flaps being Comet 3 fuselage and wing set were 29 September 1958. Another inno. They also blanket sprayed upon the runway. taxi trials involving a foam-retardant York end of the Heathrow-New York lights. panels above their heads contained life it was engaged in aircraft braking This was a requirement for the New switches for the landing withdrawn XP915 was trans. Close vation was the attachment of noise fuel cock controls. undercarriage. 4. Based at 1. REAR PASSENGER COMPARTMENT ----I Imla.T I COMPARTMENT ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT BAY FRONT FREIGHT HOLD HYDRAULIC EQUIPMENT BAY AILERON SERVO REAR FREIGHT HOLD UNIT BAY NOse EQUIPMENT BAY AIRCRAFT SERVICES STATION DIPLOMATIC MAIL LOCkER PILOTS' CONTROL PEDESTAL ESCAPE HATCH This is the basic seating layout plan produced by De Havilland. extensive sound pedestal was the SEP2 Autopilot ther trials for another 12 years to proofing was installed. at 40. The upper 'roof to the end of the Comet's working suppressors to the jet pipe end caps. subjected to extensive testing to To test the engines for the Comet The cockpit layout housed two destruction before being scrapped.000 hours could be achieved. Further flight trails in con. plus the flap. specify their own layout. and develop blind landing systems. Customers could. A still-air range of 3. hydraulic servo power sup- rfRONT PASSENGER COMPARTMENT ---1--. speed of 500 mph.000 ft. route where stringent anti-noise reg- had thrust reversers fitted to the out.300 yards. all. retracted at 200 kts.225 miles Nimrod development trials.000 nection with Comet 4 development sive flight evaluation which culmi.. and quite frequently did. Normal climb-out Comet 4. As the which were mounted on a central RAE Bedford the aircraft was reseri. On takeoff the consumption was which was an increase from the The first Comet 4 had its maiden 4. hours and 22 minutes on 14 Septem.000 gallons per hour although this Comet 3's 2. (BAE Systems) De HAVILLAND 35 C~M~T .500 available for the G-APDA. miles was calculated at a cruise saw the outboard wing sections nated in a notable first when the air. each. For the next few months tion reduced to 800 gallons per hour Comet 2.700 miles and a marked flight on 27 April 1958 registered as was short lived as cruise consump- increase on the 2.600 gallons over- 4 was also increased to 3. Also on this aIled XP915 and was engaged ill fur. heard in the cabin. board engines in order to shorten the ferred by road in 1973 to the factory The fuel contents in the Comet 4 landing run. whilst the takeoff run at sea level at To ensure there would be no ber. ulations were in force.

and the radio selector panels. refurbished. brake control valves. cabin air conditioning. the fuel igniters were by Lucas.J1IRLINERTECH . pilots were a navigator and a flight starters were supplied by ROTAX. (Jennifer M Gradidge Collection) lop and included tyres. but had been so equipped since the Viewed from a different angle the main gear "0" doors can be clearly seen. For navigation purposes the aircraft was fitted with LORAN and a Marconi radio system. Its period in BOAC colours was short-lived as the aircraft was returned Other parts were supplied by Dun- to OH.. Behind the coming from rectifiers. De Havilland provided certain com- ponents such as the cold air unit with on-board controllers for many of the conditioning systems being With everything out and down Comet 2 G-AMXO is caught during the landing supplied by Normalair Garrett. and nosewheel steering jacks. and fully duplicated Thompson Houston with DC power maxeret anti-skid units. brake units. Engine Comet's windscreen wipers. and sold to the RAE. approach. a fea- The aircraft's electrical system Fitted to the Comet 4 was a nose ture that was missing from the received its primary power from radar unit manufactured by Ecko Comet 1. Emergency equipment to sup- engineer who controlled the fuel Standby electrical power was sup. the flight crew alternators supplied by British which not only mapped clouds. The major installed hydraulic system was courtesy of Lockheed. On the prototypes the door was much flatter. The flight controls were operated by servodynes which were produced by the company as were the hydraulic pumps. The bulge was required to cover the bogie. ply selectors. KiddIe in the Comet 3 and 4. shock absorber struts. was also capable of ground map- ping and use as a search radar. (Damien Burke I BBA Collection) 36 . and plied by a series of batteries whilst crisis included an oxygen system by on-board electrical systems. port the passengers in the event of a system. wheels. In contrast.

the Comet's main This schematic of the Comet's main gear reveals the dishing on the undercarriage reveals a very squat. The Comet's main gears had been designed so that the rear wheel set would make contact with the ground first. (Damien Burke I BBA Collection) ©E@r~tf* 4 MAINTENANCE MANUAL Shown from the front. with the damper above cushioning the load. structure. but solid inner face of the nDn door and the interaction between the leg and door. (Damien Burke IBBA Collection) (BAE Systems) De HAVILLAND 37 ~@II~T .

of the leading edge pinion tanks on others as was the flying control neered by the earlier models. of the split type. was used purely entered service. Internal sealing allowed located under the jet pipe tunnel ment courtesy of a cabin-mounted the outer wings to be used as inte. Cut-outs were The Comet nose gear retracts aft to lie in its gear bay. the outer wings. coded yellow. .Comet had first been proposed. The although by the time this version on the 4B. detail strengthening At the wing's trailing edge were for emergency undercarriage lower- of the airframe had taken place. Further strength was given by the takeoff run. the structural centre assembly. were in deluxe or first class with 32 in the gallons whilst that of the 4/4C was for primary control purposes. used extensively throughout the rated into the system. wing skins. These featured fore flaps that were designed to counter. the other cabin. tained the engines plus associated wing panels bolted onto a three-part whilst the leading edges featured peripherals. be seen leading from the top of the leg to the doors. upper aneroid altitude sensor which was gral fuel tanks. . For landing purposes. which ing usage. the plain flaps and ailerons. green and blue. The construction of the increased to 8. a fault that had and incorporated the engine and closely spaced stringers onto which afflicted earlier versions. red. final system. The nosewheel bay structure and nose gear was of very robust One item not shown on the drawing is the spray construction. The wing was constructed in were operated by servodynes as The wing centre section con- sections consisting of a pair of outer were the rudder and elevators. bones of this component consisted of and aft spars with a false spar to the act any possible problems during two primary spars with a half spar rear. a feature missing backup system. A further undercarriage bays.. As before. The linkage for retracting the gear bay doors can guard quite frequently fitted to the nosewheels. bays. As before Initially BOAC opted for a pas.900 gallons courtesy former being connectable with the Comet 4 followed on from that pio. were system was capable of auto deploy. This meant that the Comet there were four hydraulic systems. structure.000 ft. This were fastened a series of machined set of flaps.890 Two of these. senger cabin layout that featured 16 4B fuel load was increased to 7. Redux bonding was wing surface spoilers were incorpo- set for a cabin altitude of 15. (Damien (BAE Systems) Burke/BBA Collection) 38 AIRLINER TECH --.

passenger cabin were oval in shape the left-hand side and were intended lier Comet variants.present in the spars to allow passage frames attached to which were been assembled on the production for the intake tunnels and the jet longerons for further strength. Further from a front pressure bulkhead. (Damien Burke / BBA Collection) (Damien Burke/BBA Collection) De HAVILLAND 39 ~@lWET . The corresponding doors on the four engines to supply air for cabin Comet 3 and 4 there were 15 win. Seen from the rear. internally it was 9 ft. In a change from the ear. Under the fuselage floor was components in the fuselage were the blies. the 3 and 4 only to remove any possible problems primarily for crew and passenger required tappings from two of the with cracks at the corners. the company had the rest being riveted. as is the location of the pitot heads on either nosewheel bay which could damage the equipment located therein. in. As line the whole fuselage became a exhaust pipes and to provide mount. For the use. to a rear pressure bulkhead at the was ready to offer its remaining 18 stringers redux bonded to the skins. dows per side whilst the longer 4B mainly used for catering crew access These major after-assembly and 4C had 17 per side. the splashguards covering the nosewheels are Nose-on the length of the Comet's nose landing gear leg shown. right-hand side of the fuselage were conditioning and pressurisation.100 hours. The fuselage although they featured as emer- structures were attached to the air. The fuselage had an of the nose which included the flight cards. 9 and the rear fuselage to which was through three windows per side. at the deck. the aft cabin. at the same point. before. These attached to the frames. After the fuselage sections had located a series of compartments. the forward cabin. These were required to reduce the spray entering the is revealed. 3 in. Further escape routes were outside diameter of 10 ft. Access doors to the aircraft were managed to extend the in-use life to All the window cut-outs in the located fore and aft of the wing on 4. was built in four sections consisting gency escape routes on the seat craft's fuselage. rear of the passenger cabin. aircraft for sale. side of the fuselage. upon were initially rated at 1. The primary mounted the fin and tailplane assem. available via overwing escape points widest point.000 hours strengthening was applied to the which was mounted the radar scan- MTBF although by the time BOAC fuselage by the incorporation of ner. the skins were machined and pressurised cabin which stretched ing points for the engines.

as one more version still remained. Cubic capacity for the greater majority.. the aircraft had a maximum stayed true to its roots retaining its gravity and the assistance of the takeoff weight of 160. were leg. Fully The design of the Comet V undercarriage could be lowered by laden. The fuselage had were a series of baggage holds was the Comet 4. It was. finished by swept tailplanes and fin. retracted an upper hold by the rear pressure However. too little retract or extend as required. too late as the Boeing 707 and Dou- landing the aft wheels on the main Also located in the rear fuselage glas DC-8 series airliners were estab- bogies trailed and were the first to was another smaller compartment lishing themselves as the world make contact on touchdown. and if required whose specifications first surfaced in cycled through to allow the legs to the crew could enter this compart. which was normally used for diplo. for powerplants in the wing root engine hand pump once the locks had been landing purposes the highest weight bays albeit they had been upgraded released.000 lbs. fuel system monitoring. For emergency purposes the matic baggage purposes. When production finally ceased some 91 passengers. with a pair of nosewheels. Both featured a maximum at the end of 1962. this was not quite the aft to be housed under a pair of bulkhead which had a capacity of end of the Comet development story doors. (Marc control of the aircraft's hydraulic systems. 67 in all. Access was via an exter. however. This was the stillborn Comet V under a pair of large doors which sured 27 in. Its counterparts in the wings 104 cubic ft. July 1956. (Marc Schaeffer) Schaeffer) 40 .. a total of 113 air. by 48 in. He also had various electrical services and the radio equipment.The first of these was the nose width of 9 ft. In the Comet 4 the engineer had responsibility for all cabin Over the pilots' heads were other panels that controlled services.. leaders in the airliner market place. retracted outwards to be housed nal door for loading which mea. with a maximum frames had been constructed of which undercarriage bay where the nose length of 6 ft. 9 in. 6 in. been stretched to accommodate which straddled the wing centre sec. During ment in-flight via an internal hatch. Aft of the nosewheel bay allowable was 116. and balance. a fairly long assembly complete both was 333 cubic ft. There was also various marques of the Comet 4. AIRLINER TECH . the whole being tion. This then to RR Conways.000 lbs.

(BAE Systems) When the Comet 4 series was being built the opportunity was taken to upgrade the pilots' control panels to include a radar repeater and other improvements. CAPTAINS MAIN INSTRUMENT PANEL CO·PILOTS MAIN INSTRUMENT PANEL The pilots' instrument panels installed in the Comet 4 were a great advance on those originally designed for earlier marques. (Marc Schaeffer) De HAVILLAND 41 ~@lWE1r . Improved navigation aids plus radar all had their place in this version.

......::=:!~-. AIRLIJVERTECH . (BAE Systems) 42 ...::> 29 FT 61N * .................:::.......47FT1. THOSE SHOWN ARE FOR TARE WEIGHT. '"--_...1N -------1 9FT81N * 21 FT 61N I -........ 1 .... This general arrangement drawing of the Comet 4 gives all the relevant dimensional information.j --..1 1 1 FT 61N OVERALL LENGTH ------------...-:..1 1 4 FT 10 INS SPAN ----------------0-1 * HEIGHTS WILL VARY WITH AIRCRAFT LOADING.JIrpt---------------t--L- 1 .IIjIL JtlIL-J'----..


Access panel lor AD 118 control pane1. A. 2. A. Auto pilot amplifier.F. 13.... 39.ard. 6. Oxygen mask stowage. 17. 35. D. 32. (BAE Systems) 44 AIRLIlfERTECH .:tion b:)x. 27. 5. For . 38. vertical gyro and comparator unit. H. 23. Seical chime' unit. Lid to S.D. Outside temperature gaulc.. R. F.·. Loran transmitter/receiver. 10.o. r-.. S.l. Aft 5tation box: navittation station.mittrr/receiver type AD 118. A.. 33. 8. 17 36. tran. Ja. S. 19. Radio switch panel.. D. 37.1 controller. F. H. 24. jun.. 31. 4.. 25. 29. 28. Stowage box. Morse . 30. F. Ash tray. F. Capta. F.ard o)(ygen regulator.z controlJer. Machmctc r. amplifier. 11.. Auto pllot pl"essure unit. R.F. irequency card holder. F.1. 3. F. Aft oxygen regulator. H. 15.S. S. Oxygen masT. 21. A. M. S. F.p. box: lor . Jack·box: aft. No.. control paneh. Stowage boK. Torque switch panel. Air almanac IlowalC" 16. twin com pas.Cry. aC'l'VO ~mp1ifiera. 7. 28. stowage.tor .. E. M. D. 18. change-over unUs. 14. 9. Auto pilot locking unit.M.S. 20.. 22. H. Omni~earinl indicators. receivers. F. The navigator in the Comet 4 had a far more sophisticated equipment layout to command compared to his counterpart in a Comet 1. Forward station box: navigation station. oxygen recu1a. azimuth 8>'ro unit. S.F. KEY 1. 34.


These were required of the Comet to comply with American noise abatement laws.E. This included angling the 11 10 three outer ribs outward to deflect the engine thrust away from the aircraft. (Damien Burke/BBA Collection) Moving farther back/ __\ both sets ofjet pipe noise baffles are clearly shown. The wing trailing edge is home to the flaps/ prominent upon which are the wing fuel vent/dump pipes. (Damien Burke/BBA Collection) L. ROOT RIB I Although the wing structure of the Comet 4 series was based upon that developed for the prototype/ changes were made to accommodate the RRAvon powerplants. (BAE Systems) 46 AIRLINER TECH .

G-APDA. Only one Comet 3 The first Comet 4.. Thus the Comet 3 had its BOAC colours. As events were off and landing. was finally granted on 29 September. and featured a modified leading edge complete with flaps to aid pilots during take- filled by the emerging Boeing 707. This by any airline although the aircraft orders lost was that from Pan-Am. Close observation of the wing root of the nearest aircraft shows the location of the dinghy under the light-coloured panels. This latter variant would only have benefited De Hav. The use fatal crashes due to airframe fatigue already evidenced by Boeing with of G-ANLO certainly hastened the failure and problems some pilots the 707 series and Douglas and the issue of a Certificate of Airworthiness had with the aircraft's takeoff char. was extensively test flown by De Havil- craft's projected life. by the MoS mainly for RAF usage. of the Comet was being developed illand and the British airline indus. Those registered increased passenger capacity was training for which it was granted to BOAC were cautiously flown required. the First deliveries to BOAC were aircraft This pair of Comet 4s. was not taken up the earlier aircraft. was now powered by RR Avon which had been placed in 1953. The 16 production land as part of the Comet 4 develop- to prove. ArHoME THE COMET 4 IN AIRLINE SERVICE ABROAD n hindsight it may be fair to say engines. the Comet 3 was tion. more extensive testing airframes were eventually purchased ment programme. Although the first breed of 502/503 series. whilst those sold overseas were this in turn requiring an upgrading sold to the MoS for continued devel- quite often cut up where they stood. that relaunch its airliner programme it need of jet aircraft to fly its routes to was not to be and the sequence of took into consideration the advances such places as South Africa. of the powerplants to the Avon opment work with the RAE. many to destruc. When the company decided to for BOAC. which was in desperate try in the long run. One of the major parts of the type's certification. (BAE Systems) De HAVILLAND 47 ~@MET . DC-8. The next ver. G-ANLO. fuselage length increased to 115 ft. However. after the accidents that had befallen proving and completing the final sion. first Comet had suffered. This aircraft. Upon completion of home for testing. De Havilland was to be built and flown as orders flew on 27 April 1958 and was used believed in the design enough to for any others had been canceled by De Havilland and BOAC for route continue development. the Comet 2. had a redesigned fuselage subsequent vacancies were later I that the launch of the DH Comet 1 into airline service was undertaken far too early in the air- with oval windows. the test programme. namely that to make this for the Comet 4 as well as proving a acteristics effectively killed the early mode of transport profitable valuable tool for preliminary crew variants of Comet." are pictured at Heathrow on the occasion of the type's formal handover from OH to BOAC. G-APOB and "DE.

The major however. undertook a proving flight to Tokyo service which took it into the Middle vice use saw the aircraft flying the on 21 January 1959. A further service. started 19 December to BOAC. Destinations Atlantic run although they were lowed by another route proving for this part of the network were soon replaced by the Conway pow. the corporation felt it was vice was flown weekly with plans to 1958. This was fol. this was not to be the The last primary route assigned senger flight across the Atlantic and last usage of the Comet in the North to the Comets was that to Johannes- placed BOAC in the history books for American continent as new destina. G-APDT. and Beirut. burg which began on 2 December. delayed until 13 November become established. normally stopped at Gander. York was operated on 16 October the stop at Rangoon was omitted. New. and Boston. East for the first time."DB" and "DC" which were officially itation of the Comet required that it became a regular. (Jennifer M Gradidge Collection) 48 JtIRLIlVERTECH . Toronto. having beaten Pan-Am's Boeing 707 tions became regulars on the sched. time to expand its area of operations. G-APDK is a Comet 4 on loan to Air Ceylon from BOAC. started 13 June 1960. trip to Hong Kong routed via Ran- On 4 October the airline flew its foundland. the last. flight to Singapore using "DEli at the· Abadan and Doha although they ered Boeing 707 as these aircraft had beginning of June. 1960. were not terminations as the flight a greater fuel margin. was the one-day handed over the next day. Australia. Dakar. to refuel although at goon. a ser- with G-APDB. Sao Paulo. its attention to introducing the Aires and Santiago with stopovers in A total of 16 Comet 4 aircraft Comet to other parts of the system. With the delivery of the last Comet 4 service by 22 days. The range lim. Once the Atlantic route had began on 25 January 1956. In November 1960. whilst coming in the tailwind on 24 March 1959. From this angle it is possible to see the reworked engine intakes required for the Avon powerplants. Initially the ser. BOAC turned destinations on this trip were Buenos due to a strike. ule: Montreal. vice that began in earnest on 1 other direction was "DC" which The last Comet 4 flight to New November although on this flight stopped to refuel at Gander en route. introduce a daily service as more air. Karachi. This was. and Mon- were delivered to BOAC with the The Far East was the first operations tevideo. In-ser. Madrid. started 1 March 1960. which later continued on to Karachi. thus an incursion into Latin America craft became available. An exten- first commercial flight with the least one flight direct by G-APDH sion of this route took the Comets of Comet 4 from New York to Heathrow was accomplished with a helpful BOAC to Sydney. being delivered from zone to be visited when G-APDC Comet was introduced on another Chester on 19 October 1959. However. This was the first jet transport pas.

eventually totaled six Comet 4s. The second batch of three the aircraft did not really have the ordered in January 1958. (Jennifer M Gradidge Collection) usage under lease was by Air India for the Kuwait-Bombay service dur. favour with many overseas airlines. as there were eager buyers waiting to purchase these relatively low-time airframes. haul routes. therefore the only option to help cool the airframe was to leave the doors open. Malaysian Airways. was delivered The use of the Comet by BOAC Aerolineas Argentina whose fleet in March 1959 with the other two was. also found This very clean view of G-APDC shows an aircraft on loan to MEA from BOAC. This service operated once a week from London to Colom- bo.later BA - this was G-APDT. service the era of the Comet began for its primary routes from Buenos which commenced in April 1960. Only one basic Cornet 4 remained with BOAC . and the Ministry of Defence. Thus when the Boeing few months later. only the titling on the tickets changed for this run from London to Rhodesia. which was used as a ground procedures trainer before being scrapped. The oval windows installed in the Comet from the Mk. The greatest user was first aircraft. jet operating experience prior to the The nearest aircraft is G-APDM of BOAC whilst next to it is an Aerolineas delivery of Boeing 707s. in the resale of ex-BOAC and new some destinations in Europe.2 onward are very evident.24 November 1965 when G-APDE departed Auckland for Heathrow. AREA of Ecuador. The superseded aircraft were not sold for reclamation. Purchasers included Dan Air. The ing the 1964 -1965 winter season. build aircraft. to fade. A similar Argentinas example. The final revenue-earning Aires to the United States and for From that point the airline extended service by a BOAC Comet was flown on 22 . but that was dispatched to Argentina from "legs" to fly the prestigious long was quickly raised to the final total a March to July 1960. Latin America featured quite heavily (C P Russell Smith Collection) De HAVILLAND 49 ~@I~T . Slightly more obvious were those aircraft leased to Air Ceylon whose titles replaced the BOAC initials on the fuselage. LV-PLM. Although BOAC used the Comet quite extensively over its own routes. in airline terms. for APU. whether ex- BOAC or new build. from the first batch arriving in The corporation had realised that The first three aircraft were August. Mexicana. One of the first was Central African Airways whose flights were flown in aircraft wholly operated by BOAC. however. fairly short. The basic Comet 4. A further lease saw surplus Ground use air conditioning was never available on the Comet due to the lack of an Comets in service with Qantus. it also leased surplus seating space to other airlines with which it had connections. The airline had The first service flown by an AA 707 and Vickers VC-10 came into defined a requirement for jet aircraft Comet was that to Santiago. Chile.

destinations in America including damage that the aircraft was written chased an ex-BOAC aircraft on 3 Bogota and Guayaquil in the South off for spares recovery. thus it were bolstered by the purchase of a November 1965 until December was not unusual to see an Aerolineas single Comet 4C. ly sold to Dan Air to join its ever. This initial experience with the aircraft on the ramp at Heathrow. was delivered to BEA on 15 April 1958. This air. March 1966 the aircraft then entered minimal. which was 1969. the Mexicana base at Mexico City for another aircraft was written off. In 1960 had been retired and were eventual. delivered on 27 April 1962.Comet 4B. LV-AlB. whilst the almost obligatory run to 50 JfIRLINERTECH .and short. (BAE Systems) its Comet usage throughout Latin crash involved LV-AHR which hit craft remained in service until June America and into the United States trees on takeoff from Sao Paulo air. By 1971 the Comets HC-ALT. the Comet was flown to approach to Asuncion. Mexican service was XA-POW favoured destinations. Reregistered as it hit a hill in bad weather on haul services. Comet 4 LV-AHP was totally although they were to remain in the which purchased G-APDI from destroyed on 27 August 1959 when inventory flying local. Services heavy landing at Buenos Aires on 20 America are also worthy of mention. Eventually the Comets were Our last port of call in Latin Comets were lost to accidents. were flown from Quito to various February. superseded by Boeing 707 aircraft. when LV-AHO made a Two other operators in Latin service with the airline. Completed by although this time loss of life was increasing fleet. The final AA December 1964 as XA-NAP. surprising to find that some of the routes. which pur. Another ex-BOAC aircraft in with Miami and New York being port on 23 November 1961. modification work. Eventually The remaining three aircraft which was on long-term lease from the airline reached Europe. G-APMA. Due to first version Comet 4 was to lead on Due to the nature and intensity its inherent longer range this aircraft to a larger sales volume later with of the airline's scheduling it is not took over some of the extended the longer-range variants. Such was the extent of the The first is Mexicana. America is to Ecuador and AREA. As the aircraft was required for high intensity short-haul journeys. BOAC in 1965. 1971. the extra fuel capacity offered by the wing pinion tanks ivas not required.

Miami appeared early on in the other aircraft were operated under Comet fleet. The airline was already
schedule. The usage of the Comet by lease conditions. An extension to the quite familiar with the type, having
AREA only lasted for two years as it airline's routes took them to India utilised it under lease to connect to
was withdrawn in Miami in 1968. and Pakistan where the destinations Singapore and London. During the
On the African continent, East were Bombay and Karachi respec- period of leasing one aircraft,
African Airlines became a Comet tively. One route that disappeared in G-APDH was written off after land-
customer in 1960 when it placed an late 1963 was the twice-weekly run ing when it left the runway causing
order for two aircraft with De Havil- to Johannesburg as South Africa extensive damage to the undercar-
land. Run as a government co-oper- increased its grip on apartheid. riage and its mounts. Malaysian Air-
ative between Kenya, Uganda, and EAA retained the Comet in front ways then purchased five aircraft
Tanzania the aircraft were required line usage until February 1971 plus spares from BOAC. The first of
to compete with the jet services although by this time they were con- these, 9M-AOB, once G-APDB, was
flown by BOAC. Ordered in 1958 fined to secondary routes, the pri- delivered in September 1965 with
both aircraft entered service during maries being the purview of the the last entering service in January
1960 and encompassed such destina- Vickers Super VC-10 which was of the following year.
tions as Nairobi, Entebbe, Dar-es- introduced in 1966. Operating routes for the newly
Saalam, and London in their lexicon. Moving further to the east, acquired Comets initially concentrat-
So successful were the Comets Malaysian Airways was an early ed upon flights to Europe, India, and
that at various times at least four customer for the redundant BOAC the Gulf States. This range of opera-

The second Comet 4B
delivered to BEA was
G-APMB seen here on
the ground at Heathrow.
The location of the
ground power socket
under the forward
fuselage is clearly
visible. (C P Russell
Smith Collection)

Wearing the earliest
BEA markings is
Comet 3, G-ANLO.
Note that the outer wing
panels are of the short-
span type required for
the BEA Comet 4B.
(Jennifer M Gradidge


tions was soon expanded to include
numerous places within Southeast
Asia plus an extension to Australia.
In 1966, a consolidation of air-
lines in the region took place when
Malaysian Airways merged with
Singapore Airways to create
Malaysian-Singapore Airways. As
the Comets were part of a joint fleet,
three were given new Singapore reg-
istrations whilst the others retained
their original identities. The five air-
craft continued to soldier on in ser-
vice with MSA until replaced in ser-
vice in 1969 by far newer products
BEA Airtours received G-APMC from the parent company after it had been mainly from the Boeing stable.
converted to cater for the high-density short-haul tourist market. (Jennifer M The next variant in the Comet
Gradidge Collection) line came about as the result of a

All versions of the Comet 4 series were fitted with noise suppression baffles to comply with US noise level regulations. This is
SX-DAK on the occasion of its transfer to Olympic Airways in 1960. (Ray Deacon)


cancellation. In July 1965 Capital
Airlines placed an order with De
Havilland for 14 aircraft. Four were
to be the standard Comet 4 whilst
the remainder were a new type, the
4A. This version was intended to
have a longer fuselage with a
decreased wing span. It was intend-
ed for high-density, short-haul
routes. Unfortunately, financial
problems forced Capital into a merg-
er with United Airlines. The result-
ing airline, having no need for the
Comet, canceled the order.
It was at this time that BEA was
on the lookout for a jet airliner to
bring the company up to the same
level as its competitors within
Europe. The origins of this desire
stemmed from a business forecast
developed in 1957, which deter-
mined that the airline should enter
the jet age by 1960. It had initially
pitched for the rear-engined Trident
from De Havilland, although esti-
mates by the company placed deliv-
eries of the first examples of that air-
craft in 1963 at the earliest. This view of a Mexicana Comet 4C reveals the type's lineage that stretches back
BEA cast around for an interim to the first prototype, G-ALVG. (BAE Systems)
aircraft to carry the company to the
Trident introduction date. By this in March 1957 for delivery in 1959. Nicosia, Moscow, Malta, Nice, and
time the Comets for Capital had On 27 June 1959 the first Comet Warsaw. Later, in competition with
been canceled and De Havilland 4B for BEA, G-APMA, made its their European rivals, BEA began
offered a revamped version known maiden flight. It was quickly fol- using its Comets on the Zurich route
as the 4B to the airline. This featured lowed by "MB" which became the to which was added services to
a high-density layout able to accom- first aircraft delivered for service to Copenhagen, Oslo, and Stockholm.
modate over 100 passengers in BEA, the first aircraft being retained Comet 4B, G-APMB, still exists
tourist configuration or 87 in a more for crew conversion and other tasks. albeit with its wings in a truncated
conventional first/ tourist setting. The first route proving flight was form. It is retained at Gatwick by the
To prove the design changes the undertaken in December when air- BAA as a ground-handling trainer.
sole Comet 3, G-ANLO, was fitted craft "MB" flew from Heathrow to Such was the intensity of ser-
with the new shorter span outer Moscow. At first BEA Comet opera- vices provided by BEA that further
wing sections, first flying in this new tions were run on an ad hoc basis, aircraft were ordered. Three more
guise on 21 August 1958 complete aircraft being used to replace the reg- were contracted for on 19 July 1960
with BEA colour scheme. After flight ular performer on some routes in the whilst a further two were ordered
testing, the Comet - by now redes- event of a primary aircraft defect. on 22 December. A final contract for
ignated 3B - was used for conver- Full time regular operations another two aircraft was placed on
sion training by BEA crews before began on 1 April 1960 with a sched- 20 January 1961. This resulted in the
finally retiring from civilian usage. uled run to Tel-Aviv. Using London final Comet delivery to BEA being
The contract for the BEA Comets as the prime hub, a whole network G-ARJN, which arrived at Heathrow
totaled six in all and was confirmed of routes was assembled including on 4 August 1961.


All 59 passengers and seven crew were killed. London. tours' use had been preceded by that included the Portuguese carrier TAP BEA Airtours. awaits its next passengers. Trieste. the chance was taken to utilise the introduction of the DH Trident G-ARJL. Ibiza. The steep nose profile of the Comet is illustrated well in this view of LV-AHN. en route from Cyprus to aircraft on behalf of other IT opera.after 12 years in frontline service. Although the Mediterranean. flight on 31 October. Thus on 31 October firmly established in the BEA inven. This resulted ways in the region also benefited flown to Palma. Malaga. spare capacity now available. tors including Thomas Cook and During that time over nine million rorist bomb. This was squarely of the final aircraft retained by the whilst round the corner. Those involved formed a subsidiary company . Malta Air. enue by chartering aircraft to associ. From this point the in G-APMA flying steadily through- from its ties to BEA. (C P Russell Smith Collection) Exchange Travel. The withdrawal For BEA. Tener. Alicante. Not only were they faster. status of the BEA Comet fleet with 1973 the final IT flight by a Comet. Such a steep drop resulted in good visibility and rain dispersal characteristics. At the last moment the Cypriot leader's flight was switched to another service for security reasons. Gerona. Further ber in Airtours' colours resulted in ber 1967 were to show. =- . March 1970 when G-ARJL was as cover for shortages. and BAC 1-11 into service. Rimini. ife. Aircraft work was found for the Airtours' the final disappearance of the type G-ARCO. the Comet's days of involvement in this level of service were numbered as surplus BOAC Boeing 707s were purchased by BEA for the IT role. (C P Russell Smith Collection) 54 AIRLINER TECH --. Pisa. they could carry a greater payload over Once the Comet had become Other changes also affected the longer distances. using the destination range grew to include out 1970-71 before it made its final Comet on runs to London. tory. one aircraft was retained more prestigious routes. Palma. in the aimed at the IT end of the market. was undertaken and cov- the fleet further and earn extra rev. However. With the ered a run from Gatwick to Paris. The Comet 4 and 4C featured wing pinion tanks and increased wing span which increased the available fuel and allowed longer stages to be flown. LV-AHp. Aerolineas Argentinas Comet 4. was blown apart by a ter.of this Comet plus its opposite num- smooth sailing as events on 12 Octo. parent company. Cyprus Airways The first service operated by a greater majority had moved over to utilised the aircraft on some of its rebadged Comet took place on 6 the IT arm. however. This flight had original- ly been scheduled to carry the Cypriot leader Archbishop Makarios on a visit to London. and Vienna. it was not all Nicosia. BEA This demise of the Comet in Air- ate companies.

which was some three feet longer. the Greek airline Olympic which tor of the type . was from the 4B. was also the most successful in marily as a long-range. plus a fifth leased from BEA. thus by 1971 technical (Jennifer M Gradidge Collection) De HAVILLAND 55 ~OIi~T .Dan Air.On its belly and fully stripped of removable components for reuse as spares. the This final version was intended pri- order was placed in July 1959 with 4C. were passed onto another UK opera- tor . a selection of cooling intakes included a significant enough spares and exhaust vents were located in the wing top surface above the engine bays. long-haul deliveries to commence in April terms of general sales. The first flight from Athens to This particular build of the air. These five aircraft entered service in 1970 and were seen by many as the cause of the company's demise in February 1972 when it filed for bankruptcy. XA-NAp. the Comets were retired in favour of various Boeing products. London was undertaken on 18 May. The Comets. lived to fly another day as they AUW from the same source. The purchase of the Comets had not In order to cool the various engine zones and services. delays had meant that IT operators craft featured the longer wing span tance of 130 million route miles. however. plus the increased fuel capacity and build aircraft purchased the Comet ever. package. The initial The final Comet 4 variant. plus one of the retired BEA Comets. All four of the Olympic aircraft. this Mexicana Comet 4C. After nine years of stalwart service. The overwing escape points have been exercised thus revealing quite clearly their location. has reached the end of the road.this was passed onto the biggest fleet opera. obtained a batch of four. machine that found greater favour 1960. (Jennifer M Gradidge Collection) people had been carried over a dis. in the overseas marketplace.Channel Airways. were switching their business to inherited from the basic Comet 4 Only one other buyer of new other operators. the service was expanded throughout Europe and the Middle East. how. fuselage. The 4B from De Havilland . Once all four were in service.

56 . . Comets into service on the primary order covered three aircraft at a cost Services covered by the Mexi. icana for two more aircraft was not exercised due to financial problems.Mexicana-Guest in the run to San after type certification and delivery.-. to-Los Angeles run which began on Mexicana-Guest titling.routes of both companies to which of $14 million and was confirmed in cana Comets included the Mexico. XA-NAS. Even- batch. (C P Russell Smith Collection) ----. entry into commercial usage. Given the airline's critical finan- cial state it soon linked up with another more profitable partner. its maiden flight on 31 October 1959. The first aircraft. which arrived in inclusive title of "Golden Aztec. initially registered G-AOVU. AIRLIJVERTECH . The first build aircraft A further option placed by Mex. Other the Comet flew its final service for It would later be registered XA-NAR destinations later added to the air. This was Guest Aerovias Mexico whose primary trunk routes includ- ed many of the major Latin Ameri- Comet 4C 5U-ALE of United Arab Airlines is undergoing rectification after a can capitals plus destinations in hydraulic component change.. In happier times the ground crew carry out their final checks before the Comet departs. These were G-APDT from November 1965 to December 1969 and G-APDR from December 1964. made 4 July 1960 and marked the type's After 10 years of sterling service. A test rig is plugged in to the far side of the aircraft Europe. line's repertoire included New York. When this photo was taken none on board could realise that XA-NAT of Mexicana Guest would be badly damaged in a landing accident in later years. and withdrawal the aircraft were placed Mexico direct was the second of the Chicago all of which flew under the in storage for possible resale. although the airline did eventually lease a further two Comets from BOAC. After The first Comet 4C delivered to San Antonio." tually parties in the United States January 1960. Antonio on 1 December 1970. This placed the five in-use came from Mexicana whose initial that year. The operating agreement whilst one of the engine bay doors is open for functional and leak checking between the two airlines came into purposes. San Francisco.end some aircraft were given joint September 1958.purchased all three. although the latter was purchased outright soon after. (C P Russell Smith Collection) force in December 1960 to take effect from the beginning of the following The first order for this version finally arrived in America in June of year.

some of SU-ALL. Further overseas sales were gen- erated in both the Middle East and North Africa. and Beirut. as Misrair had until they were sold to Dan Air for 1959. become. arrived in Cairo on 10 June 1960. extensive selection of services to remained in the aircraft's purview The second major order from the Europe was to evolve. The first aircraft to be delivered. SU-ALC. Lon- don. The following month saw the Comet begin route flying to Athens. plus an the shorter in terna tional routes stripped for spares where it stood. MEA received its first aircraft -. (Ray Deacon) De HAVILLAND 57 ~~IDlI~T . However. A short period of storage for Lebanon-based Middle East Airlines routes began to lessen from 1970 the four survivors at Cairo followed which contracted for four aircraft in when Egyptair. and exhausts needed for the protection of the Comet's systems. One airframe. A This underside view of 5U-ALE reveals the jet pipe tunnels that are normally final Comet was ordered in 1964. intakes. the airline was fly. never left Egypt. A second order for a further two airframes was placed in 1961. ing services to destinations through. First orders placed for the Comet 4C were received in 1959 and were to eventu- ally total nine in number. with Boeing 707s. covered by the split flaps. -- 5U-ALL is taxiing out for departure and this nice clear shot reveals the plethora of wing-mounted vents. (C P Russell Smith Collection) By the time the last aircraft had been delivered. began to substitute them eventual spares use. this being followed by a third in 1962 for three more. Rome. The Comet's until they were finally withdrawn in Middle East came from the grip on long haul international 1976. being out the Middle and Far East. the first such purchase being made by Misrair of Egypt which was to become United Arab Airlines in December 1960.

This marked the end of 2 onward are clearly seen here. ways which ordered two of the 4C taken up due to the airline's finan. The oval windows fitted to the type from the Comet ACE in July. cial problems. of Kuwait Airways displays the slight outward and downward angles built into the aircraft's intakes. the airline Another Middle East customer lowing year. the Israeli armed forces inserted a commando team into the airport at Beirut. It was. variants in 1962. Kuwait Airways had just retired its Comet fleet and they were therefore avail- able for immediate lease. however. A fifth airframe built opened routes from Lebanon that was the aforementioned Kuwait Air- against an MEA option was not touched Europe. They were a very unfortunate 9K-ACE. Fortunately for MEA. organisation as events on the night of 1963 although there was a year's gap Seen from a three-quarter front-on angle this Comet 4. These air- craft were flown by MEA until mid- 1969 when they were returned to Kuwait.. AIRLINER TECH . liner was established. (C P Russell Smith Collection) 58 . was delivered in January pleted and eventually sold to Aero. The first aircraft. (C P Russell Smith Collection) Comet operations for MEA which moved on to operate American in December 1960. com. the other three lineas Argentinas. and the Indian subcontinent. followed in the first part of the fol. equipment.. Once the new air. the Middle East. The resultant opera- tion saw the destruction of three of the Comets plus five other aircraft either owned or leased to MEA. 28 December 1968 were to prove. As part of an operation to curb terrorist activity. the last to arrive being 9K- 5X-AAO is a Comet 4 of EAA. 9K-ACI.

KRL. that of Dan Air has was short in nature as they were all spares recovery. Its career mon with other Middle East opera. become the most synonymous. tons. The final aircraft from the Flight. Registered SA-R-7 it was G-APDN. retired from use in 1968 and replaced by the Boeing 707. A short period of regional fly. After nine years of service it Of all the operators who flew The type's sojourn in Kuwait was purchased by Dan Air for the Comet. Operationally both aircraft were concentrated on the routes into Europe plus more local flights in the Middle East. delivered on 10 April 1962 as VP. A third airframe. Smith Collection) De HAVILLAND 59 ~~jIET . One was an airframe sold to with the flight was short-lived as it tors. Europe. ing followed before both aircraft The final single airframe was a Comet 4. Kuwait Airways soon opened East African Airways which was was lost in a crash over the Italian up routes to other Arab States. battery power was used to display brake system pressures. As the Comet was devoid of an APU.Being towed toward the departure stand is Comet 4C ST-AAX of Sudan Airways. The final airline order of any consequence came from Sudan Air- ways. delivered on 15 June 1962. - These were delivered in November and December 1962. was purchased. (C P Russell 1972. (C P Russell Smith Collection) between deliveries. that ordered by the Saudi Royal 1966 when an ex-BOAC aircraft. They were leased for a short time by MEA until sold to Dan Air for further use. Comet 4C build were both single. In com. was added in December were sold to Dan Air. Although the Sudan was in a per- ilous financial state the Comets remained active on international flights until the last one was flown This Chester-built aircraft of EAA is at Heathrow undergoing maintenance as the out of Heathrow on 11 November litter of replenishment trolleys and other equipment demonstrates. Alps on 20 March 1963. and the Indian subcontinent. which picked up the options on the two lapsed Mexicana aircraft.

Ambassadors. powered fleet. OD-ADR. Bristol Freighters. was delivered to MEA.This Comet 4C. It was later destroyed in December 1968 when Israeli forces attacked Beirut Airport. the aircraft could be tilted back as shown to drop the fin height.. the airline Dan Air's involvement with the of range and speed in its piston- eventually grew to a reasonable size Comet was the result of the bur. (BAE Systems) 60 -. The The first buys were a pair of In order that aircraft such as the Comet could clear the main door beams of some facilities. AIRLIlVERTECH . at this point in its history were that DC-3 as its first aircraft. The answer was to so that by the mid-1960s Airspeed geoning IT markets in which the switch to jet propulsion. company had a healthy stake. . (BAE Systems) Established in 1953 as an offshoot of and more DC-3s were sporting the primary problems facing the airline Davies and Newman with a Douglas company's titles.

the crew chief prepares to to Lasham either for upgrading or disconnect as OD-ADS.''_''_~A could include many of the Spanish resorts plus airfields in Greece. Dan Air and the tour through the engineering base at when G-APYD completed its sched- operators flew from airports all over the UK. (C P Russell Smith fate also befell those aircraft that had Collection) De HAVILLAND 61 ~@I~T . During 1972-73. both Comets. A similar long aerial wire stretching from the fin to the mid fuselage. index consumption. and power cover closed. It sights of Dan Air. the first of 49 separate airframes. These were quickly followed by air- frames from Kuwait and further examples from EAA. The final in-ser- rate from other operators upgrading and Channel Airways. The first official. chocks away. At the other end of the route the destinations - . markets are notable for their volatili. Such was the suc. G-APDJ and started Dan Air in the jet charter Lasham. In order to cope with the aircraft of this marque passed was undertaken on 23 October 1975 holiday traffic. (C P Russell Smith Collection) were quickly drawn up to purchase two more aircraft. The actual transfer had taken place some months earlier to allow the engineering staff at Lasham to con- vert them to a high-density layout. This sort of intensive flying has ty. flight by a Dan Air aircraft. cess of these first aircraft that plans 9V-BAS. Teeside. Manchester. of MSA. "DN/' plus a flight simulator from field. a total contrast to today's scenario. Although the winter period was relatively slow. Having bought up the fleets of MSA and EAA the airline turned its attention to Aerolineas Argentinas to further increase its Comet fleet. G-APDK and "00/' were to be utilised to the full during the 1967 summer season. line was already retiring the Comet therefore spent the next few years the company successfully purchased 4Bs due to high hours and fatigue buying surplus Comets at a steady the retired fleets of BEA. Thus aircraft bearing the Dan Air titling could be seen arriv- ing and departing from Gatwick. and Luton. Air Tours. All were flown Steps away. Eventually 15 vice flight by one of these veterans their fleets.retired BOAC aircraft which were officially purchased in October 1966. was undertaken in mid-November. Undergoing essential engine maintenance with its doors lowered is this Comet 4. a Comet 4C of MEA. recovery and eventual scrapping.'-""~'~''':~. Of note is the for reduction to spares. two were spares recovered. Newcas- tle. From 1971 to late 1973 the ex. prepares to depart. BOAC machines were withdrawn cope with the ever-expanding holi- Although the IT and charter on a one-for-one basis for spares day flight market. on occasion the Comets already Further airframes in Comet 4B marked effects on an already high in service proved to be great assets form were the next variant in the time airframe. Birmingham. This internal rearrangement allowed a total of 106 passengers. Thus by 1975 the air- to the airline and its operations. the rest were thrown into the fray to the same source.

. the aircraft were N888WA. The first replacements for the retired 4B fleet were the five RAF machines. required extra uled Gatwick-Crete-Gatwick run. . A completed 32. Registered as SA-R-7. the wing root dinghies were located under the light- coloured panels. One of the Comets was in fact stripped of any- thing usable at Cairo as it was deemed unfit to fly. (Jennifer M Gradidge Collection) prepared for service. had once flown in Mexicana colours. Further airframes were also pur- chased from Sudan Airways and Egyptair although the latter were purchased for spares.000 each. this Comet was to be lost in a crash over the Alps. all of the 4C variant. slowing their entry into service. One of the most prestigious orders received by DH was from the Saudi Royal Flight. After final shutdown it was a working airframe being used spar had become necessary thus was calculated that the aircraft had for ground handling training.. As this photo shows from its higher viewpoint. however. The ex-RAF Comets. With low airframe hours and fatigue index consumption they were a complete bargain at £120. work to change them from their mil- week later this last operational mem.586 landings. once the pride of the 216th Squadron. pled to which were 18. itary configuration to a civilian one. Once at Lasham. retired engineering base. which had a reputation of being difficult to fit. (BAE Systems) 62 JtIRLINERTECH . the Dan Air With its flaps drooped. possibly due to dispersion of hydraulic pressure.738 flying hours cou. ber of the marque made its final One other Comet 4B survived with Also a requirement to modify or fre- flight to the Science Museum base at Dan Air at Gatwick although this quently inspect an area of the front Wroughton.

(Jennifer M Gradidge Collection) De HAVILLAND 63 ~~M~r . How. whilst the other three later the Airbus/ would eventually destined to be the last commercial were preserved. (Jennifer M Gradidge Collection) This final batch of Comets began appear under Dan Air titles. one the venerable Comet as Dan Air was flown on 9 November to close out went to BAE at Bitteswell for Nim- purchasing examples of the Boeing the type's illustrious career. Of the five machines extant ever/ the writing was on the wall for this fact an enthusiasfs special was at the end of Comet operations. Comets retiring in 1980.1 The last group of passengers are about to board Comet 4/ 9V-BAU/ of Malaysian Airways. rod development work. Once all are onboard much of the surrounding ground equipment will be removed. The merger of Malaysian Airways and Singapore Airline resulted in the creation of MSA. examples would carryon operating was to provide sterling service to the tional fleet foresaw the last four in military marks for a few years airline for the next five years. This Comet flight in the world although to trickle into usage from 1975 and upgrading of the Dan Air opera. This is 9M-AOD/ belonging to the new organisation. To confirm longer. one was to 727 with a forecast that the 737/ and That final flight by G-BDIW was be scrapped.

The cabin crew is already boarding as one of the ground handlers begins the removal of the number 2 ECU intake blank. G-AYVS. was originally delivered to Kuwait Airways. When acquired by Dan Air it was painted in the company's first colour scheme which included highlighting the overwing escape points.. being prepared for flight. Seen not long after leaving MSA service is Comet 4/ G-APDM. (C P Russell Smith Collection) Comet 4C. (C P Russell Smith Collection) On the stand at Gatwick is Comet 4/ G-APDJ. (C P Russell Smith Collection) 64 AIRLIlVERTECH . "1M . parked at Lasham awaiting conversion to the configuration required by Dan Air.


ivil airliners have become sion four before airline colours still be seen upon those preserved

C very much the artists' can-
vas since air travel became
established after the last global con-
appeared once more. First again airframes that are still with us.
came BOAC, though it was joined in On the other hand the Comets of
the UK by BEA which applied red the military were austere to the
flict. However not for De Havilland and black in various parts to the point of anonymity. White and light
and the other early Comet operators wings and fin. A spread of smaller grey were their colours, and in the
the wild excesses of the British airlines also flew the Comet from the case of the 'radio calibration' aircraft
Airways ethnic. tail art nor the wild shores of Britain although none this was a form of reverse camou-
colourful meanderings of a Braniff, would become as famous as the last flage. In the days of the Nimrod, the
this was the austerity period and the Comet operator, Dan Air whose fleet final evolution of the Comet, the sit-
finishes reflected their times. sported various plays upon the com- uation became even more drab with
Those early airliners were there- pany house colours of red and white. the white giving way to a hemp
for austere in their colour schemes Overseas customers for the air- colour. Although in recent years,
with a basic white cabin set over a craft played their part in the evolu- brightly coloured fins and other spe-
polished airframe which sufficed for tion of the Comet as a canvas. Gone cial marks have been allowed. Only
most, with cheat lines and fins from the repertoire of the airlines the test and evaluation organisations
reflecting house colours. Thus, BOAC outside Europe were the cold blues have brought splashes of colour to
used regal blue offset by a speedbird of more temperate climes. Their the other Comets in military marks.
motif high upon the fin. The French Comets were of a far more colourful Bright red fins and other marking
carriers opted for a similar scheme nature with yellows and greens pre- have coloured these airframes out of
although all this came to naught once dominating all, offset by black high- the ordinary and this sight may be
the problems that were to afflict the lights and shading. Although the repeated in the UK at least when the
early aircraft came to light. Comet no longer graces the skies of last Comet to fly, Canopus, hopefully
It took the Comet to reach ver- the world, some of these finishes can returns to flying status in 2001.

Comet 4, LV-PLM, of
Aerolineas Argentinas
passes by the camera
aircraft on a pre-delivery
sortie. Of note is the highly
polished finish of the
unpainted portions of the
aircraft. (BAE Systems)


Sudan Airways Comet 4C,
ST-AAW, was originally
laid down for a Mexicana
order. Due to financial
difficulties this airline
failed to exercise its option,
thus the aircraft was sold
to Sudan. It eventually
finished its long career as a
spares source for the Dan
Air fleet. (BAE Systems)

This particular Comet is
the second airframe to
have been allocated to
first was diverted by
agreement to Aerolineas
Argentinas. (Huw
Bowen Collection)

From the outset the DH Ghost engine
was viewed as an interim powerplant
which would be replaced by the Avon
once sufficient numbers became
available. (Marc Schaeffer)


Registered as 9K-ACA by
Kuwait Airways in
December 1962, this
particular Comet spent
time with MEA after its
aircraft were destroyed by
Israeli forces. In common
with many similar
aircraft it ended its days
with Dan Air..
(Mel James)

In its day the cockpit of the Comet was considered quite modern, although comparison with that of the Nimrod will reveal that
some significant changes have taken place. (Marc Schaeffer)


solution of this organisa- tion it became Egyptair property before final dis- . Upon dis- . SU-AMV was a Comet 4C registered to United Arab Airlines. (Huw Bowen Collection) Originally ordered for BOAC as G-AMXJ.. (Mel James) 68 AIRLINER TECH . with the 216 Sqdn RAF with whom it was named Cygnus. this Comet 2 later became a C2. (HuwBowen Collection) Now wearing BEA Airtours' livery for the tourist market. XK697. posal to Dan Air. Comet 4B G-ARGM had originally been part of the fleet list for the parent company BEA.--.

afea- ture ofall marques of Comet. first flew on 18 September 1951. After the type's C ofA was withdrawn the air- craft was stored until sold to the MoS. Peter Duffey via Chris Duffey) De HAVILLAND 69 COMET . (Capt. Clearly visible in this view is the subtle smooth blending of the aircraft's shape. G-APDA. (BAE Systems) Once registered as G-APDI of BOAC this Comet 4 later became HC-ALT ofAerovias Ecuatorianas. of BOAC. It ended its days as a structural test specimen at RAE Farnborough. is seen here flying over southern England not long after departing London's Heathrow air- port. (Huw Bowen Collection) DH Comet 1 G-ALYX. The first Comet 4 for BOAC.

Wearing the final scheme sported by the aircraft of Dan Air is Comet 4C . (Jennifer M Gradidge Collection) AIRLINER TECH 70 -- .. On the fin the aircraft sports the stylised Cedar Tree of the Lebanon. (Mel James Collection) This smart looking Comet is 5H-AAF of East African Airways preparing to depart - from London Heathrow for the Journey home. (Jennifer M Gradidge Collection) .G-AYVG which is preparing to depart Gatwick.------ Middle East Airways Comet 4C sports a red cheat line and trimmings to contrast against the otherwise bland silver and white scheme.

plus afull fuel load placed excessive strain on the undercarriage units. Eventually all 11 aircraft ended up stored at RAF Abingdon to await disposal. From the outset the experiment failed as it proved impossible to fit all the required equipment and cooling systems into such a small airframe. (Mel James) The Nimrod AEW3 was an attempt to create an airborne early warning aircraft using some spare Nimrod anti submarine aircraft. (BBA Collection) De HAVILLAND 71 COMET .l In front ofan appreciative audi- ence the last flying Comet 4 XS235 Canopus of the A&AEE flies by with everything out and down. After retirement the aircraft was flown to Bruntingthorpe although plans are afoot to transfer the aircraft to Lasham for a return to flying status. (BBA Collection) Complete with Nimrod AEW3 aerodynamic test radome and an extended Nimrod fin assembly Comet 4 (mod) XW626 is towed to its parking slot.

The obvious family resemblance shows quite clearly. (BBA Collection) Just prior to the Falklands war in 1982 the RAF began to paint the Nimrod fleet in a new paint scheme which consisted of Hemp uppersurfaces over light grey undersurfaces. (BBA Collection) 72 AIRLINER TECH .2. In its earliest guise the Nimrod MR.2 upgrade. (BBA Collection) Pictured side by side are the Comet 4 XS235 Canopus and a standard Nimrod MR.1 was painted in a light grey scheme with white uppersurfaces and lacked all the improvements and refinements associated with the MR.

two completely contrasting roles. Assigned civil registrations on behalf of BOAC forces were equipped with it. in August. over 11. Their they had already completed their ever. 216 Sqdn in 1956 as a Comet T. in the case of the DH Comet duties caused them to range all over flight testing when the order was this was not to be the case. Seri. 412 Sqdn One covered basic transport needs was also short-lived as the aircraft RCAF. Part Wearing the titles of RCAF Air Transport Command is this Comet 1A serial/ed 5301. Ontario. major portion of the Comet 2 pro. the early Comets.2 Force which had formulated a on 3 October 1964.000 hours flying time cover. for conversion to full C2 status. RAF Handling Squadron for the placed with De Havilland in 1952. Of note is the open DV window at the captain's position. COMETS FO FROM CANADA TO CANOPDS t appears to be almost incum. After a period in storage The first military order for the occasionally beyond from their base at Hatfield the first aircraft for the Comet in the shape of the lA version at Uplands. A month later. (Jennifer M Gradidge Collection) De HAVILLAND 73 ~@i~T . In light of this As previously mentioned the I bent today that the nation pro- ducing a new transport would be the first to ensure that its armed they were extensively structurally modified during 1957 to emerge as Comet lXBs in September after an first build Comet 2s had already been completed in 1953. Operated by No. Comet had returned to the opera- Delivery to Canada was effected on In use the Comets were employed in tional strength of 216 Sqdn. the lowed by the second on 25 March. flight on 21 February 1953 being fol. Canada and North America and cancelled. once G-AMXB. was assigned to came from the Royal Canadian Air in frontline service until withdrawn No. still as a conversion trainer. of usage. extended period in storage. as it was quickly assigned to the alled 5301 and 5302 the order was ing over 4 million route miles. duction run was acquired for service. Both remained RAF. the two airliners were both whilst the other was engaged in far was to be returned to De Havilland affected by the disasters that struck more clandestine activities. The Royal Air Force finally compilation of the type's Pilot's The first of the pair made its maiden joined the jet transport age when the Notes and other data. Its requirement for two aircraft for years of service they had amassed period as a trainer was short-lived high-speed transit and VIP use. How. Its period 18 March and 13 April respectively. During their for aircrew conversion training.

Destinations touched by the squadron's aircraft included the bases in Cyprus. The last airframe to squadron settled into the task of The first operational Comet be delivered was XK716 which learning their new mounts' require- C. the air and ground crews of the of military compatible avionics. As the fleet strength built ward facing seats and the installation was to be delivered over the follow. was under- taken on 23 June 1956 which con- veyed a party of government offi- cials for trade talks. up. but also found increasing usage as troop and family transport for troops departing over- seas. on 7 June 1956. and other points throughout the Middle and Far East. Europe and 2TAF in West Germany also saw regular Comet flights as did the United States This later shot of 5301 shows it to have been reworked to Comet 1XB standard. Malta. . The full fleet of 10 Chester. Such was their success that Sqdn was the second of the order. 216 arrived on 7 May 1957 and was the ments. first complete airframe to be rolled the first Transport Command opera- tional sortie. which arrived at Lyneham out of the new De Havilland plant at cabin to carry 48 passengers in rear. to Moscow.2 to be delivered to No. probably marking the retirement of the former. the which was visited regularly on a most obvious change being the type of cabin window fitted. . (C P Russell Smith scheduled run.A unique formation photograph of a pair of Comet C2s and a Comet C4 all of No. ing 12 months. 216 Sqdn RAF.. a practise that con- Collection) tinues today with the squadron's 74 JtIRLINERTECH -.Mk. This view allows a good comparison between the short fuselage of the earlier aircraft and the final build of the Comet. (Jennifer M Gradidge Collection) of this entailed the refitting of the XK670. From that point the aircraft were increasingly used to convey VIPs across the world.

The farthest regular sched- uled point reached by the Comets was Adelaide.the Lockheed Tristar. As the original floor of the fleet strength of the 216 Sqdn charge. most of six airframes to 4C standard. The purpose of these visits was to transfer per- sonnel and their equipment to the nuclear. load was reduced to 44 passengers . the Comets of the 216 Sqdn also found themselves engaged in operations in support of the Suez crisis and its aftermath.4. 51 Sqdn. Singapore. As well as the regular flights. XR397 was the first aircraft the aircraft was not stressed to take whilst the sixth was to find employ. bumps. That of the contracted the company to provide Comet C.current equipment .Mk. Originally ordered as a Comet 2 for BOAC it was later converted for use by No. the MoS aircraft. 192 Sqdn.. which routed via EI Adam. XK655. When British forces with- drew from the Suez Canal Zone they pulled back to Cyprus from whence Surrounded by ground crew this Comet C4 is being prepared for engine ground they were flown home. which Unlike other airliner users. and Darwin amongst other places. a modification pro. was the Chester-built XR395. (Jennifer M Gradidge Collection) De HAVILLAND 75 ~~M~T . Deliveries of the that its transports could carry a rea. although the runs. this aircraft became part of the Dan Air fleet. After retirement by the RAF. began to the 216th Comet was set at 11. was applied to eight of the airframes. testing facility at Woomera. later to become No. and the necessary aerials is this Comet C2(R). retained for use as a conversion such a load. the As De Havilland had extended undertook its maiden flight on 15 Royal Air Force has always insisted the range and size of the aircraft to November 1961. by now designated the sonable cargo load. (C P Russell Smith Collection) only due to the extra equipment car- ried by each man.200 lbs. ment with A&AEE. produce the Comet 4 series. trainer with the RAF Handling gramme to enhance the structure The first Comet 4C for the RAF Squadron for the compilation of the Complete with various lumps. Five of Squadron at Lyneham on 15 Febru- which was stored in the forward these aircraft were to be added to ary 1962 when XR397 was taken on cabin area.

were tasked to cover the flights to illand product. retained its XK695 was allocated to No. the United States and to the Far East. assigned to the earlier aircraft. 51 Sqdn for what the Defence White Paper called "radio and radar calibration trials. the new Comets took over many of use as instructional airframes before tinued at a steady rate. the aircraft first found From that point deliveries con. Royal duties were also another area in which the squadron excelled as the aircraft retained a special royal cabin fit which could be installed in any of the squadron's new aircraft. (C P Russell Smith Collection) the final service flight being under- taken by XK698 on 1 April.. withdrawal. flew unpressurised. each aircraft the long-haul routes previously being dispersed to other locations. The De Hav- specified avionics." (C P Russell Smith Collection) AIRLIJVERTECH . Unlike their passenger-carrying siblings of No. Away from the glamour of the royal life the aircraft were also employed on trooping flights for which purpose 86 fully loaded personnel could be accommodated. entered service with the 10th seats for 94 persons plus military The longer range Comet CAs Squadron in July 1966. Once fully inte. arriving at approximately four. the schedule of flights. 76 -- . 216 Sqdn these aircraft 1967 when the C2s were withdrawn. After Pilot's Notes and other paperwork. Together the two breeds of This Comet C2(R) shows another variation of the blisters and aerials fitted to these Comet remained operational until machines. however. Hong Kong having been added to .. They The remaining five Comets of month intervals. grated into the squadron's structure. In common with in turn began operating on the more 216 Sqdn were left to carry the bur- the earlier C2 the new aircraft also short-haul flights to destinations in den alone until the Vickers VC-10 featured rearward facing passenger Germany and the Middle East.

squadron undertook its final VIP Nimrod development/programme. Dan the first postwar equipment had defence white paper to reduce sig. to enter the jet age in the ELINT mand. Air was to be the purchaser of these been specially modified Boeing nificantly the size of Support Com. flight in April 1975 with regular ser. better known mand. This meant that the Bitteswell where it was used in the longer than that of the newer Vick. (C P Russell Smith Collection) De HAVILLAND 77 C@WJ~T . 192 Sqdn. The need replaced the earlier Transport Com. flown an average of 11. One airframe did sary by 1955. after withdrawal by Dan Air the air. The other Royal hir Force opera- Governments are always keen to vices stopping soon after. the organisation that had working life left.000 hours. This decision flew in the face deemed as only 40 percent of total field had been identified as neces- of the Command's planners who time available. One victim of such pruning were flown to Leconfield for the unit's role in life had been identified was 216 Sqdn and its Comets. aircraft which had an excellent Washington bombers.schedules as its range was slightly per month. tor of the Comet was No. Purchased by BAe which would have a minimum monthly flying time for each air. this being G-BDIU which had provide one Comet 2 minus engines least 1980 due in part to the average once been XR396. make irrational defence cuts in times Upon withdrawal the aircraft later to evolve into 51 Sqdn. Thus on 23 February.500 hours. In removal of military-sourced items as "radio and radar calibration" and 1975 plans were announced in the before being offered for resale. fatigue life of 2. On the early build aircraft the pitot heads were carried out on the wingtip whilst on the later models they had been moved to the forward fuselage. This of peace. To enable frame being no more than 300 hours craft was transferred to HSA quick introduction into service it Seen from underneath is this Comet C2 that was assigned to 216 Sqdn for use in a transport role. had ascertained that the Comet's life eventually return to quasi-military the MoS had been approached to in the RAF would continue until at use. as they had only as the B-29 Superfortress. ers product.

(C P Russell Smith Collection) 670 The unpainted skin of this Comet C2 reveals the layout of the fuselage structure clearly. Before the RAF would accept the Comet 2 the aircraft had to undergo rigorous testing to obviate the chance ofany failure in the fuselage structure. (Ray Deacon) 78 --AIRLIlfERTECH. The two most obvious changes were the installation of rearward facing seats and military standard avionics.. . After conversion they were redesignated C2s. (C P Russell Smith Collection) When the Comets entered RAF service they were designated T2s.

330 lbs. 697 II Awaiting its next crew is Comet T2. (C P Russell Smith Collection) De HAVILLAND ~01iET 79 . STR14B/15B ILS. Other equip- ment fitted included Marconi AB107B I 114 HF radio. occupants. first flew on 18 July. Upon tor. It was powered by GFE powerplants. formerly G-AMXE. and smoke masks. Changes to the flight deck were min. Gone were the seats of the standard The second and third aircraft imal. however. escape equip. Marconi 7092B ADF. sation system was removed. only GFE being fitted to passenger fit. Mur- phy Mk6 200ml c DME. later increased to 10.Mk2(RC). The first airframe. and a flight engineer. the original aircraft. that the supervisors. in their place stood were contracted soon after this and change the layout slightly. Peter fuselage was built to the original Duffey via Chris Duffey) specification and still retained square windows. deployed consisting of eight opera- XK663. XK697. a naviga. were designated C. the cabin pressuri.was agreed that the RAF would - accept the aircraft in original BOAC condition and modify as required to suit the new greatest changes had taken place. Ultra UA17 intercom. and two entry into service the three aircraft the main cabin. When returned ment. This designation was applied to the aircraft when they were first supplied as they were still in basic civilian configuration. racks of black boxes dedicated to the emerged from Marshalls of Cam. Comet lA XM823 had once been operated by Air France as F-BGNZ. a dedicated team was and August 1957 respectively to join comprising of two pilots. As the to DH it was reworked to lXB standard and used for trials purposes. (Capt. a periscope sextant. For RAF purposes a flight crew ELINT role. these being the uprated RR Avon 504s rated at 7. To nurse these new bridge as XK655 and XK659 in April of four was carried as standard. Sperry ZL1 zero-reader. It was in tives.

XK659. came on line at were seen quite regularly in Nor. ment that XK695. being closely way. (C P Russell Smith Collection) 80 AIRLINER TECH . a fully modified Watton in March 1958. was with- -- 695 Wearing the title of RAF Transport Command this 216 Sqdn Comet C2 is parked and awaiting its next sortie. tions with the 192 Sqdn.-- Seen at a later date. Within months A change to the squadron's XK663 was declared ready for col. it is destroyed in a hangar fire on 3 June. (Ray Deacon) Entry into service began when followed by XK655. another aircraft was required to later it was ferried to Watton for Although much of 51 Sqdn's replace XK663 which had been final fitting before assuming opera. Comet 2E XN453 is festooned with blisters and aerials for its trials roles. 192 Sqdn had been renumbered strength occurred in 1959 when lection on 17 April 1957. Comet C2 of 216 Sqdn. and Kenya. No. The second reported that the squadron's aircraft Such was the urgency for replace- airframe. Two days as 51 Sqdn. Cyprus. work is still shrouded in secrecy. 1 L -.

(C P Russell Smith Collection) The arrival of the Comet 4C to 216 Sqdn enabled the RAF to move more people farther and faster. Once registered as G-AMXD for BOAC this airframe was later modified to Comet 2E standard after which it was turned over to the MaS for trials work. (Capt. Peter Duffey via Chris Duffey) Except for the reversal of the seating and the installation of military avionics there was little difference between the Comet 4C and C4. (Jennifer M Gradidge Collection) De HAVILLAND 81 ~@IMIE1r .

unspecified trials work. In the joined the 51st Squadron during the Doppler trials amongst other trials case of XN453. Connection from the wing to the moving portion was by reinforced flexible hose. Designated as Comets began in 1974 when the two Comets in military marks were two Comet 2Es these were the former original survivors were no longer on of the Air France Mk. replacements for the Comets were XM829 and "823" respectively.1 examples. craft suited their needs admirably as A pair of Comet 2 aircraft also Withdrawals of the "special" a transport and testbed." These became as XN453 and XV144 respectively. (Jennifer M Gradidge Collection) 82 AJRLINERTECH . This particular aircraft is being used for instructional duties at RAF Halton and needs additional support as students walk through the parked aircraft. XK715 remained in RAF service until 1966. G-AMXD and "XK" which appeared the active flying inventory. however. which former was employed for Decca field of avionics development. whilst the latter was used on behalf testing of long-range radio systems This.drawn from Transport Command of the Comet in military marks as Dynamics. . (C P Russell Smith Collection) Not often seen on the 716 Comet is the tail support rod that screws into the tail bumper. The Both were extensively used in the three reworked Nimrods. of Cambridge for full conversion. was not the end of the research organisations by HS whilst the other Comet 2E was The deployment of this Comet C2's flaps highlights the location of the fuel dump pipes on the surface's trailing edge. for operations and ferried to Marshalls A&AEE and the RAE found the air.. once DH Props. its first task was the period 1974-75. The first wore military serials. The F-BGNY and "NZ.

which was catered for by the long aerial wire stretching from the fuselage to the top of the fin. The only GSE item plugged in is the power supply set. m II ROYAL A1'L. (C P Russell Smith Collection) ROYAL AIR FORCE Sitting on the hot concrete pan at Sharjah it is surprising that there are no cabin conditioning blowers blasting cool air into the cabin. FOR~ AIR SUPPORT The Comets in RAF service required long-range UHF communications. (C P Russell Smith Collection) De HAVILLAND 83 ~@li~r .

lems. XP915 cle for the Comet 4 series. From the brake trials. This is the reason why Dan Air was keen to buy the RAF machines when they were retired. retardants in an effort to develop a The most unique aircraft in the ing experiments for which purpose method of stopping an aircraft with lineup was the sole Comet 3. Operated braking and/ or undercarriage prob- had acted as the development vehi. braking tests. Compared to a civilian counterpart. 1978 for Nimrod AEW3 develop- After completing its civil develop. This involved high. test the effectiveness of various Autopilot trials from 1966 onward. For this craft was later employed on runway was transferred to BAE Woodford in purpose it was registered G-ANLO. (C P Russell Smith Collection) extensively engaged in Smith's ment trials the aircraft was pur. (C P Russell Smith Collection) 84 "WI . Except for a coat of paint there was very little difference between the civilian and military Comets. speed taxi runs down the runway to mentwork. the RAF fleet had flown very low hours in its military career. chased in 1961 for use in blind land. by the BLED at RAE Bedford the air. which it was designated XP915. Cleaning up after takeoff this shot ofXM823 shows the "D" doors cycling through after the main gears have retracted.

the biggest group purpose it sported a Nimrod fin. three XX944 was only in use for a for this abortive project. 56 Sqdn this Comet C4. destined for Comet 4 XV814 remained in Two other Comets of the 4C the production Nimrod. before purchase by the MoS. Cyprus. XW626.Escorted by two Lightning F3s of No. a total of Comet 4. rud. active use for many years after join. aerodynamic prototype. The major As full type performance was not craft had been G-APDF." and alteration to the airframe was the fit. is inbound to Akrotiri. thus it was Nimrod development trials for which Comet production that had been not until May 1967 that XV148 first De HAVILLAND 85 ~@I~r . five being employed on such duties. (John Nickolls) As expected. "DS. of Comets in use as testbeds came der. and XX944. Its final series of trials rod trials. This entailed some reconstruction of ing RAE. The other tomers were forthcoming. Bedford before being scrapped. Emerging from the Comet 4 series. XR396. XW626. and fintip ESM pod. required. XV147 was powered by "DP" before re-designation as ment of an enormous proboscis Avon engines which it retained right XV814. variety were also engaged on Nim. XV147. were fitted. The air. Flight trials The other airframe took longer short time for unspecified duties were completed by August 1981 after to emerge as it was intended as a before returning to the civil market which the airframe was stored at full-flight test vehicle for which pur- with Dan Air. These were the partially the engine bay area to accommodate before withdrawal in 1992 covered completed airframes of the final civil the bigger powerplant. Of the designed to contain the nose scanner up until withdrawal in August 1981. handling trials with the A&AEE became the avionics development Three of the airframes had already before passing to BAE Woodford for vehicle for the MR1 and 2 versions flown quite extensively for BOAC conversion into the Nimrod AEW3 of the anti-submarine patrol aircraft. had undergone in 1967 the first of these. placed in storage when no cus. pose RR Spey engines.

Canopus was fitted with the vice with A&AEE in December 1963. Greenland. involved in the systems develop- the sixth aircraft in the Comet 4C the-world east-about flight during ment for the Nimrod MR1 and 2 buy. as it became scheduled for a selection of camera windows in the source the INS platforms restrained major servicing. undertaken in May 1969 although decade. During this period the aircraft visit- where extensive racking for avionics the big test came in September when ed Thule. GPS Navstar system to take part in Named Canopus. Given the age of the belly for use in the development of themselves to a gentle twitching. prise to find that it was extensively XS235 which had been purchased as fully guided the aircraft on a round. Further flight trials at the end of the decided by the MOD that retirement First experiments concerning year during "Exercise Canopus" saw was a better option. this time the route was west about. ing series of flights in 1968. Originally the Canopus involved Decca Doppler Loran "C" and Omega navigation aircraft was placed in the MOD auc- navigation equipment for which pur. from where it equipment was installed. Intended the Comet flew over the Magnetic regularly flew over the North Pole. aircraft and paucity of spares it was reconnaissance cameras. North Pole to see the effects that XS235 was to finally retire on 14 radar. pose a large fairing was installed ly proved the worth of a fully inte. A further flight was during the 1980s. Although compasses go March 1997. tion catalogue scheduled for May. and deployment before final with. and navigation systems the transpired. Pressure was exerted on MOD from Comet 4 (mod) XV814 was the penultimate flying member of the class.. As XS235 was dedicated purely drawal in the 1980s. the aircraft was Having proved the validity of the the international test programme.. after its final service aircraft also featured an extensive totally haywire when over this flight. The other five served with 216 July and August. ed with the Doppler radar were a to avionics work it comes as no sur- The final Comet in this survey is pair of INS platforms. At the close of the Sqdn whilst XS235 began active ser. and external sources. Integrat. This series of flights final.JfIRLINERTECH .flew. In addition to its duties as an under the forward fuselage. (Jennifer M Gradidge Collection) 86 . first flown to Boscombe Down INS as an accurate navigation unit. The grated navigation system capable of aerodynamic testbed the aircraft was accuracy of this system enabled the taking its cues from both internal also used for weapons development aircraft to undertake a record-break. as a development testbed for radio. aids fitted. which success. Once G-APDF of BOAC some of the modifications carried out by the RAE are clearly visible.

The aircraft's final resting place was cho- sen as Bruntingthorpe in the care of British Aviation Heritage. (BBA Collection) De HAVILLAND 87 ~@lMI~T . final flight in October. thus bringing an Possibly the most celebrated Comet is the XS235 Canopus seen here with end to a turbulent era.Seen directly from underneath. and the Comet's. (BBA Collection) many quarters that indicated that preservation was the preferred end for this. XS235 made its. the last of the Comets. this shot of Canopus reveals the fully extended flap area. everything out and down for landing. Initially Hatfield was suggested as the aircraft's final resting place although this was soon discounted when it was revealed that the air- field was to be disposed of and the runway was covered in speed bumps to stop illegal car racing.

sitting on the firepan at Stanstead Airport. but makes rain dispersal more efficient. the follow-on order for the Comet 2 for BOAC was cancelled. the steeply contoured nose which not only reduces airframe drag. The greater majority of the redundant airframes were reworked and passed onto 216 Sqdn for transport duties. Of the remainder some were fitted with specialist ELINT systems whilst others joined the various test fleets. The removal of the tailplanes has revealed the mounting points and the location for the tailplane de-icing duct. (C P Russell Smith Collection) 88 AIRLINER TECH . (C P Russell Smith Collection) This picture shows XM829. (C P Russell Smith Collection) This side-on view of a Comet C2 of216 Sqdn reveals a feature much copied in current airliner development. After the failure of the Comet 1 in service. once of the A&AEE.

The first is the extended nose probe blended into the forward fuselage whilst the second is purely cosmetic consisting of photographic target marks on the cabin roof (Ray Deacon) De HAVILLAND 89 ~@I~T . Of note are the modifications to this airframe.On a departure flyby XP915 reveals the nose probe more clearly in this view. (Jennifer M Gradidge Collection) Parked at Farnborough is Comet 3 XP915.

. When the series 2 Comets were planned. Parked at Lyneham is this Comet C2. (C P Russell Smith Collection) 90 AIRLINER TECH . XK670. Under the nose is a set of oxygen bottles that have been used to replenish the crew's emergency supply. . 670 required to straighten the airflow over the ailerons . (Ray Deacon) XK716 is pictured in earlier days at Lyneham on the strength of216 Sqdn. The prominent wing fences on the early marque Comets were ).. 216 Sqdn. their fuselage featured improved structural strength and the replacement of the early square windows with oval ones. . of No. (C P Russell Smith Collection) XK699 Sagittarius was a Comet C2 allocated to 216 Sqdn.

with rod is crewed by three on the flight based upon the last two uncomplet. 10 in. for deck and 13 system operators in the ed Comet 4 airframes. Maximum speed is 575 mph (500 kts) patrol aircraft. the main gear rod's starboard wing tank is a one speed for short-range dash missions.180 and 5. the weapons bay. able. main cabin. the idling power- of further development. which has proved useful when the began in 1966 and resulted in a con. XV148. gear Dimensionally the Nimrod is aircraft is scrambled for SAR mis- tract being awarded for two devel. Under all conditions the Nim- opment prototypes that were to be wingspan was set at 114 ft. and a shortened the outboard engines are shut down. pod. the double bubble fuselage. craft are fitted with RR Spey 250 The second prototype. lower portion of which contained (425 kts). Basic maximum all up T rod came about due to the need of the RAF to replace its original anti-submarine and original RR Avon turbojets but was aerodynamically correct otherwise. similar to the preceding Comet. units and supporting structure were million-candlepower searchlight Planning for the new aircraft strengthened to cope. One of tive to an aircraft such as the Lock. a fuselage length set at 126 ft. the MR versions. which lacked the overall all up weight. The production air.160 was rebuilt to full HS801 standard Parked side by side are XS235 and a Nimrod MR2. The final change to the rear 5. The sions.000 lbs.500 lbs. THE ULTI IE COMET NIMROD AND THE DEVELOPMENT AIRCRAFT he requirement for the im. first airframe was powered by the lbs. (BBA Collection) De HAVILLAND 91 ~@I~r . was slow and was not capable nose leg complete with modified When needed. the Shackleton. The family resemblance is readily apparent. fuselage was the addition of a MAD endurance of some 12 hours. The rear fuselage also plants can be restarted to allow for The answer put forward by came in for some attention as it short-term dash speeds. each. although on long patrols caster. although reli. Range with- Hawker Siddeley Aviation was a gained a new fin complete with ESM out in-flight refueling is set between development of the Comet airliner. As this entailed an increase in the useful extras built into the Nim- heed P-3 Orion. Designated XV147 and XV148. with an overload capability of 192. the two aircraft flew in 1967.755 miles giving an It was seen as a more viable alterna. The RB168-20 turbofans rated at 12. the with cruising speed set at 490 mph Developed from the wartime Lan. 9 in. boom. Major structural changes included weight is set at 177. the Avro Shackleton.

Hawker Siddeley had already July. . upgrade programme. 92 -- . recipient being the MOTU later to be peacetime defence cuts. Once the aerodynamic test fly. Thus on 28 by which time the need for the air. 203 Sqdn based in Luqa. This aircraft Further deliveries were to units poration absorbed both BAC and made its maiden flight from Chester that had originally operated the ven. First flights began in 1974 respectively. the first other bases as part of extensive Sqdn on 23 August. Joining the OCU at St. The radome under the nose. 201. was placed even as the pro. the parent organisation for the Nim- XV147. ij"'.. Maw. Mawgan was begun the development work on the ing had been completed.t le. totaling ordered as attrition spares in Janu.I. erable Shackleton. these being No. craft had passed as the RAF had conversion had been test flown in ford on its maiden flight. - The venerable Shackleton AEW 2 can trace its ancestry back to the Lancaster bomber of World War II vintage. involved with the development An initial contract for the first A further eight aircraft were work and began test flying in March production batch of aircraft. in October 1969. Fortunate. 201 started from this point. Three Nimrods were also ment fitted to the Shackleton. This cor- board installations. British Aerospace in 1977. which received its first aircraft craft industry saw the creation of featured thrust reversers on the out.complete with RR Spey engines that gan. 1978. ly underwent conversion to the new . Overseas feature quite heavily in the MR2 ly many of the systems fitted to the No. began to re-equip with the Nimrod began using XV148 on 23 June 1976. Test flying HS801. A total of 35 airframes eventual- renumbered as 236 OCU at St.. in fact taken to the air after the first June 1968 XV226 departed Wood. The latter aircraft had totypes were test flying. ranean patrols. which contains the radar scanner. Nimrod on 3 April 1971. Deliveries begun to withdraw from Luqa and February before delivery to No. MR1 on 31 July 1971 for Mediter. and 206 Sqdns at Kinloss. (BBA Collection) AJRLINERTECH .. ary 1972. by now named Nimrod. avionics No. were developments of the equip. Hawker Siddeley and thus became on 23 May 1967. Malta. rod. Rationalisation of the UK air. May 1978.. is not much younger as the earliest examples first flew under the Grumman Avenger. the other aircraft. and March 1979 38 in all. departed Woodford on 31 120. 42 Sqdn which received its first advanced avionics suite that would integration testing began.

./ ~ DH106 design retained much of the original. (BBA Collection) On the point of touchdown this Nimrod MR2 has been fitted with a refuelling probe that was originally required for operations during the Falklands War. The former gained a MAD sting whilst the other became more angular and finished with an ESM pod. (BBA Collection) One area that was modified extensively was the rear fuselage and fin. This nose-on view of a Nimrod MR2 shows that this final development of the . an auxiliary keel and tailplane finlets were required. (BBA Collection) De HAVILLAND 93 C©M~T . To counteract the changes in aerodynamics caused by this installation.

there have been changes to the of some aerials. Internally the Further weapons clearances were equipment fitted. the final aircraft being ventral fin was added as were finlets ferences from their ASW brethren handed over in 1985. Dif. Another variant of the Nimrod duties. had been no more missiles. one aircraft for South Atlantic cessing now became the responsibil.1. were plumbed in above the Comets.000 lbs. 51 Sqdn they the ASW versions were so equipped. therefore only external upgrade to the aircraft's primary pedo. removed from redundant were to replace the unit's earlier In-service losses to the Nimrod Vulcans. required for ELINT purposes. the weapons capability when the fit. two of the MR versions being lost. In a bid to extend the Nim. as other two. classified. To compensate for the three aircraft entered squadron ser. and the repositioning complete with underwing pylons. Hunting BL755 cluster changes such as the deletion of win- systems.000-lb. change in longitudinal stability a vice without ceremony in 1974. was also ordered although no great were later extended to cover the Further external changes were fanfare was made of the contract. similar installations were ous external changes were the ments and control systems for both placed at the leading edge of the blanking off of a cabin window. The original build radar. Further upgrades saw the wrought due to the Falklands War in the three aircraft involved were wingtips being modified to carry 1982. the fleet have been minimal with only cabin roof. duction of in-flight refueling probes EMI ARI 5980 Searchwater system. One was due to a multiple bird This view of a Nimrod MR2 shows the limited ground clearance available when the weapons bay doors are open. AIM-9 Sidewinders and Martel mis. were the removal of the MAD sting aircraft saw the aircraft's weight Further changes were made to and its replacement by a short growing by 6. probes. The only obvi. some new intakes and ducts on the siles were integrated into the aircraft As the type's role has developed rear fuselage.standard. Loral ARI 18240 ESM pods before rod's range. and the AGM-84A Harpoon dows to shield new equipment racks the ASV Mk. cleared for normal service usage. The fitted to the Shackleton. (BBA Collection) 94 JtIRLIlVERTECH . most of the modifications were plus associated stability devices to Sonobuoy tracking and signal pro. radome. Much of this is changes had resulted in a major obtained for the Marconi Stingray tor. It was sorties that lasted up to 19 hours in Falklands War also saw the intro- replaced by the far more advanced duration.21. Des. 1. wing tanks. bombs. although the modifications ity of twin Marconi AQS 901 units. After hostilities had ceased. Changes to the on the tailplanes. in-flight refueling tined for use by No. The increased capability and an increasing aerial farm under than a revamp of the unit originally meant that the Nimrods could endure the fuselage can be noticed. Designated the R Mk.

but the rework of the fuselage and fin resulted in a virtually brand new aircraft. although this ceased with the withdrawal of the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal. Originally the UK's AEW presence had been carrier based. Not only were major changes made to the wings.1 was made available due to the trimming of the front line fleet during another round of defence cuts. New mission avionics are courtesy of Boeing and replace the original main- ly-British suite. The last variant of the Nimrod to be developed was an airborne early warning version. This cannot only house offensive weapons. ditch in the North Sea.1 has been lost to date. After rebuild the revamped aircraft will be returned to service with the Kinloss wing com- plete with new serial numbers. (BBA Collection) De HAVILLAND ~@~~r 95 . The Nimrod that replaced the lost R. To provide much Banking towards the camera this view of a Nimrod MR2 reveals the extensive changes made from the earlier Comet. but 21 are undergoing a complete rebuild to a new standard. the aircraft's wings. (BBA Collection) strike on takeoff from Kinloss. was slated for con- version to fill the loss. Such was the impor- tance of the R1 that another aircraft. and engines are replaced by new build items whilst the fuselage undergoes rigorous examination and repair. a Nimrod MR2. The extent of the Nimrod's weapons bay is visible in this photograph. A few aircraft have been with- drawn for spares recovery. this being an aircraft on a post-major-test flight that was forced by circumstances to. Designated the MR4. the other was caused by control prob- lems during an airshow in Canada. but has a further use for SAR equipment during rescue operations. tail unit. Only one Nimrod R.

Due to their age these aircraft The necessary avionics and process. the aircraft had great trouble in taxi. XW626.needed air defence cover. it was decided to utilise 11 Nim. tion the airframes were dispersed to ery. MOD initi. graft the radar system from with. the 1975 had begun the contraction of undercarriage was required MOD purchased Boeing AWACS. it was decided to stop. gramme it was beset with problems. This view of a Nimrod flight deck reveals that little remains from Comet except the control yoke. ing when fully loaded. AIRLINER TECH . although this too led to further han. The aircraft were not capable of extensive ing equipment were housed in the were stripped to basic standard and upgrading. Malfunctions the last vestiges of the Cornet flying Eleven airframes were chosen for with the system avionics due to well into the new century some 50 conversion. age since the Defence White Paper of that strengthening of the wings and Instead of the abortive Nimrod. thus increasing the weight in the main flown to Abingdon for became obvious that the aircraft quite drastically. From this Oxfordshire loca- were ageing beyond further recov. flown on a testbed Comet 4. (BBA Collection) 96 . storage. Therefore when it fuselage. Designed in turn caused detection rates to fall. the rebuilt MR4 will keep ency it was doomed from the outset. the RAP's theatres of responsibility. Throughout the whole pro. resulting in enormous cost overruns. to house the system scanners. Although the last mentioned Although the creation of the dling difficulties as it was found that version of the Nimrod was a com- Nimrod AEW3 was due to expedi.. plete flop. various locations for training pur- rod airframes that had been in stor. the most obvious excessive overheating resulted in years after its birth. letons. the After vast amounts of money drawn Fairey Gannets under the bulbous radomes had been test had been expended upon the project noses of recently withdrawn Shack. The increase in gross weight meant poses before eventual scrapping. changes being a large radome at problems with the processors which ated a conversion programme to each end of the fuselage.

(BBA Collection) Once the Nimrod Rls were ready for service. Parked awaiting its crew this Nimrod MR2 assigned to the Kinloss wing reveals all the major and minor modifications that were required to create this aircraft from the Comet. (BBA Collection) De HAVILLAND 97 ~@Ii~r . By this time any pretence at "calibration" had been dropped and the ELINT role acknowledged. the earlier Comet C2(R) fleet was retired. (BBA Collection) This close up of a Nimrod rear fuselage shows the fin lets needed for longitudinal stability after the probe was installed plus the intake required to cool the onboard ESM.

" This close up view of the "'Jlt nose of a Nimrod AEW3 reveals the great changes wrought upon the airframe to create this new variant. Seen on an early test flight from RAF Waddington this Nimrod AEW3 reveals the extent that GEC and BAE had gone through to try to squeeze a quart into a pint pot. (BBA Collection) 98 AIRLINER TECH .. (BBA Collection) . The removed items would then be refurbished for use in the MR2fleet.". Close observation of this airframe reveals that· component recovery is well underway. .... . (Mel James) Whilst in storage at Abington the defunct AEWfleet was kept in flyable condition until a decision was made regarding its future...

This is an MRl. the later MR2 features wingtip ESM pods plus a refuelling probe and associated finlet modifications. o 0 0 0 o This general arrangement diagram confirms the Comet ancestry that is built into the Nimrod. When the \ AEWfleet was finally \ written off. Of note are the removed tailplanes to the front of the \ aircraft. as much as possible was recovered. (BBA Collection) This view taken almost level with the fin top ESM pod reveals the extensive removable panels built into the Nimrod. (BBA Collection) De HAVILLAND 99 ~@iI~T .

By the time the MR2 appeared it had gained wingtip ESM pods. bore a strong resemblance to the earlier Comet. This results in the Nimrod being able to cruise on patrol with the outboard engines running at idle thus conserving fuel and extending patrol time. (BBA Collection) 100 AIRLINER TECH . the 1 million candle power light housed in the front of the wing pinion tank. (BBA Collection) Taxiing past the photographer this Nimrod MR2 attracts interest from other spectators. A minute later the aircraft collided with a runway sweeper truck which extensively damaged the right-hand wing ESM pod. Not only does this confer a sprightly performance on the aircraft it has another benefit. an inflight refuelling probe. plus aerodynamic surfaces on the tailplanes and lower fuselage to restore longitudinal stability. Spey's. (BBA Collection) As part of the rework process to create the Nimrod.R. The first manifestation of the Nimrod. (BBA Collection) Close to the point of touchdown this Nimrod MR2 shows one of its greatest assets. the MR1. the original Avon engines were replaced by the more powerful R.

Pounds Static Thrust AEW Airborne Early Warning LORAN Long Range Air Navigation AIB Accident Investigation Board ARB Air(craft) Registration Board ASB Air Safety Board MA Malaysian Airways AREA Aerovias Ecuatorianas MAD Magnetic Anomaly Detector AUW All Up Weight MEA Middle East Airways AWACS Airborne Warning and Control MoA Ministry of Aviation/ Aircraft System MoS Ministry of Supply MOD Ministry of Defence BAA British Airports Authority MOTU Maritime Operational Training Unit BAE Systems British Aerospace / Systems MR Maritime Reconnaissance BAC British Aircraft Corporation MRA Maritime Reconnaissance Advanced BEA British European Airways MSA Malaysia Singapore Airways BLEU Blind Landing Experimental Unit MTBF Mean Time Between Failure BOAC British Overseas Airways Corporation OCU Operational Conversion Unit BSAA British South African Airways RAE Royal Aircraft Establishment CofA Certificate of Airworthiness RAF Royal Air Force CAA Civil Aviation Authority RCAF Royal Canadian Air Force CPA Canadian Pacific Airways RN Royal Navy RR Rolls-Royce DH De Havilland SAA South African Airways EAA East African Airways SAR Search And Rescue ECU Engine Change Unit SBAC Society of British Aircraft ELINT Electronic Intelligence (gathering) Constructors ESM Electronic Support Measures TAP Transportes Aerolineas Portugal FRS Fellow of the Royal Society UAT Union Aeromaritime de Transport GFE Government Furnished Equipment GMT Greenwich Mean Time VIP Very Important Person De HAVILLAND 101 ~@li~r . COMET 11--lolPHABET ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS 2TAF Second Tactical Air Force HSA Hawker Siddeley Aviation AA Aerolineas Argentinas INS Inertial Navigation System AAJC Airline Association Joint Council IT Inclusive Tourist AEW Airborne Early Warning A&AEE Aircraft & Armament Experimental JAL Japan Air Lines Establishment ADF Aerial Direction Finder

. A similar installation was built into the rear fuselage. (BBA Collection) With its front radome removed this Nimrod AEW3 reveals the massive mounting beam required to carry the forward cassegrain scanner. Contrast the revamped front and rear fuselages with the MR version of the same aircraft. . (BBA Collection) Prior to the issuance of disposal instructions this side-on view of a Nimrod AEW3 in store at RAF Abingdon reveals the extensive modifications required to produce this variant.. (BBA Collection) 102 AIRLINER TECH . (BBA Collection) Although the AEW aircraft were a failure. Still wearing the first Nimrod colour scheme ofgrey and white is this AEW3 awaiting final disposal at RAF Abingdon. their disposal and subsequent reduction to parts did have the benefit of increasing the spares inventory for the anti submarine fleet of aircraft.

3 March 1953 17 April 1957 CPA Comet lA crashes after takeoff No. First flight of second Comet prototype. be named Comet. 21 January 1947 after departing Karachi. First flight of DHI08 Swallow tailless swept-wing research aircraft. 9 May 1954 February 1945 11 August 1952 All commercial Comet Is world-wide De Havilland issued with instruction Comet lA makes maiden flight. types of a jet-powered airliner later to Pan-Am orders Comet 3. First flight of Ghost engine in convert.1 SIGNIFIC T DATES KEY DATES IN THE HISTORY OF THE DE HAVILLAND COMET 23 December 1942 9 January 1951 11 January 1954 Brabazon Committee formed to inves. ed Lancastrian.20/44. First flight of first Comet prototype. 51 Sqdn RAF receives Comet 15 May 1946 from Karachi. 16 February 1952 23 March 1954 Committee proposals for five basic Development Comet 2X makes first BOAC Comet fleet reinstated. types of airliner issued in report. Comet V proposal. 2 May 1953 27 April 1958 BOAC Comet 1 breaks up in midair Comet 4 makes maiden flight. March 1953 July 1956 1946 Comet 1 enters RCAF service. are grounded. en flight. BOAC voluntarily grounds Comet fleet tigate future of air transport. 9 February 1943 . 1946 from Rome. to proceed in accordance with Spec 5. C2(RC). uled flight to ew York. De HAVILLAND 103 ~@M~r . First production Comet 1 makes maid. whilst crashes investigated. 8 April 1954 November 1944 2 April 1952 BOAC Comet 1 on SAA flight breaks De Havilland begins tentative design First Commercial jet flight in the world up in midair after departing Rome. Ministry of Supply issues De Havil. with BOAC. 1953 Comet C2 enters RAF service with No. made by Comet 1 of BOAC. MaS issues ITF for production aircraft. 30 September 1958 25 July 1953 Comet 4 enters commercial service 24 July 1947 BOAC Comet 1 taken off active inven. tory after landing accident at Karachi. 216Sqdn. flight. 10 January 1954 27 June 1959 27 July 1950 BOAC Comet 1 breaks up in midair First flight of Comet 4B for BEA. 26 October 1952 19 July 1954 BOAC Comet 1 crashes on takeoff First flight by sale Comet 3. C of A withdrawn. 4 October 1958 29 August 1953 BOAC Comet 4 undertakes first sched- 27 July 1949 Comet 2 production aircraft first flies. after departing Rome. 7 June 1956 land with contract to build two proto. BOAC orders 25 of the new airliner although this was later cut to 10. work.

51 Sqdn replaces Comets with 24 November 1965 Nimrod Rl.. . 1974 Nimrod MRA4s from MR2s begins.. verted Comet. Dan Air begins Comet operations. First Nimrod MR1 enters RAF service 14 March 1997 with MOTU.. No.. Comet 4 XS235 Canopus retired for 15 February 1962 preservation to Bruntingthorpe. (BBA Collection) 104 . 2000 BOAC retires Comet 4 from service Discussions begin amongst interested after last commercial flight. Dan Air retires last Comet after type's final commercial flight. re-enters RAF service. 1 April 1960 October 1969 Comet 4B enters regular BEA service. a con. 31 October 1959 1 April 1967 9 November 1980 First flight of Comet 4C. Comet C2 retired from RAF service. MR1. 1999 November 1962 Conversion programme to produce 21 Last production Comet 4 completed.. October 1966 Sqdn.. This is C2 XK699 at Lyneham. A few Comets survive in preservation. 23 August 1979 1967 First Nimrod MR2. 216 Sqdn receives Comet C4. converted from First flight of Nimrod prototype. No. April 1975 parties about returning Comet 4 Cano- Last Comet C4 retired by No. 216 pus to flying status. AIRLINER TECH . 31 October 1973 Last flight of Comet 4 in BEA colours.

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