In very nice operational condition. Recently fully serviced. Many small details and very good runner. The best British tank in WW-II (Tiger killer).
For most of WW2, the British Army operated what were described as ‘cruiser’ and ‘infantry’ tanks. The designation ‘cruiser’ had been introduced in 1938 to describe what had previously been known as ‘medium’ tanks…… and, at the same time, the ‘infantry’ class was introduced to describe tanks that were used in support of infantry.
Logically enough, the first tank in each of these series was described as Mk I -as in ‘cruiser’ tank Mk I- but it wasn’t long before the ‘cruiser’ tank class included more designs than you could shake a stick at. There were the unnamed Mk I to IV, the Mk V Covenanter, Mk VI Crusader, Mk VII Cavalier, and then after the ‘Mark’ numbers were dropped, the Centaur, Cromwell, and Challenger were produced… and finally the ‘Comet’
Work on what was to become the A34 Comet -the last in the production series of British cruiser tanks- began in July 1943. Leyland Motors had turned a whole factory over to tank production and were already engaged in producing Centaurs and Cromwell’s and this seemed the logical place for the Comet.
The design brief called for the tank to be armed with the new 77mm gun and to retain as many features of the Cromwell as possible in order to reduce development time. A mock-up was ready by September 1943 and the first prototype was ready for testing in February 1944.
Production had initially been scheduled for mid-1944 but there were initial problems with the suspension which required some modification, as well as other small changes.
In appearance, the Comet was very similar to the Cromwell although it could easily be recognised by its new, welded turret and by the longer-barrelled gun which, unlike the old 6-pounder, incorporated a muzzle brake to reduce recoil.
The hull was of welded construction and in most respects was similar to that used on the later Cromwell’s, with a vertical front plate incorporating a mount for a 7.92mm gas-operated BESA machine-gun, but the armour was increased in thickness to give 76 mm protection to the front and a minimum of 14 mm to the sides. A larger turret ring was required to accommodate the spacious, all-new turret; this was of welded construction, incorporating a 102mm thick cast mantlet and front plate, and mounting a 360o cupola for the commander; the turret was electrically traversed using power from the engine-driven generator, and the main gun could be locked to the rear for travelling.
A second BESA machine gun was mounted co-axially with the main gun and to its right.
The turret included armoured stowage bins below the turntable floor for ready-to-use rounds, and there was additional stowage below the floor, giving a total stowage for 61 rounds. Number 19 and number 38 radio sets were installed side-by-side in the rear of the turret. Spare track links were carried on either side of the turret, and there was a huge stowage bin on the rear.
Mechanically, the Comet was very similar to the Cromwell.
Power was provided by a Rover or Morris built Meteor Mk III engine, similar to that which had been used in the Cromwell; Power output was 600 bhp from 27,022cc and the engine drove the rear sprockets through a five-speed Merritt-Brown combined gearbox and steering unit. The Comet was considerably heavier than the Cromwell, with the combat weight up from 27 tons to around 33 tons, and this had the effect of reducing the top speed to 32 mph (52 km/h).
The weight increase also necessitated increasing the width of the tracks when compared to the Cromwell. Operating range was around 125 mites (202 km), during which time the tank would have consumed 116 gallons (527 litres) of fuel.
The Christie-type suspension which had been seen on all of the cruiser tanks was retained, albeit strengthened to support the greater weight. For the first time, at least on the series production models, there were track return rollers, bringing a big improvement in the ride.
The tank was designed to be operated by a five-man crew consisting of commander, driver, gunner loader and ‘bow gunner’, the latter operating the bow machine gun.
Manufacturing began in late 1944 at Leyland, and some 143 examples had been constructed by January 1945 when the tank entered service with the 29th Armoured Brigade, replacing the unit’s Sherman’s. The 15/19 Hussars were also issued with Comets and the tank saw its first action during ‘Operation Varsity’, the Rhine crossing in March of that year.
The Comet was without any doubt fast, reliable and well-armed, and was particularly agile across country -many saw it as the best British tank of WWII!
Although it came too late to see more than a few months action in the battle for Europe, it remained in service with the British Army until 1958.
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Model: A34 Comet Mk 1 Model A
Manufacturer: Leyland (Contract M 907)
Basic Weight: 29,25 Tons,
Combat Weight: 32,70 Tons.
Bridge classification: Initially 32, later 36 and then 40
Ground Pressure: 13.85 lbs/inch2 (0,974 kg/cm2).
Crew: 5; Commander, Gunner, Loader/Operator, Driver and Co-Driver/Bow Machine-Gunner.
Engine: Rolls Royce Meteor 3,
27.022 cc V12 producing 600 BHP at 2550 RPM.
Transmission: five-speed Merritt-Brown combined gearbox and steering unit
Note: due to this unique gearbox this tank can make a neutral turn!
Suspension: Christie type with top rollers and rear drive sprockets.
Speed: 32 MPH (52 km/h).
Gun Front: Length: 24′ 6″ (7,46 m)
Width: 9′ 10″ (3,01 m)
Height: 8′ 6″ (2,59 m)
Gun Rear: Length: 21′ 5″ (6,54 m).
Armament: OQF (Ordnance Quick-Firing) 77 mm Mk. 2
2 x 7.92 mm BESA Machine Gun
2″ bomb-thrower in turret roof
Ammunition Stowage: Main Armament 61 rounds
BESA 23 boxes (5.175 rounds).
Armour: Max. 101 mm.
Date of Delivery: December 1944
Original UK census Nr.: T335227