De Havilland COMET section Comet history The history of the first jet airliner
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The prototypes

There were two prototypes built, G-5-1 later registered as G-ALVG, and G-ALZK. The first flight took place on 27-Jul-49. Engines were Ghost 50-Mk1. The MTOW was 105Klb. Both prototypes had the single main wheel bogie. In Dec-50 VG received for trials the four wheel bogie. Other tests carried out on the prototypes were the modified drooped leading edge, the wing pinon tanks used on the Mk 3 and the use of two rocket motors to improve take-off performance. Both prototypes were broken up in '53 and '57.

The Comet 1

The main difference between the prototypes and the Mk 1 was the incorporation of the four wheel main bogie, an additional window and a different layout of the emergency exits. The MTOW was 105Klb, but was increased to 107Klb. First flight was on 09-Jan-51. First customer was BOAC. Engines were Ghost 50-Mk1. It was YP which operated the first commercial jet passenger service from London to Johannesburg on 02-May-52. Following the YY crash, all Mk 1s were grounded in Apr-54. There were only 9 Mk 1s built, 5 of which crashed.

The Comet 1A

The Mk 1A had a reinforced structure and a MTOW of 110Klb, which was later increased to 115Klb. Additional fuel was carried in a center tank. First flight was on 11-Aug-52. First customer was Canadian Pacific Airlines. Engines were Ghost 50-Mk2. Following the YY crash, all Mk 1s were grounded in Apr-54. There were 10 Mk 1As built, 3 of which crashed.

The Comet 1XB

The Mk 1XB was a converted Mk 1A. The changes were needed because of the weak fuselage of the original Mk 1 and Mk 1As, which had lead to three hull-losses. The Mk 1XB had a reinforced structure and oval windows. The total cycles of those upgraded Comets was however limited. The engines were upgraded to Ghost 50-Mk4 and MTOW was increased to 117Klb. A total of 4 Mk 1As was upgraded to 1XB standard.

The Comet 2X

The sixth Mk 1 frame was used to test the Avon engines, which were intended to power the Mk 2. G-ALYT first flew on 16-Feb-52 powered with four Avon RA.9 Mk501/502 engines. The Mk 2X was the Mk 2 prototype. YT was the only Mk 2X.

The Comet 2

The Mk 2 had a stretched fuselage, the modified drooped leading edges and four Avon RA.25 Mk503/504 engines. The MTOW was 120Klb, fuel capacity was identical to the Mk 1As. The first flight took place on 27-Aug-53. The Mk 2 was never used in commercial operation, the Mk 1 disaster had as direct consequence the production stop of the Mk 2. Out of the 22 Mk 2s five were scrapped, three were stored all other frames were converted to other standards.

The Comet C.2

The fuselage and cabin floor of this variant were reinforced. It was fitted with oval windows. MTOW was 127.6Klb and engines were four Avon Mk117/118. This variant was used by the RAF with a total of 8 planes. These frames were only allowed to operate 8000 cycles.

The Comet T.2

Identical to the Mk C2 but without the reinforced floor. Both frames were later upgraded to Mk C2 standard.

The Comet 2R

The fuselage of this variant was unpressurized and had still the original Mk 2 frame with square windows. Engines were Avon Mk117. Note that one Mk C2 was upgraded to Mk 2R standard.

The Comet 2E

This was a Mk C2 fitted with 2 Avon RA.29 Mk524 engines in the outer positions. This was the engine later used by the Mk 4. The engines in the inner positions were two Avon RA.25 Mk504.

The Comet 3

The Mk 3 was the first real evolution of the basic Comet design. It included a stretched fuselage, oval windows, a higher fuel capacity due to pinion tanks, Avon RA.26 Mk522 engines and the MTOW was increased to 145Klb. The jet exhaust pipes were being moved to the outerline to reduce noise and corrosion. The first flight of G-ANLO took place on 19-Jul-54. Due to the Mk 1 problems the MK 3 program was abandoned, 10 frames were scrapped. The only Mk 3 frame was however used to develop parts of the Mk 4.

The Comet 3B

The same G-ANLO was converted in '58 to the specifications of the Mk 4B, thus resulting in the sole Mk 3B. The modification was realized by removing the pinion tanks. First flight took place on 21-Aug-58.

The Comet 4

The Mk 4 was a heavily modified Mk 3, incorporating a different alloy for the fuselage and a higher differential pressure. The first flight took place on 27-Apr-58. BOAC could already put the Mk 4 in service in Oct-58, as most of the certification had been completed by the Mk 2E and Mk 3. MTOW was increased to 162Klb. An Mk 4 operated the first non stop New-York/London jet service. A total of 28 Mk 4s were built.

The Comet 4A

The Mk 4A was launched in Jun-56 as a short range version of the Comet. The fuselage was stretched and the wing span was reduced. MTOW was reduced to 152.5Klb. The Mk 4A died, when the launch customer Capital Airlines cancelled the order. As a result no Mk 4A was built.

The Comet 4B

After that the Mk 4A was dead born, DH developed the Mk 4B which was also intended for shorter range operations. The shorter wing of the Mk 4A was kept but the pinion tanks were removed, resulting in a smaller fuel capacity. The fuselage of the Mk 4B was stretched further. MTOW was 158Klb and four Avon RA29 Mk525 were providing the adequate thrust. The outer engines were equipped with a thrust reverser and noise was also reduced compared top earlier versions. The first flight took place on 27-Jun-59. A total of 18 Mk 4Bs were built.

The Comet 4C

The Mk 4C was a combination of the fuselage of the Mk 4B and the wings of the Mk 4. The engine configuration was identical to the Mk 4B. The first flight took place on 31-Oct-59. MTOW was identical to the Mk 4. A total of 23 Mk 4Cs were built.

The Comet C.4

The Mk C.4 was the Mk 4C operated by the RAF. A total of 5 Mk C.4s were built.

The Comet 5

The Mk 5 just existed as a project to counter the success of the DC-8 and the B-707. It incorporated major design changes, but the risk was evaluated as being to high. De Havilland Comet technical data

The data of the present table was collected by using different sources. However errors are human, if you think that one figure is not correct, or if you know the value of one of the missing parameters, feel free to post me an . Don't forget to tell me your source.

De Havilland Comet
Dimensions [m] Comet 1 Comet 1A Comet 2 Comet 3 Comet 4 Comet 4B Comet 4C
Overall length 28.61 28.61 29.53 33.98 33.98 35.97 35.97
Wing span 34.98 34.98 34.98 34.98 34.98 32.83 34.98
Body width 2.97 2.97 2.97 2.97 2.97 2.97 2.97
Wing surface [m2] 188.3 188.3 188.3 197.0 197.0 191.3 197.0
Tail height 8.70 8.70 8.70 8.70 8.70 8.70 8.70
Weights[kg] Comet 1 Comet 1A Comet 2 Comet 3 Comet 4 Comet 4B Comet 4C
Plane weight ? ? ? ? 34 210 35 540 36 110
Maximum payload 5 668 5 352 6 123 9 160 9 200 10 930 10 930
Maximum takeoff weight 47 620 52 160 54 430 65 760 73 480 71 670 73 480
Maximum landing weight ? ? ? ? 54 430 54 430 54 430
Capacities Comet 1 Comet 1A Comet 2 Comet 3 Comet 4 Comet 4B Comet 4C
Passengers 3 class 36 44 44 58 56 71 79
Passengers 2 class 78 81 101 101
Passengers 1 class 109 119 119
Fuel capacity [L] 27 300 31 394 31 394 38 000 40 450 35 459 40 450
Cargo volume [m3] 10.90 10.90 ~ 12.5 ~ 16.5 ~ 16.5 18.67 18.67
Performances Comet 1 Comet 1A Comet 2 Comet 3 Comet 4 Comet 4B Comet 4C
Cruising speed [km/h] 724 724 772 805 805 853 805
Landing speed [km/h] ? ? ? ? 230 237 233
Ceiling [m] 12 800 12 800 12 800 12 192 12 192 11 582 11 887
Takeoff distance [m] ? ? ? ? 2 290 2 270 2 270
Range [km] 2 414 2 850 4 065 4 345 5 190 4 023 6 900
Engines Comet 1 Comet 1A Comet 2 Comet 3 Comet 4 Comet 4B Comet 4C
Number 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
DH Ghost ...
RR Avon...

50 Mk1

50 Mk2

Mk 117

RA 26

RA 29

RA 29

RA 29
Thrust [kN] 22.3 22.3 32.5 44.5 46.7 46.7 46.7
Consumption [L/h] ~ 7 500 ~ 7300 ~ 5 500 ~ 5 700 5 450 6 500 5 560
General Comet 1 Comet 1A Comet 2 Comet 3 Comet 4 Comet 4B Comet 4C
First flight 27 Jul 49 11 Aug 52 27 Aug 53 19 Jul 54 27 Apr 58 27 Jun 59 31 Oct 59
First delivery 22 Mar 51 17 Dec 52 None None 30 Sep 58 09 Nov 59 14 Jan 60
List price ? ? ? 715 K 1.16M ? ? De Havilland Comet production

The present table summarizes the relevant data of the first 22 Comets. When time permits I will add additional airframes. If you have information regarding one of those birds be so kind to send me an . Don't forget to tell me your source.

IdSerialMark CustomerRegistr.1st flight Deliv.CommentsStatus
106001Proto Ministry of supplyG-5-127-Jul-49 Aug-49reregistered as G-ALVG scrapped Jul-53
206002Proto Ministry of supplyG-ALZK27-Jul-50 Jul-50never registered as G-5-2scrapped Mar-57
3060031 BOACG-ALYP09-Jan-51 Apr-52used for 1st jet service crashed 10-Jan-54
4060041 BOACG-ALYR28-Jul-51 May-52 damaged 25-Jul-53
5060051 BOACG-ALYS08-Sep-51 Feb-521st registered commer. jetscrapped ???-55
6060062X Ministry of supplyG-ALYT16-Feb-52 Mar-52Mk1 with Avon enginesscrapped ???-67
7060071 BOACG-ALYU31-Dec-51 Mar-52water tank testsscrapped May-54
8060081 BOACG-ALYV09-Apr-52 Apr-52 crashed 02-May-53
9060091 BOACG-ALYW25-May-52 Jun-52structural testsscrapped ???-55
10060101 BOACG-ALYX09-Jul-52 Jul-52scrapped Jun-55
11060111 BOACG-ALYY10-Sep-52 Sep-52 crashed 08-Apr-54
12060121 BOACG-ALYZ23-Sep-52 Sep-52only 26 days in operation crashed 26-Oct-52
13060131A Canadian PacificCF-CUM11-Aug-52 Aug-53G-ANAV of BOACscrapped ???-55
14060141A Canadian PacificCF-CUN24-Dec-52 Mar-53never entered service crashed 03-Mar-53
15060151A UATF-BGSA13-Nov-52 Dec-52withdrawn Apr-54scrapped ???-61
16060161A UATF-BGSB21-Jan-53 Feb-53withdrawn Apr-54scrapped ???-61
17060171A R. Canadian A.F.530121-Feb-53 May-53Sep-57 cvtd. to Mk 1Xbscrapped Oct-64
18060181A R. Canadian A.F.530225-Mar-53 Jun-53Sep-57 cvtd. to Mk 1Xbscrapped ???-75
19060191A UATF-BGSC15-Apr-53 May-53 crashed 25-Jun-53
20060201A Air FranceF-BGNX06-May-53 Jun-53withdrawn Apr-54fuselage preserved
21060211A Air FranceF-BGNY22-May-53 Jul-53Feb-57 cvtd. to Mk 1Xbdamaged Feb-64
22060221A Air FranceF-BGNZ16-Mar-53 Jul-53Mar-57 cvtd. to Mk 1Xbpreserved Cosford De Havilland Comet frame by frame

Frame 06001 was the first prototype. Frame 06002 was the second prototype.

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