De Havilland D.H.106 Comet
1949
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De Havilland D.H.106 Comet

The Comet was the world's first jet transport to enter service. It resulted from the wartime Brabazon Committee's recommendations for the Type IV North Atlantic turbojet mail plane, which led to numerous studies including a 20-passenger aircraft with three rear-mounted Goblin engines.

The final design emerged as an orthodox low-wing monoplane with 20 leading-edge sweep-back and four 19.8kN de Havilland Ghost centrifugal-flow turbojets buried in the wing roots. Initial accommodation was for 36 passengers in two cabins, pressurised to provide internal pressure equivalent to 2,438m when flying at 12,192m. Cruising speed was about 788km/h.

The prototype Comet made its first flight on 27 July 1949. BOAC received a fleet often Comet Is and on 2 May 1952 inaugurated the first passenger services to be operated by turbojet aircraft - on the London-Johannesburg route, covering the 10,821km in 23 hr 34 min. Comets were subsequently introduced on a number of routes, bringing drastic cuts in journey time: such as the reduction from 86 to 33 1/4 hours between London and Tokyo. Air France and UAT soon began Comet services and there were a number of airline orders for Comet 1s and later models when one broke up near Calcutta exactly a year after its introduction; in January and April 1954 two more suffered inflight structural failure, resulting in the type being withdrawn. The Avon-powered Comet 2s on order for BOAC were strengthened and some delivered to the RAF.

A longer-fuselage long-range Comet 3 had been developed and in the light of the inquiry into the Comet 1s disasters it was redesigned, first flying on 19 July 1954. It did not go into production but made a round-the-world flight and served as a test vehicle.

In 1957 it was decided that Comets would be reinstated and BOAC ordered 19 Comet 4s. These were powered by 46.71kN Rolls-Royce Avon 524, had longer fuselages than the Comet 1 and could carry 60-81 passengers. The first Comet 4 flew on 27 April 1958 and on 4 October BOAC Comets inaugurated North Atlantic jet services (in both directions simultaneously) over the London-New York route - a route for which they did not have adequate range.

From that time Comets took over much of BOAC's network. Other Comet 4s were used by Aerolineas Argentinas, East African Airways and the RAF. From this version were developed the Comet 4B and 4C which first flew on 27 June and 31 October 1959 respectively. The Comet 4B had a 1.98m increase in fuselage length, a 2.13m reduction in span and was intended for high-speed operation over shorter stages. It could carry up to 101 passengers and was not fitted with wing-mounted external fuel tanks. The main operators of Comet 4B were British European Airways and Olympic Airways.

The Comet 4C combined the long fuselage of the Comet 4B with the standard Comet 4 wing. This version was ordered by several airlines and went into service in 1960. A total of 112 Comets were built including 74 Series 4 aircraft; and the type was subsequently developed into the RAF Nimrod.

3-View 
De Havilland D.H.106 CometA three-view drawing (800 x 495)


Specification 
 CREW4
 PASSENGERS72-102
 ENGINE4 x Rolls-Royce "Avon 525B", 46.7kN
 WEIGHTS
    Take-off weight73482 kg162001 lb
    Empty weight36430 kg80315 lb
 DIMENSIONS
    Wingspan35.0 m115 ft 10 in
    Length36.0 m118 ft 1 in
    Height9.0 m30 ft 6 in
    Wing area197.0 m22120.49 sq ft
 PERFORMANCE
    Cruise speed865 km/h538 mph
    Ceiling10000 m32800 ft
    Range w/max.fuel6700 km4163 miles
    Range w/max.payload5350 km3324 miles

De Havilland D.H.106 Comet

Comments1-20 21-40
Alan White, 17.07.2016

I flew in XK 695 on 20th October 1959. The 3hr. 10 min. flight left Lyneham and out to the Bay of Biscay. 10/10ths cloud for the whole trip, then back to Lyneham for a series of roller landings. After the first four it started to rather boring but it seems that the pilot was short of hours and landings. The nose of XK 695 is at De Havilland museum. They have a Comet 1 fuselage which is being restored. GREAT MUSEUM

Bob white, 04.04.2016

Comet was vitally important airplane.What was learned from the failings of the comet helped other aircraft manufacturers develop airframe construction and testing procedures to simulate many years of pressurization and wing-flex cycles to ensure the safety of passengers and integrity of aircraft.

Keith Belcher, 28.11.2012

My dad was flight-test electrician on the Comet and he got me a ride when i was about 10. It was so smooth you could balance a threepenny piece on edge on the table

Ken Watkins, 27.11.2012

A new television documentary film is being produced about the Comet. It is expected to be shown on British Channel 4 late in December 2012 or in January 2013. Many ex-de Havilland people will be interested to see what the film will say about this pioneering airliner, and if it corrects some serious misrepresentations made in a 2002 film about the Comet and the de Havilland company.

Raymond J. Nadeau, 11.10.2012

I was an airman serving in the RCAF, stationed at Marville France. In August 1960 I flew back from Marville France to Ottawa, Canada, with a refueling stop in Iceland, aboard one of the two Comets used by the RCAF as VIP aircrafts. I felt very fortunate for the privilege of flying aboard such a beautiful aircraft and this has always remained one of my favorite memories from my military career. These aircrafts were grounded shortly thereafter and were kept in storage at the DeHaviland facilities at Malton, Ontario Airport. What became of these aircrafts? I believe that they were dismantled and sold as scrap.

Geoff Tozer, 06.08.2012

The BOAC Comet 4 was the first jet airliner I ever flew in (May 1964 from Sydney to Auckland). I was nearly 12 years old and I was intrigued by its sleek look.The acceleration and climb out on takeoff was exciting.Also loved the raw of the Rolls Royce Avons.We flew First Class and they served the meal from a trolley.I still have the inflight menu, Junior Jet Logbook. I have flown on Concorde aswell but the Comet 4 is still my favorite.

peter, 26.01.2012

wayne-30-1-11. Did you know the early boeing 707 had dreadfull "Dutch Roll". This was bad enough to stop BOAC - a big boeing fan - to delay ordering them. At least one 707 crashed due to this fault which was fixed by a dorsal fin under the fuselage. Tex Johnson thought the roll was easily dealt with by a competant crew, just as John Cunningham thought the Comet 1s take off was o.k. Both these pilots were exceptiomal though. Modern aircraft can tolerate indiferent handling much better than early jets. Both those planes were primiitive by modern standards.
Sadly, too many compromises made on the production Comet 1 . Punching rivet holes on the window frame that should have been glued.big mistake ( in retrospect ! )

peter, 26.01.2012

wayne-30-1-11. Did you know the early boeing 707 had dreadfull "Dutch Roll". This was bad enough to stop BOAC - a big boeing fan - to delay ordering them. At least one 707 crashed due to this fault which was fixed by a dorsal fin under the fuselage. Tex Johnson thought the roll was easily dealt with by a competant crew, just as John Cunningham thought the Comet 1s take off was o.k. Both these pilots were exceptiomal though. Modern aircraft can tolerate indiferent handling much better than early jets. Both those planes were primiitive by modern standards.
Sadly, too many compromises made on the production Comet 1 . Punching rivet holes on the window frame that should have been glued.big mistake ( in retrospect ! )

Prete Giancarlo, 25.01.2012

I made my first flight to London (landing airport in south)in '70. One of attendant's surname Westcott.

Bob Kidd, 20.01.2012

My father was on the first course and flew a lot of the proving flights in the early 50's.

George Sakalosky, Ph.D., 24.11.2011

In 1949 a BOAC jet airliner landed at the Beirut airport prior to its flight to Rome. The passengers ate a meal at the airport. Who was the pilot, and who were the passengers, and what was the significance of this flight?

Albert Webb, 07.04.2011

Wayne of 30-01-11 please get with it. When the 707 went into service every other crash was a 707 because they were the majority of A/C flying at that time.
The Comet was the most beautifully aerodimaticaly designed aircraft ever built.
That 32800 feet ceiling cant be true as I and my family flew back from Gibraltar in a Comet 4 at 44000 feet, the highest I have ever flown.
I have only flown in them on three ocasions and wish it could have been more often.

John Perry, 28.02.2011

Served in the RAF as an Airframe Fitter and in the mid 50's was posted to RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire were 216 Squadron of Transport Command were to receive the De Havilland Comet 2c.

Some of the previous comments are obviously fraught with bias and personal opinion and not with actual experience and qualification. I spent hundreds of hours both flying in and working on these beautiful Aircraft and we never had a problem that could not be solved at either 1st line or 2d line level.

What critics must understand is that this Aircraft was a first in so many ways all of which were approved and accepted by the FAA and it's subsequent failures in design features and the resultant testing methods and procedures to resolve them were a step into hitherto unknown territory and all Aircraft Manufacturing Companies of that time benefited by this without cost to themselves! .. to call De Havilland an "Inferior Company" is to say the least laughable.

To me the De Havilland Comet was a truly beautiful and sound Aeroplane and a worthy precursor to comfortable high speed air transportation.

Kenneth Ball, 18.02.2011

I was an apprentice at De Havilland Aircraft Co 1949-1954 and helped build the first Comet Airliners. The crashes were found to be caused by metal fatigue. This discovery enabled all aircraft designers, including Boeing for the 707, to overcome the problem and began water tank testing to prove their fuselage and wing designs were sound over many years worth of flight and pressurization cycles.

Wayne, 30.01.2011

These were terrible, bad design and exploded in flight and killed everyone many times. They were grounded several times and then DeHavalland said they were safe for flight and then they exploded again and killed everyone again. They finally put the aircraft in a test chamber filled with water to simulate the pressure at flight level and found out the flaw was around the windows causing the failure and many many many deaths. When they said they finally fixed the problem (they said this twice and it killed more people again you know) Boeing had the 707 out which NEVER had any problem like this and never had an in flight failure. This is an example of what happens when an inferior company tries to put out an aircraft too fast without testing it properly. The last time they said they had the defect fixed it never really got tested as it was known as an unsafe airplane and could not compete with the 707 and so really never got tested, thank God or others would have died. Many people died, even though this was the first jet transport it was a failure and the first real jet transportation where people didn't die was the Boeing 707.

Ian Brand, 01.11.2010

I had the privilege of flying with one of the Comet test pilots, who also trained all the early crews, on many occasions (as a flight "Instructor", although he had probably forgotten more about flying than I will ever know..) We became firm friends and up to his passing he was adamant that the reason the 4th window failed was that the ADF (for which the structure wasn't designed) was mounted right above it, meaning there was a hole in the structure where there should not have been one, and therefore catastrophically weakening it...

Allen Coughlan, 28.08.2010

I had the pleasure of being a De Havilland Engineering apprentice in the 1950's. Some of my time as an apprentice was spent on the track working on the (then)new Comet IV. Eventually, Chester, where I was based, manufactured all the fuselages and wings for the RAF Nimrod fleet. These very large components were then transported to Woodford for final assembly.

John Hancocks, 21.04.2010

Was a passenger in a Comet 4 on Paris/Rome leg in the early 60's, the poor thing felt and looked dated by then, actually welcomed the subsequent transfer to Air France Caravelle for the rest of my journey.

John Daniell, 04.03.2010

Simon, 01.11.2009
"It was more than just the worlds first jet airliner, it was first to solely use fully powered flying controls".

Don't think so. The Bristol Brabazon predates it.

Simon, 01.11.2009

It was more than just the worlds first jet airliner, it was first to use new construction techniques, first to solely use fully powered flying controls, first to use full pressurisation at high altitudes (hence discovering the as yet unknown metal fatigue problems)and a whole host of other firsts that the aviation industry owes a great debt to.

1-20 21-40

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