Designed specifically for the 1934
Victorian Centenary Air Race from Mildenhall
to Melbourne, for which the
prize money was donated by Sir Mac-
Pherson Robertson, the de Havilland
D.H.88 Comet attracted three orders
before the February 1934 deadline which
had been stipulated by the manufacturer
for guaranteed delivery before the Race
in October. Purchasers were Mr A. O.
Edwards, managing director of the Grosvenor
House Hotel, Bernard Rubin, and
Jim and Amy Mollison. The Comet was
of wooden construction throughout, the
front section of the fuselage containing
three large fuel tanks behind which were
two tandem seats for the pilot and copilot.
Two high compression de Havilland
Gipsy Six R engines were installed,
driving Ratier two-position propellers
which were set to fine pitch before each
flight. These went into coarse pitch automatically
at 241km/h, when a
sealing disc in the spinner opened to release
the unit's internal pressure and
thus activate the control mechanism.
Other notable features included the provision
of manually retractable landing
gear and split trailing-edge flaps.
Hubert Broad flew the first Comet,
that intended for the Mollisons, at Hatfield
on 8 September 1934. Its Certificate
of Airworthiness was issued on.9
October and certificates for the other
two aircraft on 12 October, just eight
days before the Race. Dawn on 20
October saw the departure of the first
contestants, including the Mollisons'
Black Magic, Owen Cathcart-Jones and
Ken Waller's G-ACSR (owned by Rubin)
and C. W. A. Scott and T. Campbell Black
in Grosvenor House. Black Magic
accomplished successfully the non-stop
London-Baghdad leg but was forced to
retire with engine trouble at Allahabad.
Cathcart-Jones and Waller, after getting
lost and being forced to land in Persia,
struggled through to Melbourne to finish
fourth in the speed section. They flew
straight back, with mail and film, to set
an out-and-return record of 131/2 days.
Scott and Black were the speed section
winners, covering the course in 70 hours
54 minutes; Grosvenor House is now
preserved by the Shuttleworth Trust at
Old Warden, Bedfordshire. Two more
Comets were built, one as a mailplane
for the French government and the other
for Mr Cyril Nicholson, who sponsored
two unsuccessful attempts on the
London-Cape record. During the second
attempt the crew baled out over Sudan,
on 22 September 1935.
FACTS AND FIGURES
© The short-ranged Comet 1 only
carried 36 passengers, albeit in
great comfort. The Comet 3 was
to be the transatlantic version,
but only one was built.
© The Comet breakups were traced
to cracks emanating from the
aperture for a square radio antenna
and the corners of windows.
© Poor cockpit instrumenration
contributed to the early Comet
accidents as the pilots had trouble
judging the correct take-off angle
in hazy conditions.
|A three-view drawing (700 x 686)|
| ENGINE||2 x de Havilland Gipsy Six R inline piston engines, 172kW|
| Take-off weight||2413 kg||5320 lb|
| Empty weight||1288 kg||2840 lb|
| Wingspan||13.41 m||44 ft 0 in|
| Length||8.84 m||29 ft 0 in|
| Height||3.05 m||10 ft 0 in|
| Wing area||19.69 m2||211.94 sq ft|
| Max. speed||381 km/h||237 mph|
| Cruise speed||354 km/h||220 mph|
| Ceiling||5790 m||19000 ft|
| Range||4707 km||2925 miles|
|John Walton, e-mail, 25.11.2021 17:10|
I regret that there is an error on this otherwise excellent and enjoyable website.
The 'Facts and Figures' has 3 comments. I cannot comment on the 3rd but the first two do not refer to this aircraft but the post-WWII Comet jet passenger aircraft that had such tragic crashes following metal fatigue failures as described in the comments.
|Frank Bryan, e-mail, 10.11.2014 13:35|
I remember this event as a 4year old living in Mildenhall.I have a back and white photo of it I took before in left Southend where it was parked in the years before Shuttleworth took it over to restore.
|Dries Venter, e-mail, 23.07.2013 16:11|
I have no coments I just want to know were I can get plans for this beautiful baby
|Barry Donovan, e-mail, 24.11.2011 21:56|
I own a controlling share in an authentic Comet replica that is being constructed in New Zealand. This share is for sale. The aeroplane is 2 /3 complete, with all remaining parts available. Interested parties please email me.
|Alan Filby, e-mail, 18.12.2010 11:11|
Does anyone know what happened to the replica DH 88 being built by George Lemay during the 1990's in Alberta Canada?
When I last saw it construction was well advanced and George had a couple of men helping him with the project.
At that time George also had a Beech D17, DH Dove, and a DH Rapide along with various other light aircraft in his hangars.
|fred, e-mail, 03.10.2010 21:26|
For those who want more information on this plane contact The Shuttleworth Collection. Old Warden. Biggleswade. Bedfordshire. They have the Comet among their collection.
|Manolis, e-mail, 23.05.2010 22:30|
i'm intrested to find construction drawings of this fantastic aeroplane in order to built a replica. Does anybody knows were can i find it? thank you in advance.
|Brian Lawrence, e-mail, 01.09.2010 21:31|
Does anyone know the colour,and name of the third aircraft GADEF?
|Eli V. Nielsen Denmark, e-mail, 11.01.2010 12:16|
She ist beautiful to look at.
Where can I get a model of this aircraft and
price. ? Thank you for your kindness.
many kind regards yourÂ´s Eli V. Nielsen, DK
|John King, e-mail, 02.01.2010 03:19|
I am trying to get a photograph of the Comet's instrument panel so that I can make a reasonably accurate replica for the 1 /6th scale model I am currently building.
Can anyone help with this?
|Bruce, e-mail, 05.11.2008 05:04|
I have researched one of the co-winners of the 1934 Melbourne Centenary Air Race Tom Campbell Black, he with C.W.A. Scott won the race in "Grosvenor House" G-ACSS. I found it to be an amazing era. I set up a web site to commemorate the men and machines. I am sure you will enjoy a visit. www.tomcampbellblack.150m.com
|ED, e-mail, 18.02.2008 10:56|
I am born of the last half 20th century. This airplane has been retired for a feww decades, but through general knowledge. Question was this aircraft an air speed holder in aircraft records?
|EMBER, e-mail, 22.12.2007 23:49|
MY FATHER FOUND ONE OF THESE IN 1951, AND BOUGHT IT FOR 50,000 DOLLORS (PAID IT OFF OVER THE YEARS). TO THIS DAY IT STILL IS AIRWORTHY, BUT HAS A TENDENCY TO ROLL A BIT TOO MUCH. IT'S LOGGED 153hrs 45min.
|charles ward, e-mail, 18.02.2007 14:43|
I have a limited edtion print of DH88 from an original oil signed by the artist Norman W Clark. It records a time of 77hrs 23sc. The print was commisioned in 1984 to commemorate the 50th anniversary. My print is No.10 I can if you e-mail me send you a picture
|Charles Ward, e-mail, 01.03.2007 14:38|
Please disregard the the communication of the 18th Feb.
Thank you. Charles ward.
|Charles Ward, e-mail, 01.03.2007 14:35|
I have a print in my possession of Grovesnor House from an original oil commisioned in 1984 to commemorate the race.The artist is Norman W Clark and it gives a time of 77hrs 23min. This Time was also mentioned during a recent programme on the Mosquito screened by the History Channel. I would welcome the opportunity to talk with you and investigate the matter. Yours sincerely Charles Ward
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