Comet Tank

The Comet Tank was a tank of British origin that was designed by Leyland Motors Ltd. in 1943 and used by both the British and the Irish toward the end of World War II (WWII), from 1944 – 1958; it was also used during the Korean war. 1,186 of these tanks were built to provide greater anti-tank support than its predecessors; as a result the Comet tank was armed with a 77mm HV which made it one of a few British tanks that could challenge the German tanks of that time.

DEVELOPMENT OF THE COMET

Initially two designs were submitted for the Comet, the A24 Cruiser Tank Mk VII Cavalier tank from Nuffield and the A27L Cruiser tank Mk VII Centaur tank from Leyland; based on these two designs the Cruiser tank Mk VII A27M Cromwell was produced and proved to be reliable with its Meteor engine, however the tank was prone to throwing its track and there were also problems with the suspension system.

The Cromwell’s hull had to be lengthened and a large turret was placed on top to handle the large 17 pounder it was to be fitted with. Then there was the A34 Comet which corrected several of the Cromwell’s flaws such as the track shedding and suspension problems; the Comet capitalized on the Cromwell’s strengths such as its low height and high speeds.

The 77mm HV was used which used the same caliber projectile as the previous weapon, the 17 pounder, however the shell casing was different. The Comet’s armor was increased, its hull and turret were welded with a cast gun mantlet, the suspension was improved, armored storage bins were added for the ammunition, return rollers were added and the turret was electrically traversed with a generator. That was powered by the Comet’s engine.

The Comet had to substitute speed for its new features; as a result the Comet traveled at 32 mph rather than 40+ mph which was the speed the Cromwell could travel at; this reduction in speed helped to preserve the Comet’s suspension and engine components and reduced track wear and the problem of the tank throwing track.

DESIGN OF THE COMET

The Comet accommodated 5 persons, used a Rolls Royce Meteor Mark III engine and weighed 34.2 tons; it could travel at a speed of 32 mph (51.5 km/h) and had a range of 123 miles (198 km). The Comet’s main gun was a 77mm 1 x 77mm mark II L/49 and it was further armed with two 7.92mm machine guns; it could hold sixty-one 77mm projectiles and 5,175 7.92mm ammunition.

SERVICE HISTORY OF THE COMET

The Comet was similar to its predecessor the A15 Cruiser tank Mk VI Crusader tank because the British Army wanted the same components to be used for economic and efficiency purposes; the Comet saw very little action during WWII because it arrived so late in the war. The Comet was used by Finish Defense Forces until 1970 and could be found in various armies such as the South African army up until the 1980s.

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