Land Weapons

Leyland Motors

Comet

The Comet (A34) was the last British tank to be used in combat during World War II and a significant step up from the under-gunned cruiser tanks that had formed the backbone of British tank strength throughout the conflict. It was developed as a stop-gap measure before the Centurion, and as a result borrowed heavily from the Cromwell. This was most notable in the hull which retained its predecessor's hull gun and front plate, as well as its poor belly protection. It nevertheless featured an improved suspension to allow for better cross-country performance given its greater weight. Armament was significantly improved thanks the addition of a 77-mm HV gun, a development of the 17-pounder but that could be fitted on a smaller turret. This enabled it to be the only indigenous British tank that was capable of defeating German armor at long range. Unfortunately, the Comet arrived too late in the war to make an impact, by which time mass encounters against German tanks was rare; only the 11th Armoured Division ended the war fully equipped with Comets. These remained in British service early in the post-war period despite being gradually replaced by the Centurion although units in Berlin and Hong Kong retained their Comets until the late 1950s. A few were exported to Cuba, Finland, Ireland, South Africa, and Burma where they remained in service for longer.

The first prototype of the A34 Cruiser Tank Comet was completed in September 1944 although mock-ups had been ready a year earlier. The delays were attributed to the need for more extensive modifications to the Cromwell than originally envisioned. No variants were ever produced, and it was reclassified as a medium tank after the war.

Comet Mk. I (British Army)
Comet Mk. I

Preceded by:

Challenger (1944)

Succeeded by:

Centurion (1946)

Datafile

DesignComet Mk I
Code NameA34
TypeMedium Tank
Year1944
Crew5
Dimensions
Length (w/Gun)6.55 m (7.66 m)
Width3.05 m
Height2.68 m
Weight
Loaded35,743 kg
Ground Pressure0.88 kg/cm²
SuspensionImproved Christie
Performance
Speed (Off-Road)47 km/h (26 km/h)
Range (Off-Road)198 km
AmphibiousNo
Fording0.91 m (1.2 m)
Vertical Obstacle0.91 m
Trench2.29 m
Gradient60%
Powerplant
Engine1 x 600-hp
Rolls-Royce
Meteor
FuelGasoline
Power/Weight16.79 hp/t
Armament
Main1 x 76.2-mm L/49
QF 77-mm Mk II
Rifled Gun (58)
↑ 20° / ↓ -12° / ↔ 360°

Secondary1 x 7.92-mm (c)
1 x 7.92-mm
Armor
TypeSteel
Thickness14 - 101 mm
Max Effective94 - 101 mm RHAe
Hull Upper Front76 mm
Hull Lower Front32 mm / 70°
Hull Upper Sides29 mm
Hull Lower Sides29 mm
Hull Lower Rear32 mm
Hull Top25 mm
Hull Bottom14 mm
Turret Mantlet101 mm
Turret Front101 mm
Turret Sides63 mm
Turret Rear57 mm
Turret Top25 mm
Production
Built1,127
Total1,127

Gallery