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Wednesday, 31 December 2008 19:39

The Comet Tank (A.34)

Comet Tank

Comet Cruiser Tank A.34

Comet Prototype

Comet Cruiser Tank Prototype

When the Comet arrived in September 1944 the British had at last a British tank with decent armour, speed and a good gun, many regard it was the best British tank of the war and they are probably right. The Comet was extremely fast, reliable, was easy to drive and had excellent off road performance. The 77mm gun was a slightly less powerful than the 17pdr but was still capable of penetrating thick armour especially when firing APDS ammunition.  Armour was decent for a 33 ton tank but clearly inferior to the mammoth German tanks of the period but better than that of tanks such as the Sherman or Cromwell.

The Comet was essentially an enlarged version of the Cromwell, in 1943 attempts were made to mount Vickers' new high velocity 75mm gun in a Cromwell but despite many months and plans to have the tank in production shortly it was found that the gun would not fit into the Cromwell after all. This 75mm weapon was then modified to fire 17 Pounder ammunition and was known as 77mm so that there would not be confusion over ammunition supplies. The High Velocity 77mm was extremely accurate, more so than the regular 17 Pounder and was mounted on the Comet tank. window.google_render_ad();

It had been planned to have the first crews equipped and trained with the Comet by December 1944 but due to the German offensive the crews did not have time to train until the new year, the Comet tank ultimately arrived too late but it's high speed was put to good use in Germany, this high speed also allowed to Comet to power its way through rough terrain that other tanks could not.

Interestingly the Comet tank was equipped with a relatively large amount of Amour Piercing Discarding Sabot (APDS) ammunition with around 20% of the armour piercing type of ammunition produced for the Comet being APDS. Both the 17 Pounder and 77mm fired exactly the same projectiles but due to the different cartridge the 77mm had a lower muzzle velocity and thus lower penetration. The turret could also be transverse 360 degrees within 24 seconds.


Name Comet
Type Cruiser
Production Date  September 1944
Crew 5
(In turret) 3
Length With Gun 25'-1.5”
Length Without Gun 21'
Width 9'-10.25”
Height 8'-6”
Weight 32.7
Ground pressure 13.85
Ground clearance 18”
Track type Webbed & Spudded
No per track 114
Weight of one Track 3400
Track width 18”
Engine Meteor
B.H.P/Ton 18.3
Max road speed 32.4
Average road speed 25.2
Cross Country Speed 14.3
Gear box type Z5 Constant Mesh
Gears 5 Forward 1 Reverse
Fuel consumption (road) – MPG 1.06
Fuel consumption (cross country) 0.64
Petrol 116
Auxiliary capacity -
Radius of action (road) 123
Radius of action (cross country) 74
Trench Crossing 8'
Vertical obstacle 3'
Fording height 3'-8”
Gradient 35
Main Armament 77mm
Ammunition 61
Secondary Armament 2xBesa 7.92
Ammunition 5175
Transverse type Electric
Max elevation 20
Max depression 14
Turret Ring Size 64
Optics No 57x3
Lower Hull Nose 64(I.T.80)
Upper Hull Nose 32(I.T.80)
Hull Front 74(I.T.80)
Hull Sides Upper 32(I.T.80)+14(I.T.180)
Hull Sides Lower 29(I.T.80)+14(I.T.180)
Hull Rear Lower 32(I.T.80)
Hull Rear Upper 25(I.T.80)
Hull Roof (Front) 25(I.T.80)
Engine Deck 14(I.T.100)
Hull Floor 14(I.T.130)
Turret Front 102(I.T.90)
Turret Roof (Front) 25(I.T.80)
Turret Roof (Rear) 20(I.T.80)
Turret Sides 64(I.T.80)
Turret Rear 57(I.T.80)
Turret Floor 25(I.T.110)

Production of the Comet Tank by year (UK Only)

  1944 1945 (End of May)
Comet 143 598


Last Updated on Sunday, 12 August 2012 13:36

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