de Havilland Comet
|PUBLISHED (THIS EDITION):||August 1999|
|INSIDE:||Machat drawings, colour photographs|
The year 1999 marked the 50th anniversary of the dramatic first flight of the de Havilland DH 106 Comet airliner. The full drama of the event was not completely realised at the time, even though it was recognised as one that was certainly significant. Aviation people everywhere, not least in the United States, then believed that jet propulsion could not be reconciled with commercial airline operations. The jets, they said, were too fuel-thirsty, and whilst acceptable for military operations would be economically impossible.
The faith of the de Havilland company, the inspired intuition and combined design and engineering skills of the Comet team, and the dedication of both de Havilland and the launch customer, the state airline , BOAC, proved all the specialists and experts wrong. In May 1952, the Comet took the message around the world, as BOAC built up its jet network. The jet age had begun. This book pays tribute to that beautiful aeroplane. Sadly, after two years, a design fault was discovered, one which no previous experience in building commercial airliners (or any other aircraft) had revealed. Both the manufacturer and the operator paid a heavy price for being first, as it was literally a case of 'back to the drawing board'. Four more years were to pass before the rejuvenated Comet had the honour of starting the world's first trans-Atlantic jet airline service and, as described herein, it acquitted itself well thereafter. Since then, the world has never looked back. In Febuary 1999, the British Post Office included the Comet in their stamp issue as one of the great innovations introduced by Britain during the millenium. This book also pays tribute to that beautiful aeroplane.
The Comet changed the course of air transport progress. In spite of the problems it encountered, and more than half a century after it first took to the air, it will still fly into the next millenium on the wings of the derivative Nimrod (the same wings, in fact, as those on the first Comet).
. . . Davies and Birtles relate the Comet's rise, fall, revival and afterlife with clear authority. . . there is a great deal of novel background material and illustration . . .all genuinely interesting stuff and beautifully presented too. . . Paladwr really knows how to produce pleasing books with special appeal. . . it would make a very welcome birthday present for anybody interested in aeroplanes. - PILOT A foreword by test pilot John Cunningham is both personal and informative. There is a good mix of black and white and colour photographs, the quality of which is excellent. - AIRLINER WORLD Lots of good pix (not all of them well-known, including a pic and elevation of the World's first full-size executive jet, the 4C of the Saudi Royal Flight); some tantalising sketches of early ideas; thumbnail biographies of, and contributions from, some of those involved in the project; individual histories of all the Comets (by type and operator) and derivative Nimrods; usable index. - FLIGHT INTERNATIONAL