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Great Britain's Cruiser, Comet I, A34


Cruiser, Comet I, A34:
Great Britain's Cruiser, Comet I, A34
Aberdeen Tank Museum

Cruiser, Comet I, A34:
Great Britain's Cruiser, Comet I, A34
Royal Armored Corps Tank Museum
Cruiser, Comet I, A34:
Great Britain's Cruiser, Comet I, A34


After the initial battles in the Western Desert in 1941 and 1942 it was seen that the British didn't have guns that were able to easily defeat the German armored vehicles. The General Staff told the Tank Board that there was a need for a cruiser tank with an antitank gun that could penetrate the armor on German tanks.

In January 1943 official policy changed that medium tanks didn't have to use the 6 pdr but could have the 75 mm instead. The Challenger had its limitations and it was decided to develop a tank that could replace it.

In February/May 1943, Leyland Motors started to design the Comet. It was to be built with as many of the components of the Cromwell as possible.

By July 1943 a proposal was presented to the General Staff and in September 1943 a mock-up was ready for inspection. In October 1943 an order was placed for three prototypes and one hull (that could be fired at). The order was placed with the thought that the A41 Centurion project would soon replace it. But with the delays in the A41 the Comet was eventually put on high priority production status.


The hull and turret were all welded which were part cast and part rolled. There were doors that opened to the side for the driver and hull gunner. The turret was made up of three welded bent armored plates.


The turret was traversed by electrical power from the main engine. Armored storage bins were over the tracks and behind the turret. On the rear of the turret was a storage bin that had heavier items and spare tracks were hung from it. These provided a counter-weight helping to balance the turret.


The driver was on the right and the hull machine gun gunner on the left. The commander and gunner sat on the left of the main armament, with the gunner on the left. They were all in a suspended turret basket. The cupola for the commander was the same as on the Cromwell and provided good all around vision.

The bow plate was sloped, but to install a hull machine gun a vertical section was added. Some crew felt that the hull machine gun wasn't of much value as it wasn't used as much.

Main Armament

Initially the 17 pdr was considered to arm the Comet, but it came down to choosing between the High Velocity (HV) 75 mm or the American 76 mm. Using the 76 mm would have required that the gun would be modified to fit the layout of British turrets.

The High Velocity (HV) 75 mm was a modified 17 pdr (76.2 mm) that had been designed by Vickers-Armstrong. It could fire the same shell as the 17 pdr but the barrel wasn't as long so muzzle velocities was reduced. The performance of the 77 mm was nearly as good as the 17 pdr.

To reduce confusion with other tank weapons this gun was designated the 77 mm.

It could also fire a 20 lb HE shell.


A stronger suspension was needed and return rollers were added.


In February 1944 a mild steel prototype was completed. Firing trials of the 77 mm began in March 1944 and it was found to be very effective.

During the trials some criticized that there was still a hull gunner (many thought he wasn't needed) and that there wasn't enough armor in the hull to protect against mines. These were put aside as it was felt that any redesign would result in more delays.

By June 1944, 20 pre-production vehicles were to be ready. After about 60% redesign it was ready for production.


  • Comet: 1,200
    • Production: September 1944 - ?, September 1944 - 1945
    • Manufacturer: Leyland Motors Corp.


Based on experience in Normandy, exhaust cowls added to help reduce the visibility of the Comet at night. This also helped with carrying infantry.

The A34 Comets were sent to Belgium in November 1944 for their first assignment.

11th Armored Tanks Replaced

In early December 1944 the 29th Armored Brigade of the 11th Armored Division was withdrawn from combat to replace their M4s with Comets. This process was interrupted by the Ardennes Offensive and the unit reequipped with their M4s to go fight the German threat. In mid-January the 29th Armored Brigade was again withdrawn from combat to resume its conversion. The 11th was the only division to have all it's units reequipped with the Comet. The 23rd Hussars, 3rd Royal Tank Regiment, and the 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry were reequipped with the Comet.

The 15th/19th The King's Royal Hussars, the reconnaissance regiment, had their Cromwells replaced by the Comets.

The 11th Armored Division then went back to the front on March 11, 1945.

Rhine Crossing

Regiments first received them after the Rhine Crossing in March 1945.

Berlin Parade

The 1st Royal Tank Regiment participated in the Allied Victory Parade, in Berlin, with their Comets.

Post World War II

The Comets soldiered on in Berlin until 1957 and in Hong Kong until 1959. In 1960 the Comet was removed from British Army service.


Crew Commander, gunner, loader, driver, co-driver
Radio No. 38 Set, No. 19 Set
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 72,800 lb, 78,800 lb
33,090 kg, 33,225 kg, 35,560 kg, 35,696 kg, 32,223 kg
32.5 tons, 32.7 tons, 35 tons
Length w/gun 21' 6", 25' 1.5"
6.55 m, 6.6 m, 7.66 m
Length w/o gun 21' 6"
Height 8' 6", 8' 8", 8' 9.5"
2.67 m, 2.68 m, 2.8 m
Width 10', 10' 1", 10' 1.5"
3.04 m, 3.05 m, 3.07 m, 3.1 m
Width over tracks 9' 10.25"
Ground clearance 1' 5.5", 18"
0.4 m
Ground contact length 147"
Ground pressure 13.8 psi, 13.85 psi
0.88 (kg/sq cm)
Turret ring diameter 5' 4"
1.63 m
Main 1: 17 pdr (77 mm) Vickers HV (High Velocity)
1: 77 mm OQF Mk. II
1: 77 mm
1: 77 mm QFSA
1: QF 77 mm
1: 77 mm Mark 2 Gun
1: 77 mm OQF
MG 2: 7.92 mm Besa MG
2: 7.92 mm MG
MG - coaxial 1: 7.92 mm Besa MG
1: 7.92 mm / 0.312" Besa MG
MG - hull 1: 7.92 mm Besa MG
1: 7.92 mm / 0.312" Besa MG
Side arms .303 cal Bren MG
Main 61
MG 5,175
Side arms 600
Armor Thickness (mm) 14 - 101, 14 - 102, 25 - 102, 101
Hull Front, Upper 3"@0°
Hull Front, Lower 32@70°
Hull Sides, Upper 1.7"@0°
29@0°, 32
Hull Sides, Lower 14 , 29
Hull Rear 1"@0°
Hull Top 25
Hull Bottom 14
Turret Front 4"@0°
Turret Sides 2.5"@0°
Turret Rear 57
Turret Top 25
Engine (Make / Model) Rolls-Royce Meteor
Rolls-Royce Meteor Mark 3
Bore / stroke  
Cooling Water
Cylinders V-12
Net HP 600
600@2,550 rpm
Power to weight ratio 17 HP/ton, 18 HP/ton
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type) Borg and Beck
5 forward, 1 reverse
Steering Controlled differential
Steering ratio  
Electrical system 12 Volt
Fuel (Type) Gasoline
Quantity 116 gallons
Road consumption 1 mpg
Cross country consumption  
Traverse 360°
Electric or hand
Speed - Road 29 mph, 32 mph
18 kph, 47 kph, 50 kph, 51 kph
Speed - Cross Country 16 mph
Range - Road 123 miles, 125 miles, 156.25 miles
196 km, 198 km, 200 km, 250 km
Range - Cross Country  
Turning radius  
Elevation limits +20° to -12°
Fording depth 3' 8", (4' prepared)
1.12 m prepared
Trench crossing 8'
2.4 m
Vertical obstacle 3'
Climbing ability 35° slope
Suspension (Type) Christie type torsion arm
Wheels each side 5 pairs, 5
Return rollers each side 4, 5
Tracks (Type) Steel, skeleton, dry
Width 18"
Number of links 114
Pitch 4.39", 4.4"
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread 8' 4.25"


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  2. Tanks of the World, 1915-1945, Peter Chamberlain, Chris Ellis, 1972
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  4. Tanks of World War II, Duncan Crow, 1979
  5. Battle Winning Tanks, Aircraft & Warships of World War II, David Miller, 2000
  6. Tank Data 2, Aberdeen Proving Grounds Series, E. J. Hoffschmidt and W. H. Tantum IV, 1969
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  8. Profile AFV Weapons #25 Cromwell and Comet, Major James Bingham, 1971
  9. World War I and II Tanks, George Forty, 2012
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site