Comet! The World’s First Jet Airliner

B1931

The author has researched diligently, written in a convincing and entertaining manner, and the work has been lavishly illustrated throughout with drawings, sketches and photograph. This is an outstanding account of the life of the Comet. British readers will be saddened by the story because of its outcome, but all readers will find inspiration and achievement in the tale.

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NAME: Comet! The World’s First Jet Airliner
CATEGORY: Book Reviews
DATE: 200113
FILE: R1931
AUTHOR: Graham M Simons
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 288
PRICE: £25.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: airlines, airliners, passenger aircraft, jet airliner
ISBN: 1-78159-279-9
IMAGE: B1931.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/oufplpx
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: When the Comet first flew it was an amazing and advanced aircraft, years ahead of any competition. It looked stunning and it performed well. It also paid the price of being so far ahead of the rest of the world. In several respects, the Comet’s experience was to be repeated later when the Concorde first flew, decades ahead of any effective competition.

During WWII, the British aircraft industry responded magnificently to the demands of war, achieving outstanding production rates while still continuing to innovate. Unlike its American allies, this achievement was in the face of German bombing and, eventually, to threat of cruise and ballistic missiles. One factor that is often overlooked is that the British aviation industry not only continued to produce and design warplanes to fight Germany, but began to think of what they should produce after victory. The Comet and the spectacular English Electric Lightning supersonic fighter began their design in the closing years of WWII.

Churchill rightly decided to share British jet technology with the US and this meant that American aircraft companies were able to begin designing jet aircraft around British engines, but were still several years behind British companies. British jet fighters not only flew combat missions before the end of WWII, but they landed and flew off aircraft carriers at sea. A unique fund of experience was building to support a civil jet program.

When the Comet emerged from the hanger for the first time it was a beautiful clean aircraft that was to prove quiet and comfortable in flight. It was immensely popular in airline service, but then the mysterious crashes began and it had to be withdrawn from service. The cause was traced to metal failure and it was possible to produce a solution. In the process, the Comet lost its huge lead. There has been much debate about the way that the Atlee Government let the British airline industry down. There were many Government mistakes and failures, but the situation was much more complex. Britain was exhausted by the war and on the edge of bankruptcy. The new Labour Government was financially illiterate and lacking in the experience needed to run a country, but the aircraft industry was also guilty of many errors, the combination prevented a rapid solution and rebranding campaign to preserve the enormous technical lead enjoyed by the Comet.

Eventually, the Comet was to re-enter airline service and be a popular aircraft with crew and passengers. It was modified for covert operations, became a military transport aircraft and was heavily modified to produce an outstanding maritime patrol and intelligence aircraft.

Then, sadly, another group of incompetent politicians brought its military career to a premature end in an act of vindictive vandalism, ordering the destruction of completed and paid-for aircraft as they were about to enter service with the RAF. The Nimrod military version of the Comet was still so far in advance of alternative aircraft that Britain suffered a dramatic reduction in war capabilities, particular in addressing irregular and regional wars.

The author has researched diligently, written in a convincing and entertaining manner, and the work has been lavishly illustrated throughout with drawings, sketches and photograph. This is an outstanding account of the life of the Comet. British readers will be saddened by the story because of its outcome, but all readers will find inspiration and achievement in the tale.

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