The Tank, Cruiser, Comet I (A34) was a British cruiser tank. It is probably British best tank design of the Second World War. Around 1,180 tanks are been produced by the Leyland Motors company. He was taking in service in december 1944. But due to its late arrival in the war in north west Europe, the Comet did not participate in big battles, although it was used in combat.
With A34 as the General Staff specification, later named Comet, the tank designers opted to correct some of the Cromwell's flaws (the track shedding and broken suspension problems) and enhance the Cromwell's main strengths, low height and high speed. Originally, it had been expected that the tank would use a new gun from Vickers: the "High Velocity 75mm". However, as designed, the gun would not fit into the turret size available. So the gun was changed to a different gun, the "77mm HV" (HV = High Velocit). This gun used the same calibre 76.2 mm projectile as the 17-pounder, wich is equiped in FHSW on the Sherman Firefly and the Black Prince, but the shell casing was from the older QF 3 inch 20 cwt anti-aircraft gun loaded to higher pressures. The resulting round was completely different from 17-pounder ammunition. It had a lower muzzle velocity than the 17-pounder but the ammunition was much more compact and more easily stored and handled within the tank. This made it possible to mount the gun on a smaller turret ring - the Challenger turret had been so large to allow space for two loaders - without making the hull wider. Several other improvements were made: armour protection was increased, the hull and turret were welded with a cast gun mantlet, ammunition was stored in armoured bins, the suspension was strengthened, return rollers were added and the turret was electrically traversed (a design feature taken from the Churchill tank), with a generator powered by the main engine rather than the hydraulic system of the Cromwell.
Armour on the Comet ranged from 32 mm to 74 mm on the hull, while the turret was from 57 to 102 mm.
The Comet tank's top speed was limited from the Cromwell's 40+ mph to a slower, but respectable 32 mph (51 km/h) to preserve suspension and engine components and to reduce track wear.
The mild steel prototype was ready in February 1944 and entered trials. Although concerns about the hull gunner and belly armour were put to one side (to avoid redesign), there was still sufficient delay caused by minor modifications and changes that production models did not begin to be delivered until September 1944. Intended to be in service by December 1944, crew training was delayed by the German Ardennes Offensive. By the end of the war, around 1,800 had been produced.
The 11th Armoured Division was the first formation to receive the new tanks—deliveries commenced in December 1944—and the only division to be completely refitted by the end of the war. Due to its late arrival in the war in north west Europe, the Comet did not participate in big battles, although it was used in combat. The Comet was involved in the crossing of the Rhine and the later Berlin Victory Parade in July 1945. The Comet's maximum speed of 32 miles per hour (51 km/h) was greatly exploited on the German Autobahns.
During the following Korean War, the Comet served alongside the heavier Centurion tank, a successor introduced in the closing days of the Second World War on an experimental basis but too late to see combat. The Centurion was formally adopted in 1949 and was partly based on the Comet design. The Comet remained in British service until 1958, when the remaining tanks were sold to foreign governments; up until the 1980s, it was used by the armies of various nations such as South Africa, which maintained several as modified recovery vehicles.