Aviation Historian 22
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C.Higgs - Proof positive
For the 1955 world tour, G-ANLO was painted in the standard BOAC colours worn on the Corporation’s aircraft during 1949-1958, with white upper surfaces, a blue cheat line from the cockpit tapering at the tail and aluminium-painted lower fuselage and wings. The Comet 4s would enter service in 1958 in a similar scheme but with a dark blue fin and rudder.
Alohaaah de Havilland! Comet 3 G-ANLO is given a traditional welcome in Honolulu during its record-setting promotional world tour in December 1955.
The sole flying de Havilland Comet 3, G-ANLO, arrives to a suitably Hawaiian reception at Honolulu on December 13, 1955. The majority of the photographs presented here are from the de Havilland Collection, part of the BAE Systems archive at Farnborough. The author and Editor would like to thank Trevor Friend and Barry Guess at the archive for their invaluable help with the preparation of this article.
The Comet 3 incorporated a 15ft 5in (4-7m) fuselage stretch and was powered by four Rolls-Royce Avon 502 turbojets in place of the Comet Is de Havilland Ghosts. The new variant was also fitted with wing-mounted pinion fuel tanks at two-thirds span, and made its first flight, at Hatfield in the hands of John Cunningham, on July 19, 1954.
If it’s Saturday it must be Bombay - with a Burmah-Shell refuelling truck alongside, G-ANLO is prepared at the former RAF base at Santacruz for its onward journey to Singapore.
With the famous Harbour Bridge in the background, G-ANLO makes a tour of Sydney, where it arrived on Sunday, December 4, to a virtual riot, such was the Australian public’s enthusiasm to see the British jetliner. When the Comet finally set down at Kingsford Smith Airport, where it is seen.
With a flower lei presented to the Comet on its arrival at Honolulu on December 13, Comet crew member Harold Davies (far right) gets into the spirit of the occasion; his colleague, Mr R. V. Ablett, seems rather less inclined to do so. No major technical snags were encountered at Hawaii and the Comet stayed for a few days before heading off across the Pacific for Canada’s west coast.
The Comet at Honolulu Airport, with the distinctive modernist hospital, the Tripier Army Medical Centre, on the slopes of Moanalua Ridge visible in the background.
The crowd surged, creating headaches for the airport staff, although Cunningham described the welcome as the most fantastic he’d ever seen.
On December 5 the Comet flew to Melbourne’s Essendon Airport, where it is seen here, the aircraft touching down at 1655hr following a wide circuit encompassing the city and part of Port Phillip Bay. Aboard were more than 30 members of the press, all of whom submitted glowing reports about the aircraft to their respective publications.
The Comet 3 takes a tow from a tug at Vancouver, where it arrived on December 16. It was hoped that visiting Canada as part of the tour would encourage sales of the modified Comet for Canadian airlines, particularly Canadian Pacific Air Lines, but the airline opted instead to go for the turboprop-powered Bristol Britannia from 1958 - and, in 1961, the four-jet McDonnell Douglas DC-8.
John Cunningham greets BOAC Chairman Sir Miles Thomas at Heathrow on the Comet’s arrival back in the UK on December 28, 1955 (with Geoffrey de Havilland behind Peter Bugge). In 1957 BOAC placed an order for 19 Comet 4s, fitted with uprated Avon 524 engines and greater fuel capacity.
The Comet 3 at Heathrow after its journey of almost 30,000 miles (48,280km). The aircraft went on to become a testbed for the Comet 4B, designated 3B, before joining the Blind Landing Experimental Unit at RAE Bedford in 1961. It was grounded in 1972 and finally dismantled in August 1973.
Another day, another interview; John Cunningham is followed down the Canadian Pacific airstairs at Vancouver on Friday, December 16, by copilot Peter Bugge and de Havilland Commercial Sales & Contracts Manager Frank Lloyd, before being interviewed beside the Comet for Canadian broadcaster CBC TV.
Surrounded by de Havilland employees, dignitaries and members of the press, G-ANLO is just about visible on the distinctive honeycomb-pattern hardstanding at Hatfield before its several attempts to depart the very foggy airfield on its world tour on December 2, 1955, for which the Comet was painted in BOAC’s elegant colour scheme.
The first stop on G-ANLO’s tour was Cairo, where it was dark by the time the Comet landed and was greeted by an excited reception party. The following morning the shapely jetliner sashayed its way past one of the piston brigade - a TWA Lockheed Constellation - to roar away to its next stop in India.
On December 18 G-ANLO flew from Vancouver to a very chilly Toronto (where it is seen here), taking 4hr 12min at an average speed of 495 m.p.h. (795km/h), a significant advance on the time it would take in one of the ageing Canadair or Douglas propliners then flying the route for Canada’s domestic and international air carriers.
The first stop on G-ANLO’s tour was Cairo, where it was dark by the time the Comet landed and was greeted by an excited reception party.
John Cunningham answers questions from a reporter in New Zealand, this time while sitting in the Comet’s cockpit. After a disastrous previous year, it was vital that de Havilland grasp the nettle and do everything it could to re-establish the public’s faith in the Comet, and none worked harder than Cunningham.
The first stop on G-ANLO’s tour was Cairo, where it was dark by the time the Comet landed and was greeted by an excited reception party. The following morning the shapely jetliner sashayed its way past one of the piston brigade - a TWA Lockheed Constellation - to roar away to its next stop in India.