Air International 2007-02
W.Mellberg - de Havilland D.H.106 Comet /Aircraft profile/
de Havilland DH.106 Comet 1A, F-BGSB, c/n 06016 was delivered in 1953 to French carrier UAT, the first foreign airline to operate the type. Three Comet 2s were also ordered, but never taken up. After the Comet accidents, UAT's first two Comet 1s were withdrawn in 1954: the third aircraft, delivered in April 1953, lasted only two months in service before it skidded off the runway at Dakar, resulting in damage beyond economic repair.
de Havilland DH.106 Comet 2, XV144, c/n 06033. Like many of the Comet 2s this aircraft had a varied career, starting life as G-AMXK and being used by BOAC for engine trials. After being employed by Smith Industries for automatic landing system development work, it joined the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Bedford in 1966 and was flown by the Blind Landing Experiment Unit. Transferred to Farnborough in 1971, it was withdrawn from service in 1974 and broken up a year later.
Comet 1XB, 5302, of the Royal Canadian Air Force's 412 Squadron, pictured at Dusseldorf in 1962. This aircraft was originally a 1A, but was modified to the later standard featuring oval windows and strengthened cabin structures.
de Havilland DH.106 Comet 4, G-APDR, c/n 06418 was delivered to BOAC in 1959. The BOAC Comet 4 fleet inaugurated the first transatlantic jet service in 1958 and were the sole jet aircraft on the route for 20 months until the Boeing 707 started to replace them in October 1960. BOAC's Comets were never intended for long-term use on the Atlantic run, as this was more suited to the sector lengths of the South Africa, South America and the Far East networks. G-APDR lasted only five years with BOAC before being sold to Mexicana in 1964
de Havilland DH.106 Comet 4, G-APDB, c/n 06403 of Dan-Air. No feature on the Comet would be complete without including the charter airline Dan-Air, by far the type's largest operator. It also bought a large number of Comets for spares in order to keep the ageing second-hand fleet in service. G-APDB is preserved at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford.
de Havilland DH.106 Comet 4B, SX-ADO Princess Sophia, c/n 06447, seen in the colours of Olympic Airways in 1961. The Greek airline leased four of these aircraft from BEA. The aircraft illustrated served Olympic for just over seven years before being returned to the British carrier in 1969. It was then sold to Channel Airways. Dan-Air bought it in 1972 and it was broken up for spares that year.
de Havilland DH.106 Comet 4C, OD-AFT, c/n 06450 of Middle East Airlines was delivered in 1961, and was the only one of four Comets delivered to survive the Israeli attack on Beirut in 1968. Afterwards three additional Comets were leased for varying periods to keep the airline's international service going until the arrival of Boeing 707s. This aircraft was eventually Dan-Air in 1973 and broken up for spares at Lasham the following year.
de Havilland DH.106 Comet C.4 XR397, c/n 06469, was one of five aircraft delivered to 216 Sqn. It served for 13 years before being retired and sold to Dan-Air in 1975. The C.4s were configured with a high-density layout able to carry up to 96 servicemen, well over double that of the Comet C.2s they replaced. Two of the fleet could also be rapidly converted to a VIP layout and all of them into the casualty evacuation role.
This Comet 4C, XA-NAR, was delivered to Mexicans in 1962 and flew with the airline for ten years. Currently being restored by the Museum of Flight in Seattle, the airliner wears the livery of BOAC, though it never actually operated for the British carrier.
BOAC was the first airline to fly the Comet and went on to operate a number of different variants. This BOAC Comet 2 (Comet 4 ???) was pictured at Tokyo's Haneda Airport on June 11, 1961, as it was about to fly back to London.