The British de Havilland Comet first flew in 1949 and is noted as the world's first commercial jet airliner to reach production. Early Comet models suffered from catastrophic metal fatigue, causing a string of well-publicised accidents, and the aircraft was withdrawn temporarily and redesigned. All production Comet 2s were modified to alleviate the fatigue problems and most of these served with the RAF as the Comet C2.


On 2 May 1952, the world's first commercial jet airline service commenced with the departure from London's Heathrow Airport by deHavilland DH-106 Comet Mk1 G-ALYP operated by British Overseas Airways Corp.

The Comet 2 had a slightly larger wing, higher fuel capacity and more powerful Rolls-Royce Avon engines which all improved the aircraft's range and performance. Following the Comet 1 disasters, these models were rebuilt with heavier gauge skin and rounded openings. 12 of the 44-seat Comet 2s were ordered by BOAC for the South Atlantic route. The first production aircraft (G-AMXA) flew on 27 August 1953. Although these aircraft performed well on the South Atlantic routes, their range was still not suitable for the North Atlantic. All but four Comet 2s were allocated to the RAF. Eight Comet C2 transport aircraft and two Comet T2 crew trainers were delivered to the RAF beginning in 1955.

(The Hawker Siddeley Nimrod, the military derivative of the Comet airliner, is still in service. In 2007, the original decades-old airframes were being rebuilt with new wings and engines to produce the Nimrod MRA 4, expected to serve with Britain's Royal Air Force until the 2020s, more than 70 years after the Comet's first flight.)

51 Squadron After disbanding at Bassingbourn on 30 October 1950, the squadron was reformed on 21 August 1958, when No 192 Squadron was renumbered. Based at Watton it was now equipped with Canberras and Comets in the electronic surveillance role. The squadron moved to Wyton in March 1963 and in January 1975 the Comets left.
216 Squadron This squadron introduced the De Havilland Comet into RAF service. Equipped with ten Comet C Mk 2s, the squadron operated scheduled services around the world, carried VIPs, conducted casevac operations and conducted a number of special operation including transporting the Queen on numerous occasions. In February 1962, five Comet C Mk 4s were added to the squadron's complement and when the Mk 2s were retired in April 1967, the Mk 4s continued the service. However, with the reduction in the number of overseas bases, the squadron was disbanded on 27 June 1975.


General characteristics
Crew: 4
Capacity: 56-109 passengers
Length: 34 m (112 ft)
Wingspan: 35 m (115 ft)
Height: 9 m (30 ft)
Wing area: 2,120 ft² (197 m²)
Airfoil: NACA 63A116 mod root, NACA 63A112 mod tip
Empty weight: 75,400 lb (34,200 kg)
Loaded weight: 162,000 lb (73,470 kg)
Powerplant: 4× Rolls-Royce Avon Mk 524 turbojets, 10,500 lbf (46.8 kN) each
Maximum speed: 500 mph (430 kn, 810 km/h)
Range: 2,800 nmi (3,225 mi, 5,190 km)
Service ceiling 40,000 ft (12,000 m)

Comet C2 "Sagittarius" (serial XK699) is displayed at the gate of RAF Lyneham where it was previously the operational base for all RAF transport Comets.