After the initial battles in the Western Desert in 1941 and 1942 it was seen that the British didn't have guns that were able to easily defeat the German armored vehicles. By late 1943 there was an urgent need for a fast cruiser tank that could defeat German armor.
Leyland was given the task to design the Comet as a successor to the Cromwell. It was to be built with as many of the components of the Cromwell as possible.
The turret couldn't take the 17 pdr. so the smaller 77 mm gun, that was developed by Vickers-Armstrong, was installed. It could fire the same shell as the 17 pdr. but was smaller so it could fit into the turret.
A mockup was ready in late September 1943. The first prototype was ready in February 1944. After about 60% redesign it was ready for production. The first production models were delivered in September 1944.
The hull and turret were all welded which were part cast and part rolled. A stronger suspension was needed and return rollers were added. The cupola for the commander was the same as on the Cromwell and provided good all around vision. The turret was traversed by electrical power from the main engine. Storage bins were over the tracks and behind the turret.
Gun was actually 76.2 mm, but was called 77 mm to avoid confusion with the 17 pdr. It could penetrate 130 mm at 30° at 2,178 yards using APDS ammo.
First delivery was to 11th Armored Division in December 1944. It was the only division to have all it's units re-equiped with the Comet.
The only variant was a vehicle that had exhaust cowls added to help reduce the visibility of the Comet at night.
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