Lot 0342: WW-II Comet A34 Tank (United Kingdom)
For most of WW2, the British Army operated what were described as ‘cruiser' and ‘infantry’ tanks. The designation ‘cruiser’ had been introduced in 1938 to describe what had previously been known as ‘medium’ tanks…… and, at the same time, the ‘infantry’ class was introduced to describe tanks that were used in support of infantry.
Logically enough, the first tank in each of these series was described as Mk I -as in 'cruiser’ tank Mk I- but it wasn't long before the ‘cruiser’ tank class included more designs than you could shake a stick at. There were the unnamed Mk I to IV, the Mk V Covenanter, Mk VI Crusader, Mk VII Cavalier, and then after the ‘Mark’ numbers were dropped, the Centaur, Cromwell, and Challenger were produced... and finally the ‘Comet’
Work on what was to become the A34 Comet -the last in the production series of British cruiser tanks- began in July 1943. Leyland Motors had turned a whole factory over to tank production and were already engaged in producing Centaurs and Cromwell’s and this seemed the logical place for the Comet. The design brief called for the tank to be armed with the new 77mm gun and to retain as many features of the Cromwell as possible in order to reduce development time. A mock-up was ready by September 1943 and the first prototype was ready for testing in February 1944. Production had initially been scheduled for mid-1944 but there were initial problems with the suspension which required some modification, as well as other small changes.
In appearance, the Comet was very similar to the Cromwell although it could easily be recognized by its new, welded turret and by the longer-barreled gun which, unlike the old 6-pounder, incorporated a muzzle brake to reduce recoil.
Power was provided by a superior Rover or Morris built Meteor Mk III engine, similar to that which had been used in the Cromwell; Power output was 600 bhp from 27,022cc and the engine drove the rear sprockets through a five-speed Merritt-Brown combined gearbox and steering unit. The Comet was considerably heavier than the Cromwell, with the combat weight up from 27 tons to around 33 tons, and this had the effect of reducing the top speed to (still!!) 32 mph (52 km/h).
The Christie-type suspension which had been seen on all of the cruiser tanks was retained, albeit strengthened to support the greater weight. For the first time, at least on the series production models, there were track return rollers, bringing a big improvement in the ride.
The tank was designed to be operated by a five-man crew consisting of commander, driver, gunner loader and 'bow gunner', the latter operating the bow machine gun. Manufacturing began in late 1944 at Leyland, and some 143 examples had been constructed by January 1945 when the tank entered service with the 29th Armoured Brigade, replacing the unit's Sherman’s. The 15/19 Hussars were also issued with Comets and the tank saw its first action during ‘Operation Varsity’, the Rhine crossing in March of that year.
There were just two variants, generally described as the Mk 1A and Mk 1B, the latter, a Post-war modification, having fishtail exhausts in place of the cowls of the IA.
The Comet was without any doubt fast, reliable, and well-armed, and was particularly agile across country -many saw it as the best British tank of WWII! It remained in service with the British Army until 1958.
This tank was restored by BAIV for a US Client in the period 2015 - 2018. It is in superb condition; restoration level: Class A. Total hours spent during restoration: 6.431 hrs. A Photographical file and book are available from the entire restoration. Moreover the tank is very original, has uncut armour, comes with many small original details (gauges, bolts and nuts, engine, gearbox etc. etc.) and finally is being restored according the highest restoration level and very detailed quality level.
The Saint is a historic Comet with battle history in the WW-II. The Gunner Titch destroyed two enemy tanks with one shot!
Model: Comet A34 Mk1 Model B
Manufacturer: British Leyland
Weight: Basic Weight: 29,25 Tons
Combat Weight: 32,70 Tons
Bridge Classification: Initially 32, later 36 and then 40.
Ground Pressure: 13.85 lbs/in2 (9.14E-1 kg/cm2)
Crew: 5; Commander, Gunner, Loader/Operator, Driver, Co-Driver/Bow Machine-Gunner.
Engine: Rolls Royce Meteor 3, 27.022 cc V12 producing 600 BHP at 2550 RPM.
Transmission: Five-speed Merritt-Brown combined gearbox and steering unit
Suspension: Christie Type with top rollers and rear drive sprockets.
Speed: 32 MPH (52 km/h)
Range: 125 miles (202km) during which the tank would have consumed 116 gallons (527 liters) of fuel.
Dimensions: Length: 24' 6" (7,46 m) Gun Front:
Length: 21' 5" (6,54 m) Gun Rear:
Width: 9' 10" (3,01 m)
Height: 8' 6" (2,59 m)
Armament: OQF (Ordnance Quick-Firing) 77 mm Mk. 2
ID: 77 m/m Mk2 L/1321 FL8838
Date of Delivery: December 1944.
Serial No.: B2-403
Original UK census Nr.: T335091
Location: Wichita Kansas USA
Condition: Class A restored. Superb condition
Permits: In case of export out of the USA an export permit will be required.
Between € 365.000 and € 395.000
The Unbeatable Warrior on Tracks
There are those masterpieces that just command your attention, and the Comet A34 Saint is certainly one of them. What this tank has achieved, endured, and conquered is absolutely unparalleled. It's a piece of wartime history that deserves to be upheld in honor, incredibly sought after and unmistakably adored among connoisseurs. We're thrilled to take you through some of the heroic deeds accomplished with this legendary tank.
Titch's Legendary Shot
Our story begins with the introduction of the British soldier Reginald Snowling, nicknamed Titch. He fought during World War II as a gunner in various tanks, including the Comet A34 Saint. His nickname derived from his modest height of just 4ft 11in. Though physically small, his actions were nothing short of grandiose. The most legendary tales surrounding him are still shared and honored to this day.
One of these memorable moments occurred in the Falaise Pocket, as he was crossing the main road between Falaise and Argentan. While maneuvering a Sherman tank behind two already damaged tanks of his own troop, he found himself under fire from two German Panthers. Without missing a beat, he landed a victorious shot. The shell he fired pierced through the engine compartment of the first Panther, hitting the second tank. The first tank exploded instantly, and the second followed shortly after. With one single shot, two Panther tanks were annihilated. Simply legendary!
The Comet A34 Saint Ready for Battle
Replacing the Shermans, the first new tanks, the Comet A34 Saint, arrived in late January 1945. This tank was a welcome upgrade, boasting greater speed, a lower profile, and a highly accurate 77mm gun! This became evident during its first exercise in Gravelines, France.
The Comet was ready for real action. On April 11, 1945, the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment (3rd RTR) of the 11th Armored Division advanced with Comets through Norddrebber towards the Aller River. Unfortunately, two Comets were destroyed by an anti-tank gun, but a third Comet managed to obliterate the cannon. It was a first cautious victory.
A Takedown by Lieutenant Franzen
That very night, the first commando brigade audaciously forced a crossing of the river, boldly confronting the German adversary head-on. To support the infantry, a squadron of the 3rd RTR was ferried across the river on rafts. Naturally, this move was met with resistance, prompting the German Lieutenant Franzen to receive orders to attack the British forces with his Kampfgruppe Grossan, which included three Tiger tanks.
The next afternoon, the British forces, including Major Langdon's first troop, a squadron from the 3rd RTR, and the King's Shropshire Light Infantry (KSLI), moved through Essel Forest. To pave the way for the Comets, the forest was set ablaze, clearing a path. All was going well until they encountered Tiger Tank F01 led by Lieutenant Franzen. During an attempt to find cover, one Comet was hit and left completely totaled. The KSLI came to the rescue, forcing the German crew to retreat with the help of PIATs.
As Lieutenant Franzen returned and decided to advance again, he lost contact with his infantry. It was perfect timing for a Comet that was lying in wait, seizing the perfect moment for an attack. The Comet fired a shell that hit the fuel tank, setting it ablaze rapidly. Lieutenant Franzen was forced to retreat on foot.
Titch in Action with the Comet
On May 4, 1945, the 11th Armored Division reached the city of Lübeck, where tank gunner Titch Snowling was fighting. Titch arrived at the coast and drove his tank onto a dike, gaining a perfect view over the bay. It was a fortunate position, as he soon spotted German soldiers running towards a kind of submarine, fleeing from the British tanks. Without hesitation, he fired. His shot was on target! The submarine sank, marking an incredible achievement. After all, how many tank gunners can tell such a tale?
Restoring the Old Glory
The Comet A34 Saint has played a monumental role in the grand deeds that have been achieved, including those by Titch. We even had the chance to speak with Titch himself! Although he has recently passed away, the spirit and experiences of him and many other veterans continue to live on through historic pieces of warfare, most notably this incomparable tank.