Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

De Havilland: DH 88 Comet

From Graces Guide
1934. DH 88 Comet 'Grosvenor House'. Exhibit at the Shuttleworth Collection.
1937. G-ACSS 'Grosvenor House'.
Sept 1940. G-ACSP 'Black Magic'
Sept 1945. G-ACSP 'Black Magic'

Note: This is a sub-section of De Havilland: Aircraft.

The De Havilland DH.88 Comet is a twin-engined British aircraft designed for the 1934 MacRobertson Air Race. Three examples took part in the race and one of them won. The type set many aviation records during and afterwards some were used as mail planes.

The MacRobertson International Air Race, a race between England and Melbourne to be held in October 1934 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the State of Victoria, was announced in 1933. Despite previous British air racing successes, culminating in 1931 in the outright winning of the Schneider Trophy, there was no British aeroplane capable of putting up a challenge over the MacRobertson course with its long overland stages. In January 1934 the de Havilland company offered to design a 200-mile-per-hour (320 km/h) aircraft to compete in the race and produce a limited number if three were ordered by February 1934.

On the day of the race start, the three distinctively coloured aircraft took their places among 17 other entrants at RAF Mildenhall, a Royal Air Force station in Suffolk, England:

Black Magic

  • First to take off at 6.30 a.m. on 20 October were Jim and Amy Mollison in their own G-ACSP Black Magic. They made a faultless journey to Baghdad, and reached Karachi at around 10 a.m. on the second race day, setting a new England-India record.
  • Black Magic was sold to Portugal for a projected flight from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro. Re-registered CS-AAJ and renamed Salazar it made various flights from London to Lisbon, setting a time of 5 hr, 17 min in July 1937. It was re-discovered in a dilapidated state in Portugal in 1979 and is currently undergoing restoration in Derby, England.

Grosvenor House

  • G-ACSS, painted red, was the property of Mr A. O. Edwards and was named Grosvenor House after the hotel which he managed. The crew were C. W. A. Scott and Tom Campbell Black. When the Mollisons ran into problems at Karachi, Scott and Campbell Black took over the lead and were first into Allahabad. Despite a severe storm over the Bay of Bengal they reached Singapore safely, eight hours ahead of the DC-2.
  • G-ACSS Grosvenor House has been restored to flying condition as it was in the MacRobertson race, and is housed at the Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden in England.

G-ACSR

  • The third Comet, G-ACSR had been paid for by racing driver Bernard Rubin and was flown by Owen Cathcart Jones and Ken Waller. They had to make a second unscheduled stop at Baghdad after they found that they had had a serious oil leak. They were forced to delay for repairs which were carried out by T.J.Holmes. They caught up with the Mollisons at Karachi. They were the fourth aircraft to reach Melbourne, in a time of 108 h 13 min 45 s.
  • G-ACSR was renamed Reine Astrid and flew the Christmas mail from Brussels to Leopoldville in the Belgian Congo in 1934. It was then sold to the French government as F-ANPY and set a Croydon-Le Bourget record of 52 minutes on 5 July 1935. It subsequently made Paris–Casablanca and Paris—Algiers high-speed proving flights. F-ANPY was destroyed in a hangar fire.


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