However, faulty fuzes meant the withdrawal of the HE ammunition, which limited the tank's role to an anti-tank vehicle. An American Sherman tank upgraded with a British 17-pounder gun, the Firefly was developed to help Allied tankers take on German Tigers and Panthers. The Tank, Cruiser, Comet I (A34) was a British cruiser tank that first saw use near the end of World War II.It was designed to provide greater anti-tank capability to Cromwell tank squadrons. The last 77 mm Comet shoot was in 1973 with the tanks being withdrawn soon afterwards. The Comet appealed to the Irish Army as it was cheap to buy and run, had low ground pressure and good anti-tank capability. These were operated until around the 1990s, when they were most likely scrapped and replaced with newer tanks, such as the Chinese Type 69 main battle tank. Comet would only be carried out by the British 1st Airborne Division and the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade. The Comet's maximum speed of 32 miles per hour (51 km/h) was greatly exploited on the German Autobahn (motorways). It was designed as an improvement on the earlier Cromwell tank, mounting the new 77 mm High-Velocity gun in a new lower profile and part-cast turret. While the Allies managed to capture two key bridges in the offensive grab, the third was out of reach for the moment. The British XXX Corps were able to utilized the Comet in the sprint to Arnhem during General Montgomery's famed "Operation Market Garden" campaign of September 1944. Two examples were still being held in reserve by the South African Army as late as 2000.. One Firefly would be issued to each troop of Cromwells (giving three Cromwells and one Sherman Firefly). Hence a request was made in 1941 for a new heavy cruiser tank that could achieve battle superiority over German models. The Comet was intended to be in service by December 1944, but crew training was delayed by the German Ardennes Offensive. The hull was fully welded as standard and armour was increased, ranging from 32 mm to 74 mm on the hull, while the turret was from 57 to 102 mm. Four Comets were delivered to the Irish Army in 1959 and a further four in 1960. The Comet Line helped Allied soldiers and airmen shot down over occupied Belgium evade capture by Germans and return to Great Britain. Originally, it had been expected that the Cromwell would use the "High Velocity 75 mm" gun designed by Vickers but it would not fit into the turret. The project was cancelled due to lack of funds. The Comet saw combat and 26 were destroyed but due to its late arrival in the war in north west Europe, it did not participate in big battles. Comet was the original plan which was later converted to Operation Market Garden. This removed the Challenger's need for a second loader and mounted the newer Vickers High Velocity weapon intended for the Cromwell. The Meteor engine proved to be very reliable and gave the tank good mobility but some problems appeared based on the vehicle's shared heritage and significant jump in engine power. The large size and obvious difference of both Challenger and Firefly made them a priority target for Axis forces. Similar to later Churchills, the Comet benefited from lessons learned in the co-operation of tanks with infantry. This gun was effective against late-war German tanks, including the Panther at medium range, and the Tiger. It involved replacing the turret with an open mounting with the Bofors 90 mm Pv-1110 recoilless rifle. These documents were invaluable and helped shape my understanding of the very fluid nature of airborne planning during World War II.  Thus, the few Comets in Cuba were soon retired from service and either scrapped or abandoned, being replaced with larger quantities of T-34/85 and T-54/55 tanks received from the Soviet Union. With stocks of 77 mm ammunition dwindling in 1969, the army began an experiment to prolong the life of the vehicle. It was armed with the 77mm HV which was effective against late war German tanks and a superior weapon to the 75mm gun of the Panther when firing APDS rounds. In the post war era the Comet served alongside the heavier Centurion tank, a successor introduced in the closing days of the Second World War on an experimental basis but too late to see combat. The resulting round was different from 17-pounder ammunition, being shorter, more compact and more easily stored and handled within the tank.  The Comet was involved in the crossing of the Rhine and the later Berlin Victory Parade in July 1945. Compared to Market garden, Operation Comet was on a smaller scale in terms of troop deployment. The very high turret of the Challenger was considered a liability and this led to experiments with the similar A30 Avenger version, an anti-tank version with an open-top turret. With the A34 (the General Staff specification), later named Comet, the tank designers opted to correct some of the Cromwell's flaws in armament, track design and suspension while building upon its strengths of low height, high speed and mobility. Comet tanks were built by a number of British firms led by Leyland, including English Electric, John Fowler & Co., and Metro-Cammell.. The 17 pdr HV was a shortened 17-pounder. Carrying the 77mm HV (High Velocity) main gun in, basically, an improved Cromwell (A24) chassis, the tank combined mobility with firepower. The divisional headquarters, Brigadier P. H. W. Hicks’s 1st Airlanding Brigade and the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade were to land at Nijmegen, Brigadier G. W. Lathbury’s 1st Parachute Brigade was to land at Arnhem, and Brigadier J. W. Hackett’s 4th Parachute Brigade was to land at Grave. Like many British tanks, it also had a telephone handset mounted on the rear so that accompanying infantry could talk to the crew. Combat experience against the Germans in the Western Desert Campaign demonstrated to the British many shortcomings with their cruiser tanks.
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