The A34 Comet was a late-war addition to Britain’s armored arsenal of cruiser tanks. With a borrowed chassis from the Cromwell, the larger turret ring allowed for a more compact effective gun in the Q.F. 77mm. Exclusively welded, the larger turret had frontal armor up to 100mm. The heavier design led to the need to update the Christie suspension which was refitted with upper return rollers. Many were outfitted with the Normandy cowling over the rear grill to help cut down on exhaust gases affecting the crew and passengers.
With 1,186 being made out of the planned 3000, the 11th Armoured Division was the only division during the war to exclusively use the Comet in combat. It first saw action in March 1945 as the Allies were crossing the Rhine. While not seeing a whole lot of action against Tigers and Panthers, the bigger gun was more than a match as infantry support against 88mm and 75mm guns and other anti-tank weapons. While eventually replaced post-war by the Centurion, it continued to serve until the late 1950s in Hong Kong, occupied Berlin, and in foreign service with other armies.
This is another welcome newly-tooled kit from Tamiya. As is typical, the fit was excellent and the two included figures are among some of the best released by Tamiya. Assembly began with putting the parts of the lower hull tub together. Suspension arms were keyed to fit accurately and the side armor was then added on to them. Frontal armor and glacis were added next, followed by the enlarged turret ring and hatches, engine cover, and grilles.
One of the four return rollers on each side is keyed to fit into the top run of tracks to help alignment. The four piece drive sprockets, road and idler wheels are added next, followed by the link and length tracks which I added after painting the olive drab to everything beforehand. The ease of installation of the tracks was effortless and they look great with the included sag.
Once both runs were done, the track guards and fenders were added. Hull storage boxes and pioneer tools were next– I waited to install the tools until everything else was painted. The tow cables were an interesting design– the tow cable ends were attached to each half of the stowed cables and then the two halves were joined to the glacis. At this point all the small front and rear hull parts were added– tow hooks, lights, and rear smoke dischargers. You have a choice of full or split Normandy cowling, which accommodates the gun lock to the rear.
Assembly of the turret is next and is a five part assembly. The birdcage gunsight assembly is a little fiddly and is added in front of the cupola. Once all the turret top fiddly bits are installed, the nicely molded gun shield canvas cover is added after you insert the Besa machine gun inside it. The one piece plastic barrel needs very little cleaning up, and the two piece muzzle fits to the end of it. The barrel is keyed to fit into the mantlet for flawless installation. The rear turret storage box, lifting hooks, spotlight, spare track hangers, and some included stowage (helmets and gas mask cases) complete assembly of the tank. You can close up the hatches or have the two included half figures of the loader and commander placed inside them.
Painting and Weathering
There are two included schemes- both 11th Armoured Division tanks based in Germany in the spring of 1945. You can model either “Crusader” or “Celerity” and choosing either scheme still gives you the same option of olive drab. I chose to use the reliable Tamiya paint as it is a bit darker which seemed more appropriate for a late war British tank. Decals were pretty decent– the star decal for the top of the turret comes in four parts to cover the multi-surface area and went down nicely. I used AMMO washes and pigments to give it a bit of variety to the monotonal paint scheme.
Tamiya armor kits are always a joy to build– often a welcome respite from more challenging kits like the Dragon halftrack I needed a break from. The Comet is an interesting late-war tank that evened the odds a bit against the more powerful Axis tanks that were present in fewer and fewer numbers. The included figures are a nice touch and really add to the setting.
My thanks to Tamiya and IPMS-USA for this review sample.
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