Crashed Comet G-ALYP, 1954.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
This section of the upper fuselage shows fatigue cracks around the automatic direction-finding hatches. This Comet was the second to crash from metal fatigue. It broke up over the Northern Mediterranean off the island of Elba in January 1954. The Comet became the world's first commercial jet airliner when it entered service with BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) in May 1952. The entire fleet was grounded in 1954 after a series of crashes. It took four years to investigate the cause of the accidents and remedy the problem, and by the time the much-improved Comet 4 series emerged the Douglas DC 8 and the Boeing 707 had achieved domination of the new and growing market for jet airliners.