De Havilland Comet Racer

At the beginning of 1934 The MacRobertson Trophy Air Race was announced. The start was to be from Mildenhall in Suffolk , the destination was Melbourne, Australia.

The MacRobertson Trophy Air Race was to take place on 20 October, 1934 as part of the Melbourne Centenary celebrations. The idea of the race was devised by the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, and a prize fund of $75,000 was put up by Sir Macpherson Robertson, a wealthy Australian confectionery manufacturer, on the conditions that the race be named after his MacRobertson confectionery company, and that it be organised to be as safe as possible.

… and Great Britain did not have a single suitable aircraft with which to compete!

A board meeting was held at the de Havilland Aircraft Company at which it was decided to design and build, from scratch, three aircraft to participate in this race. The timescale was eight months! For most other aircraft companies this would have been nigh on impossible but we were dealing here with one of the greatest aircraft manufacturing companies in existence at the time and, indeed, many years afterwards.

The result of the design effort was the DH88 Comet racer and three were ready in time at the start line. One aircraft retired with technical problems due to some dodgy fuel at Jabalpur, India. It had already suffered delay due to a problem with its undercarriage.

The other two aircraft completed the flight and the aircraft seen here, sponsored by The Grosvenor House Hotel, was the outright winner having completed the course in 70 hours and 55 minutes. The other aircraft came fourth. This was a remarkable achievement for an untried and barely tested aircraft that, only eight months previously, had just started life on the drawing board.

The winner of the race is now preserved at the Shuttleworth Collection in Bedfordshire, England.


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