Solving Structural Mysteries In an era of postwar austerity, the de Havilland Comet—the first jet airliner, entering service in 1952 when rivals were still on the drawing board—was an object of national pride for Britain. But in January and April 1954, two Comets broke up in flight over the Mediterranean, and the type was grounded. An unprecedented investigation, including pressure tests of a complete Comet in a specially built water tank, revealed that the fuselage construction ...

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