The one RAE Comet outlasted all the other civil ones by a decade and a half, the last commercial Comet 4 being used by Dan Air until 1980.
also got 5 new Comet 4's in the early 60's, they were used until 1976.
One thing, saying a Nimrod is a Comet is like saying a P-3 is a L-188, though the changes to the Comet to make the Nimrod were actually far greater than the Lockheed product, new engines (R/R Spey replacing R/R Avons), a whole new lower fuselage, all the equipment for the maritime patrol mission of course, it was a new aircraft built on the basic Comet 4 platform.
When considering the Comet 1, you have to remember that a jet powered airliner was like science fiction come true in the early 50's, though limited in range and payload compared to the big pistons of the time, it was a look of the future, it caused a sensation and probably in the case of Douglas and Lockheed, some alarm. (Boeing would use work on the B-47 and B-52 and a planned USAF
jet tanker project, to produce what became the Dash 80 then 707).
The decompression were a total shock, eventually the cause became clear after a Comet was put in a giant water tank while simulated flight loads were performed, in an attempt to replicate the stresses and pressures of pressurize, this was the pre computer era remember.
The official inquiry was light on dishing out blame, DH
, industry in general, BOAC, had simply paid a price for pushing the envelope so far. Comet was full of innovative construction techniques and large rectangular windows were commonplace at the time on airliners.
Comet sales had started to increase as the Comet 2 became available, more production capacity was needed and lines in Chester and Belfast were being set up, even Pan Am were ordering, this all changed with the grounding.
were determined to recover, as stated, some Comet 2's were modified, (and served with the RAF from 1956-67 carrying Royalty, Prime Ministers and dignitaries as well as servicemen, the RAF were way ahead of other air forces in having a jet transport).
The planned Comet 3 served as a template for the comeback kid, the Comet 4, 116 of these would be built from 1957-62, but the 4 year hiatus had allowed Boeing, followed by Douglas, to leap ahead with more advanced aircraft.
It is often said the the Comet 1 losses ended forever the UK's large market share in large civil aircraft, allowed the US to dominate.
Too simplistic, even when the Comet 1 looked like a success in 1952, the then CEO of Sabena asserted that by 1962, US jetliners would dominate.
Comet 1 was almost miraculous in that it ever happened, with transport aircraft production in WW2 subordinated to the US to maximize UK combat aircraft production playing catch up was tough, copying the US design concepts was pointless, so some other ideas were considered, some were non starters (the giant Brabazon transatlantic propliner) others were a great success, (the worlds first turboprop airliner, the Vickers Viscount).
So playing high tech to leap frog all those 100's of Lockheed, Douglas and smaller Martin props being churned out was seen to be essential, but the UK post-war was a bankrupt, damaged, austere place where wartime privations would last well into the 1950s.
That's why production of the Comet was planned to be increased not by a big new facility at Hatfield, but by new lines elsewhere in the UK, conditions of production at Hatfield were small and austere compare to the giant US plants (a legacy of dispersed wartime production against air attack).
Had the Comet 1's problems been foreseen, how would things have been different?
Well, not much really, Comet 2/3 would have sold well, even maybe a few in the US, but eventually the sheer size, supply base and funding of the US industry would tell, remember the 707 was launched on the back of the USAF
order for hundreds of KC
Despite the end of the Comet 1 (and it was seen as a national tragedy at the time) nothing can change the fact that it WAS the first jetliner in regular commercial service, lessons from the lost aircraft were incorporated across the industry and the inquiry was to serve as the basis for modern air accident investigation.