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SS African Comet

U.S. Maritime Commission type C3-P P&C

The U.S. Maritime Commission’s C3 type was the largest and fastest of the agency’s original standard designs, and was also the platform with the most sub-types and modifications. The vessels’ size (the basic C3 was 492 feet long and displaced 5,212 tons), made them excellent candidates for long-distance cargo transport, and also for large military applications; many C3s were converted into troop transports and escort aircraft carriers.

A significant subset of C3s built by the Maritime Commission were C3 P&C (“passenger and cargo”) types.  While huge liners, particularly on North Atlantic routes, were the most visible passenger vessels in the years before World War II, for many companies, it was more efficient to combine cargo and passenger services on a single shipping route.

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This model is of African Comet.  Built in 1940 for the American South African Line (later called Farrell Lines), the vessel and its sister ships had five cargo holds and a deadweight capacity similar to a standard C2 cargo ship, but also carried 116 passengers. Used in the company’s New York-to-Africa route, the vessels were the first all-welded passenger liners.

The U.S. Navy acquired African Comet in early 1942 and converted it into troop transport (AP-55), and later attack transport (APA-25), Arthur Middleton.  Unlike traditional troop transports, which typically moved service members from port to port, attack transports were equipped with landing craft and other specialized equipment to directly support amphibious invasions. Arthur Middleton earned six battle stars for its service in the Pacific Theater of World War II.  After the war, the vessel was laid up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet and was eventually scrapped.

Port view of the model, with a focus on the boat deck
Port view of the model, with a focus on the boat deck.
Stern of the vessel, with passenger pool
Detailed view of the stern area of the vessel, with passenger pool.
Forward part of the ship, with cargo hatches and booms
Detailed view of the forward part of the vessel, with cargo hatches and booms