YouTube – Me-163 Komet
2- 30 mm
18 ft. 8 in.
30 ft. 7 in.
The Me-163 Komet was the only operational rocket powered interceptor and the fastest flying aircraft of World War II.
In the 1920’s Professor Alex Lippisch developed the first successful tailless gliders. In 1938, Professor Lippisch became responsible for the German rocket test program. This was to become the Me-163 program. When Lippisch was transferred to Messerschmitt in 1939 the aircraft was modified into an interceptor.
The rocket engine propelling the Me-163 Komet was fed from two tanks containing fuels that, when combined, would ignite. By careful metering the combination of fuels, a controlled reaction was produced that could drive the aircraft forward.
The Me-163 Komet did not have landing gear. It took off on a wheeled dolly that fell to the ground once the aircraft was in the air. A single sprung skid was used for landings.
The first non rocket prototype Me-163 Komet flew on Sept. 1, 1941. The aircraft flew under power on June 23, 1943 and were first deployed as interceptors in 1944.
The Me-163 Komet first saw action on July 28, 1944. With the best rate of climb of any World War II aircraft, it would quickly climb to intercept altitude where it would glide while waiting for the bomber formations.
Original armament of the rocket powered aircraft consisted of two 30 mm cannons in the wing roots. Although it had exceptional speed, the Me-163 Komet could not be used to its advantage while making passes at bomber formations. At approximately 600 mph, it closed on a bomber so fast that, at best, it could only fire its cannons for 2 or 3 seconds. Most passes were therefore made in a diving glide.
A few Me-163 Komet aircraft were eventually equipped with ten air to air rockets. Five were carried in each wing root. All ten rockets would be fired while making a full power pass under the Allied aircraft. There is a record of a single bomber being downed in this manner on April 10, 1945.
Maximum powered flight duration for the aircraft was about 7 to 8 minutes. Allied fighter escort pilots found the Me-163 Komet an easy target once it ran out of fuel and had no choice but to land.
Other casualties resulted from bad landings on their single skid, and the explosion of volatile rocket fuel. We are told, however, that the percentage of bad landings for the Me-163 Komet was no worse than that of other fighter aircraft.
The last Me-163 Komet aircraft produced were equipped with a bubble canopy, additional fuel tanks for extended range, cruising auxiliary rockets, and a pressurized cockpit.
The Japanese obtained partial plans for a Me-163 Komet. They were being carried to Japan in two submarines, but only one made it to its home port. Nevertheless, a single Japanese prototype did try a single unsuccessful flight in 1945.
A total of approximately 450 Me-163 Komet aircraft of all types were built. Of those about 300 were deployed. Due to their short endurance while under power, they accounted for the downing of only nine Allied bombers.
Pictured above is the Me-163 Komet built by Bob Chubb from a kit from Joe Saitta. It has a gas engine in the nose and weighs around 12 lbs.
The Me-163 Komet from Voster is an ARF that has a wingspan of 27 in. Recommended power is a Speed 480 race motor and a 5 x 5 propeller.
The Me-163 Komet kit from Topp is 1/10 scale with a 37 in. wingspan and features an epoxy/glass fuselage with obechi sheeted foam wings. Topp recommends a 3.5 cc engine or rocket engine power.
The Me-163 Komet from Fly Boy Models has a 60 1/2 in. wingspan and a fuselage that is 40 in. long. Recommended power for the ARF comes from .46 to .53 two stroke or .53 to .61 four stroke engines.