Few aircraft (if any) can have been as hair-raising to fly as the Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet. The first production examples were delivered to a new fighter wing, JG 400, in May 1944, but it was not until 16 August of that year that these revolutionary aircraft had their first (unsuccessful) brush with an Allied bomber stream. Their development can be said to have originated from work begun in 1933 by Dr Alexander Lippisch at the German Gliding Research Institute (DFS) at Darmstadt, being based on the Lippisch-designed DFS 194. Dr Lippisch and his staff were transferred to Messerschmitt's works at Augsburg in January 1939.
In early 1940 the DFS 194 was equipped with a rocket motor at Peenemunde. After test flights by Heini Dittmar had confirmed speeds of up to 550km/h on the power of a single 2.94kN Walter motor, there was sufficient interest to initiate development. In 1941 the first Me 163 prototype was being tested in gliding flight and shortly after was fitted with a 7.35kN Walter RII-203 rocket motor. Speeds of up to 915km/h were achieved (limited by the volume of liquid propellants carried) and to gain some idea of the speed potential, this aircraft was towed to a high altitude before being released. Flown under power, a speed of over 1,000km/h was attained before the engine had to be throttled back because the aircraft was becoming uncontrollable.
Operational Me 163B were powered by the 16.67kN Walter 109-509A-2 rocket motor. Each had mid-set monoplane wings of wooden construction and the fuselage was a semi-monocoque all-metal structure. Landing gear comprised a tailwheel, jettisonable main-wheel trolley and a central underfuselage skid which was extended for landing.
Produced too late and in only small numbers (about 360 examples), they were in service in the defence of the Reich early in 1945 but had no significant impact upon the constant streams of Allied bombers attacking Germany. In theory their high speed and initial rate of climb of about 3,600m/minute should have made them a potent interceptor, despite the enormous hazards of training pilots and using these rocket-planes operationally. Had they enjoyed a longer period of development before introduction into service in the closing stages of the war, the story might have been very different.
The slightly larger Me 163C development - with aerodynamic refinements, pressurised cockpit and blister-type canopy, and more powerful Walter 109-509C rocket motor - was built only in prototype and pre-production form. It did not enter service, although it was almost ready for delivery to Luftwaffe squadrons at the time of the German surrender. With this version, endurance was increased from eight-ten minutes to twelve minutes; this could be extended by periods of gliding.
FACTS AND FIGURES
© Armament was two powerful
but slow-firing 30mm
cannon. The pilot had little
time to aim and hold his fire
before he was past the target.
One or two hits was usually
enough to destroy a bomber,
© The fuels in the Komet were
highly corrosive and would dissolve
organic material (such as the pilot).
To avoid this, the pilots would
wear special asbestos fibre suits.
© The Komet took off on a two-wheeled
trolley, which was quickly
jettisoned. A retractable skid was
used for landing, a bumpy process
which sometimes caused unburned
fuels to mix and ignite.
© Combat tactics were to climb to
altitude above the target and then
turn off the motor to make diving
attacks before restarting to climb
again. When fuel was exhausted
the Komet became a glider and
very vulnerable to fighter attack.
| ENGINE||1 x rocket engine Walter HWK 109-509A, 15.7kN|
| Take-off weight||4310 kg||9502 lb|
| Empty weight||1908 kg||4206 lb|
| Wingspan||9.3 m||31 ft 6 in|
| Length||5.9 m||19 ft 4 in|
| Height||2.8 m||9 ft 2 in|
| Wing area||18.5 m2||199.13 sq ft|
| Max. speed||955 km/h||593 mph|
| ARMAMENT||2 machine-guns|
|Oldgysgt, e-mail, 11.01.2016 00:22|
The Me-163 Komet had a number of serious defects that made it almost as dangerous to the German pilots as it was for B17 aircrews. Its lack of endurance was not an oversight by the designers; Rocket engines consume large amounts of fuel, (that is where they get their fantastic performance), so it was never in the cards that a Rocket powered fighter would have "Long Legs", (that is the nature of the beast). Couple this limited endurance with its high closing speed with the US bomber formations, and the Komet pilot only had three seconds or so to get off a shot before having to break off to avoid a collision. A Me-262 pilot could throttle back to get a better shot, but the Komet jockey knew he had only a few minutes to get the job done and beat feet for home. If he used up his fuel maneuvering to get a longer burst into a bomber, he would end up flying back to the stable in a glider. On the other hand, if he bled off his speed to get a better shot, and had already exhausted is "Push Water", he had no option but to point his nose toward terra firma and hope no one saw him before he had regained some speed. Although the Komet did glide quite well, it was a cold duck to any P51 who might happen on a coasting Komet. Also, any battle damage to the aircraft's fuel plumbing or fuel tanks could prove catastrophic. All in all the Komet pilots were either very brave, or very foolish; take your pick.
|HI, e-mail, 01.06.2014 05:56|
can anybody tell me what the hell it was made out of? wood, aluminum, adamantium, kryptonite, what? ive been scouring the internet trying to figure out what its main construction material was, and i cant seem to find out.
|Bob Kusterer, e-mail, 19.02.2014 05:07|
I was friends with one of the test pilots for the 163; Rudi Opiz. He gave me my first glider lesson at Bethany, CT in 1964.
|Dan, e-mail, 19.10.2012 19:11|
There is a speed listing of 593 mph for the Me-263 in book of records so evidently it was test flown. The Me-262 with rocket launchers was a tremendous weapon. They had a kill rate of 7 to 1 and would fire their rockets at 1500 feet from the target before using the cannons. The main dificulty was the lack of training. Some of the training two seat jets were used for night time radar detection.
|Mark, e-mail, 20.09.2012 17:28|
Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet
Το Messerschmitt Me 163 με το προσωνύμιο “Komet” (Κομήτης) ήταν το πρώτο πυραυλοκίνητο (rocket plane) μονοθέσιο μαχητικό αεροσκάφος ανάσχεσης που κατασκευάστηκε παγκόσμια. Παραμένει μέχρι τις μέρες μας το μοναδικό παγκόσμια πυραυλοκίνητο μαχητικό επιχειρησιακό αεροσκάφος. Χρησιμοποιούσε πύραυλο (rocket) ενσωματωμένο στην άτρακτό του και παρουσιάστηκε έτοιμο επιχειρησιακά για λογαριασμό της Deutsche Luftwaffe (Πολεμική Αεροπορία της Γερμανίας) το 1944. Εκείνη τη χρονιά ο πιλότος δοκιμαστής Rudy Opitz το οδήγησε στα όριά του, πραγματοποιώντας την φανταστική τελική ταχύτητα των 1.123 km /h.
Υπεύθυνος για τον σχεδιασμό και εξέλιξή του ήταν ο καθηγητής Alexander Martin Lippisch, ο οποίος το 1938 έγινε επικεφαλής του μυστικού προγράμματος εξέλιξης πυραυλοκίνητων αεροσκαφών της Ναζιστικής Γερμανίας. Το πρωτότυπο Me 163 A V4 ήταν έτοιμο και πέταξε σε δοκιμαστική πτήση στις 1 Σεπτεμβρίου 1941.
Το Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet ήταν ένα μοναδικής σχεδίασης αεροσκάφος που έδειξε το μέλλον. Δεν είχε σύστημα προσγείωσης, αλλά ένα ζευγάρι τροχών που βοηθούσε στην απογείωση και μόνον, οι οποίοι μετά την απογείωση του, έπεφταν στο έδαφος. Όσο κατά την επιστροφή στη βάση του, ένα εκτινασσόμενο πτερύγιο στη κοιλιά του σκάφους φρόντιζε για την προσγείωση. Για την πυραυλοκίνηση φρόντιζαν δύο δεξαμενές υγρών καυσίμων, οι οποίες τροφοδοτούσαν συγχρόνως τον πύραυλο τύπου Walter HWK 109-509.
Η πρώτη υπηρεσιακή πτήση του Messerschmitt Me 163 έγινε στις 28 Ιουλίου 1944, με στόχο δύο USAAF B-17 Flying Fortress, χωρίς επιβεβαιωμένες απώλειες. Ο οπλισμός του αποτελείτο από δύο πυροβόλα MK 108 των 30 mm, με τα οποία ο πιλότος δυσκολεύονταν πολύ να σκοπεύσει και να πετύχει εχθρικά αεροσκάφη, διότι λόγω της υψηλής ταχύτητάς του (κοντά στα 1.000 km /h), είχε στη διάθεσή του μόνο 2 με 3 δευτερόλεπτα να πυροβολήσει. Η επίθεση γίνονταν από μεγάλο ύψος και κατά την βύθιση τους έβαλαν με τα πυροβόλα τους εναντίων εχθρικών βομβαρδιστικών. Συνολικά περίπου 300 αεροσκάφη όλων των εκδόσεων πέταξαν σε αποστολές, τα οποία κατέρριψαν μόνον 16 συμμαχικά αεροσκάφη, εννέα από τα οποία ήταν τετρακινητήρια βομβαρδιστικά. Τρία βομβαρδιστικά κατέρριψε ο πλέον επιτυχημένος πιλότος τους Siegfried Schubert.
|me-163, 18.01.2012 04:08|
Yes i am 90% german
|flayter, 31.12.2011 04:37|
i think your a german
|Me-163B, e-mail, 31.12.2011 04:36|
I have a model of a me 163b and its top speed is about 160 mph but only at air shows that i work for. it blew up on ground in 2008 and i rebuilt it for over a year and the flap on the right wing is gone and it flys fine!!!
|wanqian, 18.06.2011 10:43|
need larger blueprints, top side and front view and each on separate plates or pages
|Ben Beekman, e-mail, 26.02.2011 19:42|
Additional interesting information can be found in Wm. Green's book "Famous Fighters of the Second World War" (Hanover House 1960). The first operational group was formed in the autumn of 1944 at Brandis, near Leipzig, in order to protect the Leuna synthetic fuel plants which were being steadily attacked by U.S. bombers. Another group was stationed at Stargard to protect the synthetic fuel plants at Politz. He states that a Kapitan Olejnik, flying this aircraft, on one occasion destroyed three B-17's by roller-coasting through the bomber formation or barreling up through the formation, using the tactics required by the speed of the little aircraft. The action took place over Altenburg, in Thuringia. Attempting to gain additional efficiency from the engine, the producer, the Walter Werke, redesigned the engine to include an auxiliary cruising chamber giving an additional 660 lb. of thrust in addition to the 3,750 lb. thrust of the main chamber. In this way powered flight time was increased to 12. minutes for the Me 163C version. An even more improved model planned was the Me 263, which carried one-third more fuel and would cruise for 15 minutes at 495 mph, reach 32,800 ft in three minutes, and have a top speed of 590 mph. It had a completely redesigned fuselage of better aerodynamic shape and had superior ground handling characteristics. A total of 352 gallons of C-stoff and 185 gallons of T-stoff was carried. The war ended, however, before the Me 263 could be produced. Unfortunately for the Reich, too few of these machines were available and too late to turn the tide.
|Ben Beekman, e-mail, 08.02.2011 04:25|
This dangerous aircraft was also flown (while under development) by the great German aviatrix Hanna Reitsch. In a television interview she described the incredible climb rate the rocket engined fighter was capable of. Landing, though, was difficult as she found out, plowing the airplane into the ground and suffering facial injuries after slamming into the control panel.
|Donald B Hammond, e-mail, 09.08.2010 21:28|
Had a marvelous guided tour of Smithsonian's "Spring Hill" facility when my oldest boys were 12 and 14 (now 42 and 44). A special exception was made for the boys (children were not allowed in there at the time). A great many WWII captured aircraft, including one of these, were stored there for years before restoration and /or space was available and they could be displayed. The Komet was the boys favorite and pictures were taken and saved. They learned a first hand history of many WWII aircraft, and much about aviation development. Great learning experience thanks to a very generous director. Boys later met a surviving ME 109 fighter pilot at the Smithsonian who had been shot down during combat with B-17 Bombers. Gracious silver haired gentleman gave them a full and most meaningful accounting of his combat mission, crash, and survival. Both boys later served with the 10th Mountain, and one went on to become an Airborne Ranger.
|Ron, e-mail, 02.06.2010 23:30|
I've read 16,000 fpm initial climb for the 'outhouse mouse' er Komet. Must have been tough commanding this fighter force.
I believe they had insufficient backing to stay consistent if memory serves.
I favor the Me 263 as replacement.
|Michael Conron, e-mail, 07.09.2010 16:02|
A recent video on Military Channel interviewed an allied pilot who got to test fly a captured Komet said the aircraft handled amazingly well! The had very successfully worked out the issues of the "Elevon"
|Matt Stringfellow, e-mail, 04.09.2009 10:00|
The two fuels used were referred to as "T-Stoff" and "C-Stoff". T-Stoff is 48% concentrated hydrogen peroxide and a mixture of hydrocarbon compounds, and C-Stoff is 30% hydrazine hydrate solution in methyl alcohol. When the two fuels are added, a decomposing reaction takes place, resulting in tremendous thrust. The Walter HWK 109-509A rocket motor made use of a steam generator that used calcium permanganate as a catalyst to produce steam when a small amount of T-Stoff was added via an electric starter motor, the resulting steam starting the turbine to begin pumping the two fuels to the rocket motor. The starter motor was switched off, and the rocket motor was throttled through its five positions until it reached maximum thrust.
Source: "ROCKET FIGHTER The Story of the Messerschmitt Me163", by Mano Ziegler.
|Dave, e-mail, 02.07.2009 23:38|
Armament were two MK108 30mm cannons the same as the 262
|Dave, e-mail, 02.07.2009 23:36|
I've heard the initial vertical climb rate was more on the order of 14,000' a minute - There are a few recorded encounters - one of which the 163 pilot decided it was payback and instead of going after the bombers went after a Mosquito that was in the neighborhood - The Mosquito was no slouch but the 163 turned inside his turn and still caught him even with the Mosquito at full throttle,and whacked one of his engines - but let him go - 30mm cannon rounds should've taken his wing off - thats one lucky pilot!
|Art Deco, 25.06.2009 20:37|
The solution to all these problems was the Me-263 and Junkers follow-ons. Of course, the aircraft can only be used defensively against massive attacks during the losing stages of a war. Many more pilots would have survived if there was no war. Hitler didn't seem too concerned. Too busy trying to solve his flatulence problem. Wasn't me, it was Blondi!
|Razor, 25.06.2009 17:46|
Yes. I think the komet was a pretty good aircraft when it had fuel. that was a big problem for the plane. they should have improved the fuel capacity for the plane then they would've shot down more bombers. It would've been better for them to design the plane with retractible landing gear because dropping the wheels after take off could've caused injuries for the pilot coming in to land. the Bf-109 they had problems with the plane nosing forward on takeoff and landings because of the weight on the nose from the gun and the engine. Germany had great planes and designers wich were an important factor in the aviation time line, but they often looked over little things that could've saved more pilot's in the Luftwaffe.
|Ian, e-mail, 22.04.2009 12:34|
Not only were they dangerous to land due to fuel residue exploding but were very vulnerable to fighters as the home approach was a glide. A lot of time & resources spent for very little return as only about 10 bombers were brought down.
Do you have any comments?
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