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German Balkenkreuz

Germany's Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet (Comet) jet fighter

Photos

  • Messerschmitt Me 163A-V4 Komet jet fighter
  • Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet jet fighter
  • Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet jet fighter

Design

The Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet was designed by Dr. Alexander Lippisch and Helmuth Walter. Walter developed the engine and Lippisch designed the plane.

The design was based on earlier work on the DFS 194 in 1938. It was done by the German Research Institute for Sailplanes. A Walter HWK R.I motor (600 lb / 2.7kN) was added.

The first work on the design was started on January 2, 1939, in Ausburg.

Engine

The Walter RII-203 rocket engine got its power by combining two fuels, T-Stoff (hydrogen peroxide) and Z-Stoff.

The Walter 109-509A rocket engine got its power by combining T-Stoff (hydrogen peroxide) and C-Stoff (hydrazine hydrate, methyl alcohol, and water).

There were many accidents with the Me 163 caused by the hazardous fuel mixture.

The engine only lasted 8 - 10 minutes.

Trolley and Skid

The Me 163 would initially take off with an attached trolley, but it was jettisoned after takeoff. Then to land the Me 163 would land on a skid. If there was any fuel left the landing could mix the remaining fuel and cause an explosion.

Armament

Due to the Me 163s high speed, there was little time for a pilot to shoot at a bomber. An upward firing 50 mm shell was developed that with a sensor would detect a bomber overhead on the Me 163's flyby and shoot the shells at the bomber.

Under wing rockets were also used.

Prototype

The DFS 194 was first flown in 1940.

In the spring of 1941 the Me 163 was first tested as a glider. A Messerschmitt Bf 110 towed the Me 163.

Powered flights of the Me 163V1 commenced in the summer of 1941. An engine was added and on August 13, 1941, at Peenemünde, flight were conducted. On October 2, 1941, a speed of 623.8 mph / 1004.5 kph / Mach 0.84 was reached.

Wolfgang Späte flew the first rocket powered Messerschmitt Me 163 on May 13, 1944, over Bad Zwischenahn.

The Me 263 first flew in March 1945.

Production

The Me 163B first flew on February 21 / June 23, 1943.

The Me 163B was ordered into production in December 1941.

  • Messerschmitt Me 163V: 6
  • Messerschmitt Me 163A-0: 10
  • Messerschmitt Me 163B: 300, 355
    • Messerschmitt Me 163Ba-1: 70
    • Messerschmitt Me 163B-1a: 279
      • 1944: 237
      • January 1945: 42
  • Messerschmitt Me 163C: a few
  • Total: ~300
    • Manufacturer: Messerschmitt A.G.

Variants

  • Messerschmitt Me 163V1: Prototype. Powered by Walter RII-203 rocket.
  • Messerschmitt Me 163A-0: Unpowered glider trainers.
  • Messerschmitt Me 163B: Production model. Powered by Walter 109-509A rocket.
  • Messerschmitt Me 163Ba-1: Pre production.
  • Messerschmitt Me 163B-0: Had two 20 mm guns.
  • Messerschmitt Me 163B-1: Had two 37 mm guns. Became operational.
  • Messerschmitt Me 163B-1a: 30 mm guns.
  • Messerschmitt Me 163C: Had additional fuel. Larger jet engine. Pressurized cabin. Didn't enter production / operation.
  • Messerschmitt Me 163S: Trainer. Two seat.
  • Messerschmitt Me 263: Larger fuselage. Tricycle landing gar.

Usage

JG 400

Outside of Brandis in June 1944, the I/JG 400 were equipped with the Me 163B-1a.

On July 28, 1944, Me 163s first attacked Allied bombers near Merseburg. On August 16, 1944, they were first used against B-17 Flying Fortresses.

Only nine confirmed victories were credited to the Me 163.

Heavy Losses

95% of the Me 163 loses were due to landing accidents or fires in the air.

Japan

Mitsubishi developed the J8M1 Shusui (Sword stroke) for the Japanese. It was a copy of the Me 163B. It flew in July 1945 but the prototype was destroyed. There were 10 J8M1s under construction but they were abandoned.

Specifications

  Me 163 Komet
Type Interceptor
Crew 1
  Me 163B Komet
Type Interceptor
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Walter HWK 509-A2 liquid fuel rocket motor, Walter 109.509
Thrust at take-off 3,750 lb
16.8kN
Dimensions  
Span 30' 7", 30' 7.25"
9.3 m, 9.33 m
Length 19' 2.25", 19' 5"
5.85 m, 5.9 m
Height 9' 1"
2.77 m
Wing area 186 sq ft
17.3 sq m
Weight  
Loaded 9,500 lb
4,313 kg
Performance  
Speed at 20,000' / 6,100 m 550 mph
880 kph
Climb to 30,000' / 9,150 m 2.6 minutes
Endurance 8 minutes
Armament  
Wing roots 2: 30 mm, 3 cm Mk 108
  Me 163B-1a Komet
Type Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Walter 109-509A-2 rocket motor, Walter HWK 509 A-2
Thrust at take-off 3,748 lb, 33,000 lb
1,700 kg
Dimensions  
Span 30' 6", 30' 7.25"
9.33 m
Length 18' 8"
5.69 m
Height 8' 2", 9' 0.5"
2.76 m
Wing area 211.2 ft2
19.62 m2
Weight  
Empty 4,200 lb, 4,206 lb
1,905 kg, 1,908 kg
Loaded 8,707 lb, 9,061 lb, 9,502 lb
4,110 kg, 4,310 kg
Performance  
Speed 559 mph
Speed at 9,845' / 3,000 m 596 mph
960 kph
Speed at 9,840' - 29,525' / 3,000 m - 9,000 m 593 mph
954 kph
Climb 11,810'/minute, 15,950'/minute
3,600 m/minute, 4,860 m/minute
Climb to 30,000' / 9,145 m 2.6 minutes
Climb to 39,500' / 12,040 m 3.4 minutes
Service ceiling 39,370', 39,500', 39,700'
12,040 m, 12,100 m
Range 50 miles
80 km
Endurance 7.5 minutes, 8 minutes
Armament 2: 30 mm
2: 30 mm Mk 108
  Me 163C Komet
Engine (Type) Walter 109.509C
Thrust at take-off 3,740 + 660 lb
Dimensions  
Span 32' 2"
9.8 m
Length 23' 1"
7 m
Wing area 197 sq ft
18.3 sq m
Weight  
Loaded 11,280 lb
5,120 kg
Performance  
Speed at 13,120 - 39,360' / 4,000 - 12,000 m 590 mph
944 kph
Service ceiling 52,500'
16,000 m
Endurance 12 minutes
Armament  
Nose 2: 3 cm Mk 108

Sources:

  1. Fighting Aircraft of World War II, Editor: Karen Leverington, 1995
  2. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  3. World War II Airplanes Volume 1, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  4. Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II, 1989
  5. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site