B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies Messerschmitt Me 163

Messerschmitt Me 163 // Wikipedia Commons [Public Domain]

Messerschmitt Me 163 // Wikipedia Commons [Public Domain]

“Wolfgang Späte, one good friend, flew the Me 163. I heard, for it it was problem that the thing exploded if both fuels came together. Because of this they had heavy losses. “Object fighter” only could be needed when, as we called it. You could let it climb only if they had already sighted the bombers and she then flew very fast highly. The main tactics as far as she is known to me consisted in, in attacking from above in withouting fuel if possible. I know no-one who has enjoyed flying her since she was a damned dangerous thing to flying. I would say it was a crazy idea – this is my opinion. If you have a fighter and must use up the fuel first, must then attack and then go through a gliding flight landing, this not seems to me particularly meaningfully”
Luftwaffengeneral Walter Krupinski


The Messerschmitt Me-163 was a single-seat rocket powered interceptor that served from 1944 to 1945. It was the fastest and most radical airplane of the war. In 1937 Professor Alexander Lippisch headed the project called “Project X” that produced the DFS 194 rocket test aircraft which became the predecessor of Me-163. Lippisch was transferred to Messerschmitt in 1939 and the project was transformed into a combat aircraft. The first Me- 163A prototypes were tested in 1941, but powered flight testing of the more advanced Me 163B was delayed until August 1943 because of engine and fuel problems. In August 1943 the “Komet” was powered by the Walter HWK 109-509 rocket engine with a thrust of 16,65 kN..

The Me-163B was a small tailless aircraft that had to take off from a trolley and land on a sprung skid. Sitting in a pressurized cockpit in the nose, the pilot could fire two 30mm MK 208 cannon in the wing roots. Later in the war the Me-163B’s were equipped with 24 x R4/M rockets which could shoot down a B-17 Flying Fortress with a single hit.

Production Me-163Bs were not ready for operational use until July 1944. The Luftwaffe planned to have small units of Komets dispersed to intercept Allied bomber formations, but only 279 Me 163Bs were delivered by the end of the war. The sole operational Komet group, JG 400, scored 9 kills while losing 14 of its own aircraft mostly on accidents.

The Me 163 had an unprecedented performance. In just over 2.5 minutes the “Komet” could climb steeply to 9,000 meters and then either intercept the bombers or glide for long periods to wait for the bomber formations to come. It was extremely difficult to catch it. But heavy casualties resulted from explosions and collisions on landing, when the two extremely volatile and highly reactive rocket fuels were mixed together as the skid sustained the plane’s weight during landing.

Specifications Me 163 Komet

1 x rocket engine Walter HWK 109-509A

Top Speed 596mph; Ceilling: 39,500 feet; Range 50 miles

Empty: 1905 kg; Max Take Off: 4110 kg

Wingspan: 9,32 m; Length 5,84 m; Height 2,77 m

2 x 30mm MG