WOW336 Me 163 Komet
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The Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet was a German interceptor aircraft designed for point-defence and is the only rocket-powered fighter aircraft ever to have been operational and the first piloted aircraft of any type to exceed 1000 km/h (621 mph) in level flight. Designed by Alexander Lippisch, its performance and aspects of its design were unprecedented. German test pilot Heini Dittmar in early July 1944 reached 1,130 km/h (700 mph), an unofficial flight airspeed record unmatched by turbojet-powered aircraft for almost a decade.
This speedy pint-sized rocket interceptor proved dangerous to friend and foe alike and was prone to exploding on landing should any unexpended rocket fuel still be in the tank. The Komet could zoom almost untouched through a formation of high-flying bombers, firing its heavy cannons on each pass. However it’s speed was so fast it was often too difficult to focus and aim in time before the Komet had overflown its target.
The sole Luftwaffe unit to become operational with the Me163 was Jagdgeschwader (Fighter Wing) 400. Tasked with protecting the vital Leuna oil refineries near Leipzig, Messerschmitt 163s from this unit first engaged Eighth US Army Air Force B17 Flying Fortresses on 16 August 1944. By the end of the war nine Allied aircraft had been shot down by JG 400. Our aircraft in a striking colour scheme reminiscent of the Red Baron and is one flown by Wolfganag Spate who was a recipient of the Knights Cross with Oak Leaves.
Spate was a talented pilot who started off his career flying in the Balkans campaign before being transferred to the Russian front. He was recalled to Germany in 1942 to start training on the revolutionary Me 163 rocket propelled interceptor and was instrumental in its development. He took this red Komet into action twice but was unable to intercept his target due to the rocket engines failing. Later, Spate was transferred and flew Me 262’s with JG.7.
Spate survived the war and joined the newly formed Luftwaffe in 1956, he died in 1997 at the age of 85 years old.
All figures shown are for scale comparison purposes only.