BELL015PZT - Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet – Rocket Fighter Terror
The Me 163 Komet was the only rocket powered aircraft ever to see service and the first combat aircraft to exceed 1,000 Kilometres per hour. These two factors alone make the Me 163 an exceptional aircraft but that doesn’t even start to tell the story of this highly unusual aircraft. The Me 163 was designed as an interceptor fighter to combat the ever-increasing numbers of Allied bombers pummelling Germany in the closing stages of World War 2. Designed by Alexander Lippisch and although a truly unique aircraft in everything from concept to performance, it ultimately failed in its role with a paltry 18 Allied aircraft shot down for ten losses. In addition to the combat losses, there were nine losses in testing (remarkably few for such a revolutionary aircraft). One being the gruesome death of test pilot and fighter ace, Oberleutnant Josef Pöhs, who was killed in 1943 from exposure to the aircraft’s highly volatile and corrosive rocket fuel. Armed with two 30 mm Rheinmetall Borsig MK 108 Cannon, the aircraft would launch and climb at an astonishing rate and engage to bomber formations. Attacking vertically and at great speed, actually hitting anything took considerable pilot skill. Once the rocket propellant had expired, the aircraft would glide back to earth, making it vulnerable to attack from Allied fighters. That said, the Komet was very agile and hard to hit even in glide mode. Our illustration depicts Komets of Jagdgeschwader 400 attacking a USA bomber formation in the final desperate days of the air war over the Third Reich. 300 Komets were produced in World War 2. The initial idea was to have a massive network of bases of Me 163s that would intercept the Allied bomber formations, but as was with many ambitious and grandiose plans concocted during the Third Reich’s history, this was never realised.
Jigsaw size: 68.3cm x 48cm
Box size: 40cm x 27cm x 6.1cm