Aviation of World War II

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Me-163 "Comet"

Fighter - Interceptor


Me-163 "Comet"

The airplane "Comet" has evidently shown ability of German designers to reach practical implementation even the absurd concept. Designing Me-163 began in reply to bombardment of allies.

First of 76 experimental airplanes of this program has made the first flight in August, 1941. It was an airplane non-traditional "without tail" schemes which took off from a special dolly, and landed on a ski put forward from a fuselage. It was required more than two years of tests before airplane Me-163В has gone into service in May, 1944.

In total 300 interceptors Me-163В-1 were built.

The Me 163 at the Soviet Flight Research Institute. As for the Me 163 rocket-propelled aircraft, it proved impossible to examine its behavior in the air properly since there were no fuel reserves for the Walter HWK 109-509 engine. Test pilot M. L Gallay who was one of the first to fly this aircraft, remembered: "It was a hydrogen peroxide rocket motor that consumed this unpleasant 'food' in such quantities that it would be necessary to expand the industrial production of peroxide to satisfy its needs". It was then decided to test the plane in powerless flight.

To determine stability and handling characteristics, a Tu-2 towed the two-place Me 163, called Carp in the USSR, to the necessary altitude and then unhooked it. While descending, all pre-set flight modes were performed. It was rather difficult even for experienced glider pilots to master the fighter since it was much heavier, more inert, and had a significantly higher descent speed than the majority of other powerless aircraft.

Nonetheless, it was noted in the Flight Research Institute report that rational selection of the aerodynamic configuration and structural parameters of the tailless aircraft makes it possible to provide it with acceptable longitudinal and rolling stability qualities, as well as handling qualities, at subsonic speeds. This attests to an opportunity to use the aforementioned configuration as a possible design version of a high-speed aircraft". But, at the same time, this was pointed out: "The configuration examined is not without defects. Among them, in particular, are a minimum speed, as well as takeoff and landing speeds, significantly higher than those of conventional aircraft (with the same specific wing loading). In addition, the overall wing configuration is insufficient for a high-speed aircraft (insufficient sweep, large wing twist, thick wing)".

Lieutenant Colonel V. Ye. Golofastov, leading pilot at the Air Forces Scientific Research Institute, came to the conclusion that the tailless single-seat Me 163 fighter behaved like conventionally configured fighters in powerless flight. In performing aerobatics, the machine essentially did not differ from other fighters. Of course, test materials on the "Tailless Carp" were submitted to leading Soviet aircraft and engine design bureaus, but it did not make the same strong impact upon the Soviet aircraft industry as did the other jet Messerschmitt-the Me 262.

Since we did not have our own jet engines, BMW 003 engines powered the experimental MiG-9 and the Yak-15 was fitted with Jumo 004 engines. Soviet plants soon began series production of captured engines: the Jumo 004 was designated the RD-10 and the BMW 003 was called the RD-20. These turbojet engines were the backbone of Soviet jet aviation and were manufactured in large numbers by three engine plants. German specialists participated here until a license to build and assimilate the more powerful British Nene and Dervent engines was purchased from Rolls Royce.

Crew 1
Wing span, m 9.33
Length, m 5.85
Height, m 2.76
TJE HWK 109-509A-1/2, thrust, kg 1700
Weight, kg:
Empty weight 1908
Maximum takeoff weight 4310
Maximum speed, km/h 955
Time to 9145 m, min 3
Service ceiling, m 12000
Service range, km 170
2 × 30-mm or 20-mm cannon in a wing  

Photo Description
Drawing Me-163

Drawing Me-163

Repaired Bf 109F-2 No. 9209

Messerschmitt Me 163B at the Flight Research Institute


  • "Aviation of Luftwaffe" /Viktor Shunkov/
  • "The German Imprint on the History of Russian Aviation " /D.A. Sobolev, D.B. Khazanov/
  • "Encyclopedia of military engineering" /Aerospace Publising/

Photo Description

Layout scheme Me-163.

Cockpit Me-163



The pilot of the fighter in a protective suit prepares to take off. It should be noted that the protective suit is not saved in the event of an accident, and the acid corroded the body for a few minutes ...

Me-163 before takeoff.

Towing aircraft with a special towing platform. The wheel trolley dumped after takeoff and the plane landed on the sliding ski.