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Messerschmitt Me 163 B Komet

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This speedy pint-sized rocket interceptor proved dangerous to friend and foe alike. The Me 163 Komet prototype set a new air speed record of 624 mph in 1941. The Komet could zoom through a formation of high-flying bombers, firing its heavy cannons on each pass. Unfortunately, the Me 163 was as dangerous to its own pilot as it was to Allied bomber formations.

Powered by extremely volatile liquid fuels, the Me 163 was perilous to fly. The plane’s rocket engine had a short burn time of about 8 minutes, after which the Komet glided back to its airfield. Under power, a Komet could "fly circles around any other fighter of its time” according to German flyers. Allied pilots often waited until a Komet ran out of fuel before attacking.

History of the Artifact
This Komet’s first flight occurred on December 18, 1944, when the partly-finished plane was towed as a glider between factories. The fighter was later delivered to Jagdgeschwader (fighter wing) 400. It is unknown whether it ever flew in combat.

The plane was captured by the British on May 8, 1945, and it was shipped to the Royal Aircraft Establishment in Farnborough, England, for evaluation. In 1946, it was turned over to the Royal Air Force College in Cranwell. In 1961, it became part of the collection of the Imperial War Museum and was later displayed at at Duxford. It became part of the Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum in 2005.

Did you know?
The Komet was the first operational rocket-powered combat aircraft in the world.
General Statistics
Crew: 1
Span: 30 ft 6 in
Length: 18 ft 8 in
Height: 8 ft 2 in
Empty weight: 3,918 lbs
Loaded weight: 8,707 lbs
Engine: 1 x Helmuth Walter Kiel Kommandogesellschaft HWK 109-509 A.A bi-fuel liquid rocket engine
Engine power: 3,307 pounds thrust
Performance
Maximum speed: 559 mph
Ceiling: 49,543 ft
Rate of climb: 10,500 ft/min
Armament
2 x 30mm MK 108 cannon