|Physical description||Aluminium; Wood|
Second World War, 1939-1945
Messerschmitt Me 163B Komet Rocket Fighter : Luftwaffe
Messerschmitt Me 163B Komet rocket fighter. It is a single-seat, single engine swept wing tailless (no tailplane) rocket powered interceptor fighter aircraft. The armament is 2 x Mk 108 30 mm cannon. Its werk nummer (serial number) is 191907. The fuselage is constructed of aluminium. The wings are constructed of wood. The powerplant is a Walter 109-509A rocket motor, which provides a maximum speed of 960km/h at 300 metres with an endurance at maximum throttle of 8 minutes giving an approximate operational range of 80 kms.
This aircraft was captured in May 1945, probably at Husum in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. It was one of a group of stored machines believed to be replacements for Jagdgeschwader 400. There is no evidence that the Memorial's aircraft was issued to an operational unit and it does not appear to have been extensively flown.
The Me 163Bs were first introduced for operational use in July 1944 and were the only operational rocket powered fighter of the Second World War. The Me 163B caused concern among Allied daylight bomber crews when it first appeared as its speed and heavy firepower made it a potentially effective interceptor of bombers. However the technical limitations of the aircraft, the small number produced, fuel shortages and the difficulty and danger of flying it, meant that its impact on the war was minimal. This aircraft was selected for inclusion in the AWM collection in 1946, at which time it was located at No 4 Maintenance Unit in the United Kingdom, and shipped to Australia that same year. The RAAF Museum repainted the aircraft in 1978 using analysis of the existing paint scheme and stencils. Further work was done by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation In 1982. The aircraft was again painted by AWM staff in 2003.